Breastfeeding moms often find it easier to sleep with their nursling. However, when the time comes for weaning, many parents wonder whether it is even possible to wean a toddler from nursing and still enjoy the comfort of co-sleeping. Toddlers will need help getting back to sleep without the comfort of the breast.
1. Enlist Support From Your Partner
Ask your partner to co-sleep alone with your toddler for a few nights while you sleep in another room. Sometimes the absence of the nursing mother will make it easier for the toddler to be calmed back to sleep in ways other than nursing. Your partner can cuddle your toddler, offer her a sip of water or rub her back to help her fall asleep.
2. Create a Physical Barrier
Many co-sleeping toddlers have become adept at finding the breast to nurse at night. When trying to wean your toddler, wear a shirt or bra that makes it difficult for your toddler to access your breasts. Consider putting your toddler in a co-sleeper or in a small bed next to your bed, increasing the distance between you and your toddler, while still offering the comfort of sleeping in the same room.
3. Comfort Your Toddler in Alternate Ways
Often a toddler who wants to nurse at night is seeking comfort more than sustenance. You can offer plenty of hugs, kisses and cuddles instead of nursing. If you are only night-weaning, allow your toddler to nurse more frequently during the day if she wishes. Offer to rub her back or sing to her if she needs to be comforted back to sleep.
4. Use Your Words
When weaning a toddler, it is acceptable to tell her "no" or "not now." If your toddler is well-fed and hydrated, she will be fine to wait until morning for food or drink. You can also tell your toddler "we are not going to nurse until the sun wakes up" or "You may have milk or water from a cup if you would like." If you remain consistent, toddlers can begin to understand the idea that night nursing is not something that you do anymore.