Weaning and Sleep Training

Ah yes…if you’re a parent you will most likely be familiar with this topic.  The question of when to wean is always a tough one and it can be a controversial one depending on who you hang around with.  Sleep training also goes hand in hand with it, especially if you’re still breastfeeding a lot.  I can really only speak from my current experience on the matter. Every child is unique so you can’t really apply someone else’s method verbatim, however, it’s always good to seek advice from experienced moms who have already been through the trenches of sleeplessness and sore nipples.

One week ago I was pretty much fed up, to be honest. I was resentful that I was nursing Eden so much and due to my pregnancy it was sore, especially when she nursed for long periods of time.  I was tired, from multiple nights in a row of her awake for 2-3 hours  screaming and the only way I knew how to sooth her was to nurse her. So it was all on me, Tim really couldn’t do much other then be awake from all the screaming.

I talked with my sister about it and she suggested talking with a seasoned mom in our church who is currently weaning her twin boys (who are Eden’s age) and who had a really difficult time with her toddler. I ended up talking with her Tuesday and what an encouragement she was! She has 4 kids 5 and under and also a teenage step-daughter, talk about busy! She took a quite moment she had to call me and encourage me. WOW!

It’s hard as a first time mom you know? You have no reference point and you don’t really have time to sit and do a lot of research. I was honestly at a loss when it came to weaning and I knew that I had to start there before I tackled sleep, because the only reason Eden was waking up was for comfort and to nurse. She had no idea how to sooth herself to sleep and would often cry until she threw up if I tried to get her to “cry-it-out”. Not really that effective since she would then be hungry and end up nursing more (after I changed her bedding, sleeper, and blankets…).

Anyway, this super mom who called me was so encouraging and she gave me some different ideas to try out. I was hoping I wouldn’t have to get too extreme and use the “mustard approach” or the “mom goes away for a weekend approach” (although that didn’t sound too bad I would feel like I was abandoning her and Tim). That night I didn’t nurse Eden at all, we decided to just lay her back down in her crib if she woke up, comfort her a bit and then leave the room. If she was still crying after 5 minutes Tim would go back in and lay her back down. We increased the waiting time to 10 minutes shortly after that. The first night Eden was up for 3 hours, practically screaming the whole time (thankfully she slept in a bit the next day). The following day I believe I tried to reduce the amount I nursed her throughout the day but it was difficult. She askes for it and doesn’t give up until she gets it, it’s heart breaking. It was also difficult because I’ve always nursed on demand, meaning we didn’t have a schedule or anything like that, so it was hard to keep track.

The following night Eden only had to be laid down 2 or 3 times I think (I mostly slept through it!) and I was hopeful! That morning I decided that I was only going to nurse her in the morning when she woke up and before bed. This was quite a drastic reduction but we managed through the first day. She had a total of 3 major meltdowns and I managed to distract here with food or going outside. At the end of the day I was so happy! I really felt like I could do it! Since then Eden has only woken up once per night and sometimes not at all. Tim just goes into her room, lays her down and that’s it. She learned that quickly how to fall asleep without nursing. I also continue to only nurse her morning and evening and that’s working for us at this time. I honestly don’t think it will be that hard to get rid of those nursings altogether but we’re in no rush, to be honest it’s really nice cuddle time for us:)

My relationship with Eden is better for it too, I’m less tired and resentful. Some days I felt like she was sucking all the life out of me, between her and the growing little one I was exhausted. I have a lot more energy now and enjoy playing with her down on the floor more often. She’s not constantly hanging off me (well some days she still is…) so I cherish those snuggles more.

To be honest I went through a period of time when I felt guilty about wanting to wean Eden, like I would be depriving her or something. Some people believe this is so, but I realised that since I was feeling resentful toward her weaning her would probably do more good than harm. Now I wonder why we didn’t at least try the whole sleep training thing sooner! It’s amazing to be able to stay in bed all night when I haven’t had that privilege for more than a year (especially if you include all the bathroom runs late in pregnancy).

It’s so hard to find a balance as a mom sometimes. You always want to do what’s best for your children, sometimes it hard to figure out what that is.  For now we’re enjoying the fact that Eden’s in bed early (8ish) which gives Tim and I some time in the evenings. We even had a babysitter last week and went out on the town for a couple of hours! Eden’s also been sleeping until 7 or 8 am, meaning she’s getting a good long sleep, we’re getting a good long sleep, and we all wake up happy (most mornings). Her afternoon nap has been only around an hour long but oh well, you can’t have it all right? That was long enough for me to get supper made and answer a few e-mails/check FB today!

It’s been almost a week and those first few nights of crying have definitely been worth it. I don’t think Eden’s been permanently damaged by the whole process, if anything she’s learned that “hey, mom and dad haven’t abandoned me, they will come when I cry but I might as well just fall asleep unless I really need something” – or something along those lines!

Thanks to encouraging, experienced, Godly moms who willingly give advice. I hope that one day I will be the one giving advice to a struggling new mom!

Afternoon nap in the hammock

Stay tuned! The next post will be Hint #2!

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5 thoughts on “Weaning and Sleep Training

  1. I’m so happy to hear that the process is going well. I was just about to send you a little note when I ready your update. A happy Mommy and Daddy will make for a happy, confident, thriving baby. You two are doing a great job and Little Eden is surely lavished with love.

    Press on!

    ~K

    PS – I think we’ve passed the worst of it with the twins. Less than two weeks and we should be able to fully wean them. I’ll miss it, but I’m also happy knowing that we are all gaining more independence.

  2. Sleep training is one of the hardest things. I was told (and it makes SO much sense) that training your child to sleep on their own is the same as teaching them to swim. You can guide them through it and support them with love, but they need to learn it on their own and build their skill themselves. Stay strong and know that the end result is so very worth it for all of you!
    Doing the morning and evening nursing helps to connect the two of you at the beginning and end of the day, that’s how we started the weening process and it seemed to be a “graceful” way to lean into it.
    Love you Kathryn, you’re doing a great job!
    Anna

  3. Thank you so much Kathryn for your honest and open posts about motherhood! It really gives us non-mothers an idea about what it is like. I love hearing these things, especially from you. Keep writing 🙂

  4. It is a process, and a learning curve. I remember trying to figure out the weaning thing, when to start, how much does he need to nurse just for eating, all kinds of questions. It is so great to have other moms to talk it through with and to get some insight into what’s worked for them. I’m glad it’s going well.
    I do think sleep training is necessary, sometimes not comfortable, but needed. It also amazes me how quickly they learn and while the first night can be tough on everyone by the second and third nights the crying is less, the wakes up are less frequent, and everyone is feeling better. Our babes getting enough sleep is so important, but it’s also for us. Thanks for sharing the challenges and triumphs of your mothering journey.

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