About a month before he turned two, I was determined to get Little A sleeping through the night and weaned, if it was possible to do both at the same time. Up until that point, he still nursed to sleep every nap and nighttime and managed 2-3 feedings a night plus one upon waking up in the morning. It was starting to drive me crazy.
The first few nights of denying pre-sleep nursing meant plenty of crying and throwing himself about the bed until Little A collapsed with exhaustion. Within a fortnight though, the crying decreased to whining and then to just cuddling next to me until he fell asleep. Hooray! The nighttime and morning feedings continued, though, as did the naptime one unless we weren't home and he fell asleep in his stroller or car seat.
I then applied one of the techniques detailed in Elizabeth Pantley's No-Cry Sleep Solution, decreasing the length of nursing time with each nighttime feeding, and eventually just refusing to feed at all. At first, Little A would go from half-asleep to more awake and protest loudly, but within a week or so, he learned to put himself back to sleep because there was no boob to be had, and then, joy of joys, he simply started sleeping longer until he was making it through the night. Hooray!
Morning feedings were quickly eliminated by taking him out for breakfast before he could complain too much, but surprisingly, the naptime feedings were the last to go. Perhaps Little A wanted to hold on to this last bonding session as long as he could.
When we are at home, at naptime Little A comes up to me, takes my hand, leads me to the bed, lifts his arms up to be carried onto it (though he is perfectly capable of climbing up himself) and then pulls me down next to him. He cuddles into my side and makes sure I do not leave until he is well and truly asleep.
Even when he no longer nursed to sleep, I had to be there every time it was naptime, unless I was not home, in which case he fought off sleep as long as he could before giving in and sleeping in his stroller. Some days he simply refused to nap at all.
Last week, my growing boy managed to fall asleep twice on the bed for late naps without my being next to him. The au pair let him play quietly on the bed until his eyes shut from tiredness.
Today, I was sitting at the table reading while Little A finished his lunch when he just walked off down the corridor. A few minutes later, I peeked into his room but didn't see him playing there. When I looked into our room, where Big A was on the bed watching tv, I saw Little A at the foot of the bed, reclining. Big A waved me away and called me in two minutes later to show me our son sleeping quietly. Little A had climbed on the bed by himself, held on to his favourite dvd and lay down. He turned his head to look at his dad and then shut his eyes and was asleep instantly. He knew I was there ready for the regular naptime routine, but chose to grow up today and go to sleep without mum, on his own.
I looked down at my sleeping son, feeling a mixture of pride and sadness for the little person who once depended on me for nourishment and comfort and is now well and truly on the way to being all grown up.