Today is Meli’s 17 month birthday and I want to get this down.

So we started night weaning last Thursday night. Georgie had Friday off (for his birthday – sorry honey!) and I thought it was a good night to start because it gave me three nights where we didn’t have to wake up early. (I link to a site on night weaning which I basically used as a guideline – no nursing between the hours of 11PM and 6AM – otherwise we’re kind of doing our own thing but I think it’s a great resource, so I link.)

The first night I nursed Meli to sleep right before 11PM and honestly fell asleep so she was on the boob for awhile after 11. But then we settled in. She woke up around 4AM and cried and cried but I didn’t nurse her. I tried to hold her and comfort her but she’s a stubborn little girl so she pulled out the big guns:

“Pease! Pease! Pease!”

BOING! CRASH! That sound you heard was the arrow piercing my heart and shattering it into a million pieces. I’ve been trying to teach her please and thank you and here she goes and uses please CORRECTLY and WITHOUT PROMPTING and I can’t give in. Yeah. Mommy breakdown moment. I’m still picking up the pieces of my broken heart.

That first night we ended up being up from 4AM until 6AM, with 5:50 to 6 being the longest 10 minutes of my life. Thank god for Sprout. I nursed her the minute the clock hit 6 and she was asleep within thirty seconds and slept until like 10AM. I was bone tired and felt like I had totally given in at that 6AM mark.

The second night I was a bit better prepared. I had her milk and her water close at hand and was fully prepared for a night of Thomas the Tank Engine. She woke up around 1AM and wasn’t as fitful and angry as the night before, but still had some ammunition. This time it was a plaintive wail of:

“I know, I know, I knoooooowwwww!”

She says this because this is what I say to her when she’s upset. I hug her and pat her and say, “I know, my love, I know.” So when she’s upset, she tells herself the same thing. Only it sounds so much more sad and pathetic when she cries it than when I say it. “I knooooooooooooooowwwwwwwww!”

Luckily, this only went on for about ten or fifteen minutes before she trailed off and went to sleep. I think she woke up again around 3AM and did another round of “I knows” but all in all it was MUCH more successful than the night before.

The third night it got even better. She would cry and complain but quickly go back to sleep. She was never up for more than five minutes at a time, although it seems to me she was sleeping a lot lighter than she usually did. For instance, most times I can move her around in bed without waking her (like when she’s turned sideways and is kicking me in the back) but that night any time I moved her the slightest she woke up. So I stopped moving her and woke up with a sore back from trying not to move all night.

The fourth night I don’t remember so well, although I think it was a little bit worse than the third night. The fourth night became about her sippy cup, which I gave to her and she clung to like a talisman. I tried to take it away from her once. ONCE. Yeah.

Last night was the fifth night and I really didn’t have many high hopes that things would be better than the fourth or third night. She was doing okay and NOT nursing and honestly that’s really what I’m weaning her for – the NOT nursing. If I have to go without sleep, well, sleep is for sissies anyway.

The fifth night I was armed with her current favorite stuffed animal, dog. I nursed her to sleep around 10PM and while I was nursing her I told her that we were going to say goodnight to nursies and then sleep all night long and that in the morning we could have nursies again. I told her that Mommy would be next to her all night and that I would hold her if she was sad but that everything would be okay.

Wouldn’t you know it? She’s still asleep. It’s 6:26 AM and she’s still asleep and she hasn’t nursed ONCE all night. Not only hasn’t she nursed, but she hasn’t woken up at all either. She tossed and turned a lot and she seemed to need to be TOUCHING me the entire night, but she didn’t wake up. In fact, at around 5:45 AM she laughed in her sleep. Nothing better than the sleep laugh.

I know the kind of night we had because I didn’t sleep. I waited for her to wake up. I alternately panicked over all the stuff I have to do and all the stuff I haven’t done and was completely proud of my little girl for being so big and was devastated that she’s so big and I tried to sleep but it didn’t really work. Even when I moved her around a bunch – she still didn’t wake up.

I’m prepared for the fact that tonight she might wake up every hour on the hour demanding to nurse, but if she can do it once, she can do it again.

We move a week from today and I’ve already run out of small book boxes with still more books to go. Yipee!
L, C


  1. Congratulations and good for you for sticking to your guns! I remember the whole process (which is different for each child, but totally the same for each mommy!) Did it with all 3 of mine…We gave up night nursing last, so when they could fall asleep without Mommy, they were really done. A bittersweet moment each time…

  2. You are doing great and I am proud of you for sticking to your plan no matter how much Meli accidentally broke your heart. Keep up the great work. Good luck with the move.

  3. I hope it continues to go well! My girls are much bigger than yours, but I have that sense of being proud they are big and devastated at the same time at least once a day.

  4. Congratulations on making it through the tough nights! I’m in the process of weaning my daughter during the day (we are so not ready for nights yet!!), and I totally get that feeling of heartbreak/accomplishment. Reading about your weaning experience has really helped me so far, so thank you!

  5. You should be so proud of yourself for being able to stick with it,even in the face of heartbreak. Weaning is such a difficult thing to go through and you are going to come out of it even stronger than before. Your story made me all weepy at points and I’m totally rooting for you. Best of luck with tonight (and all the ones after it)!

  6. Weaning can be so tough for both mommy and baby! I remember feeling very conflicted about it all: I was happy to get my body back after two years, but I missed that part of our relationship too. It’s kinda funny, though: after Hannah was fully weaned, she developed a habit of yanking my top down in the most inappropriate places, and announcing “I wanna see your boobs!” This went on for a while, but eventually that stopped too. I wish you continued success!

  7. Congratulations to you and Meli! It’s hard being a big girl and it’s hard being a mommy but both have their rewards (perhaps a little brother or sister!). Hope your move goes smoothly and you all enjoy your new home.

  8. That is amazing progress! Based on the multiple attempts it took to night wean my little guy, it really sounds to me like Meli is ready, even if she didn’t know it.

  9. You just broke my heart! My baby girl is turning 20 years old this week. 20 years – geez. It seems like only yesterday I was going through all of the same things as you are right now. I know everyone always says, “…it seems like only yesterday”, but it really really does! Now I’m off to go find some tape to put my heart back together.
    BTW – I think you’re doing such a tremendous job with Meli. You’re a really good Mom.

  10. I’m proud of you both. (Sleep tonight!)

  11. Congrats! I’m not a mom, so I really don’t know anything about nursing or weaning, but it sounds like you are doing a stellar job!
    Good luck with everything!

  12. Wow! 17 months and a big girl now. It sounds like you took a very big step in your relationship. It is different for everyone isn’t it? My daughter is 3 years old and she still gets “nuts” first thing in the morning. I guess I did partial weaning. When she turned two, we went down to 2 feedings a day. At three we were supposed to go “cold turkey” on her birthday, but I caved. I stood firm in some respects and cut out the before bed “nuts” first. After a few nights of hearing “Have pity on me!” we were ok. Now, I read about Meli and wonder if it wouldn’t have been easier to wean at about a year and a half. At least Iris and I can joke about it together.

  13. Good for you! Meli really will be fine and you will be so much happier when you sleep. I had to wean myself from G at around 6 months. I couldn’t bear to sleep apart from him and was pretty much co-sleeping with my son rather than my husband. It nearly killed me to let go, but he transitioned relatively easily. I got lucky on the weaning, in the sense that G weaned himself at 9 months. That, however, is a double-edged sword. Although it is nice not to have to go through the pain of initiating the weaning process you instead go through the pain of not nursing anymore and having your child choose a little more independence. My little baby didn’t need me quite as much. *Sob.* Be proud that you nursed her successfully so long, and know that you will both transition into a new phase of your relationship that is just as wonderful, if different. Miss you!

  14. Is it possible to have her sleep in her own room? Would you then be able to wean easier? or would you wait and let her be thrilled with her new room and use that as the impetus for encouraging more noctual independence? Co-sleeping is wonderful, little ones are so snuggly buggly but all elements of parenting occur in stages and shifts and I am just wondering if it’s possible to kill a few birds with the same stone.
    I know you have received some stupid-ass criticism from annoying readers and I don’t typically include an apology during an inqury but I am simply curious and don’t intend to be offensive or pass judgement. I recall that when I was pregnant with my second I had to sleep in a frickin’ recliner to get any rest; between the hips seperating, ligaments stretching, charley horses, back pain and having to pee every 2 hours there was no way I could have handled a second person sleeping next to me, let alone 3 in a bed!

  15. Something I’ve learned in my vast expereince of 8 months of being a mom… I think it’s all much harder on us than it is them. My little guy rolls with the punches while I sit crying for whatever it may be (like he had surgery last week… I saw him in recovery before he woke up with the IVs in? TEARS. Him? He woke up smiling and wanting hugs.)
    Good work staying tough. I know it’s hard!

  16. The description on the website you linked to earlier, and your own description portray weaning as a real challenge for the family. So, after all that, I’m really delighted that it seems to be working for you! It doesn’t come easy, but it’s working!

  17. I know what you’re going through. I weaned my son at 16 months and the look in his eyes when I told him no would just break my heart. He’s 7 now and I asked him the other day if he remebers me breast feeding him and he said that he didn’t.
    I know you’ll stay strong, you’ve already gotten this far. I’m rooting for you.

  18. Good luck with that! I was the evil mom who force weaned her boy, but he was 2 and a half, so not too evil. He was mostly comfort nursing. I went away for a few days. On my return he asked to nurse. I told him no. He cried, I explained. He said “can I kiss them?”. So for a few days he had to see the breasts, kiss them, or touch them, then he was OK. But for years if he was upset and in my arms, he’d have a hand on a breast for comfort. Now that he’s 13? Those years are long gone, and I miss them. Weaning seems to happen when either mom or baby is ready, and it is rarely that both are ready at the same time. You’ll both manage just fine!

  19. Hi Cara,
    just delurking to tell you you’re doing great! Good luck.

  20. Aw Cara~ you have such an awesome family. Kudos to you and yours!

  21. You are *all* doing such a great job. Congratulations on a challenging milestone. It only gets better. Really!

  22. Oh, I’m so right here with you. Phoebe is 12 months this week and we plan on nursing for a long while still, but I want to night wean her. I just really, really want her to sleep at night now. But I can’t. I think I can, and I read about it, but I know the exact feeling you describe — the heart one. Thank goodness she can’t say “pease” yet, but she can say “ma ma ma ma ma” and it means the same thing — nurse me. She’s our third and last and as exhausted and sleep deprived as I am, and as sure as I am that it would mean a rough week and then just be behind us, I can’t seem to do it. When that 2 am cry comes, I just nurse her back to sleep. I never did night wean the boys — when we weaned we weaned all at once at 2, and that is when they started sleeping at night. Ugh. I’m a tad older and tired-er this time. We’ll see. Thanks for sharing. Wishing you many good nights to come.

  23. I’m getting ready to work on night weaning my almost 18 month old starting tomorrow night. She has gotten to where she thinks I’m her all night paci, and I’m tired of it. Thank you for sharing your night weaning experiences. I know the next few nights are going to be tough, but if you can do it, then I know I can get through it.

  24. As my youngest child just turned 20 this week, all my memories of weaning are vague. I was a stay at home mom and was able to get up at night if I had to. It was hard, (I think) but we all lived through it. My one daughter was 18 months old and would come up to me and say “nurse me mommy” in a tiny voice. How do you say no to that?

  25. We gave up night nursing last, so when they could fall asleep without Mommy, they were really done. A bittersweet moment each time…

  26. WTG Meli, what a fast learner you were. Weaning my second was very difficult for all. Like you, I had to do it. He was nearly 3yo and finally verbal. What got me were the signing for “please” that he defaulted to when he really wanted something. (It was the last sign he hung on to.) It took sending him away for a long weekend to finally completely wean him as we got down to two sessions but he was not letting go.
    I wish you luck. It can be hard, but it sounds like Meli is learning fast.