Our daughter is just two and a bit. My wife still breastfeeds a lot. Our nights aren't particularly great.
Our arrangement was that usually I sleep in one room and my wife and daughter in the other so that I can get up early after a good night's sleep to do the morning chores and take our daughter to nursery while my wife catches up on sleep.
I take night duty, too. Both when my wife is here and, especially, when she is away on work. My experience is that the first two nights are difficult with the daughter waking up often, sometimes having one crying fit for about 20 minutes asking for mother, and after that she sleeps through from night 3 on. Once my wife is back on duty our daughter wakes 2 (rarely) to 10 (often) times a night to »drink« (it really is more like a cigarette butt hanging from her lips now when she breastfeeds).
Two nights ago we explained that in order to sleep through the night, which was desirable for everyone, she would have to learn to go back to sleep without the breast. We did an enactment with her and she did understand that her mother would hold her tight and cuddle if she woke up, but that the night needed to be over before she could drink again.
The first night went ok, she went back to sleep without breastfeeding once. When she woke up a second time, she cried and yelled until my wife gave in.
The second night she went back to sleep without breastfeeding a few times, but all before midnight. After midnight she woke and cried angrily for over an hour before my wife relented.
Now we are unsure how to continue.
- Letting her cry for so long does not feel right, but it may be necessary. Is it?
- Should I take the next night? It seems that our daughter is afraid of losing her mother/her mother's love, so we are unsure whether this would be the right kind of signal
- Should we regard this as a failed attempt and next time have me start with 4 to 7 nights in a row before my wife tries?
- Should we try to end co-sleeping first?
We need to get this through soon because the way the nights work at the moment is not sustainable for us (mostly for my wife).
On a different forum (German language) we found a question by someone in a similar situation, but the angry crying fits had already continued for 4 weeks. This would be even less sustainable for us. This question and this as well as that address a similar matter but deal with much younger children.
UPDATE: She slept with me ever since and her sleeping pattern is much better. She wakes twice a night at most, often only once and for a few times not at all. She uses her own bed now and it helps. When she wakes up, she still wants to be with me, but that is ok for now. The biggest progress I think is that on several occasions she managed going back to sleep on her own with me not being there (we both woke, I said I needed a drink of water and asked if it was ok for her to wait and when I came back she was sound asleep again).
Our idea now is to slowly phase in mother nights, first one, then two etc.