Nursing 2 Year old to Sleep
I’m writing this as I lie in the dark at 9:30pm nursing my 14 month old back to sleep. He fell asleep about two hours ago and here he is again, wanting to nurse. He woke up and I wasn’t there. He let out a small cry, a complaint, and when I came into the bedroom, he was beginning to sit up. Now, two minutes later, he’s rolled away from my breast and is back in a deep sleep.
Since having two babies of my own, and helping hundreds of women nurse through all the stages of breastfeeding, I have learned this: Most toddlers don’t sleep through the night. There! I said it.
Most of the moms I work with who nurse beyond a year find that their babies start to sleep better at some point, but that point seems to vary greatly, with some babies sleeping all night as early as 18 months, but some not doing so until 4 years. 4 years. Yes, you read that right.
That doesn’t mean that a nursing toddler will nurse all night like a newborn (although they all have their nights, don’t they?!), but just that most don’t sleep 10-12 hours without nursing. Even weaned toddlers wake up some of the time – some can soothe themselves to sleep, and some need parental comfort. This is common and normal, despite what you may have heard or been told.
I always go back to the work of Kathy Dettwyler, an anthropologist who studies breastfeeding and nightwaking from a historical, cross-cultural, biological point of view. Her research indicates that human children are designed to nurse very frequently for several years, and stay close to their mothers during wakefulness and sleep. According to Dettwyler, it is normal for human children to nurse at night up to 3 or 4 years old. A summary of the research can be found at Dettwyler’s website: .
My six-year-old sleeps in the bedroom with us. (He has his own bed but he still prefers to sleep in our room.) He was once a nursing toddler too. He nursed in the middle of the night until he was three-and-a-half or so. It was a very slow progression to this, with the nightwakings decreasing little by little over the years (and then increasing for a bit during teething or illness). Even after he stopped needing to nurse in the middle of the night, he sometimes needed to cuddle back to sleep. Even now, I hear him stirring, waking up a bit. Usually he can settle back to sleep on his own. Sometimes my husband stretches out his arm to touch him.
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How do we get our 2 1/2 year old to go sleep without screaming for nursing? | Yahoo Answers
If the child needs to nurse, then the best thing is to continue nursing as long as the child needs it. Many people continue at night well beyond age three, sometimes up to four or even longer.
Nursing is a great way to help a child get to sleep. There's no point at all making the child suffer, or having to cope with screaming if that's what the child still needs.
How do you get a 2-year-old to sleep?
Set a bed time for the same time each night and do the same routine each night. If the child gets up put him/her back to bed and keep doing that until they stay in bed. Do not yell at them, stay calm, and tell them it is bed time. After a bit they will fall asleep.