Weaning from Breastfeeding at Night
Night weaning is possible with these gentle tips to help your child to start weaning from breastfeeding at night so that everyone can get some sleep.
There is nothing more special than breastfeeding your baby, but there comes a time that you need to get a solid night of rest.
Newborns need consistent nourishment night or day, but there comes a time when they are grown enough to make it to morning without feeding.
You may miss the special time spent bonding with your little one in the wee hours of the morning while the rest of the world sleeps, but learning to sleep through the night is essential for all growing children.
Making the Decision to Wean at Night
You may also decide that it is time to slow down the nighttime feedings simply because you are exhausted. You may be returning to work in the not-so-distant feature or you may simply need more rest to properly care for older children or household obligations.
Whatever your reasons for moving away from nighttime breastfeeding, it is important to slowly wean the baby over time. This is not something that you will change in a matter of days. It may not even be accomplished within a matter of weeks.
The total length of weaning time depends on your child, but the following tips will help you at least slow down the nighttime suckling in a short period of time.
Make the Most of Daylight
Night weaning does not mean weaning them from time spent close to you. They still need considerable amounts of time in contact and interaction with you. The goal is to transfer that cuddle and suckle time from the night to the day. This means you can help them wean by giving them more feeding time and attention during the day.
Even if you feel your baby is too old to be feeding at night, you do not want them to feel suddenly cut off from you. They should still feel loved, cared for, and well nourished. You just want them to get that attention during the day so they are more satisfied during the night. Simply start spending a bit more time with them during the day, and definitely get in more feedings during the daylight hours so they are not waking up hungry.
Establish a Bedtime Routine
If you want the baby to sleep through the night, you have to give them a good breastfeeding session just before laying down for the night. Ideally, you will start to establish a bedtime routine that the baby can grow to depend on night after night. You may spend some time singing to them, reading them a story, or just spending some time in a rocking chair together. The routine must also include breastfeeding, so they get that time being close to you and their stomachs are full when you put them down.
Try not to feed solid foods before laying them down to sleep. Many babies will wake up more at night after starting solid foods, especially if their stomachs are not used to processing the solid foods yet. You can avoid possible physical discomfort during the night by sticking with breastfeeding for the nighttime feeding. Plus, the baby needs that closeness with you to feel satisfied and safe as they go to sleep.
You may consider feeding more than once in the three hours before bedtime. If you go to sleep later than the baby, wake them up and feed again before you lay down. This doesn't guarantee a fast weaning period, but with time the baby will start to pick up on the routine as a signal for bedtime. They will also start sleeping longer since their stomach is filled to the max during those last few hours of the day.
Limit Feedings At Night
If you eat dinner every night at 6:00pm, you tend to get hungry at that time if you don't eat. The same is true for your baby. If he is used to getting a full meal at 3:00am every night, he will wake up hungry for his meal then!
So if your little one does wake up and insist on feeding, try other things first.
However, if you do decide to nurse, give him or her limited access to your breast milk. Break the seal on the latch after only a minute or two.
After a few nights of getting very little food, his or her body may just decide it is not worth it to wake up anymore when he or she won't get much to eat anyway!
Find Alternatives to Breastfeeding
You cannot assume that the baby needs to feed every time they wake up in the middle of the night. There can be other reasons they are awake. This means they don't necessarily need mommy to take care of them. If you can get daddy, a grandparent, or someone else in the home more active at night, you can get more rest.
For instance, have daddy start putting the baby to sleep at the end of the night. You can feed until the baby is starting to drift into sleep, then let daddy rock or walk with the baby until they are completely asleep. This gets the baby more accustomed to being soothed by daddy, so he can fill in at night when a feeding is not necessary.
You must apply a healthy dose of patience when weaning from breastfeeding at night. However, will a little gentle nudging, you should gradually start getting more and more rest until suddenly you are all sleeping through the night.
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