Whether you’re reading this in the peaceful silence of a middle-of-the-night feed or daytime chaos with your littles, I understand your exhaustion. Those relentless nights of feedings have left you questioning how I even begin reducing my child’s night feeds…
My goal with this blog is to help answer common questions you may have about nighttime weaning. Some common questions I get are:
- At what age can a child be weaned from feeding at night?
- What method should I use when weaning?
- If I wait, will my child stop feeding on their own in the night?
- If I enjoy night feeds, do I have to stop?
- My milk supply is low. Is it okay to continue night feeding?
This guide will be a starting point in your journey to eliminating night feeds and moving towards a full night’s rest. It’s packed with signs that can help identify if your baby is ready for night weaning and strategies to make this transition smoother. Remember, every baby is unique, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. But don’t worry; with patience, understanding, and guidance, you’ll find what works best for you and your little one. Are you ready? Let’s dive in!
Is Your Baby Ready to Say Goodnight to Night Feeds?
Before I dive into the how-to’s, take the time to answer these six questions to ensure both you AND your little one are ready for this big step.
Checklist Before You Start Night Weaning:
- Age: Is your baby six months or older?
- Health: Is your baby healthy with no medical issues that require night feedings?
- Weight Gain: Is your baby gaining weight just fine and continuing to follow their growth curve?
- Milk Supply: If you’re breastfeeding, is your milk supply strong and steady?
- Pediatrician Thumbs-up: Has your Pediatrician said it’s okay to start night weaning?
- You’re Ready: Do YOU feel mentally and emotionally ready? Remember, this is about you, too!
If you can answer yes to all these questions, then you’re ready to move forward! If you answered “no” to one or more, save this blog for later and keep those night feeds going as long as you want and need to.
Strategy Time: How to Wean?
Okay, now that we’ve established you AND your little one are ready, let’s tackle the big question: how do you actually wean?
STEP ONE: Teach Them to Self-Soothe
Before you start night weaning, teach your baby how to fall asleep WITHOUT feeding. Whether it’s a lullaby, gentle rocking, or teaching independent sleep skills, it will be extremely helpful if they learn a way to fall asleep other than nursing or bottle feeding at bedtime. Please Don’t skip over this first step! Allowing your child to become familiar with an alternative way of falling asleep will be a lifesaver when they wake up in the middle of the night.
STEP TWO: Pick Your Strategy
Strategy 1: The Cold Turkey Method
This is the “rip-off-the-band aid” method, where you stop all nighttime feeds at once. It’s tough but quick, taking about a week or so for your baby to shift their nighttime calories to the daytime. If breastfeeding, you may pump or hand express to help relieve the excess milk. However, if you have more detailed questions about milk supply, I recommend contacting a certified Lactation Consultant specializing in breastfeeding.
Strategy 2: The Gradual Wean
This is the “slow-and-steady-wins-the-race” approach. You’ll gradually decrease the time or ounces of each feeding over 1-2 weeks. It’s slower, but it can be less stressful for some babies (and moms!).
Strategy 3: The Natural Disappearance
This is the “let-it-be” method, where you let your child’s night feeds naturally taper off. Be warned, though, that some babies continue waking up out of habit rather than hunger. If your baby is waking up and feeding for a short amount and then falling asleep while feeding, this can be a sign that the feed may be habitual and not actually due to true hunger.
Wrapping It Up
Remember, every baby is different, so don’t compare your journey to a friend! Trust your instincts and keep the lines of communication open with your partner and pediatrician. Also, give yourself grace; night weaning can be challenging for you and your little one, but it’s a helpful step in moving closer to a full night’s sleep!
If this all seems extremely overwhelming, and you are ready to make a change in both weaning night feeds AND teaching independent sleep skills.
Let’s chat! You can book a complimentary 15-minute discovery call with me to learn more about working together and how we can work together to get your little one – and you! – sleeping better.