Sleep is the bomb. One month night weaning update.

After Dreaming about sleep for years, The Piano Man and I decided to try Dr. Gordon’s method for sleep changes and the family bed and blog about it.  You can read about night 1 night 2 night 3 night 4 night 5, night 6, and night 7.  I also answered one round of questions about our experience here.


It’s been a month since our night weaning journey.  So where are we now?  Zombie parents?  Or happy shiny, awake parents?

Night weaning 18 month old Smunchie turned out to be a very good idea for our family.

Night weaning 18 month old Smunchie right before a 2 week road thrip?  Risky.

When we decided to give night weaning a try using Dr. Jay Gordon’s method of night weaning it came out of a desperate necessity to increase the amount of sleep we were getting.  The timing was little more than reaching the end of our rope just as we felt that Smunchie was showing signs of being ready to give up her bobbies at night.  As we began planning to follow Dr. Gordon’s strategy I hoped it would mean that before we left for a 2 week driving vacation across the midwestern United States The Piano Man and I would be able to get enough sleep to not make driving any riskier than it need to be.

It worked, we actually hit the road feeling well rested and Smunchie sleeping anywhere between 8-11 hours each night.

This part of the plan was great, being rested before going on a 2 week cross-country driving trip?  Yes please.

But I was concerned.  I know big changes to a toddler’s routine can throw everything into a tailspin and everything from eating to sleeping could become unpredictable.  Sleeping in a different place most nights, meeting lots of new people, hiking, long days on the road, and all kinds of variables outside our control definitely count as big changes to Smunchie’s routine.  I was concerned that our recent night weaning would become completely undone and we’d be saying “well, she WAS night weaned but now…”

This part of the plan was about as brilliant as those polar bear swims they do in places that freeze in January.  Could be fun and life changing but most likely is just going to kill something you’d actually like to keep on your body.

I had no need to worry though.  Smunchie rolled with the punches and though she developed an amazing ability to transform into one angry flailing octopus any time we headed toward her car seat, sleep was something she approached as a familiar friend.  Hotel room, friends house, sharing a bed with her sisters, on a fold out with The Piano Man and I, in a friend’s Pack-N-Play or even on a palette on the floor she slept.  Which meant we all slept.  Which meant we all actually enjoyed the trip and had more to talk about than “all I really remember is nights of crying and being really tired…”

(Which is why this post is punctuated by random hipstamatic pics from our trip.  That way I can just tell my mom to check the blog to see pics of our trip.  Enjoy!)

Being well rested probably suited the diabolical plans she was concocting to destroy her car seat.  Thankfully, she couldn’t execute them just yet.  I’m hoping the seat has a few more years before she exacts her revenge.  I’m pretty sure I heard her talking in her sleep in the hotel one night, something about “seat… no, no, nooooo!.. go away… poop… chocolate… big sister…”  This could end badly.

We’ve been home for a couple of weeks now and Smunchie is still sleeping through the night without nursing.  She’s recently started having occasional wakings that seem like she’s had a nightmare but a cuddle and gently whispered encouragement and she’s back out in no time.  If she does require something more we’re at a place where we aren’t so drained that we can’t be completely present with her.  The couple of nights she’s had a rough time for some reason I have been able to handle well, more aware.

Some observations since night weaning Smunchie:

  • Random hugs.  Instead of wanting to nurse every time she sees me sometimes she’s satisfied just to get a big squeeze and run off to the really fun stuff in life.
  • When she does want some boob time though it’s a longer, more focused and more real feeling feeding.  And I enjoy it more.
  • It could be coincidence or it could be related but she’s developed a lot more personality and suddenly reached some social milestones almost over night.  I suspect better sleep for her has something to do with this.
  • When she wakes up in the morning she is really, really up.  She’s well rested and ready to get rocking and rolling.  Which is kind of irritating me since she’s decided she’s wide awake at 6am lately.  She’ll play in her bed sometimes but thankfully Lolie is also an early riser so the 2 of them go off to play together in the living room and I snooze for another 45 minutes or so.
  • More often she wants to nurse to sleep at night but then doesn’t ask for it again if she does happen to wake during the night.  I’ve been stopping her with “bobbies all done” when I can tell she’s going to fall asleep and sometimes she complains about that but usually it goes well and she’s clearly ready to go to her bed.
  • I still can’t get over how I feel.  My back pain has diminished to almost none, my fatigue is also mostly gone (except when I stay up too late doing my own thing- such as writing this post, can only blame myself for that!), and my energy level is way up.  It’s great.  With all of this I’m so much more the parent and partner I’ve wanted to be for so long but struggled with just because of sheer exhaustion.
  • I shower more regularly.  Seriously, I really do.  I also actually get dressed, more than the yoga pants t-shirt look.  I’m even wearing jewelry again AND cute shoes.
  • My productivity and my fun-mom-energy has been great.  Not perfect but I never will be, I can live with improved.
  • Patience is a virtue.  And one directly linked to sleep for me.  There’s more to it than that but all my girls have noticed.  I’m more patient with them, with myself and with the thousands of drivers in Houston that oddly enough don’t have working turn signals or at least don’t know how to use them.

Right before we decided to night wean I was struggling often with feeling like I hated breastfeeding.  Me, The Leaky Boob hating breastfeeding?  Yep.  This admission, even just to myself, was a bit horrifying.  However, it was there and I had to examine why.  Within a week of Smunchie being night weaned that feeling was completely gone and though I’ll never completely love breastfeeding (I’ve shared that before) I am enjoying it much more now and am ok with going on for a good while longer.

So all in all this night weaning experience worked very well for us.  I’m glad we waited until we felt the time was right and I’m beyond thrilled Smunchie agreed.  We’re no longer zombie parents, at least not most of the time.  I’m pretty much a happy, shiny awake parent now and it’s been loads of fun.  In the time since we night weaned not only did we travel for 2 week but we raised a whole batch of frog eggs all the way through, made numerous batches of play dough, had loads of living room dance parties, done special outings, seen a couple of movies at the theater, gone on bike rides, played in the sprinkler, spent hours coloring with sidewalk chalk, taught Lolie how to knit, gotten most of us back into knitting (turning fall-ward I think), had more dates with The Piano Man and… probably way TMI… I’ve had a whole lot more sex and it’s the really good kind too.

This sleeping thing?  Yeah, it’s the bomb.




  1. So glad things are going well for you! I too developed a renewed love for breastfeeding and a will to continue on longer after my daughter night-weaned. =)

    By the way, cute pictures!! And that sleep-talking is hilarious. Sounds like a diabolical plan she has going on there.

  2. Yay!!! So glad everything is going so well for you!
    There’s really nothing like a good night’s sleep 🙂
    And double kudos for surviving the roadtrip, 20 min in the car with just one kiddo and
    I’m ready to turn around and go home.

  3. As i sit here at 11:45, exhausted beyond exhaustion, wondering if hubby fell asleep trying to get our daughter to sleep *again* because she wouldn’t nap this morning *again* after another horrendous night of (not) sleep… You give me hope. I think our daughter is ready… She’ll take a bottle or daddy for every feeding *except* the one at 4am right now, because I have been too scared to try. But I’m like you – my best sleep is from midnight til 7. 4am is of it! And she stays up, nursing, biting (now), yelling, fighting me… We co-sleep part time because of that feeding. She had been down to only one waking for a week, now she’s back up to 3, refusing naps, and just generally making me too exhausted to work. Mommy no work means baby no eat.

    It’s time. *sigh*

    I’ll keep following… If I can’t have sleep, I can at least have hope. I mean, after all, I’m not that tired am zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

  4. Am so glad it’s working for you guys! We’ve loosely tried night weaning my 16 month old, but not really worked at it, and I am exhausted, and struggling with even wanting to carry on feeding him at all. My other half is taking a week off in September, and we’re going to follow the plan you used and see how we go. Glad you’re getting sleep and got your zing back! Am jealous, but hopeful for us! 🙂

  5. Thank you for sharing the follow up! I was wondering how it was going and I’m so happy it’s going well for you! We will be night weaning at some point soon, I just hope we are as successful 🙂

  6. Jeemaa Kauffman says

    So happy to hear that you guys are getting lots of sleep 🙂 It really changes so many things, doesn’t it? I really loved reading the entire post but one thing really grabbed my attention! I never really made the connections until you mentioned it – my son started giving random hugs throughout the day soon after we started our weaning journey. He gives these super tight hugs now before we put him to bed too. Very interesting!! Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. ~Jeemaa

  7. We’re working on night weaning. A future self could have written this post, this is so where I would love to be. 13 months of nursing between 2-5 times a night has really taken its toll. I’m so much less productive and motivated than I need/want to be. I get good days when we occasionally get a good nights sleep, and I feel like super woman on those days! It’s amazing what a little shut eye can do for a person. Congratulations, and I hope to join your ranks soon. 🙂

    PS, I really enjoy TLB. Thanks so much for all the work you put in, you’ve created a pretty awesome thing.

  8. I have to say, it makes me feel good to hear that you, the Leaky Boob, doesn’t like breastfeeding all the time or all that much either. I feel like I can never be negative about it because I dont want to jade those around me before they even try it!! I feel like I have to be a shining example of breastfeeding goddess, super patient, loving, never tired mama. it sucks. My little guy can not seem to cosleep comfortably. He rolls around, he gets mad if I dont let him nurse all.night.long. he pinches daddy, he tries to crawl out of bed, etc. etc. We moved him to his crib at 6 months, and now he’s up every 45 minutes or more at night, want to nurse, be comforted etc. I want to be that kind of mama, who is there for him whenever he is sad or lonely, but I am feeling so exhausted I am becoming angry and resentful towards him. I dont want to be an angry mama, and I dont want to let him CIO. I am at a loss for what he needs right now. Maybe when he turns a year I will try Dr. Gordans method, modified because I dont think he is quite ready to give up all night nourishment.

    wow, sorry I didnt mean to write you a novel. It was relieving to “hear” your story and it gave me hope for my own.

  9. I just caught up with all of your night-weaning posts and I want to start by saying thank you for sharing. I don’t know why I haven’t jumped over to your blog from the Leaky Boob FB page yet but I’m glad that this is where I started.

    I haven’t had a full night’s sleep since July 11th 2010. I absolutely love breastfeeding and everything about it but I’ve been thinking about weaning lately (all-together weaning, not just night weaning). It makes me feel horrible but I thought that was my only hope for sanity. Now I see that there is a better way.

    It seems like once she started eating solid meals she stopped asking for milk during the day. This also led to an increase in nursing at night. I’m worried that she won’t get the nutrition she needs anymore if I wean at night. I don’t want her to be hungry and I worry that she doesn’t eat enough during the day. Nursing has always been the thing that I rely on to ‘supplement’ her nutrition. Is 13 months too early?

    I’ve recently starting a vitamin regimen and other things to improve my energy and my moods, I’m hoping that the combination will really help me feel like myself again. So that this doesn’t turn into a novel I’m going to head over to the FB page and ask for help on her shallow latch…thanks for letting me ramble:).

  10. christine kangas says

    Congratulations on the successful night weaning!!! So glad to hear things went well with both that and the trip! 🙂

  11. I’m so glad I found your blog post. I started night weaning this week and it is grueling emotionally and physically, on top of the 15 months of zombie fatigue. The 2-3 hour middle of the night play and talk times will hopefully be a thing of the past too! Your post gives me a bit of hope!