A resource to inspire, inform and empower parents.

My Nursing Toddler Doesn’t Sleep Through the Night. Does Yours?

by guest blogger Wendy Wisner, IBCLC

Wendy breastfeeding and bed-sharing with her son.

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:  http://www.kathydettwyler.org/detsleepthrough.html.

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.

Do you sleep all night without waking?  Yeah, I know.  You can put yourself back to sleep if you wake up!  So can I, but I like to snuggle up to my husband sometimes to help me fall back asleep.  The same is true of babies and children. And for most, the soothing that they crave at night comes in the form of suckling – that’s why toddlers and young children who don’t nurse often suck on a pacifier, a thumb, or the end of a blanket.  This need to suck is a developmental/biological urge, and diminishes naturally, as it’s meant to.

Also, here’s another revelation – some toddlers actually still need the nutrition of breastmilk in the middle of the night.  I know – your pediatrician may have said your baby didn’t need breastmilk for nutrition past 6 months of age.  But it’s simply not reasonable to expect a toddler (whose tummy is the size of his or her fist) to sleep for 10-12 hours without eating.  That’s half the day.  A little middle-of-the-night snack sounds reasonable to me.

But, you might say, all of this is terribly exhausting and inconvenient.  We live in the modern world.  We need to push past our biological make-up and just sleep.  I hear that – believe me, I grumble about it just as much as anyone.  And I suppose I could have taught my children to self-soothe as babies.  I could have tried a pacifier, a lovey, or some other gentle sleep training method (I would not Cry-It-Out, but that’s another post unto itself!).  I could offer my nursing toddler a snack or a cuddle instead of a breast.

There are several reasons why I let my children nurse back to sleep for as long as they need.

Wendy breastfeeding and bed-sharing with her son.

First, I’m LAZY!  Nursing back to sleep usually takes a few minutes, and when I’m sleeping next to my child, I barely have to get up.  I have just gotten really good at creating an environment where nursing at night is thoughtless and non-disruptive for me (most of the time).

Also, call me crazy, but I’m totally fascinated with how human species nurse their young (I guess that’s why I became a lactation consultant).  With my older son, I wanted to see what would happen if I let him give up nighttime nursing on his own.  A part of me certainly was suspicious of this tactic.  Had I simply created a bad habit that would never end?  Was I just going to have to get him to stop?

The answer is NO, and I’m here to prove it!  He really just stopped waking up to nurse, ON HIS OWN.  I did nothing (trust me – I was too tired to do a thing).  His sleep just got deeper with fewer wake-ups, and if they did happen, he could roll around a little and put himself back to sleep.  Or he would reach out and I would hold his hand.  The “suck-to-sleep” thing just got old for him.  He began to prefer holding my hand to nursing.  Yes, it took much longer than we in the modern, Western world expect, but it did happen.

And finally (and this is perhaps the most important thing), letting my children nurse until they are done—at night and otherwise—has taught me to trust them in all arenas of life.  It has taught me to let them be who they are, whether or not I always “get it” or understand.  It has taught me to take life a little slower, to live in the moment, and not rush to the next thing too quickly.  It has taught me to trust my body, my biology, and my instincts.

You don’t have to do what I do.  Maybe your child will give up night nursing earlier than mine, or maybe you will find other gentle ways to deal with nightwaking.  But if you don’t mind the wake-ups, and you’re OK with waiting for as long as it takes to let your child give up nightnursing, you are not alone.  And it will be a very beautiful, intimate thing to witness.

Does your toddler nurse at night?  How do you feel about it?


***Wendy Wisner is the author of two books of poems, Morph and Bloom (2013) and Epicenter (2004), as well as a chapbook, Another Place of Rocking (2010).  Wendy is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and blogs about breastfeeding, motherhood, and writing at www.nursememama.com.  She lives in New York with her husband and two sons.

You can find Wendy and her work at the following links:







  1. I have three boys and they all nursed until around the age of three. None of them ever slept throught the night and were all co-sleepers. Nursing at times i think was just for comfort but that is just fine. I want my baby to feel completely safe and loved. I say I chose to have children and for the first years of their life was for them. all of my time. those are the precious times of your child forming years. Give them all the protections they seek. That is the best way to make secure adults.

    • Reading this makes feel better! I still night nurse my kid. She just turned 2. It makes us both happy so why do others think its odd? I do think it will make her a more secure adult!

      • Thank you for this! I’ve been struggling with my 17 month old. Well — my husband. He’s been sleeping in the other room and his family gives him a hard time that we do sleep and still nurse. I am a stay at home mom so my duty is a mom. To nurture and love my baby. So I do. But this makes me feel so much better that I’m not crazy. That he still needs his mama.

        • You don’t need to have your husband sleep in the other room!! There are adult bed sized child guards and with a king size bed there is no way you won’t fit everyone in. Most of the time my 14 months old sleeps next to the bedguard.

      • Yes same! As I lie in bed waiting for my eyes to fall into a deep sleep knowing in 3 or less hours my 14 month old will half awake cry out and want to cosleep/ nurse. It’s nice to hear others have/are going through this journey. It’s nice to know I’m not alone. For this moment I silence societal/ popular opinions. For a moment I silence the “he still breastfeeds” shaming.

        • I have 2 boys and I have nursed them both. My first is 8 and I nursed him until 2 and a half and co- slept from day one. We were inexperienced and did what we had to in order to function… so we thought. My second child is now 14 months old (little age gap I know lol) and again co sleeping and night nursing… is it a learn behaviour from my first? Sure, it’s all I know.
          I do t have the heart to let him cry it out. I am a sucker and do secretly love the closeness I have with them.
          We have a family bed and my 8 year cannot wait to get back in bed with me. He currently sleeps in his mattress kn my bedroom floor.

          I have read a lot about co sleeping and night nursing and and come to the conclusion that it is more normal than you think.

          It’s more widely accepted and in practice than people know. Western society has deemed it a “no-no” and we moms so kit like to openly discuss our sleeping g arrangements as we may be frowned upon or fear of being seen as incompetent as a mother.

          Do I want a good night sleep? Heck yes I do. Am I getting that? Balls nooooo! But I believe I am getting is a bond and as someone else posted I am allowing my children to feel safe, protected and secure.

    • Nelly martinez says

      I have a 13 month old who still night nurses, I love every second of it and not planning to stop till she’s atleast two. I love reading the comments about other moms who night nurse, we recently had her one year checkup and her doctor stated that there was no longer a need for my baby to breastfeed through out the night and that It was mostly due to me wanting that closeness rather than my baby actually needing to breastfeed. I felt very uneasy leaving the doctors office that day. I was very sad, but I realized that that decision was up to my baby, not the doctor. So thank you all moms out there who share your experiences wth your little ones making the rest of us feel 1000% better!

      • Our pediatrician told me at our well child check when baby was 15 months and nursing all night that I could do what I wanted and nursing certainly wouldn’t hurt her. I told her how happy it seemed to make my baby and how she’d wake up smacking my face and singing to me after her morning nursing and our doc told my baby that her mommy is very lucky. Good pediatricians make life lovely.

    • Kaja Lindsay says

      How old was your first when you got pregnant with your second? And how did this affect the nursing and sleeping at night?

      • I was still night nursing my daughter who was 3 when I got pregnant with my son. My milk did dry up for a few months during my pregnancy and nursing became slightly painful, so I would let my daughter just nurse for a short time before she fell asleep and she adjusted to that just fine. She continued nursing for a bit (mostly for comfort) after her brother was born and stopped on her own when she was about 4. My son is now 16 months old and still night nursing and they both co-sleep with me on opposite sides of the bed. My daughter is now 5 and not waking up at night very often so we are getting ready to start transitioning her to her own room. I have nights where I want to give up and sleep train my son (that is how I found this article) but honestly it is worth it to feel like I am there to comfort them.

  2. My LO just turned 1 yesterday, and we still nurse on demand all day and all through the night. She has only been waking up about 3 our 4 times a night since she was about 7 months, and it looks like we won’t be decreasing that any time soon.

    I love that we are still breastfeeding/nursing at night for MANY different reasons, but BY FAR the best reason is that I love the closeness that it gives her and I.

    I love what you said about how nursing has taught you to trust your instincts and to trust that LO knows what LO needs. <3

  3. Kira Headlee says

    Thank you for this beautiful article. My 4.5 year old continued to night nurse until she self-weaned at 19 months. . .earlier than I’d hoped for, but it was her choice, and our very last nurse together was in fact a 2 a.m. night nurse, always to be cherished by me. My 6 month old nurses several times a night, usually just for a few minutes at a time, but I do not plan on withholding that as he gets older. Appreciate your natural perspective on this issue!

    • Kira, your comment brought heartfelt years to my eyes. “and our very last nurse together was in fact a 2 a.m. night nurse, always to be cherished by me”… I’m a new mama to a beautiful, sweet, 3 month old baby girl, and an loving nursing her. Sometimes the night nursing is hard depending upon how much sleep I’ve had, but, after reading your comment, I appreciate and cherish our quiet time together even more now knowing how quickly time flies by. For now she is our little baby girl… Thank you for sharing. Peace, love, blessings.

  4. Lovely blog :). I remember coming across Dettwyler’s info about the normal age of sleeping through the night being between 3 and 4 years old. I read that when my first was about 2 years old, thinking “3 or 4! I won’t last that long!” But of course I did and even when he stopped waking at 3.5 yo, I continued waking for awhile as my body was so used to it! Now my second is 3.4 and shows no signs of night weaning, and I am good with that. In fact, I love those moments in the middle of the night when I cuddle her close to me and snuggle up. Soon she will be too big for that so I am enjoying every moment!

    • How do you get on with tooth decay? My 2 year old daughter had 5 teeth pulled out at the top because of breast milk sitting on her teeth (feeding to sleep and night feeds). I can cut out the day feeds but night time is getting harder. I’ll keep trying but me and my partner want to avoid crying back to sleep. She wKes up 3-4 times a night and I have to feed her back to sleep. Iv been told to wipe her teeth after but then she’ll want another drink to get back to sleep again.its so hard.

      • You may want to look into Weston A. Price— he was a dentist who studied tooth decay in remote cultures around the world. He posits that tooth decay is due to poor diet (which changes the bacteria in your mouth), and in light of that I think breast milk should not be causing tooth decay. The Weston A. Price foundation website has dietary recommendations for nursing moms and growing babies based on what he found in cultures with no tooth decay. I hope you can find something helpful there!

  5. My 28 month old still night nurses, but has dropped to only 1 or 2 times. It is a big improvement from 3-5 times and that didn’t include day time nursing. He no longer nurses during the day. I feel he will be nursing another couple of months and he will be weaned and I haven’t done a thing.

  6. Great article, enjoyed every second of it. I have a 14 month old who wakes up maybe 4x a night to nurse for about 3-4 minutes then drifts back off to sleep. This has never, not once, been a bothersome to me. Nor have I ever felt like “this isn’t normal” – she is a great sleeper for the most part. The comfort nursing at night doesn’t interfere with my sleep. I don’t wake up feeling exhausted like I didn’t get sleep. Besides, I wake up myself about 3x a night to switch positions in bed. Doesn’t bother me a bit!
    I also have a 4 year old who we bed shared with since she was 1. She slowly transitioned to her own bed starting at around 2 but she never fully stayed in her bed until she was 3. For 7 wonderful months she felt perfectly happy and content in her own bed and her own room. Well, lately over the past few weeks she has been waking up at around 12 am to come into our bed. And I’m fine with that. I don’t feel like I need to force her to stay in her bed if she didn’t want to. I’ve seen this said before, not word for word – but it truly makes sense – Do we as adults like to sleep alone? Don’t we get lonely if we’re not near our SO? I can’t sleep a wink if I don’t have my husband in bed with me. It’s comforting that he’s there. I’m just so sick of these arbitrary rules Americans have seemed to make up about what’s right and wrong. And don’t get me started on “well where do you have sex?” Question… Oooo that is my biggest peeve question lol.

    • Why is the sex question such a big deal? it is an honest question.

      • Jennifer Smith says

        I nursed all of my children and they self weaned. All except my now 3 year old. She is the only co-sleeper as well. My husband and i have sex just like every other married couple with children. Why would anyone feel it is their business to know details? Well, we have a set of stairs, chaise lounge and couch, floor, other bedrooms, and we have even had sex in the bed while she was blissfully unaware and asleep. I do not understand the curiosity….

    • Re: “the sex question”

      My MIL once said that our child would “never have a brother or sister” if they slept in our bed. I promptly informed her that she lacked creativity.

  7. I’m nursing a 21 month old all night every night currently, and I mostly don’t mind- it’s just my days are quite thrown off and my hormones and cycle are going wild! I’ve had two periods in a month and it’s the leading up to menstruating and mensturating while nursing all night that’s getting to me! It a lot. My first son night weaned very gently when I was pregnant with my second around 20 months. It was gentle and he slept mostly through the night after that. I’ve never been attatched to the idea of my child sleeping through the night but my physical and mental limitations surrounding caring for myself and meeting his needs seem to be at odds…

  8. I just want to say thank you, your words have been encouraging to me. This touched me and resonated with me and my life as I know it completely. I have an almost 19 month old and he wakes frequently to night nurse sometimes its frustrating and hard. I need to remember he will grow up one day (soon) and will not longer want and need me the way he does now. Good reminder to SLOW DOWN! cheers.

  9. My almost 22-month-old still nurses at least 3-4 times per night (and sometimes more; I don’t really count anymore, not most nights). There are times when I am quite literally tired of it, but every time I think about trying to (gently) night wean him, he shows signs that he’s just not ready to give it up yet. Most of the time I’m very okay with it. I go to bed soon after he does, since I like sleep, and I keep telling myself he will sleep longer stretches when he’s ready. Mostly I just love cuddling with him at night, since he never wants to cuddle during the day anymore. Thanks for this lovely perspective.

  10. I’m still co-sleeping/night-nursing my 20 month old. I have been planning on nursing her at least to age 3. She has never slept more than 2 hours in a row. I’m so tired. I’m fully committed to this, and I see the health benefits, but I read “four years” and I just want to cry.
    being a single mom, working full time to support the two of us.
    it’s just exhausting.

    • Sometimes babies wake more in the night to hang out with mamma, if they don”t see her in the day as much as they would like.

    • Hang in there mama! Your sacrifice is beautiful. You’re amazing and you can do this! It helps me to not think about the next day because I will stress out about having to nurse and being tired. Just forget everything so you can enjoy being with your baby even in those moments. Focus on her only and it won’t feel like a chore. Pretend you don’t have work the next day if you have to.

    • I’m also a single mom, currently nursing my 29 month old. I don’t generally have a problem with her frequent night wakings. As others have stated, most of these don’t take too long, usually no more than 10-15 minutes for us. It’s the 2+ hours in the morning that’s wearing on me (at this moment we’re at 2 hrs 23 minutes for this session). I need to start getting up earlier (way behind on PhD project and pretty much everything else), but as I let little cutie have all the mama milk her heart desires, this isn’t working. I don’t know how to catch up with school and my life. I really appreciate the article and all your comments; any advice on kind ways to decrease her nurse time in the mornings will be greatly appreciated.

      • I don’t know if you will see this Kiki Troo but I could have written your post myself…exactly the same nightime nursing pattern with my 28 month old with the last few hours in the morning just constant!!! I wanted to ask how it stopped, especially the long never ending morning nursings that seem so important to them?!!

  11. Both of my LOs weaned before a year (for both it was the moment they started walking!), and NEITHER SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT until almost two. So, thank you for posting this. I think people need to hear that most toddlers don’t sleep through the night consistently, whether or not they are breastfed. 🙂

  12. Thanks you for this post. Nursing my almost 3yo at bedtime, once a night (most nights) and in the morning. Some days I’m over the middle of the night nursing and feel like it won’t ever end unless in do something. Very happy to hear I can just wait it out, enjoy the snuggles and some day I will miss it. My 14 month old stopped night nursing when she was 6 months.

  13. My son will be 16 months soon. I still nurse him. 🙂 I keep getting told by my grandparents that he isnt getting enough food… he is very tiny… he was born tiny too. 5lbs 8oz. Now he is almost 16 months and he is shy of 20 lbs, but 33 inches long. Just because I breastfeed him, doesn’t mean he isnt getting enough “real” food to keep him growing. I co-sleep, and nurse through the night, and I feel if anything, he is getting CONSTANT nutrician from me. He eats all the time durning the day, and the night. I am glad that I am not the only person who does this. That my son isn’t the only kid that wakes up here and there. I am glad that I keep on feeding him. He nurses more when he needs to, and less when he needs to. It is a beautiful thing.

    • I only nursed my daughter 2 months. She was 5lbs 6oz. Now she is 3 1/2. She weighs 24lbs. Just tiny.

    • My son is 20 months old, I work part time couple full days and three 4-6 hour day, he can go a whole day without breast feeding if he eats. But eating is a struggle, he doesn’t eat enough solid unless we force him home made purée food…he’s only 6% tile dropped from 50% after one year old. I feel like he’s making it up compensating at night… He woul wake up less if he eat more during the day but eating is such a battle…he’s resisting even more now, resisting also to get into the high chair, require iPad YouTube to distract him so we can make him eat more purée..and yogurt.
      He can chew and swallow has pretty much all his teeth but he would eat one or few bites if any then stops or plays with the food.
      I’m hoping once he goes to school and see other kids , getting into routine and more exercise, maybe this eating habit will change. Currently my sister come help me babysit. Our live is revolving around his feeding because it takes so long..using syringe or spoon
      Before one he was able to sleep longer stretch like 5 hours but I think maybe teething screwed it up and now he doesn’t sleep more than 3 at best. I cannot wean him feeding he’s not eating enough during the day but at the same time I’m afraid breast milk won’t be enough nutrition for him….

      • Have you read the book “My Child Won’t Eat”? It’s written by Spanish pediatrician Dr. Carlos Gonzalez, and it’s the book that turned it all around for me and my husband! We were having meal time issues with DD, but now we have completely relaxed about it. Totally worth it and a fast read!!! It’s a total game-changer and so reassuring!

  14. It’s driving me crazy. She wakes up multiple times a night. She wants “boo boos” all the time, day and night. She is 14 months and I am 6.5 months pregnant. I am having problems with breast feeding aversion. She slept with me til 10 months then I moved her to her crib in her room and she would go down no problem and sleep half the night and I’d go get her. Super! For like two months. Then she got all of her molers…and she won’t get off the boob. Now I put her in her “bed” on the floor next to my bed IF I can get her off my boob after shes asleep and then she wakes up crying around 1 am and is in the bed with me the rest of the morning. I am tired. I am at a loss for what to do. I’m so worried about how I’m going to take care of the new baby when I’ve got clingy McClingy butt who won’t sleep. I work (not after the new baby) and own a comic shop and my husband works swing. I NEED to sleep! 🙁 I love my kid.

  15. Forgot to mention that I was very blessed that my girl had been such a great sleeper since birth pretty much until those damned molars 🙁

  16. Nicole Bear says

    My 1 year old sometimes wakes a few times at night to nurse, and sometimes not at all. When she does nurse during the night, it is almost like she is making up for what she didn’t get during the day, as those are usually times when she has been teething and it hurt to nurse during the day (not so much when she is half asleep!), or when she had an exciting day and didn’t have time to nurse during the day.

  17. Thank you for your article! My son nurses throughout the night sometimes and sometimes sleeps through the night (very rare). I have a baby on the way in the next couple weeks and I am going to (gasp) tandem nurse!! I fully expect to be night nursing both of them and that is totally ok! Modern society, I believe, has it all wrong. I loved how you referenced the anthropological view as well. How people got these ideas of infants and toddlers sleeping alone, no comfort, is beyond me! It feels natural to me to sleep near and nurse my son through the night. 🙂

  18. My son is 15 months old and still nurses at night. I actually don’t mind it. He starts out in his crib and then when he wakes in the middle of the night we put him in our bed for the rest of the night. I love that he doesn’t wake up screaming because he’s alone and scared. He wakes up happy and touchy feely.
    Thank you for this article. It makes me see that I am not alone in this.

  19. My daughter is just shy of 18 months and still nurses with me and doesn’t sleep through the night. I stopped pumping because she no longer takes a bottle and won’t have breastmilk out of a cup, but I nurse her on demand when I’m with her. She slept 8:30-5:30 for about two months and now is back to waking up usually once a night. She’s in a toddler bed and will just get up and come to our bed now and snuggle/nurse right back to sleep. I was worried about creating a bad habit by not getting her back into her own bed, but I absolutely love these snuggles with her and waking up cuddling my girl who’s getting bigger by the day. I’m going to let her wean when she’s ready and if it’s not until she’s 3, so be it. I’m very interested in becoming a lactation consultant as well because it really bothers me seeing how many moms just give up or are misinformed by their Ob/Gyns and Pediatricians about how nursing works in the very first days and make the switch right to formula without giving it a real try. I’d love to be able to help moms have that special connection that only comes from nursing. Any info you could provide about your path to becoming an LC would be great!

  20. I honestly thought I was alone with my son night nursing and though he would be done but I also nurse his sister which is 8months old so I know now I won’t be done for a very long time but believe me I enjoy nursing my children all the time 🙂

  21. I BF my son to 13 months as I wanted a second child and in Australia you can’t do IVF while BF (can’t have children naturally) my son slept through the night from 10 weeks. My daughter is 7 months and BF she slept though the night from 8 weeks. I joke with my husband and tell him I’m going to BF my last child till they are 16!!!!!! Hopefully we will have our 3 rd child one day and I will again BF. It will be nice to BF till they self wean. I’m the odd one out in in my social circle I think BF is frowned upon in Australia as it interferes with the mothers ability to rush around doing this that and the other. Both my babies had to get there food directly from me no pumping for me I have an oversupply so I had to stabilise my milk and just have strict routine mastitis is so nasty!!!!! Happy BF all you mummies out there:)

  22. Thank you so much for this! It’s so helpful to know that my experience is not out of the norm, that I am not alone. My daughter is almost 2.5 and still loves to nurse back to sleep at night! Fortunately she went from nursing every 2 hours to about every 4 somewhere around her 2nd birthday. I felt amazing in the morning! I may have night weaned her if it had continued at the every 2 hour rate, but it didn’t (it felt like going against instinct to night wean before 2 for some reason). So how perfect that just when I couldn’t do it anymore, her wake times naturally lessened? 🙂

  23. This article could of been written by myself. And I love it! My 14 month old girl still feeds about 5 times a night. Sometimes less, sometimes maybe 8 times! It just depends. And while I am very uncomfortable and have lots of back pain from lying all weird so she can suckle back to sleep, it’s worth it. I get sleep. She gets sleep. No one cries. Everyone wakes up together, side by side and happy… Isn’t that beautiful?! And you know what… it was totally instinct. I’m letting her do it until she wants to stop on her own!

  24. I got a job where I leave the house at 3:30 am, and you know, it’s amazing how they can learn to adjust….I sleep with my daughter from 7-2 and then Daddy takes over, the first few weeks were hard when she woke up to nurse and I wasn’t there, I would try and wake up at 2 to give her one last feeding before going, but she would wake up at 6 am. Now she knows to take the opportunity to nurse and sometimes sleeps a whole 8 hours attached to me. People say at 16 months she is “too big for breastmilk” but I know it is the best thing for her and will give it to her as long as she needs it.

  25. Wendy! Thank you for writing this! I think this article is the most important article I could ever send to a new mom who has just started nursing and doesn’t understand how to co-sleep. I love the pictures too! Side lying and nursing to slepp was by far the best parenting technique that I learned. You taught me this position when my daughter was 3 days old and it has been invaluable. I had no idea about co-sleeping until my baby was born and I would have loved to read an article like this before I gave birth to understand how to co-sleep. This is seriously such an important issue for moms to keep up breastfeeding. I think that nursing through the night has been so helpful for me especially on the nights that my kids were sick or teething. It save me lots of sleep in the long run.

  26. At about a year I started to get insane from not having slept more than 2 hours at a time for my nursling. We started adding a bottle of cow milk at bedtime after nursing. She started sleeping for about 8 hours, then would nurse for a minute or two, and sleep 4 more. It has been bliss. We still nurse for naptime and that night feed and one tiny middle of the night feed, but we are both back to sleep pretty fast(we co-sleep). It has been so nice. I feel like a new person. I was terrified I would lose my milk, but it has been enough to satisfy her… 20 months and still going:) It may not be for everyone, but it has worked for us and we couldn’t be happier!

  27. After the first few times I was asked, I decided to redefine “sleeping through the night” to mean having no extended periods of wakefulness during the night. When people ask if my 15 month old sleeps through the night, I answer “Yes! He wakes up for a snack a few times and is back to sleep within five minutes. He hasn’t had an awake time at night since he was two weeks old.” I owe our precious rest to cosleeping, breastfeeding, and making sure our room stays dark. I love it!

  28. Sadly, I wasn’t able to nurse my now 2 year old son, but I completely agree with you about allowing babies/toddlers to move thru milestones in their own time. My son dropped his night feed, STTN, went from being rocked and put to bed asleep to getting himself to sleep, and from co-sleeping, to sleeping in his own crib/room -all on his own. All we have left is getting rid of the pacifiers during sleep and potty training, and I’ll be letting him move thru those milestones in his time as well. I think it’s wonderful when a mother has the time and inclination to allow their child the time, and space, to do so.

  29. My little girl is almost 20 months and still wakes up 2-3 on a good night on a bad night 5-6 times. I don’t nurse her long just for a couple of minutes the I roll back over and go to bed. But i know that not only nursing babies wake up alot at night my 3 12 yr old was formula fed and she woke up just as much if not more and still wakes up in the middle of the night.

  30. Shawn Stufflebeam says

    Thank you for this. You have just helped me and my wife feel a lot better about the way things are going for us and our 33 month old daughter. It is important that you are saying these things, and are willing to be so open and honest.

  31. Thank you for writing this. My daughter is almost 2 years 10 months and she wakes once in the night. She has a quick breastfeed and we’re both back in our own beds and snuggled down to sleep again within 10 minutes.

    Whenever I have considered night weaning her I remember just how far her sleep has come. She sleeps for much longer stretches with fewer wakings and I know that she’ll eventually sleep through without needing me. Until that time comes I will continue to respond to my daughter’s needs – both day and night.

  32. My son is 20 months and still nurses what feels like most of the night. I don’t mind because I know he’s getting the best nutrition and I don’t even realise I’m doing it because I’m asleep. The only people that have a problem with it is the in laws.
    My son doesn’t nurse during the day anymore, with a little bit of my help.

  33. Thank you for this! I love it! I still nurse my 20 month old to sleep every night. So glad to hear I’m not alone. xo

  34. Thank you for this. I have a 3 year old who still wakes up to nurse, he is up more than his 10 month old sister. It is reassuring to read that it is indeed natural and normal. I have 9 children and I have nursed them all but only 3 of them until passed 3, the last one I nursed until 3 prior to my current 3 year old is now 12 so I was racking my brain trying to remember if he had woken up routinely at night, and how much.

  35. My 29 month still nurses during the night. It doesn’t bother me most of the time, but there are definitely ignites where it disrupts my sleep. In my mind, it is the most natural thing to do. My five year old nursed through the night until she was three. She finally started sleeping thought the night when she was 4 but still wakes and wants to snuggle some nights. We co sleep so this is all possible with minimal interruption to our sleep. I still don’t sleep through the night, even on those rare nights that everyone else does!

  36. I am so glad I came across this post! I am currently nursing my 2 year old a few times throughout the night. I was starting to worry if I was just not providing him enough milk during the day due to being stressed about various issues at hand. My partner also gives me a hard time about nursing our son because he said our son is no longer a baby and it’s annoying. I don’t want to give up bed sharing with my son so I guess I will sleep separate from my partner as he is discouraging us. I have 5 year old twin girls as well, breasted until about age 2, that I wish I had nursed longer if only I had been more head strong at the time and paid no attention to the constant nagging of family members to wean.

  37. This seems awfully risky to me for dental reasons. I have known several toddlers that have teeth removed because they were rotting due to lack of tooth brushing, flushing with water etc. after continued night feedings. Not just breast feeding. I breastfeed my 15 month old throughout the day but I think it is important for she and I to get a good nights rest. She has been sleeping through the night since four months.

  38. I consider it a “good” night of sleep if I can’t remember how many times my little one nursed (she is 18 mos.). I too, have chosen to follow my instincts and to let her lead me. Babies and toddlers have so much innate intelligence about what they need that our culture simply discounts and ignores–so silly! Thanks for your post!

  39. my 27-month-old still nurses during the night…and he does it ALL night. like, 10x/night. he’s been doing this pretty consistently since he was born. we co-sleep and i rarely get more than 3 hours of straight sleep. many days i feel like i can barely function, and i’ve had illness after illness since he was born (due to what i presume is a crap immune system because of poor sleep). yet, i still haven’t figured out how to night-wean w/o causing him a massive amount of trauma. 🙁 argghhhhh.

    • Elizabeth says

      Like it or not but the only one who will be getting the trauma is you. Kids are stronger than you think and bounce back quicker and forget things quicker then adults. He wont remember a thing. You need to come first and take care of yourself first then your husband then your kids. How are you gonna have a healthy family life if your sick all the time. you need to take some ME time. good luck

  40. This is such a lovely, gentle, encouraging article – thank you! I am tandem nursing my daughter who is three and a half and a six-month old baby….it all happened by chance as my first had bad reflux, colic and a breathing disorder and quite honestly it was just easier to have her in bed with me! But I have realised that I love co-sleeping and breastfeeding my children – it feels right!!! If all animals sleep alongside their babies then why is it so taboo these days for humans to do the same? And there is so much research out there now on the benefits (to MOM and baby) of extending breastfeeding that it amazes me that it isn’t encouraged more! I won’t say that my journey has been a breeze…it has been impossibly difficult at times – especially nursing through morning sickness (and labour!) and the almost constant juggle of who gets which boob and how to stop my toddler from waking the baby during a nursing to sleep session..ha ha…we have made it work! They are learning negotiating skills at a young age and we are working together as a team. My children have an incredible bond and even though its hard work, I know I’m giving them the best I can during these precious formative years. All the best to the brave mummas who are following the same road. x

  41. I have 4 kids 16 through 20. I also have a four yr old girl. She is the only one that I have nursed full time. We still nurse. At night it depends on what’s happening. Sometime she’s content with just cuddling if she is not feeling well we will have some Boo.
    I deal with a lot of crap from people who don’t approve that I still choose to nurse.I plan on self weaning.
    She can be with her grandmother all day and not need any boo. She does preschool as well as a tumbling class.
    I find that nursing is a very quick fix when they are hurt or sick. The bond between mother and child that comes from nursing is truly a moment to treasure in time.
    So for all you moms out there that choose to nurse. Enjoy it & do it for yourself and your baby. And forget about the people that don’t understand it because they know nothing about it.
    It is so wonderful to read other people that use to breastfeed longer than what society thinks is acceptable.
    This was written as I nursed my Lo to sleep.

  42. I night-weaned my daughter at 6 months, which was one of the best parenting decisions I made, for me. The night wakings were giving me horrible insomnia. It only took a couple days, patted her to sleep and then she didn’t wake anymore, but I had already taught her how to fall asleep herself at 3-4 months (shush-patting and pick-up-put-down). She’s slept through the night (8p-7:30a) almost every night since then. Of course every baby is different and if you enjoy your night-wakings there’s no harm to the baby to continue, but there’s certainly no harm to the baby to night-wean, either. Whatever works for your family.

  43. as I’m typing my 16 month old, our youngest of our 7, is nursing. He doesn’t sleep through the night, ever.

    • Hi! Was wondering if y’all had any trouble with your tots teeth from night nursing? My DD is 19 months and night nurses several times a night and now has milk mouth. We brush teeth before bed. Was wondering what you did.

  44. Thanks for sharing! My DD is 21 months and usually wakes up once or twice in the night for a feed. I just roll over and she attaches and we both go back to sleep. It’s so lovely. I am trusting her to lead the way with weaning, so we just take it one day at a time. I try to remember to enjoy it as I know she will be grown up before I know it, and I will miss the night time feeds along with the rest of it. I am confident enough to share my experience with others and not worry about those who think I should “stop that now” or keep asking, “does she have her own bed yet?” Haha, I think they are just jealous!

  45. Thank you for sharing! 🙂 so many moms need to hear this & be reassured 😀

  46. What about toddler teeth? I brush her teeth before bed, but our dentist says her nighttime nursing caused decay on her top four front teeth. She is 21 months old.

    • My lactation consultant (and also my son’s dentist) said that’s not true. As long as you’re doing dental care every night before bed/nursing, it will not cause decay.

  47. Love this article!! I defiantly think we’ve created a culture where nursing in general, but especially after 6 months to a year is unusual. It shouldn’t be this way! Thanks for you post! I actually just wrote a post on tips for nursing when your baby is first born on my blog and love reading others post on nursing!!

  48. too bad it’s bad for the teeth no breastfeed at night my 2 year old has several cavities

  49. I’m 30 weeks pregnant and my 2 year old still night nurses. I’m much too lazy and enjoy my sleep far to much to make him stop. I trust that he’ll stop when he’s ready. 🙂

  50. My daughter just turned one and she wants to nurse all night long. So glad to learn that it’s completely normal. Somehow I manage to survive without much sleep. Some day this will all be a distant memory and I’ll miss these times.

  51. I have 3 Sons,first one nursed full time till 16 months,then i gentle-weaned because i was having a very hard time with it..i just couldn’t do it.(now i really wonder why…) with #2 we nursed on demand night and day till 20 months.then i was preggo with #3 and he self weaned probably bc the taste of milk changed..(i was also in terrible pain,maybe he felt that in a way..).Now DS#3 is 10 months old.Till 4 months old he slept through the night!! then he started waking up,2-3 times to nurse.i put him to sleep on his own and on his First waking i take him in bed with us till morning..usually he nurses more after 4:30 till he wakes up(or gets up to be excact) at 8:00…. i am cool with it.Now i know it stops somehow and i don’t make a bad habit as i believed in my First..

  52. Thank you so much for this! My son just turned one and still nurses 2-3 times throughout the night, as well as frequently during the day. We co-sleep as well and like you I let him lead the way letting me know what he needs. Up until very recently I have had full confidence in myself and these decisions. However, as soon as he turned one I started hearing about how I should wean him, he should be sleeping through the night, and he needs to sleep in his crib. I was feeling like a sub par parent and then I stumbled upon this post. It is so nice to know I am not alone and I have not “made him this way” by allowing him to sleep with me and lead the way. Thank you again!

  53. So nice to read this and everyone’s comments. My LO had her 6month Dr visit today and we were told she should be sleeping at least 6hrs a night straight. I smiled at this. Everything I read about BF babies seems to contradict her as many said above, including my lactation consultant, babies weren’t made to sleep that long at night rather it is our busy culture who has forced this idea. And any baby who wakes up either isn’t being fed enough or the mom is too attached. Funny now my husband is thinking in line with the doctor. Yes I would love to sleep but it’s not about me…it’s about her needs.

  54. Thank you so much for this. My daughtet is 22 months and I stil nurse namely at bedtime but I get so much criticsm. I am a single mom and my kid likes the comfort of nursing as do I because we spend all day apart. I also had concerns as to her tummy being empty so you alleviated that as well. I think with the all the negative attached parenting stuff thats out there I need some confirmation like this that says hey its ok to bond with yourkid.

  55. Beautifully written blog. My daughter is 28 months old and still drinks mama’s milk at least every 3-4 hours at night. I love co-sleeping and will nurse her until she weans on her own. I find that when I think about her deciding she no longer needs my milk that I will be sad. I love our connection and I don’t mind a bit that she sleeps next to ( and sometimes on me). She is so healthy and strong, rarely gets sick and I feel like it is because she still drinks my milk. Motherhood is self-less and there is so much joy in giving of oneself to these sweet little creatures. I have no idea how all this will help her become all that she will grow into but I know that all I can do is give her all the love, support, and guidance that I can to become all that she can be:)

  56. Thank you for this post. My daughter is 20months doesn’t sleep through the night and still nurses. I thought my child was the only one not sleepin through the night. What ever makes her happy I will do. She will nurse until she wants to. 🙂

  57. Thank you!!!

  58. Thank you. I get so much crap from people about nursing my 2 1/2 year old. And I am exhausted and grumpy but I have always felt that he’ll stop when he is ready. I really and truly needed some reassurance that I was not weird. Thank you!!

  59. Jaclyn Reynolds says

    I’m reading this and smiling after another night of little sleep. Our 28 month old cosleeps with me and nurses for what sometimes feels like allnight. I feel better reading everyones responses and love doing what just comes naturally. It’s ok to feel tired and it’s worth it.

  60. Thank you for posting this! My little one isn’t even a toddler yet and I am getting grief from others because I let him sleep in my bed to breastfeed throughout the night. From the comments, it looks like there are lots of mommies who share my style of parenting. He is only 8 months old and I am dedicated to giving him the care he needs and wants as long as he wants it. Your blog was such an inspiration to know that I am not the only mother who doesn’t have a baby who sleeps for 12 hours in a row. Even if he is still waking up throughout the night as a toddler, I know I will be ok with it. Thanks again. Have an amazing day.

  61. Margarita says

    Thanks so much for this article!! Reading it and all the responses made me feel so much better, I am not alone! I have an 18 month old that still nurses 2 to 4 times per night and it doesn’t look like he is sleeping through the night any time soon… 🙂

  62. Gosh thank you so much for this article..I still breast feed my 16 month old ALL night long and at least 6 times during the day..I love breastfeeding I think it is the best part of motherhood I love being so close to my baby and I hate how it makes me feel when he asks to breast feed with a smile on his face and I tell him no it just makes me feel like I want to cry.. everyone judges me for not weaning him yet and that I should wean him at night too ..even though sometimes I swear I’m going to from lack of sleep. I do need to wean him soon because I want to get pregnant again so he has a sibling to play with but I’m kinda hoping I’ll get pregnant while breastfeeding and wont have to wean him all together..thank u

  63. I have a beautiful 13 month old girl who still wakes every 2-3 hours. Once in a blue moon she sleeps 6 in a row.
    I’m still nursing so I co-sleep. I can’t survive waking every two hours and getting out of bed to nurse while working 45 hours a week.
    I refuse to make her cry it out but I don’t know how much longer I can do this. My marriage is crumbling because of the complete exhaustion and resentment I have.
    I need help.

    • Elizabeth says

      girl you need some mommy and daddy time. Your kids should not b putting a strain on your marriage. Your marriage needs to come first then your children. Your daughter is 1 year so she is plenty big to start sleeping on her own. But you gotta think about this would you rather sacrifice yor marriage or your kids breastfeeding issues? Cuz if you think abot it you will be sacrificing both anyway if you get divorced. then you will have to work to support yourself and your family so there goes breastfeeding and then you will totally nix what you wanted to do in the first place. But you need to work on things with your partner first he will always be there for you he’s yor husband and your children need both their parents. Your baby will eventually grow up and leave you anyway. Your husband is the one who is going to be with you when your kids are gone so that is what needs to take priority. Good luck hope work well keep us posted… God bless you and your family

  64. Thanks everyone for sharing. I have a beautiful 3 1/2 yr old girl who still night feeds at least once a night. I initially thought that I needed to wean her off because I was exhausted by working a 40 hour week n attending to her needs. But reading everyones feedback … has inspired me to wait until she is ready …. not to force her (as I wasn’t looking forward to hearing her sobing and crying herself to sleep). My partner is really supportive … and we both love having her sleep in our bed to have snuggles and that precious bond … occasionally we move her to her own …. which is next to ours … so my partner and i can have our own cuddles too 🙂 Thank you for sharing xxx

  65. It is refreshing to hear that my 18mo is not the only night waker, but unfortunately I admit that the lack of a good nights rest is killing me. I think I’ve gotten to the point where I want my bed and body back. I used to love co sleeping and nursing my daughter to sleep as it felt natural, but recently I’ve been noticing I’m resentful when I sooth her back to sleep. Usually I’ll put her down to bed at night and I’ll leave to have my own time and she wakes every 20mins. I’m constantly around her and I feel its time to bring a bit of me time back into my life. I’m not ashamed to admit this.

    • Elizabeth says

      You go girl!!!! You do what you gotta do for you to be the best mom possible. You come first you know that saying if mama ain’t happy then ain’t nobody happy. I believe in the order of thing You and your husband come first, then your kids. If you arn’t happy as a mom then you cant be happy as a couple, therefore you cant’ be happy and there for your kids. I have been there where you are shes 18 months shes big enough to quit breastfeeding if you need to for your sake, and sanity, you do what you gotta do girl. Good luck!

  66. Love the article and all the comments! Here’s my dilemma — I have a 15 month old who, for the most part, I enjoy nursing at night. We also co-sleep. However, my husband and I would love to be able to leave him with our parents for a night, or at the very least, stay out past 10pm and that is just impossible as he won’t go *back* to sleep after waking in the middle of the night. He can be put down, initially, by someone else, but he needs me to nurse him back to sleep during the night, otherwise, he has a full break-down (this is after ball bouncing, rocking, and bottle feeding attempts). I’m at my wits end, I don’t necessarily want to night wean but my hubby and I would love a night off and we’d also love to plan a short vacation within the next several months. I just don’t know what to do. Any help would be much appreciated!!

  67. I’m glad that I read this, now I know I am not alone. I hope all nursing mothers have supportive husbands or partners, cuz mine isn’t. The other day, my bf told me I need to stop nursing our 13 nonths old son, and he would NOT ALLOWED him to pull down my shirt to nurse in public, that he would force him to stop if he had to. Those are very strong words and I felt a smack on the face and sad. It seems that we started to have very different points of view when it comes to educating or parenting. I know I need to hold on tight and be strong for my son, but its so hard.

  68. Nice article. Babies require nice sleep. Co sleeping is good.It’s bring a sense of parenthood.

  69. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
    Im almost in tears for all the amazng things every one of you said!!
    I love my “non sleeping” 14mont’s old baby girl! And now I know for sure that Im not alone! And that we are making beautiful loved kids!

  70. I love everything you said about cosleeping and breastfeeding. I just wish I had the same positive outlook. My 18 month old went to sleep at 9 last night and woke up at 6. In between that time she breastfed 8 times. I can’t stand breastfeeding anymore. I know it’s supposed to be our great bonding time and it used to be. Now, I get this unbearable itchy feeling in my whole body when I breastfeed and I just want to scream. I love my baby, I would do anything for her. I don’t know what to do to get over this feeling I have while breastfeeding. She’s not going to be ready to wean anytime soon but I’ve been ready for a couple months. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to be a good mom anymore.

    • Elizabeth says

      My heart just breakes for you. Girl if you are ready to stop then stop…Breastfeeding is supposed to be enjoyable and fulfilling for you and your baby. If it has come to the point of being unenjoyable and more of a chore then girl who cares what pooeple say quit brestfeeding, because your baby can feel your agitation and emotions and will become the same way you are cranky and onrey. You need to be the best mom you can be for your family so if you can be a better mom by not breastfeeding then girl do it!!! You breastfed for 18 months and thats a huge acomplishment for anybody. Hope things go great for you and your family… God Bless

  71. John Miller says

    I really feel that this advice regarding night feeding is bad. It is not based on medical research and is just an opinion based on someone who wants to be close to their baby whatever the cost. Yes breastfed babies do not sleep as well as bottle fed and are more likely to wake up, but your advice justifies mothers into not taking the steps they need to in order to get a good nights sleep. Closeness with your baby is great but it is not necessary 100% of the time. Making the baby dependant on getting to sleep via the breast is plain idiocy and will become a self perpetuating cycle of pain for any but the luckiest of mums. Convincing them this is the way to go is plain wrong as your are advocating creating an issue. The problem is clearly an addiction to being close to the baby at the expense of everything else, your sleep, the husbands sleep, and the bond between husband and wife. Advice like yours has made my marriage extremely difficult, hence my commenting and is likely to put mothers off having further children as it takes so long to recover from the sleepless nights. (My specific problem is that my daughter is 14 months old, wakes every 1-2 hours, and is breastfed back to sleep, the net result is that she feeds at night only and does not want or need solids during the day and so we perpetuate the cycle, thanks to advice like yours). Not good when we have a plunging birth rate in the west. Western medicine has proved that you can get a baby to sleep easily using if necessary the controlled crying method. This method does not damage babies contrary to the “Hippy mindset”. In fact were it true then most westerners would be evil sociopaths with behavioural and psychological problems and clearly we are not. The only damage is done to the mothers weak mindset where the mother herself becomes dependant on feeding the baby so she can feel good about herself, and this is questioned which is a good thing. In fact if you want an alternative viewpoint, I was told by a cranial osteopaths that babies in distress cry because their cranial bones (still cartilage at this point) maybe misaligned and by crying cause pressure in their skulls which helps to put them back in the correct position. Cranial osteopaths of course speed up this process so that less crying is required and less comfort suckling. I do hope you come to realise the damage that is done by your advice which is anything but empowering.

    • Elizabeth says

      Amen, John Miller!!!!!!!!!
      I am totally glad to see your post…I agree with you 100%. I in fact do believe everything you said. I will also share something to add to your comment also. I have 5 girls all breastfed, and each and every one of them have slept all thru the night since they were babies and continue to do so until now. My last daughter just turned 1 feb 13, 2015 and she does not brestfeed anymore during the day but at night she wakes 4-5x a night just wanting “boobie” to go bak to sleep. The simple fact is “I have done this, I have allowed my daughter to control my life and now if i want to change it its up to me! I have read about mothers letting “the child decide” when he/she is ready to stop feeding, you ladies are in for a rude awakening in your childs future. It’s attitudes like this that have caused our communities to become so unbalanced when it comes to discipline. We have kids who get away with murder these days and the parents behind them condone what their kids are doing “well johnny just stole a sucker from the store it’s ok he’s only five he doesnt know”. Then it’s “well johnny’s stole again and he’s 16 but those kids he hangs around with are bad influences”. Then it’s “well now johnny’s 20 and johnny’s going to jail for stealing a car but he didnt know it was stolen he was just driving it he thought it was his friends he thought.” I have read alot of these posts on here and I think all you ladies are just trying to do what’s best for you!!!Trying to fill an insecurity and a feeling you have within youselves and fulfilling it through your babies…I read about a poor single mother who has to support her and her kids and babie while being kept up all through the night while her babie breasfeeds and keeps her up all night. The best advice you could give was “well try to enjoy it and pretendy you dont have to work in the morning.” These ladies are looking for real solutions for help, and all you can do is make them feel bad for not wanting to breastfeed and get a good nights sleep. This is crazy!!!!! Some of you ladies want some advice to sleep through the night. If your kids are old enough to go through the night and dont have to eat like babies do or if your at the end of your ropes and need a good nights sleep. Then change them get them a warm bottle or sippy cup depending on their age, make sure there is nothing around that they can hurt themselves with, kiss them give them a hug and shut the door and let them cry. Go back in and tell them it’s ok and close the door and let them cry. They have to learn to sleep on their own and for your own sanity. There have been millions of case studies and no doctor has ever seen a child die of crying. Now the abuse of children from their parents stressed out and no sleep and agitated yes….It’s ok for kids to cry, My husband is a cop and see’s this all the time abuse because parents think they have to “MAKE THEM STOP CRYING”. It’s a natural response for parents to feel like they have to make their kids stop crying. When in reality its ok for kids to cry, ladies do whatever you need to do to get your sleep and be a healthy sane mother and provider for your kids. Good luck to you all with your sleep deprivedness and waking children.

  72. After reading your article
    I remember my sister who still breastfeeding at elementary school

    It was so funny

    Thanks for article btw

  73. Hi, thank you so much for this, its written so well

  74. I’m reading this in bed as I nurse my 18 month old back to sleep. I’ll be honest, I’m not enjoying it. She stays on for 30-35 minutes, pulls my hair, refuses to lay next to me. I feel claustrophobic. I know she’s going to wake up a few more times before nornjng and I’m so tired of it all. Desperately trying to remind myself how good this is for her.

  75. I’m trying so hard to be patient with my 18 month old. I often fail miserably and proclaim that “This is IT! I’m DONE!” I tried limiting her nursing, which failed. I nurse her pretty much whenever she wants, but the problem is that she ALWAYS wants to nurse. And not brief sessions, either. They’re getting longer and longer. Last night she didn’t sleep at all. Just nursed or cried about wanting to nurse. I read about moms who soothe their babies back to sleep by nursing, but it seems like it only takes a few minutes. I’m up for hours. Everyday she follows me around, asking “Nurse? Nurse?”
    I’m going insane.

    • Wow that sounds really tough, really puts my problem into perspective. Sounds like you’re doing an amazing job, I hope my patience extends so far when the time comes. I just thought I’d reply because I just read a chapter in my book about child trauma and sleep. I’m convinced that our awful, high tech birth and long separation have a hand in my daughter’s wakings. That kind of clinginess can be exhausting! Sometimes my 10 month old breastfeeds back to sleep at night quite quickly and happily, but sometimes it doesn’t work and she just cries and there’s nothing I can do to help her. I also read about night terrors, might be something to look into. My daughter wakes 6-15 times at night at the moment so I can really empathise. I know empathy doesn’t really help but hopefully you’ll read this and sigh in relief that your daughter is not the only one. Sending much love and patience. Niki x

  76. Lovely blog :). I remember coming across Dettwyler’s info about the normal age of sleeping through the night being between 3 and 4 years old. I read that when my first was about 2 years old, thinking “3 or 4! I won’t last that long!” But of course I did and even when he stopped waking at 3.5 yo, I continued waking for awhile as my body was so used to it! Now my second is 3.4 and shows no signs of night weaning, and I am good with that. In fact, I love those moments in the middle of the night when I cuddle her close to me and snuggle up. Soon she will be too big for that so I am enjoying every moment!

  77. This article does make me feel a bit better. At times recently I have felt very irritated and frustrated by my over 3 yr. Old that wants to nurse constantly and more so than my 1 yr. Old. I have everyone around me giving me a hard time about it. And also finding it exhausting getting woken up by both babies continuously through the night. I’ve always wanted to do what’s best for their development but have struggled to know if it is normal or not. I don’t know many 3yo. Still nursing. But I would like to hope I am doing a good thing! Thank you for this.

  78. I’m perusing this and grinning after one more night of little rest. Our 10 month old cosleeps with me and medical attendants for what here and there feels like throughout the night. I feel better perusing everyones reactions and adoration doing what just falls into place without any issues. It’s alright to feel tired and it’s justified, despite all the trouble.

  79. So happy reading all these posts! There is hope. I feed my nearly 10 month old daughter to sleep and she snuggles in with me all night. She used to just wake up 3-5 times for reassurance and boobie and fall back to sleep instantly, but three weeks ago the wakings increased to 6-15 times a night, I’m guessing.

    I’m totally exhausted, achey and off my food (probably because all I’m eating at the moment is vegan in an attempt to stop the reflux, if that’s even what is causing it!), really needed to read this. Thank you ladies for your encouragement. Niki x

  80. I’m getting ready to go to sleep with my 14 month old daughter who wakes up 4-6 times a night. I usually dread these night time feedings. This blog has helped me change my perspective about it. I can not wait to get in bed and snuggle with my baby. Thank you.

  81. This brings tears to my eyes as I stand in the wake of opposition from my mother in-law and (unfortunately) persuaded partner. Thank you for giving me a boost of strength in knowing that I’m not crazy for loving how I’m nurturing my baby. Truly, thank you!

  82. This may have just saved my sanity. I have a 4 year old who self weened at 15 months and a 16 month old who still wakes every 2-3 hours… She likes to nurse. It has been so hard for me as I felt like I was the only one. My husband Is afigure it out yourself kind of person however I like to see what others have done to see if they have been in my situation. After 16 months of searching I am so happy I found this !! Thank you !

  83. Well first this article and the comments I have read (my son who I’m currently nursing keps swinging his arm back and making me skip through them) made me feel so much better about nursing him still we mostly nurse at night bit have a few quick drinks during the day. I made up my mine when I first found out I was pregnant that I would breastfeed untill our kid was done with it, I love the bond and connection! It doesn’t bother me waking up to feed in the middle of the night which always varies night by night how often he wakes up and at times we do co sleep which also doesn’t bother me or daddy we both enjoy cuddly as a family. However some times it seems like our son who is now 18 months (I know still a youngster) won’t sleep unless he has my niple in his moth noth seems to work, he can be fully asleep snoring and all and once I take that niple out of his mouth it’s war! He won’t sleep after that once he starts to doze off he’ll jerk himself awake like a teen falling asleep in class. Can I get any comments or suggestions on how to help this it’s not an every night thing just has been happening more often and prevents me from doing anything those nights even peeing without him scraming like he’ll never see me again.

  84. While I was reading this story, I started laughing because its sounds just like my exact situation. I have a 14 month old, who still wakes up to nurse and sometimes I think its just to comfort him self. I am LAZY as well, I hated getting up at night to feed him. We been co-sleeping since he was 6 months. My husband is not a FAN!
    It made so much easier on me and I definitely get more sleep by co-sleeping with my LO who still wakes up at night.

  85. Wow. That’s a massive commitment on your part. Such a lack of sleep!

  86. I have a four year son that dont sleep threw the night not even as a baby he still sleeps in my bed and when he wakes up in the middle of the night he likes to put his hand under my shirt and gets really close and starts to smell me and gets into a comfortable position and fells back asleep he is going to start school soon and am worried that since at time he doesnt go to sleep right away and stays up till 2-4am that this will affect him. I dont know what to do.

  87. Thanks for writing this…makes me feel normal! I think I am the only mother I know who is still breastfeeding and co-sleeping with her 21mth old. But I trust in naturE and will let him decide when it’s time to stop!

  88. My two year old (26 months) is still waking up 1-5 times in the night to nurse. We were bedsharing but there were many nights when he would wake and be restless or discontent with nursing back to sleep so we thought he was ready for his own bed. He hates it though and is still waking up 1-5 times which is killing me now that I have to get up. We brought him back into our bed last night but he still kept us awake being extra fussy. I’m so sad and so so tired. Bedsharing doesn’t seem to be helping anymore and he doesn’t seem ready to transition to sleeping on his own either. Any advice or similar experience in which your child finally grew into a good sleeper would be much appreciated.

  89. Thank you for this amazing article!!! On those days when I’m super tired and didn’t get much knocked off my To Do list and my 2-yr old refused to nap and gave me the run around to go to bed…. and i’m thinking wonderful…she’s likely to be up soon looking to nurse… and for a moment I wonder if i made the right call with still nursing her… you remind me that i’m not the only one out there dealing with these things.

  90. For me Breastfeeding is definitely the best bond that you can create towards yourself and your child. I breastfed my daughter and she took herself off when she was 6 months. Now my son breastfed until he was 17 months! I would have kept on breastfeeding him as long as he wanted but unfortunately lack of sleep was getting to me. I also got teased (“are you gonna breastfeed him until he’s 10”). That didn’t get to me as much as the sleep thing. My son was waking up frequently to breastfeed for comfort mostly throughout the night and before naps during the day. So I stopped. Downside he is still waking up frequently because he still depends on me to put him back to sleep. It’s been about a week and a half. Some nights are better. I still co sleep. I still soothe him. Although I miss breastfeeding I do not regret my decision to stop. The bond that I created in the beginning is still there and always will be.

  91. Perusing this improves feel! I still night nurture my child. She simply turned 2. It fulfills us both so why do others think its odd? I do think it will make her a more secure grown-up!

  92. Ok my baby is 23 months old she is a co sleeper and still feeds at least 2-3 times at night. My problem is her teeth. The dentist says it is because I breast feed her at night. I brush her teeth in the am and before bed. She does not use bottles or formula and drinks water and or breast milk during the day as well as food. Is anyone else having issues with tooth decay. I am so stressed and sad and I do not know what to do. Please tell me if anyone else has this issue Very stressed. Even thinking about not breast feeding her anymore. I don’t believe the dentist though. This particular dentist anyway.

  93. Seriously needed this encouragement as I lay her at 3am nursing my 15 month old while 6.5 months pregnant! He co-sleeps and was sleeping pretty good through out the night but the past few weeks(I think from teething) he’s been waking up several times to nurse. Some nights it doesn’t both me and other nights I’m just exhausted and frustrated. Thank you for writing and sharing your experience. I know this to shall pass and I’m so thankful for the bond I have with my son!

  94. I’m so glad to read this and read all the comments, but one thing that makes me feel bad for night nursing is the pressure I feel from pediatricians and pediatric dentists that say it can cause tooth decay to nurse through the night. What is you guys opinion?

  95. As I lay in bed comfort nursing my 14 month old for 45 minutes while he falls asleep, only a few days after having the stomach flu and I’m sure he is also teething, I stumbled across this article. I googled “comfort nursing 14 month old to sleep” to help me figure out if something was wrong with him or if I’m making a poor decision by allowing him to comfort nurse or if he should be able to fall asleep on his own at this point, and I found this post which helped me further understand the very reason why we still bed share and night nurse!!! Thank you for posting this and I hope your blog is still live because I plan on following!!! “… it has taught me to trust them…. to let them be who they are… to live in the moment… to trust my body…” ❤️

  96. My 2.5 year old ( almost 3) is wanting to nurse constantly including several night wakings. I had nursed him through out my pregnancy. My new baby is now 8 months and he actually will sleep through the night. My 2.5 year old ( almost 3 ) wanted to nurse more after baby was born since my supply significantly increased and of course jealous of his baby bro) unfortunately He is not very interested in solid food and is very picky and prefers nursing even several times during the day where my 8 month old loves solids. My almost 3 yr old is driving me nuts due to wanting to nurse constantly 24/7. My family chasitizes me for still nursing him and tells me to cut it and just offer him solids and if he’s hungry he’ll eat but he is very very strong willed and refuses to give It up and screams and cries when I refuse him. This article makes me feel so much better! Thank you for the info

  97. God bless all of you beautiful women. I am nursing my 25month old to sleep as I write this. Actually he is asleep but just holding it in))

  98. This blog does make me feel a bit better. At times recently I have felt very frustrated by my over 3 yr. Old that wants to sleep constantly and more so than my 1 yr. Old. I have everyone around me giving me a hard time about it. And also finding it exhausting getting woken up by both babies continuously through the night. I would like to hope I am doing a good thing! Thank you for this.

  99. i m sleep consultant and i would like to share my own problem for more perfect solution. This blog does make me feel a bit better. At times recently I have felt very frustrated by my over 3 yr. Old that wants to sleep constantly and more so than my 1 yr. Old. I have everyone around me giving me a hard time about it. And also finding it exhausting getting woken up by both babies continuously through the night. but it’s more easy for me with sleepystarz baby sleep training Thank you for this.

    • I’m so glad to read this and read all the comments, but one thing that makes me feel bad for night nursing is the pressure I feel from pediatricians and pediatric dentists that say it can cause tooth decay to nurse through the night. What is you guys opinion?

  100. Sharlene says

    I am so grateful for this blog any many more like it. Every few months or so I need to get on to the internet for support and reassurance. Most people in the “black community”, shame my 2.5 year old toddler and I for nursing on demand. Most people tell me to cover up or sort of crack rude jokes when he wants to nurse. So sometimes I become unsure and insecure about if I’m doing the right things. My son loves to nurse but now its not as often during the day time, especially when he is having fun, but he needs it during naps and he wakes up all the time during the night. Some nights I get more sleep and others, like last night I got none at all maybe 3 consistent hours. I want my son to have at least some what of a natural childhood experience, so I want him to wean himself and take as long as he needs, despite the toll it takes on me.

  101. Courtney Zimmerer says

    I am so happy I read this! My daughter is 16 months old and still wakes up 3 to 4 times a night to nurse. We moved her into her own room a couple of weeks ago, but with the frequent nightwakings it is so much easier for me to have her in our room. I only have one concern which is about a week ago I noticed her teeth are getting yellowish. We brush her teeth 2 times a day and I have read some places that this could be from my breastmilk?!?

  102. I am so happy I read this! My daughter is 16 months old and still wakes up 3 to 4 times a night to nurse. We moved her into her own room a couple of weeks ago, but with the frequent nightwakings it is so much easier for me to have her in our room. I only have one concern which is about a week ago I noticed her teeth are getting yellowish. We brush her teeth 2 times a day and I have read some places that this could be from my breastmilk?!?

  103. Hello this post makes me feel better . I am still nursing my 3 yr old multiple times during the day and night wakings. Lately he’s been waking up several times a night .i didn’t want to force wean I just want him to wean himself willingly but currently he’s showing no signs of wanting to wean . I dread the thought of force weaning and having to deal with middle of the night screaming tantrums and exp since we live in an apartment as it would disturb the neighbors who have already complained about him screaming before. I hope he gets tired of it soon.

  104. Thanks…. My all children stopped early but the 4th one still doing it. Relieved to read such text

  105. So Glad to read this article, thank you for the peace of mind to know that my 2.5yr old’s night nursing is normal and it’s not a bad habit but a natural and normal behaviour. I feel so much happier about trusting her to self wean in her own time

  106. This has validated all my feelings and I’ve loved reading everyone’s comments. Some brought tears to my eyes. I’m so incredibly happy to have found this and realizing I’m not crazy or the only one who is letting her baby decide when to night wean. We only get them to ourselves for such a small amount of time so I’m drinking it all in!!! Co-sleep & night nurse with my 15 month old and loving the closeness (not the negative comments from certain people).

  107. There’s so much judgment on 1) a child that nurses beyond 6 months and 2) a child that doesn’t sleep through the night. Thanks for bringing me me back to what’s important.

  108. My toddler (2 year old) nurses several times at night. I am glad I found this article. Sometimes it gets a little frustrating for me because I can get only so much sleep. It is motivating to find out it is normal, I seriously had no idea as most people around me think I am crazy to still be nursing my daughter

  109. This is a lovely post however my co sleeping 2year old is still waking every couple of hours for a feed. I’m 38 and want to get pregnant again. Where I got pregnant the first time we tried last time, I’m struggling this time and I think it’s due to the frequent night feeds and exhaustion. I want to night wean her gently- is there a way to do that? Or will the constant feeds not be affecting my fertility and I should carry on till she naturally stops herself.

  110. Of course everyone is different, but I have been surprised that I don’t hear about many moms that are nursing past a year old and NOT feeding on demand. I just want to put this out there, that you do not have to either wean your toddler or feed them on demand all night. My 19 month old is still nursing and what works for me is feeding her 2 times a day. In the morning after she wakes up and in the afternoon after she wakes up from her nap. Nursing was very rough for me at first but it improved a lot and I am grateful to still be nursing. I knew I could not do co-sleeping and I need to have boundaries for my emotional health. She sleeps through the night and has for a long time. When she was a lot younger, my baby sometimes nursed for so long that I realized she was sleeping while nursing and it hurt my nipples so terribly. I realized she nursed much better while alert. Of course I nursed my newborn on demand, but toddlers do not need to be nursed on demand.
    If she asks me for milk at other times besides the set times we have, I take that as an indication that she wants cuddling or she is hungry or thirsty. I offer her those things willingly and promptly. And she is happy. She knows (or accepts when reminded) that there are certain times we nurse. I am not saying this works for everyone but just wanted to add my different experience into the mix!

  111. Its 3:14am and I’m up pumping…. my daughter was born 1 month premature and from the beginning she had trouble latching. She just never got the hang of it. Anyway I’m an exclusive pumper and my daughter still wakes to feed at night and she is going go to be 12 months in about 2 weeks. I always have to have milk ready for her at night. This article made me feel so much better. I was worried that something was wrong or she should already be sleeping through the night. She doesn’t eat much solids yet either. I have been trying to give them to her since she was 6 months but she takes a few bites and turns her head. She seems to want my milk over solids. My husband always tells give her time she will come around when she’s ready but your story made me feel so much more confident that I shouldn’t rush her next step. Thank you for this

  112. Thank you this article made me feel so much better knowing that I am not alone. My 16 month old have her days where she wake up 2 times for feeding and some nights every other hour. She has slow down on her daily feedings, hopefully soon enough she sleep through the night and I too can finally get a wonderful long night of rest!!

  113. Live and let us breastfeed! says

    Thank you for this beautiful post!!! I keep getting disapproval from my family in how I still breastfeed my 25 month old son. I also co-sleep and love it. I will be done when he is done. No rush! So glad I’m not the only one… just wish I had more support from my husband and family.

  114. Thanks for the beautiful blog. I need some advice please:
    I have a 26 month old. He is very headstrong and advanced with everything (speaking fluently, potty training started etc.). He co-sleeps from about midnight when he wakes up and then night nurses at least 2-3 times some nights. I am 10 weeks pregnant and finding this very demanding: I need more sleep, the nausea is making it tough and it’s becoming quite uncomfortable and sore on the nipples. I am trying to gently explain to him that we drink milkies when the sun shines, but mostly once he has had some milk and struggled to go back to sleep, he moans and get’s very frustrated if I dont give him boobie again or let him put his hand on the boobie. The tender nipples and slight nipple aversion that is developing make it extremelly difficult for me. I hate having to be firm with him, I hate seeing him unhappy, but I also think it is mostly habit for him rather than need? Also, I am so worried about how I am going to manage to breastfeed a newborn and a toddler at the same time. I really dont think I will be able to tend to both of their needs at night. Has anyone got any advice for me please? I am getting over the constant demands of breastfeeding while pregnant again. If he only will nurse 2-3 times a day, then I would be OK with tandem feeding, but nightfeeds I dont think I can do both!

  115. But my question is did anyone send their child to day care? How does the baby fall asleep there when your not there to breastfeed them for naps?? I’m in the exact same situation as most of you, my 13 month old wakes around 4 times a night and we bedshare and feed back to sleep every time. Also the same for his day naps. In 1 month he will spend 2 days a week at day care. I have a lot of anxiety about how he will cope with his naps here. Anh tips or info wpuld be amazing. [email protected] please get in touch I’m so stressed over this and what to do

  116. My 14 month old nurses all the time. But I wanted to comment about smth else. Unlike the author, I never felt the need to snuggle against a partner to fall asleep, but on the contrary. I didnt want to be touched in my sleep or between sleep periods. I remember as a child I coslept and that stressed me alot. I would rather sleep alone. I was so happy to get my own room. I was never breastfed.

  117. My daughter also breastfeeds frequently. I unintentionally ended up doing ecological breastfeeding with her from the start (read more about what ecological breastfeeding is in this post: https://mamarissa.com/ecological-breastfeeding-what-it-is-and-why-some-mamas-are-doing-it/). It was simply the only way she would sleep.

    Now she is 21 months old and I am torn. Part of me wants to let her stop when she’s ready. But part of me fears how long that could take. I still do not have my cycle and don’t expect to until she either sleeps through the night or weans altogether. I have already been ready to have another baby for a while and the thought of having to wait one or several more years to conceive again is just about unbearable.

    I do think there is a legitimate, perfectly normal and natural reason why children continue to nurse through the night for so long, and I am all about doing things naturally and allowing my daughter to take the lead when it comes to her needs. But I am not sure if it’s reasonable to put myself and my husband through the continuing frustration of denying our longing for another child in order to avoid gently pushing my daughter to transition.

    It is a very difficult decision to make.


  1. […] For anyone who co-sleeps, gentle parents, or nurses throughout the night, here is a great read http://www.thebadassbreastfeeder.com/my-nursing-toddler-doesnt-sleep-through-the-night-does-yours/ […]

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