Our toddler son is killing us!


I need some help.

We have a 14 month old son who we cannot fully wean. He eats solid food all day, and only nurses to nap/sleep. But that’s the problem, he will not sleep without nursing. Now my wife is pregnant again, and we really need to get this boy off the momma milk.

The real problem started about 3 weeks ago. EVERY NIGHT since, he’s woken up at 2-3 am, and he wants to pacify himself with the breast. He doesn’t eat, he just mouths it, he’ll do it for hours if you let him. When my wife tries to detach him, he bursts into a full blown rage, wakes up, and won’t sleep. Since my wife’s pregnant again, she’s sensitive, and can’t sleep while he’s pacifying himself. This is killing both of us.

We co-sleep. Mistake! I know, we should have done it right and trained him to sleep in the crib from a young age, but he’s our first and we had no idea how to do that. He’s a very, well, ornery child, no other way to put it.

Anyway, I know most of this is our fault for not just crib training him to sleep through the night when his body was old enough. He’s 14 months, it’s ridiculous that he’s still doing this.

However we have no clue how to break his need to nurse/pacify before going to sleep. I’m totally stumped!!! Help! We’ve tried everything, pacifiers, water bottles, (cow) milk bottles, sheesh, everything. He spits them out and blows up into a rage. :eek:


The only other solution I see, is to move the crib (which is attached to our bed) into the other room, and just let him scream till he throws up or passes out. Is this the only way?!?!?


Letting your child scream until he throws up is pretty extreme! I wouldn’t go that far.

All the same, you could try waiting 5 minutes before you go to him, then 10 minutes the next night, then 15, until he realises it’s only worth crying if something’s really wrong.

I think there are fake breasts that dads can wear to nurse babies, which might at least allow you to share the load.


First of all, all but one of my kids have coslept and night weaned while cosleeping, so it’s possible - there is hope!

All I can think of right now is that Dad (you) takes over when the baby wakes up. You get up, you walk with him, bounce him, cuddle him, whatever it takes, and tell him Momma’s Milk is all gone and that you want to help him sleep now so Tired Momma can sleep.

It’ll probably take lots of minutes (maybe hours) and lots of nights before he catches on. But throwing him into his own room and ignoring him after he’s only known sleeping with you and nursing to sleep is IMHO, heartless. That seems like a very stressful, uncompassionate option.

(Personally, at 14 months, I don’t think it’s ridiculous he’s still doing this. He’s just a tad over one. Sounds pretty usual for extended breastfeeding.)


Your son needs to learn to sleep w/o nursing or pacifying at the breast, but don’t beat yourself up for doing what you did so far. You did what you thought right and loving and now he has a habit to break – that will be hard but not undo-able. I had myself in the same position with my first. He was highly verbal at a very young age so that helped. When I needed to have real rest w/o constant nursing, I told him he could only nurse when the sun was ‘on’ and only in the nursing chair. I started lying down with him for naps and falling asleep while he squirmed and played and eventually fell asleep too. For bedtime in the evening, we nursed in ‘the nummy chair’ only and then again I lied down next to him and fell asleep, keeping the breast covered and unavailable yet giving him the closeness he needed and still nursing but only out of bed. Daddy had to step in and help if it got to be so hard not to give in. I did give in once a night at first and kept explaining that soon we would not nurse when the sun was night-night. It was hard, but learning to sleep without nursing was better for both of us. My second son was born when my first was 25 months old and he did nurse in the day occasionally all through the pregnancy and for another year, which was very wonderful and helpful in bonding them. You need to help him learn new habits – even a pacifier or stuffed animal or such that he learns to suck or hug or something to settle him down. I had 6 children and they all grew out of night nursings at different ages due to their different needs and coping skills. He is not trying to manipulate you but to have his needs met and you can do so lovingly while still having your needs met, even enough sleep! God bless!


Unless there is a medical reason - could you maybe just arrange mama to have a nice nap every day to catch up on rest? Tandem nursing is very natural and very normal.


Have you tried all the different shapes of pacifiers around? My youngest would only use one specific brand (and she was a very “ornery” baby, but a wonderful mom to her baby now).

And, talking of my DD, her first is 17 months and the next due in 6 weeks. My SIL does the initial response at night, as Sanctareparata suggested you do. That just might help him not to decide that it’s time to feed when he wakes at night.

RachelKH has excellent advice for further training. And as Kage_ar says, if your wife can get some sleep during the day the night waking will be easier on her.

And congratulations on the soon-to-be second child in your family!


My baby did this, he’s probably teething and nursing is very soothing…I coslept with all my kids, don’t worry, they all went to their own bed around 2 1/2…it’s hard b/c your wife is exhausted, but I kept nursing until 18 mos b/c it took about 2 mos to wean “with love” as they say…it was very frustrating and I feel your pain, but letting your baby cry himself to sleep is so sad, don’t do it…contact La leche league or the book the womanly art of breastfeeding was very helpful…these 2 things helped me…in the meantime, since your wife is pregnant, she needs her rest, so you may have to stay up with him while he’s crying and try the bottle, after a few nights, he’ll probably do it…but call la leche, they may have a good suggestion…


You’ll probably have to wean this child to a bottle. We had to do this when we were in your similar situation. You’ll have to do it since he associated your wife with the boob. Your wife can even temporarily sleep elsewhere. Nighttime is the best time because he won’t be awake enough to know what’s happening, you can have a bottle of milk handy and ready, your wife out of sight, and you ready with a substitute.

We had to do this with one of our kids who had a high need and my wife just was depleted and exhausted and couldn’t begin to think of nursing two at a time. It worked great and the child in question is now a very well adjusted teenager.


Send mom to a hotel for a couple of days. My friend did this. She was well rested and the baby was done with nursing.



I know this isn’t the topic but right when I saw the words “co-sleep” I thought of the stories I’ve heard where the mom or dad has accidentally rolled over on top of the baby and smothered him/her to death.

Even though I’m not a mom, I would be terrified to sleep with my baby for fear of the above said happening. Possibly something to think about when it comes to this baby and the one you have on the way.


The people who get drunk or drugged up or have a very deep sleep problem might roll over on a baby, but good parents who keep babies near them at night really don’t have much in common with bad parents who put their babies at risk while indulging in bad behavior – and the OP has the baby in a crib attached to the side of the bed, not at risk like between two very large heavy sleepers in a double bed.
Try some pain reliever for baby to see if it is teething pain – if it is, it shouldn’t last too much longer, but get on with training him not to nurse at night soon anyhow.
No need to stop nursing altogether – your son will have needs that need met and need to learn self-soothing techniques either way, but why take away a healthy beautiful relationship before you or he are ready? It will be hard enough on him stopping night nursing without taking mommy away altogether for days or all nursing!
Blessings on all 4 of you!


You’re joking, right? Drunk or not, drugged-up or not, heavy sleeper or not - it can still happen…why risk it?

Where does he say that in his post?

You don’t have to be large OR a heavy sleeper to accidentally roll-over onto your baby and smother it. Please tell me you aren’t this naive.


reread his post – look at the bottom

research co-sleeping, don’t rely on stories you’ve heard

not naive, very experienced, very well researched and been caring for children since I was 11yo and have 6 of my own, oldest now 22 and youngest 4, all sleeping well on their own now thank you


See it, sorry. But see what he says below.

I can only deduce that they’re sleeping with their baby in the bed.

Of course the majority of people who co-sleep with their baby haven’t had an issue, BUT it still happens - and one doesn’t have to be drugged-up, drunk or a heavy sleeper to accidentally smother their baby.

Some parents haven’t been that lucky. When it comes to myself, I wouldn’t risk it.

I apologize to zendegee for hijacking this thread, it wasn’t my intention.


I am a mom, one who has co slept with all 6 of her children. There are safe ways and not safe ways to co sleep. Nearly EVERY case of rolling over on a baby involved alchohol, drugs or extreme exhaustion. One must make sure they are doing it safely. Babies die in cribs as well. A baby’s death is tragic no matter where or how it happens–no need to villianize co sleeping. Do some real research and don’t just react emotionally, PLUS this is totally off topic and derailing this thread.


To the OP:
A 14 month old is still essentially a baby. It’s not like a baby reaches 12 months and is all grown up. What you are experiencing is normal behavior. That being said, if mom needs a change, then you need to figure out how to do this gently–leaving baby to cry in his crib until he throws up is no good for anyone, esp the baby. What has worked for us it to have daddy takeover bedtime (setting a new routine) and night time wake up calls (thereby keeping the boobs away), adding a new type of soothy–be that a pacy, a blanket, a stuffed animal, a bottle of water or whatever works and don’t forget being patient. Your child isn’t spoiled, but he does have either a need (some children actually DO need that extra cuddling at night) or a habit (hey, it’s nice to have mom and dad close!). You’ve spent all these months making sure baby is nice and attached and secure to you and now you want to rip that away from him. Be kind. Be gentle. Be loving. A new routine is possible and so is weaning, but it’s not going to happen over night. It’s going to be a process.


you answered your own question. You must just let me cry it out. As much as it will hurt you, your doing the right thing or he’ll never stop.



All I was doing was pointing out something. No need to freak out.

And I said:

I apologize to zendegee for hijacking this thread, it wasn’t my intention.


OK, then don’t co-sleep. But don’t try to scare others into believing your way. Even my pediatricians were OK with co-sleeping, just made sure I understood when NOT to co-sleep.

OP: I totally agree with the others that its time for you to take over night time wake ups. He is still a baby, but old enough to learn some new comforting techniques. Maybe try a few different types of paci’s? Or a bottle. I know its a dirty word to some parents, but it worked really well for our second child, I was pregnant and tired, plus she bit :eek: Dad took over giving her a bottle instead of me. Of course she was younger (9mos) I don’t know if I would want to start a bottle habit with a 14mos old, but that is just me. While I see no problem with letting him cry for a little bit, to see if he can soothe himself back to sleep (with bottle or paci) I wouldn’t be able to leave any of my kids crying alone for too long. Heck, my “baby” is 10, and I wouldn’t leave her to cry alone for too long.


Yes, nearly. Read this:
(I’ll even cut and paste, as I hate misinformation)
<<To claim that there is NO chance of an adult overlaying a baby would be irresponsible, but so would it be irresponsible to claim that an infant could never be killed while traveling in an automobile, or while sleeping alone in a crib which has an overly soft mattress, or crib slats which do not prevent the infant’s head from passing between them. In each case, the dangers are significantly reduced - and the potential benefits of car travel or infants sleeping alone (where this is what parents want) can be realized – when the safety precautions unique to each choice of behavior are regarded. In the case of automobile travel, strapping infants correctly into a consumer safety approved car sits, and not driving while under the influence (of drugs or alcohol) makes car transportation worth the relatively small risk such travel imposes.

No infant sleep environment is risk free. As regards cosleeping (in the form of bed-sharing) what we know to be true scientifically is that for nocturnal infant breast feeding and nurturing throughout the night both mothers and babies were designed biologically and psychologically to sleep next to one another. And while beds per se did not evolve mother-infant cosleeping most assuredly did-and not maximize infant and maternal health and infant survival! Infant-parent cosleeping with nocturnal breast feeding takes many diverse forms, and it continues to be the preferred “normal” species-wide sleeping arrangement for human mother-baby pairs. In the worldwide ethnographic record, mothers accidentally suffocating their babies during the night is virtually unheard of, except among western industrialized nations, but here there are in the overwhelming number of cases, explanations of the deaths that require reference to dangerous circumstances and not to the act itself.>>


Whatever you do, don’t do this:eek: While there is no need to see to every whimper, leaving a baby to cry till it throws up or passes out is cruel and dangerous.

In spite of what you may be told, some do not have their cry and fall asleep - my granddaughter is a case in point, she will simply get hysterical and then you have to calm her before even thinking of sleep.

She was moved into her own room at 12 months, still in the cot in which she had co-slept with her parents. She is now in her own bed, but her dad gets up to her at night and when she needs it he gets into her bed at night. She does have a bottle of water next to her and has a bottle of formula at sleep time.

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