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Who else still breastfeeds their toddler to sleep? Am feeling rather alone

(23 Posts)
MamaGoblin Wed 30-Sep-09 22:21:57

That's it, basically. I always intended to try and get DS to fall asleep after, not during, his nighttime breastfeed, and for a while, several months back, we were getting there, but then he got a nasty bug, it reverted to him dropping off on the breast, and here we still are at 18 months. Naps and nighttime.

I'm starting to go out occasionally in the evenings (whoop-dee-do) and DH has a much, much harder time of getting him to go to sleep than I do, partly because of the novelty to DS of his daddy putting him to bed, but also, I think, because he falls asleep in a fingerclick with a nipple in his mouth.

I'm not interested in anyone wagging their fingers and telling me that I really ought to teach him to go to sleep on his own. I know that. I also know that things will eventually change. But I don't think I know anyone else in RL who gets their toddler to sleep via bf, and I feel pretty isolated.

I'd also quite like to stop breastfeeding soon - always said we'd continue until either he or I became fed up with it. Never thought I'd be the one to crack first... sad And it means a hell of a lot to him, I hate the idea of taking it away from him, so it'd have to be very slow and gradual. Not to mention, how the hell do I get him to go to sleep then?!

Any advice, fellow-feeling, stories?

Mummy369 Wed 30-Sep-09 22:50:58

I don't have a success story, sorry sad

My DS1 and DD1 both breastfed to sleep. DS until age 2yrs 8mths and DD until 3yrs 1mth. DS2, however, always yanked himself off the breast when he'd had his fill (breastfed much more efficiently and quickly) would look around for a bit and I would take him to his cot/bed and he'd stay there for 12 hours. If I even dreamed of putting either of the other 2 to bed we had screams and upset - and no sleep.

I did resign myself with DS1 (first baby) as I felt circumstances dictated this - 1 bedroom flat 'til he was 13 months old and by then behaviour was well established. So with DS2 as soon as he was 6 months old the boys shared a room - but he was always easy to put to bed, even before moving him out of our room. DS1 bedtime improved when they started sharing (DS1 was 3yrs 9mths)and then able to lose the daytime sleep for him, too, as finally going to bed early enough in the evening to have a longer sleep.

My DH luckily didn't have any bother putting any of them to bed - I did a lot of shift work and they each knew if Mummy wasn't there then no milk. When they were little they had EBM in a bottle, then milk or water in a cup when they got bigger smile

BouncingTurtle Thu 01-Oct-09 08:40:51

You are not alone. Come and join us on the extended breastfeeders thread, there are a few people nightweaning, and you may get some help on trying to break the feed to sleep habit. If nothing else, we can give you lots of sympathy!

My ds(21mo) is growing out of the habit, some nights he won't go to sleep without booby first, but he is starting to do so without it.

belgo Thu 01-Oct-09 08:51:09

Firstly, don't worry! Well done for bfing so long. I've bf all my babies to sleep, and now dd1 and dd2 sleep very well, and they have done since they were about 1 or 1 and a half years old.

With both of them I was worried about stopping bfing, and with both of them my dh took them for a few nights to break the cycle of me bfing them to sleep. And guess what - it was very upsetting for me, but both my girls coped fine. A bit of crying, but after three or four nights, both were able to self settle and sleep through the night. I found it upsetting initially, but I was very relieved that they adjusted so well.

I had not ruined their sleeping habits forever!

I'm still bfing ds aged one year, and I'm planning to continue for as long as possible, because I know when I stop bfing him, he will adjust fine.

BonsoirAnna Thu 01-Oct-09 08:57:25

DD breastfed to sleep for ages - well past 4 - but she would still manage to fall asleep with DP or my mother or a babysitter if I wasn't around.

She now (4.11) sleeps in her own bed in her own room and can fall asleep on her own with ease - she decided that she wanted to do so.

GirlsAreLOud Thu 01-Oct-09 09:02:15

I vaguely remember a friend telling me she had this til her DS was two and then weaned him off it by playing the same music every time she fed him to sleep until he associated that with falling asleep. Might be worth a try.

She's a mumsnetter so may pop on to give you more detail on it.

Good luck (and well done on all the brilliant feeding)

MamaGoblin Thu 01-Oct-09 09:37:38

Thank you for all the support and advice!

I don't think we'll stop giving him milk with his bedtime when I do stop feeding him - not for a while, at least. But at the moment, when DH feeds him cow's milk in a bottle if I go out, it takes ages to get him to sleep - lots of rocking, walking, etc - probably because he's used to me being there.

I think that as long as I'm breastfeeding him at all, he's going to want it at nighttime, unless we swap roles and get his daddy to give him a bottle instead (and I'd get to cook supper for a change!). And I'm very conflicted about stopping before he's ready - on one hand, I'm sure he'd adjust quite soon, but on the other, he does love it, even though he only has about 3 feeds a day nowadays, and I feel mean even thinking about taking that from him. sad

I don't know why I've suddenly started feeling that I want to stop - many reasons, probably. I'd like to lose some weight (am 2 stone overweight and can't shift it, suspect it'll only start moving when I stop feeding DS), and I'm also very keen to start trying for a second baby in a few months. I know I can tandem feed, and it may yet come to that, but it's not something I've ever really wanted to do. Plus, although I know there's no evidence that it harms pregnancies, I've got a history of miscarriages and don't really want to do anything I might reproach myself with later, even if I know it's irrational, IYSWIM. And I've started going out to tutorials (just started training as an NCT breastfeeding counsellor, ironically!) and NCT meetings and also yer actual social nights out grin and it's getting quite hard for DH to get him to sleep in my absence.

I know, it's sounding like I have more ishoos than just wanting DS to go to sleep without milky! grin

I have posted once or twice on the extended bf thread - just wasn't sure if others had cracked the feeding-to-sleep thing!

I'll try the music thing, I think. At least night feeds are no longer a problem, as most nights DS sleeps until 7. Unless he's teething, or has a bug, or the cat wakes him up...

kittywise Thu 01-Oct-09 09:43:52

ds3 is 2.5 and always had a feed in his bedroom before he sleeps.

didoreth Thu 01-Oct-09 10:15:42

I still feed ds (16 months) to sleep every night, and cosleep and feed him if he wakes at night (which is at least once every night). I'm a full time student and he's with his dad all day, so I quite like that we still have that special breastfeeding bond. I breastfed and coslept with dd till she was 2, when I wanted to stop we had a discussion about how she was a big girl and didn't need mummy's milk anymore, and was going to sleep in a big girl's bed, and she accepted it without any fuss. (I had to stay with her till she was asleep until she was about 6 though). I plan to do the same again - won't stop until ds is old enough to explain it to him.

GhostWriter Thu 01-Oct-09 10:25:11

My dd is 2.5 and feeds to sleep. Not all the time now. Sometimes she latches off, says night and turns over. Other times she hangs on until she's utterly asleep and will not let go.

It's a strong, strong sleep association for her. She looks for milk if she awakens in the night as an automatic reflex but as she gets older she settles without it more and more. I trust that it will improve.

She has never, ever, ever settled for anybody else. I have my first night out next month since she was born and my Mum will be looking after her. I fully anticipate that she will be awake when I get home.

I do feel very, very alone bfing a toddler to sleep and it does feel like it's not improving and she'll never learn but realistically I know that she's self settling in the night and latching off awake sometimes too so it's slowly changing.

Like you, I can't face taking it away from her. She adores milk, absolutely utterly adores it and it's been comfort, nutrition, closeness for so long that wrenching it away feels wrong to me. Doesn't mean I don't want to though.

Have also struggled to lose weight while bfing. Am running 4/5 times a week and eating very well and have lost 2 stones but still half a stone that will not move from my stomach. Nothing will shift it but hope that ceasing bfing will do it one day.

You're certainly not alone.

MamaGoblin Thu 01-Oct-09 11:54:21

Blimey, Ghostwriter, that's a long stretch without a night out! grin I hope you have a great time and that she does sleep. Well done for getting some running in - where is DD while you're running? I planned to do some exercise in the living room while DS napped, but he only sleeps for about 40 mins at a time now (he'll go down again for another stretch if I go up and breastfeed him... of course!) and what with making lunch for us when he wakes, and the internet and doing other household chores, and the internet, and some crafty bits and so on I'd like to get on with, there's never any time for jumping about on my trampoline!

One reason I really want to lose weight, aside from mere vanity grin is that I had some hypertensive issues at the end of DS's pregnancy that meant I had a long hospital stay after he was born. Never had them before and I think they were just a pregnancy thing, but I'm desperate to avoid it the next time, and so anything that might help with high BP, like losing weight, is a priority.

bababelle Thu 01-Oct-09 13:55:57

quick post, got to run but just to add my fellow-feeling! still bfing a 22-month old to sleep (and to nap after lunch!), don't know anyone else in RL who does this and I've got all the same issues already mentioned - don't want to stop before she's ready but want to feel confident she will manage to drop off when I'm not there - desperate for freedom to go to evening meetings/out on the town!! (I wish) - also want to try for another baby soon and need a break for me!
am liking the music idea too...

x

GhostWriter Thu 01-Oct-09 14:03:28

My dd gave up napping entirely at 14 months! I exercise when dh is around to watch dd for an hour or so. Started by doing dvds at home while dh took dd to the supermarket or took her for a walk and progressed to running once I was a bit fitter. It is hard to fit it in with crafty stuff, the internet, writing a book, housework etc and sometimes after the demands of bfing and parenting a toddler I just want to sit down and read a book. That said, I feel so much better for doing it and know that it helps my positivity. I wasn't happy overweight and it was a vicious cycle.

Davina's dvds are very, very good if you're thinking of starting at home.

The bfing gets better and I've always maintained that sleep and self settling is developmental so you can encourage but they do it in their own time anyway. It is very hard though. You're doing well.

I've never been away from dd at all really apart from the odd hour here or there when dh has her so a whole night out will be very strange indeed. I've told her it's happening and she just says she'll come with me or this morning 'why go out mummy, we have lots of books here'. Interesting logic.

IrritableGrizzly Thu 01-Oct-09 15:36:36

I'm another one still bfing to sleep. Ds2 is 17m and just cannot self settle, so I feed him to sleep for his afternoon nap and bedtime, and he always wakes at least once in the night as well.

I'm perfectly aware I've made the dreaded rod for my own back, but it's not enough of a problem for me to want to take drastic steps to change. I know they would have to be drastic, as the couple of times I tried to let him get off to sleep by himself he screamed so hysterically I couldn't stand it.

He actually had a babysitter for the first time last weekend, and she gave him a bottle of cow's milk and he went straight to sleep - was pleasantly surprised with that!

I'm planning on bfing til he's 2, and hopefully he'll learn to settle himself around that time. I'm not having any more babies, so I'm going to cherish this time and then I'll have the knowledge that I made the most of our time while he was little!

stingray Thu 01-Oct-09 16:07:44

i am still breastfeeding to sleep my nearly 3 yr old.she is the youngest of 4 and i did the same with all of them.my other children are aged 22,15 and 11.i can honestly say i did"nt have much of a problem stopping any of them.i put plasters on my nipples and made a big deal in having baddies on my nipples.at the age of 3 you can discuss things with them and they will understand far easier than say a 1 year old.Mine have been so filled with concern at the thought of mummy having a baddy,that they have not played up too much about giving up.

GhostWriter Thu 01-Oct-09 16:18:34

<lightbulb> a baddie is an ouchie yes? grin

Was wondering why you have Skeletor on your breasts. That's a niche tattoo request.

Lilybunny Thu 01-Oct-09 16:35:18

I breastfed my dd until she was 18 months, and I gave up because I was fed up! She had total milk love and I was painfully aware that I was stopping her before she was really ready, but I just couldn't stand it anymore. At the time I decided to stop she was pretty much on just nap and bed time feeds. We had a night light on our landing which I told my dd would light up when the 'milk fairy' had been to see mummy and left me milk to breastfeed her. She liked running to see if the light was on when she wanted a feed. Gradually we started to leave it off and used distractions instead if she found it was off. Finally all that was left was her night time feed. The night we finally left the light off we left her a present from the 'milk fairy' (new nightie and a new book) and a note to say she was now such a big girl she didn't need mummy's milk anymore. We gave her cow's milk in a cup instead and she seemed happy enough with that. Took about 2-3 months in all.

FairyLightsForever Thu 01-Oct-09 16:45:59

My dd is 2.5 and like GhostWriter's dd, doesn't always feed completely to sleep now.

She mostly wakes up during the night for a feed too. She had stopped- My X stayed for a week, put her to bed and got up with her when she woke during the night and she got used to it. We then moved and she was unsettled and it's too easy to slip back into the habit of feeding to sleep sad

That said, when she goes overnight with X, although she doesn't fall asleep as quickly, she accepts that I'm just not available and if she wakes in the night and I'm not there she goes straight back to sleep envy!

PigeonPie Thu 01-Oct-09 21:27:29

MamaGoblin, I'll join the club! DS2 is now 20 months and feeds to sleep most nights - if he doesn't go to sleep on me he's a nightmare to get to sleep - so I keep going, then at least I have some evening to myself instead of keeping having to go upstairs and settle him.

DS1 gave it up at 19 months, but then I was 3 months pg with DS2 which might have had some bearing (note to all extended bfing is NOT a reliable contraceptive!) and he settled most nights reasonably easily after that.

Part of me wants him to give up so that I don't have to be there for bath/bed time, but then the other part of me doesn't as he's going to be our last and I don't want it to stop yet.

No real advice I'm afraid, just wanted you to know you're not alone.

MamaGoblin Fri 02-Oct-09 12:49:55

Well, having said that he doesn't wake much at night for milk, last night was a bit of a nightmare aberation! I think his molars are still troubling him. I spent an hour trying to feed him back to sleep and finally got fed up and put him down, very sleepy but awake. And he did go to sleep!

But woke 20 mins later. sad DH managed to get him down quite fast, which is unusual. And then he slept until 9 and we were late for toddler group, and I was on rota... Ah well.

What sort of music do people play if they do this for a sleep association? Classical? Children's stuff?

Thanks again for all the responses and fellow-feeling! smile

ChairmumMiaow Tue 06-Oct-09 10:34:26

I still feed 20mo DS to sleep when I can (most nights) - its so much quicker and I can play games on my phone while we're doing it.

After his milk (or not if I am not there) he will settle in his toddler bed eventually but it takes much longer so we're not stopping a good thing. He settles quicker for Daddy and has even gone to sleep at his auntie's house with no fuss at all!

I don't feed him in the night but he does normally come into bed with us at some point during the night, and if not he wakes for a feed at 5 (on the dot normally) and will then doze for up to 2 hours! (with a switch of sides half way through)

MaMight Tue 06-Oct-09 10:43:44

You are not alone!! I still feed my 18 month old to sleep at night time and for naps. He is a little boobie monster and although I am ready to give it up, he is most definitely not.

Like you MamaG I am starting to go out in the evenings from time to time and it's not always easy on dh. Sometimes he'll fall asleep on dh and he can be moved into his cot, but I sometimes come home to find them eating yogurt on the sofa and watching Top Gear hmm, but hey, whatever works. We reached a point where I just HAD to go out by myself from time to time and as long as ds isn't screaming and hysterical, they just have to get on with it. I can feed him to sleep before I go but then he just wakes up for MORE milkies 40 minutes later. Sigh.

The holy grail for me now is getting him to a point where I can leave him with a shock babysitter and dh and I can go out together one evening. I wonder if we still have anything in common to talk about after all this time... wink

kelbods Tue 06-Oct-09 14:09:23

i also feel isolated dh family didnt bf so they not supportive at all the only way to settle dd for bed is through boob. i have tried the controlled crying even 3 months down the line she still crys for several hours and is hysterical until she gets the boob my fault i bf so im told to sort it dh tries but dd wont settle for him at the end of my tether my 3 boys werent this hard. she is 19 months and not slept through yet still 2 3 times a night but she can go all day without boob what am i to do?

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