We have made it past night three of night weaning. I never thought we’d be able to do it, The Child is really possessive of her unrestricted access to boob.
The first night was bad. I explained to her in the days running up to it that we were going to try something new, she wasn’t going to have ‘nainai’ in the night when she wakes up, that Daddy was going to give her cuddles instead. There was a lot of screaming and crying from about 2am when she woke, as well as the emphatic (but ultimately fruitless) “MUMMY COMING NOW!!!!” It took about two hours before she calmed down, The Husband dozed off next to her, and I heard her talk to herself a little before she went quiet.
These last two nights have been so much better. She’s woken up and had a whinge, which is The Husband’s cue to go to her. He reported that he picked her up, she cuddled into him, and fell back asleep. Last night was even better. When he went to her, she was already standing up, but she still went back to sleep in his arms with no grumbling.
Why did we decide to night wean?
The Child had been waking up at around three or four am and nursing constantly till seven or eight (she also usually wakes around one or two and has a feed back to sleep). Her version of nursing is suckling on one nipple for a couple of minutes, then demanding, “Nainai! Side?!”, and poking the other boob. I was knackered, irritable, and my skin looked awful (it still does, but it should recover in time).
The Husband’s always been quiet about her sleep patterns, i.e. not really said too much. I reckon this is because he knows he’s had the good end of the deal. But after almost two years of night nursing, The Child had truly become an evil thing in the middle of the night with the shouting and poking (The Milk Meg calls it ‘the dark side of night boobing’). So I told him, We need to night wean her, which means you need to start going to her and getting her to sleep, I can’t take this any more. He said, I’ll do it.
He’s a man of few words (he’s also very economical with words when it comes to my cooking, so who knows what he really thinks). Deity love him, he did do it.
We expect blips along the way, but on the whole I think she’s settled so quickly because she was actually ready for it*. She understood what I was saying when I explained the need for her to stop nursing at night, and she’s fully embraced the idea of The Husband taking over the role of night-time parent.
Just to be clear: we do not expect her to sleep through the night.
The Child has never slept more than six hours at a stretch, and that’s only happened once. My goal is for her to stop nursing at night, so when she wakes she is able to go back to sleep quickly.
I’d half-heartedly tried night weaning about a year ago, but The Child wasn’t ready (she couldn’t understand it then). Their comprehension of what is going on is crucial (in my opinion). If you try to night wean or sleep train before they know what and why you are doing this completely unreasonable thing of not giving in to their perfectly normal night-time demands for food / milk / toys / television, it will take longer (and probably be much harder).
I’ll keep posting on our efforts to get The Child — and by extension, our whole family — to sleep better.
* She also chose to move into her own room when she was around 18 months old.