Night Weaning Defined

As you may remember from my previous post on breastfeeding, my daughter, N, had some weight issues back in the day (also known as six months ago).  But her weight has been stable for awhile now which translates into her doctor suggesting that we can NIGHT WEAN if we want.  (He may have said something like: Let it GO! And get some SLEEP! But in a very caring way.)

The definition of night weaning?  The POSSIBILITY of my child sleeping through the night.  It’s certain not a guarantee (see Exhibit E, also known as my son-who-never-sleeps), but if the child is not night weaned, she can NEVER sleep through the night (because she is still NIGHT EATING).  So I’m psyched.  And completely stressed.

For whatever reason, my children do not naturally night wean.  Even my friend, who breastfed on-demand until her children were preschoolers, was able to close the brestaurant nightly by the time her children were five months old.

My kids?  Well, WE night weaned E at eleven months.  Otherwise, I might have DIED from lack of sleep.  We accomplished this by switching from breast to milk to rocking to patting to begging to crying (mostly us crying) to giving up.  Repeat ad nauseum.  Finally, he acquiesced.  And in retaliation?  He stopped breastfeeding COMPLETELY three weeks later.  Three feeds-per-day to none.  Zip.  Zilch.  NO WAY!  TAKE THAT MAMA!

Starting tonight, we will be ENCOURAGING our youngest to rely on her snuggle-y baby blanket and other sleep cues when she wakes up.  And perhaps we’ll have TWENTY-FIVE pacifiers in there.  JUST IN CASE ONE FALLS OUT.  Because her new trick at nap?  We head upstairs to the nursery, and she is all yawns and flops.  I rock her and read to her and perhaps sing.  I lay her down lovingly and walk out.  She sits up.  She throws her pacifier out of the crib.  And CRIES HYSTERICALLY.  Mama comes back in and we do it AGAIN.  and AGAIN.  and AGAIN.  I’m looking forward to her throw improving so she can hit me on the butt on my way out the door.

Leading up to THE BIG DAY, we have done no breastfeeding after 10 p.m. (maybe 11) and TRUST that she doesn’t need to eat for eight hours given her age and size and amount she eats during the day.  (And our doctor’s reassurance.  Because I am known to wonder: WHAT IF SHE’S HUNGRY?)

The hubby has been giving her water in a sippy cup.  I have been able to just give her the pacifier and snuggle-y blanket and rock her.  Usually.

Either process takes less than ten minutes.  BUT if we do not go in there within two minutes of her being aware that she is ALONE, she cries like the cat has bitten off her leg and is currently BEATING her with it.  Now, we haven’t tested how long this crying will last, but based on her in-the-car crying skills, I think that it will be TOO LONG for me to not want to DIE.

The worst part of night weaning?  It may be quicker to feed then to pat and help her figure it out.

And I’m a WIMP.  A tired wimp.

But I know the results.  The possibility of eight hours of uninterrupted sleep calls to me.  AALLLLLEEEEXXX.  Oh, mother-who-hasn’t-slept-that-long-for-more-than-a-week-in-three-and-a-half-YEARS, this is your CHHHHHHAAAAANCE!

So don’t even THINK about talking me out of this.  I will bite your leg off and beat you senseless.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

5 thoughts to “Night Weaning Defined”

  1. I totally, completely and whole-heartedly relate to you on this one. After 2.5 years I am at the point where we either need to night-wean or start IV infusions of caffeine and marital therapy for the parental units. But…every time we decide to go for it I end up even more exhausted and in tears after hours of the little one crying, begging and generally sounding pathetic and miserable and I give up and give him the “mook” so we can all go to sleep. Where did this kid get all his willfulness from?? Oh, yeah….that’s right.

  2. I feel for you Gin! I have a hard time handling the short-term loss of MORE sleep on top of the chronic-deprivation! Maybe switching to sippy cups first?
    Katie: she is totally using a sippy cup!! And she LOVES it. Of course, E now HAS to use one too. Oh well.

  3. This post scares me. I like, correction, I LOVE my world of sleep. I like naps, I like falling asleep on the couch early and not being disturbed by anyone! I took great pains early on to create my little world and this post is a grave reminder that in less than 6 months my happy little world will be rocked…due to me rocking a new happy little world.

  4. I remember those times. I could sleep through it all. I even learned how to sleep while nursing a baby who was pinching me while she nursed. OOOOUUCCCHHH! I figure anything you can do while doing something else can’t be all bad. But it has been a long time.

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