Hey everyone! How’s your Tuesday? Be sure to check out the post that went up last night!
OKAY. So, I’ve talked about our sleep struggles lately and how we’ve been weaning Ryan in preparation for babe number two. It’s definitely been a trying experience and has been both easier and harder than I expected. A few of you have had some questions about how we’ve been doing it and how it’s been going, so I’m putting together a mini series on it. Today’s post is going to focus on weaning daytime nursing.
Before I go any further, I want to make a bit of a statement: to get Ryan weaned from nursing to sleep for naps and bedtime, we did in fact use Cry It Out. There is a lot of conflicting literature and research regarding this method, (some say it can be detrimental, others say don’t worry about it) so use your own judgement and do your own research before choosing this method. I went with my gut (and the recommendations of others and our pediatrician) when deciding and I really suggest you do the same. And if it doesn’t feel right, go with your gut on that as well! I tried CIO with Ryan when he was about 6 or 7 months and after a few nights of it feeling wrong/him not improving, we gave it up. I don’t think he was ready and I know that I wasn’t ready. As parents, we know what is best for our children, what they need and what they are ready for.
OKAY, so now that that disclaimer is over, let’s get to the nitty gritty. At my first OB appointment for baby number 2, my doctor asked me about nursing Ryan. She’d asked me how often I was nursing, and I said not too often (which was true, for Ryan) to which she said, “So once in the morning and once at night?” And I laughed. At that time, on the best days/nights Ryan was nursing when he first woke up, before his nap, after his nap, before bed, and then 2 or 3 times a night. “Oh, so you’re still nursing a lot.” Uhm, I guess?
Thankfully, I love my OB who told me she would never tell me to stop nursing Ryan. Great! A load off my shoulders. BUT she did tell me if I was still nursing by 20 weeks, she would recommend a lactation consultant who would insist I cut nursing down to one side and teach me about tandem nursing, AKA nursing 2 childen. No, thank you. Women who can and chose to nurse a newborn and a needy, clingy toddler are heroes in my mind, but it’s not for me. So I immediately stopped nursing on my right side, which was easy since Ryan always favored the left to the point of having super lopsided boobs and made a note to talk to Ryan’s pediatrician.
After discussing my options with the doctors and Alex, we decided it was time to start weaning Ryan. So around 15 months I began cutting day nursing. Below I’ll detail how it went for us.
First to go was the bedtime nurse. I knew Ryan was capable of it because he often fell asleep in the car on the way home at night and wouldn’t need a nurse back to sleep until 10 ish. We decided on a routine to encourage him to fall asleep that looked (approximately) like this:
6:30 – tub if it’s a tub night. Ryan has dry, sensitive skin so this is every other night.
6:45 – brush teeth, dry off, PJ’s, run around to get out last wiggles.
7:00 – hold Ryan on my hip while I read him a book or two. He doesn’t like to sit in my lap and be read to these days because he is a squirmy wormy and wants down.
7:10/15? – sing and rock. I sing Ryan a song or two and rock him with the lights off and door shut while he gets comfy and relaxes.
7:15/20 – (ish) set Ryan down in his crib.
At first, this part was hard. This is where the real “cry it out” part starts. We let him cry 5, 10, 12, 15 minutes before going in, rocking him, comforting him, etc then putting him down and leaving the room. Rinse and repeat. There are a lot of really great articles on how to do CIO as kindly and pain free as possible, but my advice is if you decide to, commit for at least that night. Start on a weekend. Have someone else go in if you need to (Ryan would FIGHT ME the first night to try and get at my boob. Like, kick me in the ribs.) and just know it won’t last forever.
It only took 2 rough nights of this before (on average) Ryan started falling right to sleep. Some nights he fights it and I have to go in once to calm him, and some nights I’ll hear him laughing and talking to himself before he falls asleep, but for the most part he falls asleep easily each night.
We started naps a week or so after I felt that he was weaned from bedtime. After a weekend of nursing only first thing in the morning and during the night due to car naps, I put him down for a nap without nursing. Again, it was rough. He wasn’t happy with this new turn of events. We did the whole book/song thing like we do for bed, and then I went in to his room in 10 minute intervals. After about an hour he was asleep. 2 or 3 days of this, and now he mostly whines for 2 minutes, if at all, before falling asleep. This has been the best change we’ve made. Knowing that I don’t have to spend any where from 10-45 minutes rocking and nursing Ryan until he falls asleep has been such a weight off my shoulders. And we’ve been able to actually schedule naps! It’s amazing.
The last to go was morning nursing, which I think was the hardest for me. It’s my favorite time of the day, to cuddle with Ryan while he wakes up and is relatively calm and not kicking me/trying to escape is amazing. I’ll definitely miss it. A few times before dropping this nurse, I would attempt to drop it. It ended in wails that would shatter glass and me caving. To be honest, the main reason we were successful in dropping it was two consecutive mornings on the weekend Alex got Ryan out of bed in the morning and brought him into bed with us. (Also: this kid does not cuddle. He crawls over your head, screams in your ear, kicks, pulls your hair, all with a smile on him face and laughing) And then we went about our day. When I tried to get him out myself it was a little tough, but not as tough as it had been in the past. So then it was gone.
TIPS & NOTES:
-Make sure they are tired for naps and bed, but not overtired. Know your child’s cues of tired, and go with that. Don’t rely on an arbitrary time or hour just yet.
-Replace, replace, replace. Cuddling with Ryan on the couch and watching cartoons first thing in the morning was the only way I could get him to wake up without nursing. Now we watch cartoons and I give him a chunk of apple to chomp on while I wake up.
-When transitioning from nursing-to-nap to falling asleep on their own, embrace the car nap (obviously, the Wieboldt fam digs a good car nap). I highly suggest spending an entire week of naps in the car – it will really get them more accustomed to the idea of falling asleep without the boob before you need to enact it.
-Be ready with snacks and, if they can tolerate it, milk. There are definitely calories and nutrients that will be missing temporarily from your little one’s diet. Talk to your pediatrician about what you can/need to do. (We give Ryan more snacks and a big smoothie made with just frozen fruit and whole milk each day for his mid-morning snack)
– No one tells you that you will be hormonal as shit for a week or so. Hormones were creating your milk and now your body is very confused as to how many it needs. You will cry and be irritable and miserable until your hormones balance themselves out, and if you’re pregnant all bets will be off. I cried so many times the first week after we cut night nursing and oh my goodness. Just be prepared, because I was not anticipating that.
-Your child may be a little clingier for a bit. This could just be Ryan, who has always been pretty clingy with me, but for a week or so after it was definitely kicked up a notch. I’m chalking it up to his need to replace the closeness he felt when I was nursing him with something else. Just show ’em some extra love. Trust me, you’re going to want it, because it may be more emotional to stop than you anticipate.
-Don’t listen to the haters. There will ALWAYS be someone who has an opinion, but you know what? It’s not their child. You and only you know what is best for your child, what they need AND the best way to give it to them. In a perfect world, I probably would have nursed Ryan until he decided he was ready, or at least space the weaning more (if I ever got to it – if you ask Alex, I continually was putting off even thinking about it.) but I did what I had to do for myself and my family and that it is all that matters.
So that’s part one, AKA how I stopped nursing during the day without too much of a headache. I hope to get a post about breaking night nursing soon, but while we aren’t nursing any more, we’re still struggling on the sleep front there.
Any questions I can answer regarding this? Any tips for me or other readers? Please leave them in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!