Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Weaning Wednesdays: Our journey through night weaning

Junior J's bear bear, in his new bed...

I've mentioned the little boy was still getting up in the middle of the night for feeds, yes, at the grand old age of 26 months.  I know, I know.  Many kids this age would have already been sleeping through the night, and sleeping on their own, so we do get odd looks sometimes when people hear that Junior J was still co-sleeping, and still having night feeds (If your kid is still co-sleeping and/or feeding at night, please wave, and leave a comment ok?  It'll be nice to know whether I'm well and truly alone here!).

The co-sleeping initially started because it was just way easier to feed the boy (who used to wake up every 2 hours like clockwork to feed).  I could just roll over, feed him, and then go back to sleep, sometimes without really even waking up at all.  Little boy was rather colicky and had reflux, so the small, frequent feeds had to continue, and hence, for the sake of sleep, the co-sleeping went on.

Then Junior J got older, but he was an extremely fussy eater, and getting him to drink formula/cow's milk during the day was such a pain that I let the night feeds continue, in the hope that they would help to supplement some calories.  I was reluctant to drop the feeds since the boy wasn't eating and wasn't growing well (right now, he's still a really petite and small fellow for his age, and right at the very extreme end of the percentile chart).

But now that he's eating way better, we recently decided it was time to drop those feeds, and train him to sleep on his own in his room.  Instead of doing both at the same time (ie leave him alone in his room, plus not feed him at night), I thought I'd do it step by step for sanity's sake (he wakes up more frequently if he's left alone, so the first thing was to get him used to the idea that "big boys don't drink milk at night")... so the night-weaning started last week, and we've shifted him to his room, but little boy and I have been still co-sleeping.

The first three nights were terrible.  I basically refused to feed him (since I thought it would be best to be consistent and offer NO feeds at all), and patted and sang him back to sleep when he cried.  He would wake about 3 times a night, and would have at least one major meltdown, crying off and on for about half an hour to 45 minutes.  I spent every opportunity in the day explaining to him that "big boys don't need to feed at night when you can see the stars on the ceiling" (co-incidentally, the cardboard with the star cut-out that I had used to cover the small window let light in at night, and a patch of light in the shape of a star would be visible on the ceiling above the bed).  While I was zombified in the day due to the lack of sleep, little boy was perfectly normal in the morning, so I took it that he was getting used to it (One guideline I read to see if the child is ready for night-weaning was to see his/her behaviour in the day.).

For the past few nights, Junior J has been waking up for about two to three times, but there have not been any major meltdowns.  Sometimes there is a little crying, but he settles quickly after one or two songs.  I do ask to see if he's thirsty or hungry, and give him water if he wants it, and he gets plenty of praise in the morning for being able to sleep without getting feeds. :)  So thankfully, things are getting better, and I'm hoping to train him to sleep on his own starting from next week, and we've already been trying to explain to him that he's a big boy that not only doesn't need to feed, but can sleep on his own while his special star from God watches over him. ;) We've hit one roadblock though...  he's started sprouting molars a few days back (sigh), but I guess slow and steady does it!

Oh, and I found this article on night-weaning particularly useful, for its balanced view and gradual approach (plus it was written more towards weaning a toddler rather than sleep-training a baby).  Not sure if it'll help any mums out there...  But whatever the case, there seem to be many methods to encourage babies to night-wean, do go with your gut feel and don't feel pressured to use this or that method, just because others insist that it works.  There's no one-size fits all in this case!


  1. Kudo to you trying to wean him. I never dare to try because I know Yvette will be crying badly and madly!!!

  2. Hehe, guilty here! My girl is almost 4 and I still co sleep her, I just love the night bonding routine and always console myself that this is the rare moment that I must treasure before she has outgrown it, to the extend she prohibits me to enter her room(in her teens), lol!(selfish hor?)

    As for my girl(the feed weaning part), I used the same method as you did. Strict 3 nights no feeding(you can imagine how heart wrenching we hv to go through this, seeing our little one whimpered while begging for milk, phew), it worked like a magic on the subsequence night! Wish you luck!;D

  3. We're still co-sleeping, he's on his own mattress right beside mine. Every night, he squeezes onto my pillow and I try to put him back onto his own, unless I'm too tired.

    I won't dare attempt letting him sleep in another room as he's a super-light sleeper. If he wakes up, he might lie with his eyes open for an hour, without fussing. So my sleep goal is to prevent him from really waking up in the night, so that I can sleep better.

    We started with day-weaning very gradually at 14 months old. By 18 months old, the night feeds reduced (from up to 10 suckling sessions a night). Eventually, he lasted through the night without any suckling. It was unbelievable the morning it finally happened. Ha!

  4. my little one is about near 26 months, still wakes up for her feed at night, thou she is now sleeping in her own bed in the other room shared with her big sister, she will still be co sleeping with me in the middle of the night, when she wakes up for the feed on my bed.

    i am still figuring out whether or not weaning her off at night will be a good thing, as she doesn't seems like she is ready for it yet.

  5. Thanks mummies for sharing, and letting me know I am not alone! I guess all kids have their own timing when they are ready, and there's really no one-size fits all method!

    MieVee: 10 sessions at night! Wow... that's alot... you really must have been so amazed when he night-weaned himself!

    Dorcas: Oh! I never realized your younger daughter was about J's age! Guess she'll be ready eventually, no point forcing it if she's not ready!

    Sunflower: He did cry like crazy the first 3 nights, but it got better!

    Alice: Haha, understand! Yes, eventually we'll be missing the times that we can cuddle them ...

  6. Hi there! I've been following your blog for a few weeks now but this is my first foray out of lurking :)

    I have two girls, the elder is 28 mths and we all (hubby, myself and little girl) co-sleep merrily in one room. This is our choice, and we intend to co-sleep for some years until the girls can sleep together by themselves in one room. The girl loves it though, and looks forward to nights!

    She feeds at night only very rarely, and the younger one (6 months) has more or less stopped waking too. Funnily enough it happened automatically both times - they just gradually grew out of it. I didn't have to do anything special, apart from deciding whether to feed or pat at the early stages!

  7. My boy just turned 4 and still co-sleep side by side at his single bed with me. I'll moved to the mattress next to his bed after he fell asleep but in the middle of the night he'll 'automatically' rolled himself down to find me. I manage to let him sleep on his own bed when living oversea by getting him a 'car' bed. (But my bed still next to his). But unable to do that now due to space constraint.
    I've not much problem on co-sleep except he kept kicking me very hard when toss and turn :(

    Abt night feed, he drinks formula and there's a period (near 3yo) he could have up to 7 feeds! I trained him using the same method as you (cuddle, but a firm 'no' to him). Manage to reduce to 2 feeds to before and middle of night. Recently I showed him the bottle teat that grown a black mould/algea which couldn't be washed away and enourage him to drink from cup. He cried/whinced and after few times get use to the idea of 'Big boy cup'. So for the past 2 weeks I'll bring him to kitchen for his milk before bed. And because he's too tire to get/sit up in the middle of night, he din insist to have milk in the middle of night!

    I intend to move his milk time earlier or reduce the amt. in prepare for his night toilet-train (He's still on diaper in the night as he's a very light sleeper).

    You're definitely not alone :)

  8. hi jus! been reading your blog for a while now! THis post certainly resonates with me! Mt daughter is now 10 months and I have been wondering about night feeds, when to stop her, co-sleeping and the likes... we've been travelling since she was 4 months so co-sleeping was the natural thing for us to do... Thanks for sharing about your journey with me a sense of hope, knowing there's light at the end of the tunnel! love your creations too!

  9. thanks for sharing, once again.

    this comes in handy and kicking my butt to start my painful project of night weaning with bomber now.

    my story on co-sleeping: jiejie was with us till meimei wa born (too long right?!); meimei was on crib separated room since birth. however, co-sleep with me now as travelling kind of mess up the routine and i gave in... too tired to have battle with her i guess...

    but we believe that, with a jiejie, she will very soon be able to let me go. but first thing first, night weaning!

    wish me luck!!!

  10. I've started my little one to sleep on her own after co-sleeping with me for a while. She used to be able to sleep in her own room, until we started going on trips and since then she's gotten used to sleeping with us.
    Now that she's 20 months, we decided to try letting her sleep on her own again. Fingers crossed that she'll wake up less frequently too.
    It's always a bitter sweet feeling when we "let them go" be it night weaning or sleeping independently.

  11. Thank you everyone for taking time to share your stories and thoughts! I guess co-sleeping or sleeping in a separate room is fine, and night feeds are fine too, whatever that works for the family to ensure everyone gets to rest... :) Its heartening to read your experiences and see how everyone gets through these little milestones...

    Susan: Thanks for dropping by... :)

    AlasMyDear and Sophie: So nice to hear from you, and thanks for taking the time to comment! :) Always a pleasant surprise to get comments from readers I never knew this blog had! ;)

  12. Am typing this a second time because my comment could not get through the previous time!

    If it is of any comfort to you, I am still co-sleeping with my 2 girls, and as you know, they are 9 and 5 years old this year :) My rationale is to listen to what the girls want and adjust accordingly, especially with regards to caring for them. Eventually, they will succumb to time and peer pressure and will start requesting to sleep alone, and furthermore, isn't it great that our children want us to cuddle them to sleep?!

    Some mothers tried giving me advice on letting them sleep alone, but I do not believe in stressing my girls out for something with no concrete benefit to them or me (till now, there are no true benefits or advantages of kids sleeping alone).

    My girls are also no less independent just because they sleep with me. They also relish the attention Hubby and I piled on them when we select which girl to sleep with!

    I did the same with weaning of night breastfeeding and then bottle feeding sessions. All at their own pace, at their own wishes. They both slept through the night around 3 years old. I thought this made them a lot more secure and confident individuals because they need not fight against their emotional desires.

    It also doesn't make them into needy or whiny kids.

    But more importantly, listen to your own heart and do not mind other mothers who tell you how young their kids are when they started sleeping on their own. Think of me - soon to be a decade of co-sleeping and loving it!!! :)



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