Nighttime parenting

by isil on November 30, 2008

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My daughter is almost two years old. I still nurse her to sleep in the sling.Once in the afternoon for a nap and once in the evening.This process takes at least 30 minutes if I’m very lucky,if not more than that. When she falls into deep sleep,I transfer her to the bed.

If you had told me this when I was a mom of a 3 month old,I wouldn’t believe it.Back then I didn’t know that most of the babies need some kind of parenting to sleep.
My daughter has never been an easy sleeper. She still wakes up at least 3-4 times during the night.
While she was growing, I have learned that it is perfectly normal and healthy for them to wake up during the night.
I have seen babies who easily drift off to sleep and I have seen babies who gave their parents difficult times and as a result were unfortunately sleep trained.I wholeheartedly believe that sleep training is harmful for babies.
While I don’t feel resentful for helping my daughter going to sleep, I’d like to gently encourage her to sleep on her own, if it’s possible at all? And, yes, we do have a sleep routine, bath, stories, etc. But they only seem to help her wind down and accept that it’s bed time.
I wonder how is it going at other AP practising homes? When did your little ones begin to sleep for longer periods? How do you put them to sleep? When did they stop nursing to sleep? Are they happy to roll over without breastfeeding?

Isil writes about attachment parenting and vegan cooking at Veggie Way.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Shen-Li December 1, 2008 at 1:30 pm

My son 22 months and he also needs help getting to sleep – rocking and being nursed. Unfortunately, he refuses to get into a sling so I have to carry him.

What I’ve noticed recently is that it’s been gettin harder and harder to get him to sleep and I suspect maybe he is trying to drop his afternoon nap. I know it seems a bit early but I’ve been checking up some forums and plenty of other Mums have toddlers who stopped napping by two.

On days when I drop the afternoon nap, he sleeps earlier at night and it is a LOT easier to get him to sleep. I don’t have to rock him or nurse him for ages like I normally do (yes, like your case – half an hour is very lucky).

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Cristy December 1, 2008 at 5:12 pm

I commented over at your site Isil, but thought that I should join in here too. I recently night-weaned Lily (who is almost 21 months old) and it was so much easier than I had expected. However, I did wait until she seemed ready.

She still feeds to sleep (for both her nap and at night), but the feeds have gotten a lot shorter lately (10-15 minutes often). It wasn’t long ago that they often went for over an hour, which I found hard sometimes.

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Stephanie December 3, 2008 at 8:40 am

Can anyone help answer questions for nannies working for parents following the attachment parenting philosophy?

A nanny friend just interviewed with a mother who follows the philosophy and she’s worried about nap time and bottle feeding since she isn’t the mother and doesn’t want to nap with the child and obviously cannot breast feed the baby.

If you have advice for nannies please respond at:
http://bestnannynewsletter.blogspot.com

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Justine December 18, 2008 at 10:28 pm

I still have a 5 1/2 year old who does not regularly sleep through the night. Sleeping is just not a big priority for her :) As a baby and toddler we did the nursing, the slinging, the rocking, the walking around, the massages, the stories, the singing…and finally reached a point where she was old enough to stay in bed on her own without needing us (and not getting up to wander around). There was no “magic trick” that did it, she just had to reach that point and we had to be patient. I hope that we made it easier for her to do that by providing her with the years of loving, responsive night time parenting that we did. Perhaps without night time parenting she might have given up and finally slept, but at what cost? She very occasionally has night terrors and scary nightmares…i can only think that perhaps helping her at night prevented them from being worse and will help her to stop having them sooner.

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DZ January 20, 2009 at 7:59 pm

I have many many praises for attachment parenting. I nursed my son until he was 2 1/2, have always listened and attended to his needs, and have coslept with him since the day he came home from the hospital. (He’s now 3 y. 4 months old).
But I have to admit and I think it’s very important that new parents to attachment parenting have to be aware that cosleeping children will be cosleeping children for many years. My 3 year old is very dependent upon us being in the bed with him and cannot fall asleep on his own. Although I follow most everything that attachment parenting promotes, letting a child fall learn to fall asleep on his or her own at least by age 2 is highly recommended. I am a very tired mom of 2 boys who fears that I may have sleep (or non-sleep) issues for the next several years. This takes a great toll on my older 10 year old son for he is forever waiting for us to help his little brother fall asleep at night so he can have some quality time with us. I can’t imagine if I had more than 2 children, it would be very difficult to juggle.

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Kacie April 6, 2009 at 5:14 pm

I’m working on getting my 3.5 month-old on better sleeping habits. I don’t care if he sleeps through the night or not — I just want to make sure he gets enough good sleep throughout the day.

I would like him to be able to fall asleep laying flat on a bed or his crib. Right now, he’s sleeping in his swing because he’s been up for 4 hours and he’s overtired and I knew it would conk him out. Pretty soon, he’ll be too big for the swing, so I want him to be able to fall asleep without it soon!

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API Speaks April 6, 2009 at 5:44 pm

Oh, Kacie, I hear you! I remember the first time Lily fell asleep in our bed and I was able to get up again–she was almost six months old! Matt & I were so amazed that we stood outside our bedroom door waiting for her to wake up again for about a full thirty minutes before we “believed” she was really asleep. I know it’s hard to parent them to sleep so intensively at this age, but remember that they got used to going to sleep in motion and upright (or upside down as the case may have been) in the womb and not flat on their backs. So it takes them a little while to learn how to do it on the outside. One thing that worked with our older son from about your child’s age is rocking/nursing him until he was very drowsy but not asleep and then putting him down. I used to keep a hand on his back so he’d know I was there and then, once he was asleep, I could slowly remove my hand and slip out of the room. Doesn’t work with all babies (my son is very mellow and that certainly would never have worked with my daughter), but it’s worth a try….Good luck!

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Lauren October 14, 2009 at 11:06 am

I am in the process of reading “The No-cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers” and it has some very helpful info on this topic! It is already starting to work for my daughter. She still nurses to sleep at 13 months.

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