How We (Gently) Night-Weaned Our Two-Year-Old

How we (gently) night-weaned our two-year-old

Over the last two weeks we’ve been slowly and gently attempting to night-wean our two-year-old. Until now, she has continued to breastfeed a few times a day and night (I talked about my experience nursing a toddler here). I thought I’d share our experience, to encourage other parents who are committed to gentle parenting — day and night — and to help them see that it does, indeed, get better.

Our Story

We’ve shared our bedroom with Lydia since her birth. We absolutely loved the experience.

She started out sleeping in our bed. We adored being able to wake up to that sweet face every morning. I loved how bed-sharing  helped me get plenty of rest during those tumultuous first months when she still needed a lot of attention at night. It also made breastfeeding and elimination communication a trillion times easier, which were very important to me and very enriching experiences.

Shortly after her first birthday, we started to find the family bed a little crowded as she began to roll and kick in her sleep quite a bit. So we set up a bed on the floor next to me. She still nursed to sleep, and then I laid her down on her floor bed, where she stayed until her first night-waking. She almost always ended up back in our bed by morning, but we were fine with that.

I want to take a moment to point out that it was never our goal to get her to “sleep through the night.” It just wasn’t that important to us. We were getting enough sleep, and my research indicated that it was perfectly healthy, natural and normal for infants and young children to wake up at night and need help falling back asleep. I was content to oblige. Lydia continued to wake up 2-4 times every night for her first two years, but she always went right back to sleep if I just let her nurse. I never even had to get out of bed. It was just no big deal.

Sure, there were rough nights — even rough weeks, where we felt horribly unrested. This whole last month was pretty rotten. But I knew that was a normal part of parenting.  Raising babies is exhausting. Their sleep needs are different than ours. Sometimes your sleep gets screwed up, but that’s to be expected.

The real impetus for change came shortly after her second birthday when I still wasn’t pregnant with baby #2. I practice fertility awareness, so I was aware my cycles still weren’t neeeeearly on track to have another baby. My luteal phases were WAAAAAAY too short to enable a pregnancy, indicating low progesterone levels. I did some research and discovered that low progesterone/short luteal phases are very common among lactating women.

Dang it. If I wanted to have another baby, I was going to have to wean the first one.

I know that night-nursing has the greatest impact on hormone levels (especially those related to suppressing ovulation — it’s nature’s way of helping space babies), so I determined that we would have to tackle that first. Moreover, if we were ever going to have another baby, it would be nice to have the first one sleeping a little better at night so I wasn’t juggling two babies every night.

Why Not Just Let Her Cry It Out?

Many people think the best way to deal with sleep issues is to just leave a baby alone in her crib, allowing her to cry until she realizes nobody is coming to help her and she finally cries herself to exhaustion. Repeat until she understands no one is ever coming to help her and she gives up crying completely.

This was never an option for me.

I won’t go into the research that shows that crying-it-out leads to high levels of stress hormones, or that babies learn to self-soothe through example — i.e. by their parents lovingly responding to their distress and helping them through their big feelings.

I will say that the very thought of a child being left to cry alone in a room makes me feel like I’ve been punched in the gut.

But more importantly, it came down to this for me: I never want to send my daughter the message that her feelings ought to be ignored or that she’s on her own.

Instead, I want her to get the message that I will always do my best to be there for her when she calls. I may not be able to give her what she wants, but I will listen and stay near until she feels better. I will never leave her in her time of need for my own convenience’s sake. She never has to be alone.

To me, that message is more important than a few more minutes of sleep every night. There will be time for sleeping when she’s older.

(I will tell you now, though, that our night-weaning process did involve a little bit of crying, but in the loving presence of her parents.)

toddler eating bacon(Enjoying breakfast after a restful night)

Step One: Learning to Fall Asleep Without Nursing

I started by taking The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers (by Elizabeth Pantley) out of the library, to look for some gentle solutions. I found plenty. I highly recommend this book, you guys. Really understanding and so helpful.

One thing I started to do was implement a consistent, hour-long bedtime routine to get her sleepy before bed. (Before that, I was quite inconsistent in our bedtime routine, and we often struggled with bedtime battles that made our evenings really stressful and tiring). I think this new routine helped pave the way for more restful nights.

At the same time, I started to implement “Pantley’s Gentle Removal Plan,” to get Lydia used to falling asleep without a breast in her mouth.

I would lay down with Lydia in her bed as I always did, and let her nurse until she was almost asleep. But then I’d gently break the suction with my finger and roll over so that she had to fall asleep without sucking. At first she wouldn’t have it. So as Pantley suggests, I’d let her nurse again some more until she was drifting off, and keep repeating until she was finally asleep without the boob in her mouth.

Within a few days, she was breaking the seal herself, rolling over and falling asleep on her own. Hooray!

When she woke at night, I would try to soothe her some other way (rubbing her back, talking to her gently, etc), but at first this was mostly fruitless and I would end up nursing her back to sleep anyway. But I took my time offering her the breast, and continued to use the gentle removal method, until she was sometimes able to fall back asleep without nursing at all. Success!

Step Two: No More Milk at Night

After a really crappy month of sleep for no discernible reason, with her often waking every hour at night for a week, I knew it was time to pull out the big guns. It was time to do this. It was time to night-wean.

One desperate night, I told her the mommy milk had to sleep. She couldn’t have any more mommy milk that night. She wailed in agony, and I rubbed her back and shushed her gently, telling her that I loved her, but the milk had to sleep. She screamed with rage. It was heartbreaking, but I was so, so tired. Finally, my husband took her in his arms and quietly carried her into the hall. She screamed and raged . . . until she fell asleep two minutes later in his arms. He laid her in bed between us and we slept. I was surprised how quick and easy it was.

She woke up once more, and screamed again when I told her the milk was still sleeping, but then promptly fell back asleep. I was shocked and a little delighted. I made a mental note to persist the next time she wailed for mommy milk. She might just fall back asleep.

The next day, I explained to her (over and over again throughout the day, and just before bed) that from now on, when it was dark, the mommy milk had to sleep. She could still have milk when it was light, but when it was dark: no milk. I took her into the bathroom to demonstrated light and dark with her so she could understand.

That night, when she woke up, I reminded her what I had told her. As she screamed and then sobbed, I rubbed her back and whispered to her softly. She fell asleep within two minutes.

We repeated this once more that night.

The next night, it happened once.

The next night, when she woke up in the middle of he night, she climbed into our bed silently and I rubbed her back and she went right back to sleep. No fuss whatsoever, and also no nursing.

And then the next night, she slept for eight hours straight without waking. At 6:30 a.m., the light in our room was on, so I let her nurse and she slept for another hour.


For four days in a row she slept from 10:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. solid. Sometimes she would sleep an extra hour or two after that if I nursed her, but sometimes not. This is a girl who had never before, in her whole 25 months of life, slept through the night (apart from four or five random fluke nights). Before this, she almost never slept longer than 3-4 hours at a stretch.

It was beautiful. I was so much more energetic and less irritable during the day. She was still her usual, chatty, curious self (all that night-waking never seemed to bother her any), but I felt so much more centered.

And that cycle, my luteal phase was a whole two days longer than all previous cycles. We’re making progress!!


Where We’re At Now

It’s been two weeks and she’s consistently sleeping for 6-8-hour stretches, only occasionally waking but falling back to sleep quickly and quietly without nursing.

(There was one horrible night in the middle of that wherein she screamed on and off for almost two hours and I just sat with her and tried to soothe her. But it was only once.)

Now that we’ve managed to wean her at night, I plan to start slowly weaning her during the day, over the course of the next few months. I’d be lying if I said the thought didn’t make me a little teary-eyed.

We’re also planning to move her into her own room soon (next to ours). We’ve been slowly preparing it; we just need to move the last of the furniture. That thought also makes me sad, but I think we’re ready.

Final Thoughts

I’m very satisfied with how everything went. I’m happy with the decisions we made.

If we ever have another baby and if we have similar sleep issues, I will probably try night-weaning a little earlier, allowing him/her to cry a little bit if necessary. (But of course, every child is different. Who knows what things will be like.)

I discovered that a little bit of crying is probably okay. But I wouldn’t try it before the child’s first birthday — I just don’t think they’re developmentally ready at that point — and I’d never let them cry for more than a few minutes, and never alone.

That’s our story. Hope it was helpful!

Any similar experiences to share?

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  1. Thank you so much for sharing your story and thoughts on this. It’s so helpful to read up on this now before we have children, to know we have possibilities beyond the “cry it out” approach.
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  2. Well done!! Night weaning is tough but when you really needs to do it, its so worth it. My son has been night weaned since 2yrs 8 months and I just gently weaned him fully two weeks ago at 3yrs 2 mos. (I’m planning to write about how we did it soon). Hope your cycles get back on track soon and you enjoy the sleep. Pantley is a great resource!
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    • Thanks, Becca! I don’t think we would have pushed it if it weren’t for our desire to give her a sibling. I admire you so much and appreciate hearing your stories, too. I would love to hear your experience — do write about it!! Also, it was partly thanks to your hearty recommendation that I sought out Pantley. I thought, if Becca loves her, then she must be worth a read!

  3. thank you so much for sharing this! we can learn a lot by peering into another’s life and seeing what works and doesn’t work. it was seeing the regret from many co-sleeping friends who with their first wished they had done something different that helped give me the confidence to just follow my instincts. hands down, the best parenting decision we made so far was when we helped Sammy learn to go to sleep without nursing, which you touch on here as being the pivotal first step of night weaning. i think i had it in my mind too (probably from everything I’d read about attachment parenting…but you know my feelings on that :) ) that any crying means you’re a BAD PARENT. its around this time that we were able to step away from the “method” following of parenting and figure out what was right for our kids, so we really contemplated our “parenting philosophy”. which was this: we wanted to be there when our kids went through difficult things, which would be inevitable because this is life. we didn’t want to just teach them to swim by throwing them in the water, we wanted to be patient and help them learn to swim by encouragement, while still realizing there is no way we could MAKE them swim. so that translated into really needing to teach Sammy in this case, how to fall asleep on his own, and going from “nursing to sleep any time he ever fell asleep” to just crying it out would be, well, just like throwing him in a river and expecting him to swim. pantley’s book was eye opening (during the ‘make a log stage) to see that the reasons mom’s eyes were twitching and I was so thirsty for sleep was because he was literally just not sleeping and hadn’t been for several months. so we’d hold him , and get him sleepy, and then put him down in his crib. and when we cried we’d pick him up and calm him down and repeat until he got the point this was a safe place and a safe way to fall asleep. the benefits from this were numerous. a baby who had been completely unable to fall asleep without nursing was able to talk and giggle in his crib before he dozed off! the big bags under his eyes from being overstimulated and overtired were gone. we were able to travel longer than 10 min in the car without him screaming because he was able to soothe himself. I can’t sing its praises enough. he would still wake up 2-3 times a night but i could put him down awake after nursing and he’d roll over and knock out. We haven’t gotten to the night weaning yet, but i know we are close (he’s now 18 months). I try holding him and patting his back instead of just nursing every time (but that 5 o’clock wake-up is what always kills me…i will nurse every time then to get a few more hours of sleep!) and we’ve had a few good runs at night, so I keep hoping that he will just do it on his own.

    but yes! I loved hearing your experience. I’ve realized that one thing that is really kind of a myth is “baby led weaning” in the sense that breast-feeding moms just really let their children decide how long they will nurse for. From almost every story I’ve heard, the mom always ends up weaning to try to get pregnant again or because she’s pregnant again. Unless the mom does get pregnant again and then her milk dries up. I think that’s fine, whether its to get pregnant or to get more sleep, there is clear value and necessity in the mother being the one to make these decisions that are best for the entire family, but the idea that we’re “breastfeeding for as long as the child needs it” is…well a myth. So I think we should just work on getting parents to realize there is nothing about the 1 year mark that means you need to stop nursing (which is the sentiment I’ve heard some women say). (And I’m not saying you’ve said this, but I’ve definitely read this claim from other attachment parenting proponents). I am really trying to just give him milk when he specifically asks for it (milk sign – which he’s been doing since 8 months) or if he falls and hurts himself or something and is inconsolable, so I guess we’ll see what happens. the world is already becoming so much more interesting than me.
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    • Thanks for sharing, Alison! I’m glad to hear Pantley was helpful for you, too! I’ve never read the one geared to babies; I’ll probably pick it up if I ever have another baby and want to try night-weaning sooner.

      You’re right — I think VERY FEW babies fully wean themselves without any gentle pushing from their moms. I know it happens occasionally, but that’s the exception rather than the rule. Although this may in part be because children are biologically wired to wean much older (like 4-5 years old) than we usually want them to. Maybe they would all wean themselves if we were okay with it happening closer to the preschool years.

  4. Aaaaah! You beat me to it! :) We started night weaning at the beginning of September, just before Ana turned 19 months. Partially for fertility reasons and partially because I just couldn’t take the waking to nurse every 45 min that she had gotten too. We did a lot of talking during the day about what would happen and I had already been working on getting her to fall asleep without nursing from when we tried the no-cry sleep solution last spring. We had some rough nights but her crying was always with at least one parent (usually both) and then we started getting better sleep. We had just started getting consistent 8-9 hour sleep stretches when we went on vacation and it seemed to ruin that. But I think she’s teething again. Still, one wake up between 9 PM and 5:30 am is pretty good. After that she comes to bed and I do allow nursing after 5:30 am because she is still quite young and otherwise she will be up for he day.

    Anyhow, night weaning might be just what you need to get pregnant, so if you have dreams of tandem nursing, don’t give up day nursing just yet. Give it a cycle or two, you never know… ;)
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    • Hi Michele! Yes, frequent night-waking to nurse was part of the motivation for us to night-wean, too. Mama needs some sleep! I totally get that!!

      I’m learning that the thing with establishing ANY kind of routine/rhythm with babies is that they get thrown off so easily — they’re going through so many changes! Just when you think you’re getting somewhere, they start cutting new teeth or going through a growth spurt or they get sick, and you have to start all over again or find a whole new solution. I hear you, friend. I hear you.

  5. Good job, Mama! I’m so glad that this worked for you. I hit my “wall” a lot earlier than you with night waking, so my daughter Lucy has been night weaned (according to the Pantley methods) and in her own room for a long time, though it was only since 18 months or so that she learned to put herself to sleep in her own bed. I don’t have any regrets about using gentle methods and waiting until she was at least one to night wean, nor about putting her in a crib at 7 months when nobody in our house had been able to cope with co-sleeping. She ended up day weaned at 23 months, also gently. It was important to me to explain why–for a new baby–I think I mentioned that before. I don’t know how much she understood in the end, but it seemed to help. It was very sad for both of us to wean, but I figure that if we do have a new baby soon and Lucy’d still like a snack every once in a while, I’d have no problems with that. :) (nice to be able to admit that here without judgment about nursing a three year old.)

    • Good to hear you listened to your family’s needs and figured out what was best for you, without feeling any regrets. Sounds like you made good decisions! And I agree that it’s nice to be able to talk about nursing a toddler without feeling judged! You guys are the best!

  6. I never found that night time nursing affected my luteal phase but being a few months pregnant and night nursing a 16 month old became unbearable for me. So incredibly painful and tiring. Unfortunately I pushed myself to the point of no longer being able to mentally handle it (and if felt like physically too) so my husband was up with her for hours every night for a couple of weeks. He was always right with her cuddling, soothing and comforting but it was still really hard and more than once he had to tell me that I really needed to let him comfort her. Then with our Kathleen at fifteen months, though I wasn’t pregnant I found her hearty draining of my milk multiple times a night was sapping all my energy for the days with my three girls. For months I still nursed her often through out the day and before bed but stopped at night. In my mind, it felt very abrupt but looking back I guess that we actually really did gently work up to night weaning her before I came to the point where I thought “Okay, I need to stop.” and then did. Thankfully with Kathleen, she was surprisingly easy going about it as long as I made sure she was good and full from supper because for her it was more of an “I’m really hungry!” thing and because I was nursing her, she wasn’t eating as much which was okay until I realized that I was falling apart:). It was also super helpful that Dan was fully on board with comforting and being up with our babies at night while they were weaning.
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    • Thanks for sharing, Marissa! Yeah, I’ve always thought that nursing while pregnant sounded kind of exhausting! I was amazed by the women who were able to pull it off! I guess there’s another benefit of fully weaning your first baby before getting pregnant!

  7. Hi mama,

    Unbelievable! I could have written the earlier parts of this post. We are planning to night wean in the next couple of weeks. Gracie has been in our bed since birth. She will be 2 in a month. Now she starts out in her own bed but ends up in ours later on. She’s nursing 2-4 times a night, and sometimes continuously. I don’t even realize she latches on. We have been trying to conceive for 14 months now, and I suspect I’m not ovulating due to the lactation hormones.

    I’m definitely scared for this change, but hopeful.

    Do you nurse Lydia to sleep still? What about naps?

    • Hi Zoe! Yeah, I still nurse her to sleep for night and naps, though I usually get her to de-latch just before she falls asleep. (I think this step helps her to be able to fall back asleep by herself if she wakes up too early.) I suspect I’m going to have to make some major changes in our routine to wean completely, but I’m taking baby steps for now.

      Also? It’s kind of comforting to know there are others out there in similar situations. Sub-fertility sucks. *Hugs.*

  8. Thanks so much for sharing your experience! My daughter is 19-months-old and I’m ready to wean her at night…luckily she is already used to falling asleep without nursing. Anyway I feel like co-sleeping is totally healthy and normal but other people always seem to think we’re weird for doing it, so it’s great hearing your perspective.

  9. Thank you so much for posting your story. It sounded so much like our family’s routine at the beginning that I had to keep reading. Like some of the other commenters, I have a 2 year old that loves nursing ALL night! For the last few months I’ve been dreading changing our routine, but at the same time knowing it was necessary for us to get a full night sleep and for her to fall asleep on her own when I’m not around. I’m so glad I found your blog post because it gave me the courage, confidence and exact plan to get started on night weaning. Before I found it, I thought about stopping cold-turkey with all nursing because I thought it would be confusing to let her do it sometimes and not others. I also looked into some articles about drying up milk, which I thought would help me and they ended up making me feel worse for wanting to dry up milk before she was ready to wean. Anyway, the methods I had started trying before reading your article were NOT working and my daughter was having terrible screaming tantrums when I would refuse to nurse her. Now, using the outlined steps you provided we are having a much easier time. We just started a few nights ago and have noticed some improvements already. I’m hoping that she’s fully night weaned and able to go a weekend without nursing in about a month as my husband and I have a planned weekend out of town. Thank you again for sharing this and yes, Pantley is a great author and resource for new moms. Good idea to follow her work!

  10. I am glad to have read this, I will have to go get that book. We are just a mess over here over night weaning, my 2 year old is not having it. I have been trying to stick to a routine. The major success we have had is that she will nurse with me sitting up in her bed and then lay down and sleep. She still wakes up 1- 2 times per night, and demands the boobie. I usually try to wait for a while before giving it to her, giving her comfort with my voice and hand ( pats, rubs etc) – this usually never works and always ends up in attempting to hold her and rock her, sooth her, leaving the room, showing her everyone is asleep, offering her milk, even crackers and then working our way back into the bedroom and she goes to sleep without the boobie. By the second waking I do not have the energy to go through all that again – so I just say, go back to sleep baby. If she does not go back to sleep I let her nurse. Then major success the other night , little one slept through the night! Was so excited, since then 3 days of regression. Leading to epic meltdowns all around last night. My problem is that my little one is really explosive, she thrashes, she pulls my hair, she claws at my shirt. I try to stay calm, say encouraging things, explain the boobies are tired and need a break, etc… but after 2 hours and waking up several time I just can’t take it anymore and feel like I am going to go crazy and smash my head into the wall and curse like a sailor ( sometimes I do – then I am ashamed of my self) – I start questioning how much good this slow approach of weaning is really doing us? I agree %100 that the cry it out is cruel and I don’t think a child really learns “self soothing” while being furberised either – I need my nights back! I am really hoping this book helps me. I am okay with giving her time for the transition but I need a plan to stick to, something to show my partner so he can support me.

  11. Thanks for the nugget about gently breaking the suction for the kiddo to fall asleep without sucking. My 16mo old is on a floor bed and I nurse her to sleep. I am trying to stick to an hour bedtime routine, and get my hubby involved. But then everyone just defaults back to mommy nursing toddler to sleep. I’ve got some overnight trips coming up soon, and my mother is not going to be happy if kiddo is screaming for milk at night!!!

    I’ve found that on a couple of nights that I have been away at bed time (2 date nights that I can recall), she falls asleep for my mom who is babysitting. So, maybe if mommy milk is absent, the kiddo can start to learn a new way of falling asleep?
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  12. Hi there – I recently began the night weaning process for our 2 and 3 month year old. I still nurse him to sleep though and have been wondering how to break that so thanks for posting your experience. our guy has been in our bed since he was 8 weeks old, and we move with my partner’s work often, all over the world – usually every 8-12 weeks. Despite this, our toddler is a really well-adjusted, positive and playful kid. Night weaning became necessary though when he started wanting to feed up to 8 times a night, and basically enough was enough. I have to say, as with your story above, I was initially very encouraged by his progress. I thought, there’s no way this kid is going to give up breastfeeding, he’s a milk-monster. The first night he raged for about two hours. The second night he woke for about 5 minutes and then went back to sleep with no milk. The third night he slept until day-break. Our deal is that he gets milk when the sun comes up. This situation continued in this pattern really for about three weeks, with increasing number of nights where he slept all the way through! (Hurrah!) But the last three nights, for some reason he has begun waking at 4, (last night at 2 and 4) screaming until 5 or 5:30 when the sun begins to peak through the curtains and I relent. So now the wheels seems to have come off. He seems to scream more if we try to soothe him, singing or patting his back or stroking his head or rubbing his tummy. Now we are in a situation where it feels like he may think if he just holds cries long enough i’ll give him milk, which is not something i intended or want to reinforce. it’s traumatic for everyone. Also, from crying his nose gets blocked and he hasn’t learned to blow it yet which also seems to keep him awake. Everything is complicated by another move coming up to a very different time zone in ten days and his dad will be away for three weeks. I’m really not sure whether to just give in now or ride this through….reading above has reminded me to keep the conversation going about night time going all through the day. I’m still not sure though if this is going to solve our 4 am issue….

    • I just read your reply to the article after about 30 mins (probably more :S ) of my 19 month boy raging for breast in the middle of the night. I am trying to night wean, gently, my milk monster. I keep reading how surprisingly easy it is for most people once they have made the commitment; I have been looking for experiences of those with persistent bubbas who won’t acquiesce so willingly. My mostly delightful boy rages like yours – very physical, determined and worse with comfort (stroking etc.). He can cry and cry and cry…. Like the author of this article, I don’t feel the need for him to “sleep through” but, while we have been making progress using the various techniques outlined regression to 45 min cycles and a powerful relentless sucker is draining me of my good patient parenting. I haven’t read Pantley’s book but have researched and think my approach is virtually identical to that described in this article. Should I persist? Or will my son’s own remarkable persistence win out? I hate to do the crying thing (with me present of course) but wonder if, in the hand-in-hand parenting *stay listening* approach – it is something that we have to go through…I am not sure if I have the stamina though! I would be interested to know what success you have had since you posted your response. Thank you :)

      • Hi Catherine! I know, it is so hard! And I’m amazed at how easily some people seem to be able to make the transition, though I have a feeling there are more people struggling than we realize.
        It’s been almost a year since I wrote this post, and our daughter is an excellent sleeper (for the most part). But then, we let her into our bed whenever she comes, and always wakes up in our bed. She doesn’t need anything; she just prefers to be near us. And we’re okay with that.

  13. Thank you so much for mentioning the No Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers! I found that book (and others in the series very helpful!

  14. Thank you so much for sharing your story. It made me laugh and a little teary, thinking of my own experience. My first son weaned when he was almost 2 years old, and I don’t know if it was because I was newly pregnant with my second son at the time, and I’ve heard that can affect the taste of the mother’s milk, but either way it started to hurt like heck because of all the pregnancy hormones and what they do to the body in the first few weeks. Now, I’m getting ready to wean my 23 month old. I came across your blog while researching some opinions on weaning the second time around. I don’t know if it’s the mommy brain thing, but I seriously don’t really remember the first time weaning- aside from being pregnant- I can’t remember what else we did to effectively stop nursing. I am a bit sad to know that my breastfeeding time is coming to an end, but I am looking forward to having my body back to myself and to hopefully eliminate the middle of the night marathon nursing snack sessions that my toddler has adopted. Like your daughter, he has slept in our bed since day one, and we really did (and most of the time, do) love it, but man it would be nice to sleep a whole night without interruption. :) I look forward to trying the method that worked for you, and hopefully it will work for us too. Then on to the next hurdle…potty training…!

  15. Hello, I liked reading your article. It was pretty interesting. I have recently weaned my daughter from night nursing because I was desperate to get more than 5 hours of sleep at a time. She is 18 months now and I night weaned her about 3 weeks ago. I replaced my boob with a movie to pass out with. I had her watch Madagascar during the day to get her used to napping without boob. It worked after about 4 days. Then I took on the night nursing. She would always wake up 1-4 hours after the evening nursing for more boob to pass out again. I wasn’t having that so for about a week, I had to turn on Madagascar in the middle of the night. Eventually, she started to sleep all night. For about 2 weeks now, she has been off the boob completely, and the amount of times I took my bobs out during the day has been replaced by watching Madagascar.

  16. I’m so glad I found this! Thank our for making me feel better about night-weaning our 17 month old twins. Very frequent night nursing and a lazy sleepy latch have left me with cracked painful nipples, exhaustion and basically no real choice. Our daughter (who was most dependent, or so I thought) has handled it better, but both children scream, furiously. It breaks my heart, but im glad that we’re pushing through. As you stated, they’re in our loving presence, not crying alone, and a more energised, happy mum is better for them. Thank you for helping me feel like less of a horrible mum! I’m not alone. :)

  17. I really enjoyed reading your blog, it is nearly identical to our journey of night weaning with our daughter and it helps to know that there’s another family out there that had the same challenges and successes that we did. Our daughter is 25 months now and although she is night weaned we continue to bed share and nurse during the day although I am looking for ways to gently encourage weaning. I’m hesitant to wean her completely because I want her to be ready but I am finding myself less tolerant of her nursing demands although we set limits, it’s exhausting! We have also considered moving her to her own room but she wakes up several times a night and doesn’t go back to sleep until she finds either me or her dad for a snuggle. We look forward to having our bed back as a couple but until then I will enjoy every moment of our closeness in bed together. I do love being close to her even though she sleeps on top of us sometimes haha….

  18. Breanna says:

    Thank you! I’m so glad to have found this! My 25 month old son nurses nearly all night long. I’m constantly so exhausted. I can’t get out of bed before 9:30. For one because I’m so exhausted. For two hes nursing so I can’t get out of bed without waking him. I don’t want to wean him. I really don’t, but I can’t do this anymore! To top it off, we want to start trying again soon, and I can’t nurse while I’m pregnant, as my pregnancies are high risk. I’d rather have a few months to wean him, than quit cold turkey on him! Thank you!

  19. brandi torres says:

    Hi! Thank you for writing about your experience and journey. I’ve read so many and this is by far the best one I’ve read. It brought tears to my eyes reading your article and also all the comments, just knowing I’m not the only one going through this struggle of trying to wean. My daughter is 18 months (may 25th) and she could breastfeed all day long if I let her :/ . she’s never had a bottle or anything. She recently learned to drink from a straw cup BUT she only will do it if I’m not around or not looking or if we are out someWhere (it’s like she knows I can’t just pull the boob out lol). I am wanting to completely wean asap. She feeds like a newborn sometimes. During the day we can go about 4 hours without, she eats everything but she nibbles and doesn’t want to drink anything, only sometimes. And at night every two hours except for last night she went 4 hours. I’ve decided to wait till school is out, my husband is a teacher and my son is in school, I just don’t want any of them to lose any sleep on a school night and plus I’ll need the hubby to help! I’m definitely scared and nervous and not really sure how to start, I have some tips off of here that I’m going to try And just see what works best for us. But my reasoning for weaning is , I’ve become very irritable and moody from lack of sleep and just not being able to spend family time without worrying about feeding her etc. I can’t spend one on one time with my son who’s 5 and I can see the jealousy in his eyes sometimes, and we’ve just drifted apart. It brings tears to my eyes and I just cry. I feel so bad about it. Also my husband and I haven’t had a “date night” in at least 2 yesrs! He’s the best though, so understanding, and sympathetic and sweet, does everything to help. but because of her being so needy with me, he isn’t able to spend time with her :(
    another thing, at her 15 month checkup, something bothered me so much! Her Dr told me breastfeeding wasn’t a benefit for her anymore. And that it was pretty much like water. When I know that is not accurate! maybe if she had no food at all, maybe. But according to WHO (world health organization) it’s recommended (I think) till 4 yo. Just wanted to hear thoughts on that.
    So anyway, sorry for going on and on, and just being all over the place. thank you again for your experience and giving me hope.

  20. OH, Kathleen. How I wish I could call you on the phone and talk? I am so lonely in this area. All of my friends and family think I’m CRAZY, but I just CANNOT hear my 18 month old cry. It was SO encouraging to hear your story though. I have the motivation and now the encouragement to night wean now. I want to be pregnant with my second and didn’t realize until your article that my night nursing could be hampering my ability to get pregnant. Such a helpful and encouraging article. THANK YOU!!

  21. Hibinjnowbtgisbis an old post of yours but thank you for it! Could you help men with this: I am trying gentle weaning but my daughter is adamant, very strong willed and pulls and tugs and acrwamd and cries and unjust give up. I want her to remain sleeping in our bed but I don’t know how to get her to gently wean. Any other thoughts?

  22. I know this is an old post, but I just wanted to say thank you for sharing. My 19 month old screams bloody murder for HOURS in the middle of the night if I refuse to nurse her, so I usually end up giving in. Now I realize that I just need to be persistent, and talk to her about it during the day and before bed time. She falls asleep just fine without nursing at the beginning of the night, so I don’t understand why she can’t do it MOTN, too!

  23. I’m late to this party, I know, but I’d like to add my thanks for this post. I googled “2 year old breastfeeds all night” and this popped up!
    I’m currently going through semi-half hearted attempts at night weaning, unsure of how to tackle it and reluctant to cause weeks of tears. Your post has given me confidence, ideas and inspiration, plus the knowledge that I’m not alone. I’ve been unable to ask the question on my local mothering forums for fear of being criticised for BFing still at 30 months so it’s refreshing to find you all being so supportive and lovely.

  24. Luccia Faulkner says:

    Thank you!!! And all the comments are so helpful too. It’s hard to feel like a ” normal” parent, when you’re the last one still breastfeeding. I can’t count how many looks I’ve gotten about it. But we are pregnant with baby number3 and need night weaning for our new two year old. Thank you!!!

    • I’m with you sister. Day 4 of committed night weaning and my little man (25mo) is still fighting it, although occasionally he just accepts mummy cuddles and falls back asleep which I am so shocked at & we’re up at the crack of dawn each day but it just feels like the right time. Hands down the hardest thing saying no to them when they’re sobbing but I have just started to feel like my health & happiness is being affected but the night waking and I can be a better all round mama if he’s not feeding constantly! Good luck, it’s nice to know there are others doing the same thing xx

  25. Thanks. Av been trying to wean my son for a month (he will be 2 in three days). O tried crying it out nd it was a disaster. I tried day weaning which worked for a day or two and we were back to the beginning. Am worrie and frustrated right now. Please could u share how u went through the sleep routine. Also I’ll love to have an electronic copy of pantley’s book. Thank you. My email is I need your help

  26. Thank You for sharing- J am going to finally try to do this! The way yog explain has been the most helpful thing I have read so far. Lots of love!

  27. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I feel like I have had a similar approach to parenting my son, who is now 22 months. Over the last couple of nights, I began the journey of night weaning. There have been some tears (especially last night), but I think he grasps the concept of “nursies sleeping at night”. Although, he would much prefer to have his human pacifier soothing him back to sleep!
    I’m curious if you noticed your daughter being more emotional in the days that followed night weaning? This morning was particularly emotional for him and it worried me that it might be a side effect of not getting the comfort of nursing at night. Or maybe it’s just normal toddler behavior? I’m hopeful it’s just a phase that we can push through. Im hoping the first two nights are the hardest and it gets easier from here!

  28. Hi, I know it’s 2017 and this has happened a long time ago for you, but I just found your post and I cried reading it because you think so much like me and I’m having the same problem with my 22 month old son. He doesn’t seem to be as easy as your daughter I’m sure he’ll cry for 2h every night if I try this approach but I still gonna try because we are not sleeping well anymore (we co-sleep) because he wakes up all night long. Plus I worry about teeth decay for nursing at night and the pediatrician and dentist give us mothers such a hard time making us feel so guilty. I’m trying to talk to my husband to get on board be prepared for that because it’s gonna be very hard and very difficult. We cannot afford a sleep coach and we just need to make sure we make it work and have lots of patience. When you said that you started telling her that the mild had to sleep and you had that bad night and then next day how did you put her to bed without nursing? Thank you so much, I’m so frustrated and helpless sometimes and you have me hope.

    • Im currently in the same boat. My 22 month old nurses practically ever 1 to 2 hrs evveerryyy singggglleee night. He’s never slept longer than 3hrs since he was 4 months old. Last night at 1am, after 4 feeds since i put him to bed at 8.30pm i decided no more. He screamed for hours. He pulled my hair, threw a huge fit, i thought he would vomit. I kept saying milk when light comes. No milk in dark and walked around the room holding him. He fell asleep just as my muscles began shaking from carrying his weight but as soon as i put him down on our bed he woke up and demanded feed all over again. I just gave up and lay next to him until he calmed down enough to crawl on top of me and fall asleep. He then sleot 3hrs until a repeat performance at 5.45am. This time i left the room and let dad put him back to sleep. He was asleep within 30min.
      Tonight, ive fed him to sleep and tried to explain no more until light. Lets see how that goes…

  29. Hi,

    I just checked the date of this port!! and it is exactly 5 years !! Congratulations first of all on such a smooth night weaning and I am quite inspired by your post.

    I am a working mother nursing 25 months girl and my nursing pattern and frequency is just as same as your’s 5 years back. My girl needs to have her fav “duddu”[ that our pet name for BF in India mainly] to sleep anytime. This never seemed to me a big problem till 20 months.Just then I realized, I had spent enough night outs and hand pain since she would wake up immediately she left my duddu and had to hold back in her mouth to get back to sleep.Then, took the first step of affirming her that she can still sleep hugging to me but not with her fav in her mouth.Just like that with all love and patting…told her to nurse with her eyes wide open and to sleep only after she has nursed completely. That was a quick take for her and 2 days she now sleeps every time after nursing but not holding duddu.She still wakes every hour at night, goes back to sleep only after nursing…but doesn’t hold duddu anymore!!!! So, that’s my first step of weaning!!

    2 weeks since then, i feel the necessity to night wean her …tried couple of ways which did not really work!! I prefer a gentle weaning , and do not want her to take a bitter taste of her all time fav-yet want her to understand that it’s time for her to sleep beyond 1 hr…came across your post and want to give it a try!! She is just a girl who never slept beyond an hr and needs duddu to go back!!

    Hoping to experience a gentle weaning as expecting!! Thanks a lot for sharing this post and boosting up my energy with a hope that even now I can still have a gentle weaning for the baby and no paining for me!!

  30. Thank you so much for this. I have a 16 mo old who is struggling with sleep and night nursing again (we managed to night wean once, gently but now teething and leaps are happening). Thank you for reminding me of this loving gentle approach to sleep generally, and also for the article links. I was in tears today thinking we have messed up and should have ‘sleep trained’…but I know in my heart leaving him to cry would be terrible (and likely fruitless) for us all. So just wanted to say thank you for being a voice of reason and love!

  31. Haha! It’s years later, but this article is still so spot on. A snapshot of a breastfeeding/cosleeping parent. My two year old daughter & I are embarking on the beginning stages of weaning, and I really want to make it a gentle transition! She is very similar to the little girl in this article, she is very determined (determined that breast is not going anywhere..) Anyway, thanks for the realisation that this change is universal and tired parents everywhere are doing some version.

  32. Brett Farmer says:

    Thank you!

  33. Veronique says:

    My girl is 2 years old. I will try your method. I’m so tired she needs to breastfeed at night to fall asleep again. Thank you for writing and helping other tired mommy.

  34. Then we start to pass into the dark side of night boobing! We become exhausted, frustrated and generally at the point of wanting to cry, actually crying, or starting to doubt what we have done up to this point.  We are torn between wanting to continue to meet the night time needs of our babies but also wanting our boobs back! Wanting more sleep! Getting OVER.IT. Our baby is now a toddler who takes up more room, breastfeeds as frequently as a newborn and yells, Mama! Boobie! or Milk! at us throughout the night.  Our happy little co-sleeping families become a bit cranky and unsure of how to move ahead. How can I night wean? How can I get her out of our bed without having her cry? I m so confused!
    Hayleigh recently posted..SUBJ1Then we start to pass into the dark side of night boobing! We become exhausted, frustrated and generally at the point of wanting to cry, actually crying, or starting to doubt what we have done up to this point.  We are torn between wanting to continue to meet the night time needs of our babies but also wanting our boobs back! Wanting more sleep! Getting OVER.IT. Our baby is now a toddler who takes up more room, breastfeeds as frequently as a newborn and yells, Mama! Boobie! or Milk! at us throughout the night.  Our happy little co-sleeping families become a bit cranky and unsure of how to move ahead. How can I night wean? How can I get her out of our bed without having her cry? I m so confused!
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  35. Lacy Lonergan says:

    This has been so helpful for me. My daughter will be 2 in a few days and we’ve had a really hard time trying to night wean her the past few weeks. We co-sleep and have been since she was born. Our family bed is just too small now and it’s time. I never wanted to sleep train her before because it wasn’t an issue for us and I never wanted her to just “cry it out”. When I try to have her sleep in her own bed, right next to mine on the floor, she usually wakes up within a couple of hours and I just bring her back into our bed. I will definitely be trying this method with her in the next coming weeks.


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