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Sleep training & breastfeeding one year old

(8 Posts)
Chloris33 Fri 05-Feb-16 10:20:10

My 13 month old has pretty much always fed to sleep, though lately he's come off the boob at his bedtime feed & then cuddled to sleep. Soon I am going to try putting him in his cot awake. He wakes loads and I'm hoping to get some longer stretches, if he can learn to fall asleep himself. Mums who've still been breastfeeding when trying this kind of thing: should I stop feeding at all his subsequent wake ups in the night or can I eliminate this gradually? Also, I still find breastfeeding such a good comforter during his illnesses. If I went back to feeding in the middle of the night if he is really unwell & distressed would it then cause major sleep regression?
Please no one tell me he doesn't need breastfeeding now: I'm aware it's a comfort thing rather than a nutrition thing at night, of course. I want to remain sensitive to his needs while also trying to improve the sleep situation. At the moment he goes in his cot at first (I've always put him in after he falls asleep), and then when he wakes around my bedtime he co-sleeps with me. So it will be a big change for him. X

FATEdestiny Fri 05-Feb-16 10:44:32

You could eliminate night feeds gradually. It is clear from your OP this is what you want to do and there is no reason not to.

Have you read the No Cry Sleep Solution? The Pantly Pull-Off (as you are doing currently, unlatching and then cuddling to sleep) can work in the night too.

It takes a lot of patience and time, but you sound like you are perfectly at-ease with that.

I don't have first-hand experience of breastfeeding at night in the way you do, but follow similar principles on the basis that I would never, ever tolerate my child being upset and distressed when I can provide comfort instead.

What I would do in your situation is develop a means to settle baby (I'd probably make the cot into a 3-sided co-sleeper and cuddle right into the cot from my bed) and then at every wake up try to resettle. I would always be happy to feed if it was needed, but would try 5 or 10 minutes of settling first.

Chloris33 Fri 05-Feb-16 10:49:49

That's a great idea, thanks FATEdestiny, I will try resettling without feeding for 10 mins or so for the night time wake ups & see what happens. X

Bugaboom Fri 05-Feb-16 10:56:58

Hello. I was advised to go cold turkey on night feeds by health visitor. On the basis that it's confusing for baby to give a feed sometimes and not others- also my night feeds were so frequent I didn't even know how many feeds I was giving to cut down. I also staggered into her clinic on the verge of tears, unwell and basically wrecked from sleep deprivation! What she advised was "controlled comfort" which was basically control cry but that if we weren't comfortable we could stay with her. So my dh took leave and he did all wake ups for 5 nights. He cuddled her, offered water, then put her down and rubbed her back. Sometimes he did leave her and she actually settled quicker as I think she was frustrated at his lack of breasts!
This was 6 weeks ago. I tried feeding her in the night on the weekend just gone as she was unwell but it didn't really help her sleep so I probably won't again.
Good luck Chloris

stargirl1701 Fri 05-Feb-16 10:59:11

I'm feeding DD2 on demand, day and night, at 17 months. I'm hoping to get to 24 months as recommended by the WHO.

You don't need to stop unless you want to.

Chloris33 Fri 05-Feb-16 11:39:45

Thanks Bugaboom. Glad it worked out for you. I am also going to get some HV advice. I am torn between gradual night weaning as a gentle option and the value of being consistent, as you say.

flipflopson5thavenue Fri 05-Feb-16 12:14:03

when DS2 was 10 months I started some gentle sleep training. Until that point we co-slept like you from when I went to bed, and I would bfeed him to sleep at bedtime and his naps. He'd wake every 1.5/2hrs throughout the night and I'd just feed back to sleep.

I started by dragging the mattress from the spare bed onto the floor, and at bedtime I'd feed, then put him down next to me awake and lie with him until he fell asleep, essentially ignoring him unless he wanted a cuddle/ssshhing/patting etc. the first time it took an hour, mostly of him trying to crawl off the mattress and play... but subsequent nights he'd just lie there, faff a bit, but eventually drop off by himself, usually tucked into my armpit smile

I wasn't ready to nightwean yet so I continued to sleep there with him and feed him back to sleep when he woke.

After a week or so I 'upgraded' to a pull out bed which I put against his cot, after taking one side off. I did the same thing - put him down awake, and lay next to him until he fell asleep in his cot. There was a bit of protesting the first bedtime, but no real tears and I was there to cuddle/pat sing to him etc throughout. At this point I decided to nightwean too and if he woke before 11pm I'd just feed back to sleep, but between 11pm-5am if he woke I just cuddled/patted him etc. It's all a bit hazy now but he did really well, and within a couple of weeks I'd got him in his cot with all the sides up and he was falling asleep by himself at bedtime and allowing me to pat/comfort him through the bars of the cot back to sleep when he woke in the night. I carried on lying next to him at bedtime and each time he woke at night, but i was able to crawl back to my bed in between. There was some crying, but not like what I expected and he got the new routine pretty quickly. Most times I'd come in, lie down next to him and he;d immediately just lie don and go back to sleep.

At around 13.5 months he started sleeping through the night, and was doing 7pm - 4/5am regularly. It was bliss.

And short-lived....

Last month it all went tits up. literally. He's now almost 15months and wakes every couple hours again and I'm back to feeding him back to sleep (I feed him in a chair in his bedroom - oh how I miss cosleeping...!!). I'm exhausted, my milk supply is back up again to the extent I feel uncomfortable during the day at work, and I'm feeling a bit depressed by it all. I blame thick colds, molars, and who else knows what. I get the whole comfort thing but I do feel a bit annoyed that we;re back here.

Anyway, am planning to start again tonight - will put him down awake, and lie with him until he goes to sleep, and each time he wakes up (will start with 11pm-5am again but hope to gradually extend it to 1opm-6am). Am VERY sure there will be some protesting, especially now that he's older and more vocal, and he will shout at me to GIVE ME BOOB!!!! but I won't leave his side. He;s not ill, he's not in pain, he's not being abandoned or mistreated. he's just not getting milk. I'm offering him comfort, just not the comfort he wants in that moment...

I can live with the crying as I know he's 'just' cross.

Like you, I would always offer my child comfort if they need it, and gentle sleep training is the only way I feel comfortable with. However, this doesn't mean there isn't crying involved. But it's within the limits I'm comfortable with. Like I say, I AM offering him comfort. Just not milk.

Good luck. There is a thread on here called "what worked for us" which I used for DS1 a couple years ago, which helped a lot. Also check our Dr Jay Gordon for his nightweaning plan. It involves slowly cutting back the length of night feeds, so this could also be something you could try. I think its ok to feed sometimes and not others, as long as it's consistent, i.e. yes to feed before 11pm but not after and this is consistent every night.

Chloris33 Sat 06-Feb-16 18:24:27

Thanks flipflops, that sounds s good gradual way of helping him to sleep independently. I think I've decided Im going to go with a gradual programme too. Hope it works for you again & that you get some more sleep again! X

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