Tag Archives: Sleep

Nightweaning or not?

11 Nov

I’m so tired at the moment that I’m seriously considering nightweaning my daughter. She’s a little bit over two and a half years old and shows no signs of thinking about stopping breastfeeding. Although it gets a little bit exhausting sometimes, I’m quite glad that I’m still feeding her: when she has a cold, it reliably clears her stuffy nose, when she has a tummy bug, I know it’s definitely the best way to keep her hydrated, and I read somewhere that breastfeeding for two years (not necessarily just one child) reduces my risk of breast cancer by 40%. So that is all lovely, and the snuggles aren’t bad either.

It’s just that my daughter especially enjoys ‘nom noms’, as we call them, overnight. All night. Sometimes she joyfully jumps out of (my!) bed in the morning and proudly declares ‘me having nom noms in mummy’s bed AAALL NIGHT!’

So I have been considering not letting her have any at night anymore.

The arguments for:

  • She eats quite a bit of food during the day, so nutritionally, she doesn’t need to be breastfed at night.
  • She’s old enough to understand my explanations so that hopefully she wouldn’t feel rejected, and I’d double up on the cuddles.
  • Sleeeeeeeep! I’ve not slept a whole night for the past three years (no joke, not one full night). I think it’s catching up with me now.
  • Erm…
  • That’s it.
The arguments against:
  • Prolactin levels are highest at night, so feeding then is important to ensure an adequate milk supply, which makes me worried that nightweaning would be the beginning of a slippery slope to full weaning.
  • So far I’ve let my daughter take the lead and my parenting approach has been quite gentle: breastfeeding so she could decide when and how much she wanted to eat, ditto with solids (we did baby-led weaning), co-sleeping, letting her figure out her own daytime routine. It’s worked well so far – whenever I’m worried how to respond to a new developmental stage, she usually shows me and it all turns out fine. So I don’t really want to force her to give up feeding at night.
  • I might regret it and go back on my decision, confusing my daughter in the process.
To conclude: I have no idea, but instead lots of migraines and nausea from the tiredness.

My Parenting Approach in a Nutbowl (if not a bucket)

18 Apr

Jean Liedloff, author of The Continuum Concept, died last month, on my daughter’s birthday actually. She is seen by many as the person who brought ‘Attachment Parenting’ to the West. Interestingly, just like her polar opposite Gina Ford, she never had children.

Attachment Parenting includes birth bonding, breastfeeding on cue, co-sleeping, babywearing and not leaving babies to cry.

My parenting approach ticks all these boxes: I prepared for the birth of my daughter and we had some skin-to-skin time, although not as much as I would have liked because things with me kind of went wrong once she was out. But she had about two hours of skin-to-skin snuggles with her dad while they were waiting for me to get out of emergency surgery. I’m still breastfeeding my two-year-old whenever she feels like it (I know you don’t get a medal, but I kind of feel you ought to!).

We’ve been co-sleeping, bed-sharing in fact, since a lovely midwife visited us on our first day at home and made me realise how silly it was to expect a tiny baby to sleep in their own bed and how much more rest I would be able to get by snuggling up with my daughter in the big bed. I’ll be forever grateful to that midwife because although I had read a lot about parenting before the birth, I only knew how dangerous it was to fall asleep while feeding your baby. The midwife showed us how to co-sleep safely so that I was firmly wedged into position and my daughter couldn’t be covered by pillows or the duvet. I can’t imagine how much more stressful life would have been without her brilliant life-changing advice. Researchers have now found out that breastfeeding co-sleeping mothers get more sleep, and more deep sleep, than mothers who get up to feed their babies.

We had quite a slow start with the babywearing as I couldn’t get on with our pouch sling and didn’t discover the benefits of a wrap sling until my daughter was already a couple of months old, but we really enjoyed it until she got too heavy, and now we have a Patapum so I can carry her on my back. We have never done any kind of sleep training because we think it is harmful for babies. I am aware I say this as the non-working mother of only one child! As with everything else, I know there are circumstances when it’s the best option to save the parents’ sanity, but my daughter is my only child so far and I know I have been very privileged to be able to spend this much time with her, so we haven’t needed to fall back on controlled crying and similar methods.

In addition, we have been big fans of baby-led weaning – Annabel Karmel’s assorted baby-feeding paraphernalia and pureed food have never entered this household. I’d say that’s probably 50% idealism and 50% laziness. I really want my daughter to understand that she can control how much she eats, so since the week after she turned six months old we have just let her get on with things. It’s worked pretty well I’d say because even when she eats cake, she stops eating fairly soon, I assume because she’s full.

So the fundamental aspects of my daughter’s life have been led by her and I’ve followed at her pace. I wonder down which paths she will lead us now she is a proper toddler. My time with her so far has been a great learning experience: I’ve learned a lot about what society expects from people, and how I can evaluate those demands. Above all, knowing about Attachment Parenting has given me the confidence to put my daughter’s needs first. So thank you Jean Liedloff.