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How to wean my 21 month old from co-sleeping and feeding all night?

(47 Posts)
car1sberg Mon 12-Sep-16 13:55:28


I'm after some advice from anyone who has been in a similar position or has any suggestions, please!

I'll try to be brief. My little girl is 21 months old. She is breastfed but only feeds before bedtime, not at all in the day. She has a 2 hour nap every day in her cot, no problems at all. She goes to bed in her cot at 7pm, again no problems (most of the time, unless poorly/we've been on holiday etc, then I just reassure her in the cot until almost asleep then leave). The problem is overnight.. She sleeps solidly from 7pm until anywhere between 10pm-12am, where she wakes and is furious unless I lift her out of her cot and feed her (always on my bed as she's a lie down feeder!) then she goes straight back to sleep, but I'm usually so tired I fall asleep with her then on the bed rather than put her back. She did start only waking and feeding once at around midnight then sleeping (beside me) soundly until 6.30-7am which was amazing, but that's gone downhill, hence my posting.

The last few nights she has woken between 10-11pm, will not settle in her cot again so has a feed, then seems to wake every couple of hours during the night shouting for 'more!' and screaming if I refuse to feed her! This then wakes my husband, and we have a 4 year old who has just started school so I worry he will wake too, so I give in and feed her!

How on earth can I wean her off this? I don't mind co-sleeping, equally happy for her to stay in her cot, but either way the overnight feeding needs to go, it's becoming crazy - like a newborn!

I'm not sure whether to go completely cold turkey and somehow deal with the screaming? Or offer water instead? I don't want to substitute it for something else as I'm aiming to avoid the wake ups altogether? Do I still bring her in with me but refuse to feed, or just deal with the screaming in her cot, so tackling both at once? I've no idea. I never envisaged breastfeeding her this long, after only doing a few months with my son. It's just never fizzled out, now she's crazy for it overnight!

If anyone has any ideas please help! Thank you..

WittgensteinsBunny Mon 12-Sep-16 19:54:39

I've got a similar situation with my 18 mo. It's so frustrating isn't it. In fact, my DD is currently being driven around Sussex by her Dad, as this is the only way she will go to sleep at the moment angry shock. We have so much sleeping stuff to sort out in our house.

The first thing I'd say (I'm on my second of these types of children) is is she teething? Sleep goes to pot and babies seem to need boob all night long here if they are teething. Unless they've been weaned for a while i wouldn't go cold turkey if still teething.

If not, I just starting to wean DD overnight. Last night went pretty well, she woke 3 times: 11 (into bed with us), 2ish, 4.30 and then I fed her at 5.30 (boobs very uncomfortable) and then up at 6.45am and straight downstairs for breakfast and no milk until after breakfast. I refused to feed her for the 11, 2 and 4.30 by wrapping the duvet tightly around me (I'm going to buy non boob access nighties this week) so she couldn't get me. She was majorly angry for a few minutes. I did cuddling, stroking and gently singing the first time to soothe and then just cuddling and shushing the 2nd and 3rd. I had a rule with dd1 when I weaned her that I wouldn't feed until 5am after her last night time feed. I'm doing the same now. I also stopped feeding dd1 in the bedroom(s) completely when I night weaned. I will be doing this soon too. It just breaks the association. I think dd2 is trickier because I'm not pregnant this time so more milk and I think it will take a few days for her to readjust her eating habits to compensate for up to 4(!) night time feeds. But it needs to happen, I'm on my knees with tiredness at the minute.

Good luck!

car1sberg Mon 12-Sep-16 21:37:17

Thank you SO much for your reply. Our situations sound very similar. I've just read out your reply to my husband and he's nodded throughout, lol. It's made me feel better already just knowing that someone else is going through the same thing.

I think it's worse because I know she can sleep better than this. Wrapping yourself in the duvet sounds like what I need to do.. She's going to be so cross though, I just worry about her waking up the whole house! She really cries when I try to say no. Argh it's horrible!

I do think she's teething though, now you mention it. Back molars I think.. She's not been herself for a few days. I think I might hold off until the weekend possibly, see how she is and go for it then.

Would you keep me updated as to how it goes with you and your little girl? Good luck! X

WittgensteinsBunny Tue 13-Sep-16 11:19:45

Hi! I feel like I could do with some support too - last night was awful.

So, DD was asleep from her drive (8ish) but woke up when dh put her in her cot. She utterly refused to sleep and just kept screaming Mama. As she shares a room with her sister, who is at pre-school today, I told dh to bring her downstairs. I tried to get her to sleep on me / fed her. Nothing. She had more dinner with us and then was just wandering around looking like a zombie. We turned the lights off, cuddled her, I fed her... Nothing worked! I must admit that this is very unusual for her. I ended up taking her to bed with me at 9.30. I had given her lots of milk downstairs but refused to in bed. She was enraged. The screaming was awful but didn't seem to wake Dd1! She was finally feel asleep at 9.45ish but was doing that horrible sobbing thing in her sleep sad. She didn't wake until 4ish but again was so angry that I wasn't feeding her. After about 10 mins of screaming dd1 came into bed with me (dh had fallen asleep on the sofa). She fell asleep pretty quickly but dd2 was angry that I was cuddling her big sister and then started shouting "no" and trying to climb in between us. Dh came up at 4.30 and she continued to scream for another 10/15 minutes before going back to sleep. She then woke at 6.30 for milk. And then breakfast.

I don't think it helps that my period is due. I'm actually feeling really low and fragile and have bad period pain type feelings, which would be earlier. I tend to find that she's really fussy and demands lots more feeds in the run up to my period and wakes more at night too.

I'm so fed up of the night waking now and really feel it's time to wean, so I will persist. Dd1 is such a heavy sleeper that i don't really worry too much about her but i do worry about the neighbours blush

On the plus side she did the long stretch between 9.45 and 4, but the screaming was really intense last night and I always feel really cheated if I lose an evening.

How was your night?

car1sberg Tue 13-Sep-16 19:04:41


Gosh, our little ones sound SO similar. I find myself reading what you say and thinking I've written it myself!

They get themselves so overtired and worked up that nothing works, don't they? Past the point of reasoning, those times are tough. We actually experience that more with our 4yo, he's very(!) tired from starting school, and 4-7pm involves lots of treading on eggshells with him, and very dramatic tears and collapsing onto the floor.

I know how you feel in terms of being low and fragile, if we've had a bad night with lots of wakings I feel low the next day, like I'm getting it all wrong? My husband tries to cheer me up by reminding me that it's because our daughter's attachment to me is so strong, which despite being tough at times, is also lovely. It's the same for you? I try to remind myself that this won't last forever, and she'll be at school before I know it, like our son.

Last night.. After reading your post to my husband we agreed that DD is definitely teething, she's showing a lot of signs, so we'll hold off on the feeding refusal temporarily - until the weekend is the plan. So she woke at approx 10.45pm, my husband brought her in to me in bed, she spat her dummy out to be fed but my husband (who never usually interferes at all over night as he's useless without boobs!) gave it her back quite firmly and said no. She went to sleep beside me?! A total fluke. I can't remember when she woke after that, the night is usually a blur to be honest, but she woke maybe 3 times for a feed at a guess. She's so random, no night is ever the same.

She's crying in her cot now despite a lovely bedtime and never usually crying? No idea why. She's definitely out of sorts.

How's things there?


car1sberg Tue 13-Sep-16 19:12:12

Meant to say, I really admire you being strong with saying no to the feeds overnight. It's so hard. I know you will probably feel guilty but do try not too, you aren't abandoning your DD, she is still next to you in your bed, you're just training her not to wake for the milk. I know how easy it is just to feed them, to keep things quiet and calm. I've been doing it for 21 months, lol. What you're doing is exactly what I'll be doing.. Are you hoping she will stop waking once she stops having the milk, and therefore stay in her cot? Or do you plan to deal with sleeping in her cot separately, or just carry on co-sleeping? I'm not sure myself.. X

Fueledwithfairydustandgin Tue 13-Sep-16 19:19:30

DS is 2.5 and has always been a dreadful sleeper, he co sleeps and has always fed to sleep. He wakes up to 5 times a night and it was getting too much so I read about different techniques because I'm not one for cry it out. I did dr jay Gordon's gentle night weaning. It worked well but when it came to the stopping feeding I felt it was too much for him to do with me so my husband slept with him and I slept downstairs. I'm not convinced this was a good idea because he was upset that I wasn't there ( he would have been upset if I was but was refusing to feed him but maybe less confused?) we only did that for 3 nights then I went back to bed but wouldn't feed between 11 and 5.30 but now he is fed to sleep and allowed one "top up" before I go to bed then nothing else. The downsides are the new routine is brutal confused but hopefully I can slowly change it. He used to sleep 8pm until 7am and nap 11.30 until 1. Now there's no nap and he sleeps 6pm until 4.30 then 5.30am until 6.30 am.

franhat Tue 13-Sep-16 19:50:53

We are trying to night wean our 22 month old at the moment too. She is never the same each night, sometimes awake for 10 minutes, has a feed and straight back to sleep. Other nights she'll be awake for an hour feeding almost constantly. I never intended to feed her for this long and ahe shows no sign of wanting to stop, so I am trying to gently encourage her. It's so hard though, giving her a boob is so easy to pacify her! Currently she has a quick feed after tea and then whenever she wakes in the night. I have timed the tea time feed for the past 3 days and it has gone from 5 to 3 minutes, still the same at night so far though.

daisydalrymple Tue 13-Sep-16 20:07:43

Hi I'm another in a similar position. Dc3 is 22mo, and still BF to sleep and wakes 10-11, then co-sleeps. He too had started waking again more to comfort feed I think, but I've started reducing it by whispering 'no, the boobies are sleeping now'. He's been a bit angry for a minute or so then rolled over and gone back to sleep.

I didn't plan on feeding this long either, but he's dairy intolerant and was diagnosed at 9mo, by which point we'd passed the stage of trying the prescription formula really. So the feeding has always been a comfort to him throughout the discomfort of the intolerance (nobody would believe there could be anything wrong due to the BF hmm).

I'm so ready to wean now, and am hoping to reduce it gradually over the next couple of months. So reassuring to read I'm not the only one in this position, I'm glad to read this thread and the tips!

car1sberg Tue 13-Sep-16 20:12:59

So reassuring to read the replies.. Thank you!

Daisy - again, sounds so similar to us. In our bed from between 10-11pm then waking for comforts feeds until morning.

Do you think there are more 1.5-2 year olds with similar habits, just the Mothers don't want to talk about it? Lol. I'm the only one (apparently) I know with an almost 2 year old who wakes overnight!


car1sberg Tue 13-Sep-16 20:14:29

Off to look up Dr Jay Gordon.. Well done Fairydust on feeding until (at least) 2.5 - such an achievement! X

Fueledwithfairydustandgin Tue 13-Sep-16 20:50:10

It's weird to hear that because everyone else kind of looks down on it and thinks I'm weird smile

Fueledwithfairydustandgin Tue 13-Sep-16 20:51:55

It's def worth a look. I'm on a high needs baby support group and someone suggested it to me when I was on the verge of a breakdown but I dismissed it because nothing has ever worked. It took a couple of months for me to even research it but it's been a kind, fair way to do it I've found. Good luck with whatever you choose xx

WittgensteinsBunny Wed 14-Sep-16 18:48:01

An update on last night. Going to bed, again, was not good. Lots of feeding, and then lots of climbing down to wander around. I did something I really hate doing, I put her in her cot for 10 minutes, leaving our bedroom doors open so she could see me and I went and made our bed and tidied around. After 10 mins I went back and cuddled her to sleep. She was asleep by 8.10. So, better but the crying is awful.

Another night with no feeds. She came in to us at 2ish and stirred several times. I just said, "shh, night night boobies; night, night baby" and magically she rolled over and went to sleep!

The crying ramped up a little bit by 4.30ish but no-where near the level of the night before.

I fed her at 5.40 and then up at 6.30.

DD1 slept in her bed till 5.50, which is amazing!!

Dd2 hasn't napped today but is now sound asleep in my lap ready for her cot.

Incidentally I read up on the Jay Gordon stuff with dd1 and it really helped. I'm more tolerant of crying with DD2 than I was with DD1. But I also have to function better to cope with a wilful 3 yo and I can't nap in the day like I did with DD1.

I think it's an amazing achievement to bf to 2.5 too. Really amazing. People thought i was a loon for feeding both DDs at the same time up until dd2 was 6 months. Even the HV lol!

WittgensteinsBunny Wed 14-Sep-16 18:52:45

Oh and to answer the question about co-sleeping...
My loose plan is to:
- stop night feeds but not co sleeping; then
- stop feeding to sleep; then
- trying to settle in cot rather then our bed over night (with the hope of ending co sleeping)
- then into toddler bed and same bedtime as dd1 (cup of milk, stories, songs, cuddle to sleep and return to bed before mid-night)

It's the feeding and waking that bothers me more than co sleeping

TeaPleaseLouise Wed 14-Sep-16 18:54:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

car1sberg Wed 14-Sep-16 21:39:39

Wow Bunny - it really sounds like you're making progress overnight! Well done! Let us know how tonight goes too?
My DD is definitely teething.. She was upset at bedtime again tonight, I don't feel able to be strict overnight and take away her comfort when she's already irritable. Last night was similar for us again, in terms of her feeding.

Hearing your progress is really encouraging though, I'm hoping I can get started soon too! X

car1sberg Wed 14-Sep-16 21:41:37

TeaPlease - it's great to hear that the overnight feeding can be overcome.. In just a few nights?

Mybeardeddragonjustdied2016 Wed 14-Sep-16 21:42:14

If your toddler is compassionate tell them your boobs are sore and put plasters on them!! My friend did it and it worked!!

StubbleTurnips Wed 14-Sep-16 21:47:59

DD was like this until about 2.5 and eventually got her to stop with the sore boobies line, so let her hold them instead. Which poses other problems.

She still wakes up though, so weaning hasn't stopped that at 3.5. She is a fucking nightmare with sleep.

yongnian Wed 14-Sep-16 21:52:40

Lurking along desperately-ish for inspiration, with another 2.5yo still enthusiastically night-feeding, feeding-to-sleep and co-sleeping.
Have been wondering which bit of it to tackle first, as it's a bit chicken-and-egg, so great to hear other's experiences.
As someone else said, not so bothered about co-sleeping as have a great set-up with loads of room, but the novelty of the multiple wakes and endless feedings wore off a (very) long time ago. For me, anyway- DD2 of course, still very much loves her 'milks'!!

TeaPleaseLouise Wed 14-Sep-16 21:54:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

yongnian Wed 14-Sep-16 21:54:51

Just cross-posted - I used the 'sore' excuse the other night (actually it was true as period was due) and she did seem to get it and went to sleep holding it instead...hmm

car1sberg Wed 14-Sep-16 22:12:20

I've not been engorged since DD was a few months old.. She's not fed in the daytime for aaages now, and my boobs never feel particularly full now. I think she gets a fair bit at her bedtime feed, but overnight it's minimal I reckon, all about the comfort munching!

WittgensteinsBunny Wed 14-Sep-16 23:20:27

I've just rocked DD back to sleep. No boob. 3 minutes shock!

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