Updated: Mar 10, 2021
Are you ready to wean off feeding in the middle of the night? This can often be a difficult decision for mum but often times, feedings are offered out of habit and moms are absolutely exhausted from waking in the middle of the night to feed when it's not needed (depending on your child’s age and weight).
Often times, babies are not ready to night wean before 6 months. If you are not ready for it, don’t implement this change because implementing this change takes consistency. You have to be 100% ready and committed to night wean.
Here Are SOME Signs That Your Baby Might Be Ready To Night Wean:
-Your baby is around 5 or 6 months of age
-Your baby is at a healthy weight for their age
-Your baby is eating more at night than he or she is during the day
-The feeding is interrupting their sleep and they are not eating much or they continuously wake up after their feeding
-Your baby is not hungry or interested in the first feeding of the day
*The above points are just a guide if you are thinking of night weaning*
Please note that every baby is different. Some may naturally transition at 6 months, while others might not meet these criteria until 12 months.
You Can Still Sleep Train and Night Wean!
Some babies might not be able to resettle if they are not fed to sleep, so this is where the parent might seek the help of a sleep consultant. The methods used to teach your baby how to fall asleep without a feeding do not have to include the cry it out method if that’s not what you are comfortable with.
Teaching Your Baby How To Fall Asleep Without A Feeding
Little You considers your own personal goals for your child and family and works with your own parenting style. We have a variety of methods which include being either more, or less involved with your child through the process of learning how to fall asleep independently or wean from night feedings.
Sleeping through the night could also mean a different thing for every parent. For example; if you want to stop breastfeeding 7 times a night, you might develop a plan to get your child sleeping more and eating less, therefore minimizing the feeds to 1-2 times per night or only as needed according to their age and weight (and with the green light from your doctor).
Some Ways You Can Wean From The Breast Or Bottle Are....
1) IF your baby is only waking once per night for a feeding, it might be best to cut the feeds cold turkey and teach them how to go to sleep without a feed. Keep in mind that when you take away a feeding, sleep props may arise when trying to settle your baby back to sleep.
Some common sleep props I see are rocking to sleep, holding to sleep, or offering water. If you do this, your baby will continuously wake in the middle of the night and seek that same thing that they fell asleep with.
If you don’t want to continue this and you want your baby to fall asleep and put themselves to sleep after a waking, I recommend teaching your baby independent sleep skills.
2) Reducing the number of feedings per night over a period of a few weeks or a few days and at a rate that you are comfortable with.
3) If you are weaning from a bottle, you can reduce the number of ounces per night that are offered (over a period of a few weeks or a few days).
Night Weaning A Toddler
The key with night weaning toddlers from the breast or bottle is to break the association of feeding to sleep. You want to replace that with a story or a bath and make feeding the first thing you do rather than the last. The non-nursing partner can help settle your child back to sleep so that nursing is not even an option. IF you are ready to night wean, know that it is possible to still sleep train your baby or older child. Toddlers are able to understand that there will be no more milk. You can also let them know that you will be supporting them through this adjustment.
** Please note that this blog post is not a replacement for medical advice. It is always best to consult your doctor for any changes to your child’s feeding schedule. The feeding needs of your child depend on their age and weight and it is best to go by the recommendations of your doctor **
If you are night weaning with more of a gradual approach rather than cold turkey, keep in mind that this can take a couple of weeks.
If you are seeking help to learn how to get your child to sleep without a feeding, you can book a free 15 minute chat to find out if working with a sleep consultant is for you!