Dr. Jay Gordon's night weaning method for toddlers - modified and extended

Discussion in 'Breastfeeding Support' started by laeta904, Aug 8, 2010.


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  1. laeta904

    laeta904 Senior Member

    I will warn you that this is pretty long. [​IMG] However, this could possibly be helpful for other parents struggling with a boob hungry toddler who wants to stay attached all night, so I felt like details were important.

    Dr. Jay Gordon's Night Weaning method for toddlers, specifically intended for those who have babies/children older than 1yo and ideally are cosleeping:
    -Step One - Pick 7hr period that you want uninterrupted sleep. During that period, hold and nurse some if they wake up, but put baby back down before they fall asleep. Before and after that 7hr period, can do old routine of nursing to sleep, or whatever you want really.
    -Step Two - During that period, only hold/cuddle for a little while before putting baby down awake, sing/pat/rub back/etc to help them get back to sleep. Again, before or after, can nurse or do whatever.
    -Step Three - Do not pick baby up, just help them go back to sleep by patting/rubbing/etc.
    -After that, minimize contact if they wake up, and hopefully baby will get in the habit of just not waking up anymore during those 7hrs.
    -Does admit that there may be some nights of crying, but that you are right there next to them to reassure them.

    I did a modified, extended version of Dr. Gordon's plan. I was not in a rush to night wean, and didn't want to push Kev when I could tell he wasn't fully ready, but DH was ready for more space in bed at night. It worked well for us, and though it took about 4mo, he was eventually sleeping on his own from about 9pm-6am without nursing (after the sun comes up, he can nurse if he wants and cosleeps until we wake for the day around 8am).

    We started a little after 21mo. Our first step was continuing to nurse at night, but during the 7hr period like Dr. Gordon suggests in his first step, I nursed but tried as much as possible to put him down in his crib while he was still awake. Sometimes he would fuss a bit, but I would wait 10sec or so to see if he was really upset or just annoyed that he wasn't getting what he wanted. We were at that point cosleeping about 70-80% of the night, so sometimes I admit that I would fall asleep with him still attached to me. Not 100% perfect application, but even just with that, I noticed that our night nursing reduced from 4-5x per night to right around 3x, and he was spending much more time in his own crib (sidecar style). When we started the plan, I thought I was going to follow it fully (3-4 nights for each step), but after a few nights, I could tell Kev was not ready, so I just decided that we'd continue doing that step until I felt comfortable moving on to the next one. We were basically on Dr. Gordon's first step for about a month-6wks.

    Our next transition was to reduce the amount of time Kev was allowed to nurse but allowed unlimited cuddle time - kind of in between Dr. Gordon's first and second step. He typically would switch boobs about a million and one times when I was trying to put him to sleep (and also during night nursings), to the point that I could tell he was using that as a way to keep himself awake. So, I decided that he would get to nurse twice on each side (so four "boobs" total), and then told him he could cuddle more if he wanted, but no more "nursies". There were a couple nights when that frustrated him a bit, but no more than that. After a couple weeks like that, I reduced to once on each side. Again, without intentionally forcing a reduction of nighttime nursing sessions, this step produced the result of nursing only about 2x a night instead of 3x.

    At this point, we were quickly approaching 2yo, and DH was really wanting to see faster progress (he was hoping for complete night weaning by 2yo). So a few nights in the week or two leading up to his birthday, I attempted to see if he would go to sleep without nursing at all. I think it worked one time, but again, he wasn't really ready. I told DH that I felt like we had already made huge progress in reducing night nursing from 4-5x to twice a night and limiting the amount that he was allowed to nurse; plus he was sleeping probably 60% of the night in his own space (sidecar crib) which was definitely significant improvement. DH agreed that he didn't want to push Kev too fast, but he did want me to keep trying occasionally to put him to sleep without nursing, so I told him that my goal was to stop nursing him to sleep by 25mo.

    It was probably 2wks after his 2nd bday when I put him to sleep two nights in a row without nursing and with no more than 5sec of fussing. It seemed to me like he was ready, so we cut out nursing to sleep altogether (and I beat my promise to DH by 2wks!). Fairly quickly within about 2-3wks after that, his night nursing naturally had reduced to maybe once a night or none at all, so then I started gently encouraging him to just cuddle back to sleep during the night if he woke up which was rare (FINALLY had kind of gotten to Dr. Gordon's second step, [​IMG]!). I would say he was truly 100% "night weaned" at right around 26mo (just 6wks ago or so), but we were pretty close already around 25mo.

    Throughout the process he was, and still is, allowed to nurse as much as he wants once the sun comes up from about 6-8am, and sometimes he is literally attached comfort sucking for the whole 2hrs. He is also allowed to climb over and cuddle at any time during the night, but in general he sleeps about 80-90% in his own crib at this point. Just FYI, during this time we also cut out his typical nursing session sometime before lunch, and he only nurses twice during the day - in the morning as he is waking up and at nap time.

    There have only been a few times in this whole process that he has progressed beyond a few seconds of fussy frustration at not being able to nurse without limits. Those times were almost always because he was overtired or some other unrelated reason, and generally he would cry for 1-2min max before just passing out. I have never been and still am not comfortable with just letting him scream, and I know my baby well enough to tell the difference between frustration/tantrum and truly upset. If I felt/feel the need to nurse in order to calm him down, I will still do it no matter what time of day or night it is. I will admit that sometimes this does cause a day or two of regression, but that is worth it to me to comfort my baby in the most effective way I know how if I think he needs it. But this is very rare, maybe three or four times in the last 1-2mo.

    Like I said, this was a VERY gradual transition that worked well for our family, b/c we weren't really in any rush. But really this is all to say that I modified another person's suggested plan to suit my child and my family. A summary of our modifications to Dr. Gordon's plan:
    -Step 1 for 4-6wks
    -Between step 1 and 2 for 4-6wks
    -Step 2 for 2-4wks, but no limit on cuddling, let him cuddle to sleep if he wants.
    -No need for Step 3, he was already pretty much STTN, and I don't mind letting him cuddle/cosleep as much as he wants.


  2. AnakM

    AnakM Senior Member

    TFS! Will have to try it when DS is ready :)


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