I breastfed my first son for 13 months and am still breastfeeding my second (he’s now 5 1/2 months as I’m writing this). As I’ve said before, we also used a crying sleep training method with my first and a no-cry sleep training method for my second (so far). They are just two very different temperaments.
Although I did end up using a crying sleep training method for my first son, I was pretty turned off by an article I read that promoted using cry-it-out to wean breastfeeding. Part of my philosophy is that we all must find a method of sleep training that works for our families.
Another part of my philosophy is that you need to be fair to your child. For example, I never recommend cry methods to families who have been co-sleeping for a lengthy amount of time. I believe you need to start slower. With my son, I made sure he could fall asleep unassisted before I expected him to do it alone. Some babies have more trouble self-soothing than others. Once my son knew how to fall asleep, it was more of a matter for us to set limits that he had to do it daily, without our “help” only because our “help” turned into a 3 hour marathon event.
Back to the bothersome article. The writer mentions going on a vacation, separating from baby abruptly (for a week or more), and to sabotage your breast milk so it doesn’t taste good. Her final method is to let your baby cry and increase the time before you nurse until you work your way up to letting your baby “cry itself out.” First of all, my baby is not an “it.”
Second of all, there is another method (and there are others!) that worked well for me and that is the “Don’t offer, don’t refuse” method. I had plenty of time, so I could take my time and we took 2 months to wean. Even going slow, my son showed signs of weaning too fast, so I can’t imagine if I had used any of the methods outlined in the article I read!
Granted, had my son taken “too long” (whatever that means to each of us) to wean, I do understand that sometimes you do have to set limits and yes, they might cry, but just like sleep training, there is a range of things you can try before you jump to cry-it-out. I was completely turned off that the article seemed to only list extreme methods. At least give a variety of methods like I have on this site about sleep training with my sleep training series, ya know?
I know this post isn’t really about sleep, per se, but when I read the article and it mentioned “cry it out” for weaning, I felt compelled to write. Cry it out gets such a bad rap, sometimes, and this doesn’t help. What I want to emphasize is that if you let your baby cry-it-out to fix sleep problems, only do so after your baby is fed, dry, comfortable, and any other needs are attended to.
A baby’s cry is protesting the changes you are making when you are breaking sleep associations and other habits. But, breastfeeding is about more than just a mother’s milk as it’s a source of comfort and a connection between mom and baby, too. Even when you sleep train, you can (and should) breastfeed or bottle feed your baby. The idea is just not to do it until baby is all the way asleep. Easier said than done, unfortunately.
I hope this article lets you get to know me and my philosophy about weaning from breastfeeding. You may also want to read more about my definition of cry it out and at what age I recommend it. For more weaning from breastfeeding techniques, please visit a wonderful breastfeeding site, Kelly Mom.