If there’s one thing that can throw a baby or toddler off their sleep schedule, it’s weaning.
In fact, one of the biggest causes of “sleep regression” (that is, a child who USED to sleep well suddenly waking up multiple times per night) is being weaned off breastfeeding.
The good news is that there are simple steps you can follow to make the transition MUCH easier for your child, and that’s what I’ll be talking about in this week’s video:
If you’ve got any questions or advice, please feel free to share or contribute in the ‘Comments’ section below.
And, if you’d like a more detailed plan that shows you everything you need to know to get your child sleeping straight through the night, click here now!View the Video Transcript
Hi, there. I am Dana Obleman. Welcome to this week’s video blog. Today, I wanted to talk about my thoughts about weaning, I get ask a lot of questions, and a popular one is, “One of the things I need to be thinking about or start to do when I am ready to wean my child.” Here is some good news. If your child sleeps independently, meaning that they fall asleep on they own, if you done the sleep sense program already, and you have a really good sleeper on your hands, weaning is going to be a lot easier.
I find the biggest struggle for any of the parents that I’ve worked with, or spoken to, around the idea of weaning is that if your child falls asleep at the breast, then that makes things a lot more difficult. Breast feeding then becomes double duty. It’s for comfort, it’s for food, and it’s for sleep. Really, there’s three things going on there.
If you think about your own sleep for a moment, we tend to be very, very protective of our sleeping environment. We don’t like a lot of change. We usually have a very, very rigid structured process of getting ourselves to sleep at night. Right down to sleeping on the same side of the bed every night, getting in your favorite positions, wearing ear plugs, not wearing them, window open, not open. We have all these skills and strategies that we’ve collected over the years that helped us make the transition into sleep easier.
If your child falls to sleep at the breast, they’re going to be really resistant, not necessarily to you weaning, but to this change in how they get to sleep. If I am working with a client, and we are starting off from scratch, and she has expressed some interest in weaning I’ll say, “You know what, let’s wait until we’ve got this child sleeping well, and independently, and then you gone a find that weaning becomes a whole lot easier.” Because it’s not wrapped up in any kind of sleep or association with sleep that you broke that connection it will be much easier to wean.
That’s where I would start. That would be step one, evaluate if your child uses the breast as a sleep strategy, and start breaking that. That is easier for a lot of moms because I haven’t said, “You know what, stop nursing, stop nursing into sleep.” That’s a lot to ask of a mom because she’s going to be anxious that that’s going to really impact her child. By breaking it into those steps of, “You know what, let’s just get rid of the nursing to sleep, and then we’ll worry about the weaning down the road,” that just makes the process a whole lot more manageable for mom.
Once you’ve conquered that, then you can start the weaning process. I get where a lot of moms get caught up especially if your child really, really likes to nurse, and lots of babies love it. It’s very comforting, it’s a very lovely experience for them, and they really resist the idea of stopping us. But one of the things I want you to remember is that it’s your decision. If you know me, I say that over and over again, and anything parenting that first and foremost is it your decision. Are you ready to wean? Yes or no? If the answer is yes, then do it. Do it regardless. Do it regardless of your guilt around stopping. Do it regardless if he really loves it. Ultimately this is up to you.
I find distraction works the best, especially with this age group, distraction is really key. If he is indicating he wants to nurse, you really need to change the routines. If it used to be first thing in the morning it was nursing, change that with something else, and if he really enjoys a few cartoons programs, then you can swap it with some TV.
I don’t use TV a lot, but it can be a really helpful to you all. It could go right into that, you’ve distracted him, you’ve taken his mind of that. If he indicates again that he’d like to nurse, then move right into breakfast, “You know what, let’s have breakfast first,” and see if you can take his mind of it with some breakfast.
You should gently step into this, so you’re not going to go cold turkey with it, wouldn’t be comfortable for you, either if you went cold turkey. If you really start to insist somewhere mid morning, then go ahead and do it, but really let it be your decision. If it’s guided by you it’s much easier for the child to understand that this is up to you, and your decision. I’m not huge fan of just because he is been tagging of your shirt for 10 minutes you gave in. I feel like that’s really reinforcing the wrong behaviors.
I would say no to that, and then 10 minutes later after his done something else say, “Oh, look at that, would you like to nurse now”? or whatever the little word is that he uses for that, and then you offer it. Then it’s going to be much easier again for you to say no, and there might be some times when you just have to say no.
I know that’s hard, it’s hard for all of us to say no, but, again, remember it’s your decision, you’ve made this choice, and there will be an occasion where you’re going to say no, and then distract him into something else. The good news here is that your child is totally capable of giving this up, they will move up to something else, and you can put your guilt on the back burner for this. Because it’s a time and process in every child’s life, where this has to end, and it’s OK to make that decision, and even if you feel bad about it, it’s still OK.
All right, thanks so much for watching today. Sleep well.
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