I don’t claim to be an expert at anything, except when it comes to boob obsessed toddlers.
I have been nursing for the last four years straight, part of that time pregnant, and the other part of that time tandem nursing. Out of the last 48 months, I’ve probably had about four months total that I wasn’t woken up every two hours or less to nurse someone.
I only tell you all of this so that you may trust me when I say: I GET IT. I hear your cries sister and I wish we could hold each other right now.
There comes a time for many of us when we have to put our foot down and our boobs away, at least during the night so we can be functioning human beings.
Dacky is turning two this week, and he has just recently been night weaned. I decided to night wean him because if left to his own devices, he will wake up every two hours or less to nurse.
I know those of us that nurse older toddlers might be more in the minority, but I also know there’s a lot of us out there. And from what I’ve seen from my friends who nurse older toddlers, it seems like half of them start to naturally night wean themselves, and the other half start regressing back to freakin newborns and want to nurse all night.
So I’m going to share with you the stages of trauma my experience and tips for night weaning a boob-obsessed toddler.
First Stage: Oh hells no.
Despite conversations that your “mimis” (as we call them around here) will be going to sleep and not coming back until the sun comes up, they will wake up as usual for their first nursing after falling asleep, and they will be outraged to the core of their little souls that there will be no having of the mimis.
Envision back arching, scream crying, fully waking up in bed…every 30 minutes after they finally fall asleep…all night.
Second Stage: Eye of the storm.
Usually after the first night (or two) there will be a strange calm that takes over. They don’t wake up as frequently and they fall back asleep faster. But you know it’s too good to be true, and it is, so don’t prepare for a full night’s rest just yet.
They’re just refilling their energy stores and preparing to go to battle.
Brace yourself. Shit’s about to get real.
Third Stage: The gnashing of teeth.
Don’t watch any horror movies about possessed children during this time so you’re not scared shitless at night by your own small child who will be making guttural, non-human sounds you’ve never heard before.
They’re fully aware of your little plan to try and get more than 2 hours of uninterrupted sleep since birthing them years ago and they are pissed.
Hold on for dear life like you would to a pole during a huge tornado…it will all be over shortly! Eye on the prize Mom, keep your eye on that prize.
Fourth Stage: Scattered storms.
Your toddler’s head isn’t spinning in circles at night anymore, but you’ve still got to make it through a few nights of wakeful fits. Depending on your toddler’s level of boob addiction and individual perseverance, this stage can last up to a week and in some cases, two.
BUT…by now you might have noticed nap time during the day increase and they will go several hours before waking at night. MAJOR IMPROVEMENT, right?! You can do this.
Fifth Stage: They sleep.
Like in those movies after a horrible monster or debilitating storm has passed and everyone starts to come out from hiding, laughing and embracing…this will be you and your spouse or other children in the house.
It’s safe, everyone can come out! Sleep is actually happening!!! You awake in the mornings and don’t feel like death. Welcome back to life!
Things that helped me:
1. Water and snack by the bed. The first few times I offered a sippy cup, Dacky demon-screamed NO at me, but he eventually wanted some water. I also kept some crackers by the bed for him in case he really was hungry. He ate them once for novelty but he’s never truly hungry.
2. There were a few nights that I gave in probably around 4am. What was nice was that he would go back to sleep for, usually, several more hours. It’s an amazing thing how much longer they’ll start to sleep even before they’re completely done being night weaned.
3. Keep talking about it during the day. Keep reminding them that “mimis” will be going to bed at night.
4. Set your coffee timer the night before. Make it strong.
And that was my experience of night weaning Dacky…I wanted to share it here before my mind blacked it out for my emotional and mental protection. If you’ve gone up against the wrath of a boob-obsessed toddler and lived to tell the tale, please leave your tips below!
Jessica Dimas is the author of the book “Sacred Self-Care for the Highly Sensitive Mom.”
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