Weaning Joy | Nursing to sleep for afternoon naps

I remember once, when Joy was a new baby, I was so exhausted from learning how to get Joy to sleep that I asked my Dad how he got me to sleep when i was a baby. He gave me a simple answer – he said “累了就会睡” (sleep comes when one is tired). But it didn’t work out for me to be patient. Some days I would wait hours from morning to evening for Baby Joy to be tired and she still couldn’t sleep, largely due to frequent loud noises and voices in the household. It drove me crazy and made me exhausted to the point that I gave up, we nursed to sleep.

Now, Joy doesn’t want to sleep without nursing.

Some have suggested to me that refusing to give up nursing is a disciplinary issue. That Joy is defying my instructions. I think it’s very extreme to think of it that way and I can understand in some ways, because the opinion giver has never nursed a baby. It’s not a disciplinary issue to me. It’s more like Joy is unwilling to give up something that is comforting. Like some of us can’t give up certain routines in our lives, because we are so used to it. It is a habit.

When a child refuses to give up the comfort of nursing, how I view this is conflicted. On one hand, it is instinct to comfort, when comfort is desired and comfort when nursing is not a one way traffic – it soothes me too on very bad days. On the other hand, nursing to sleep can potentially create routine issues, health issues (for the mother, on so many levels), just to name a few.

I let instinct win the battle inside of me for about 4 years and 5 months now. We’re still enjoying the bond to be honest – it’s mutual – but for some time now, I think we will bond as well if we cuddled in bed and talk to each other before sleeping. Baby steps.

I thought we would start with afternoon naps, because I can use nap success to encourage her for night time sleep. I tried to wean Joy (again) for naps on 1 April – no particular reason for the date, its just that there was an opportunity – she spent the afternoon with me at home instead of in school. Compared to the last few times we tried, it was surprisingly easier to handle.

Come nap time I said “Ok Joy, lets try not to nurse when you nap.” She cried badly of course, but it didn’t last long and she understands that I mean to try seriously. She tried together with me and the outcome was this:

She fell asleep for a few minutes, but when I got up from bed, she woke and said these things to me:

I think that Joy tried really hard until she couldn’t take it no more. We actually succeeded after the 2nd round of cries, she slept on her own.

Compared to trying to wean Joy when she was younger (I lost count of the number of times I tried), I think it’s easier to wean her now that she is older. I haven’t had an afternoon nap with her since, because she naps in school on weekdays and doesn’t nap on weekends, so I think it’s still too early to say that we have weaned for real but it’s a start. If we succeed in weaning, we will surely miss it but that’ll be a start of a whole new era in our lives, and I know we can look forward to it.

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