Weaning:Bedtime weaning

My friend has twins who are almost two. They are enjoying nursing and are not ready to quit. She also has a two older children who enjoy her attention at bedtime, so by the time she has them settled down she is exhausted. Just putting the twins to bed and letting them cry is not something she is willing to do. She would like to know how to get them into a bedtime routine without nursing them to sleep?

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Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

Evenings can be quite challenging for (tired) parents, whether or not any of the children are breastfeeding!

Breastfed babies often hate to give up that final (relaxing) feed of the day -- and consequently, it is usually the last to go when babies wean.

It can be helpful for your friend's babies to begin to learn other ways of relaxing and settling into sleep. Fathers can be very instrumental in helping their babies to learn a new sleep association. Dad can help them to learn that they don't need to nurse to fall asleep. For several days to a week, Dad may find himself challenged in the evening. There may be some fussing and crying in the beginning, but Dad will be there, comforting the babies and assuring them that all is okay.

You didn't mention the sleeping arrangements. If the twins are not already sharing a bed, your friend might like to begin placing them together, so they can share sleep (and keep each other nice and cozy!) If they are in the family bed now, begin easing them out of bed gradually, starting, perhaps, with a futon or sleeping bags on the floor, next to their parent's bed. When the parents feel their little ones are ready to progress to their own room, Mom or Dad (or maybe even one of the older siblings) can go in and read a story and lie down with them, until they become accustomed to drifting off to sleep on their own.

It can really help to make nighttimes less stressful when parents are able to get a short rest in the afternoon, or after they return home from work. Even 20 to 30 minutes of lying down can recharge your batteries, and will help immensely with your ability to cope as the evening progresses. Best wishes to you and your friend!

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