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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

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 certainly 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.

This post is written by Alex Iwashyna, a happily married mom of two children with a BA in Political Philosophy and a Medical Degree.  She currently spends her days as a stay-at-home mom who writing poetry and blogs.  A much better plan than hers!  She blogs at Late Enough and tweets @failebg but be prepared for baby poop and liberal bias.


  1. hilarious! don't hate me, my daughter weened ME off night nursing and slept 8 hours by the time she was 10 weeks old. I was reassured by the doc and nurse that this was OK because she was over 10 lbs by then. A few months later she was up to 12 hours straight at night. I love my daughter, now 15 months, but I love her a lot more because of the 12 hours I get without her while she sleeps.

  2. I'm trying REALLY HARD not to hate you but it's not going well ;)
    Honestly, I can't really begrudge anyone because I am a bad sleeper. And my genes are clearly DOMINATE in this area... oh well...
    But I totally agree that the time away makes the time WITH the baby a little bit sweeter!


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