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Our baby boy is 11 months old and had been breast-feeding through the night, as well as nursing to sleep in the evening. He essentially sleeps in the same bed (we took out one side of the cot bed and put it next to our bed, mattresses at the same height). Feeding intervals once widened up to 3~4 hours in the night but recently it became much more frequent, so a few days ago we decided to stop.

One problem is that we stopped rather abruptly - he nursed to sleep in the evening but he did not get the night-time breastfeed when he woke up for the first time. He cried A LOT for about two hours. In the end, I (daddy) held him in a baby carrier and took him out of the bedroom, and he finally fell asleep.

Four nights on, he now sleeps without wanting a feeding despite sleeping next to his mum. He whimpers from time to time, but we can usually put him back to sleep by stroking his back. I see this part as an improvement.

The problem is during the day time.

  • I thought one important point was to disassociate sleep from feeding. But, after the night-time weaning, he falls asleep whenever he breastfeeds during the day. I don't know what to do with this.
  • He sometimes acts very hysterically. He was getting clingy to mum, but it is much stronger now and he sometimes cries like never before (almost hurting his throat) when no one is quick to respond.
  • He seems to have less appetite. He is on solid food (breakfast is fruit/yogurt with some snack, lunch and dinner is homemade rice porridge with meat and veggies, fruits as dessert). He roughly eats 1/2 ~ 2/3 compared to before. I understand that, at 11 months, he may start needing less food, but not quite sure whether this is related to the night-time weaning.

What can we do to help him cope? Mum is very stressed, because he never reacted so extremely. She is worried whether the first "shock treatment" was very wrong and feels guilty. I think it may calm down after some time, but any recommendation or advice will be really appreciated.

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The clinginess and lower appetite has absolutely nothing to do with night weaning, most likely. It is 100% normal at this age. Separation and stranger anxiety are very common in 11 month olds. This behavior may last, with some ebb and flow, until 18 months or even later. Also clinginess is associated with developmental leaps, and there is one around 11 months.

As far as the appetite, there is a natural decrease in appetite around a year. During developmental leaps children often have a decrease in appetite as they process all their learning. Do not stress about the ebbs and flows in a child's appetite unless your pediatrician is concerned and you need to make changes. Children sense your stress about their eating and it can effect how they eat. Instead have a relaxed, happy attitude towards mealtime and let your child eat what he will eat. You chose what to offer him and when to offer it; he chooses whether or not he will eat and how much. If he doesn't eat or eats very little, there's always the next nursing session or mealtime.

The parts of the brain which control nap sleep are different from the parts of the brain that control night sleep. That means you not only have to teach him to fall asleep without nursing at night, but you have to do it for naps to at some point, whenever you and your wife decide it is right. Nap training is harder than night training, but since your son already knows a different way of falling asleep that should help.

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Thanks, he settled down a bit after about a week and is much less hysterical now. While he was definitely very stressed about it, I guess we both over-reacted to some degree because we never have had him cry so much. –  ntrolls Nov 4 '13 at 12:45

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