Every new mom is told about keeping a feeding cycle – feed your baby every two hours or on demand and that includes night feeds. But then, you get to that point when you want some few hours of uninterrupted sleep, am I right? For me, that was my cue to wean my baby from night feeds.
One of the mistakes I made as a new mom was offering the breast at the slightest whine including when the baby was cranky and wanted to sleep. It was convenient and became difficult to stop once I started. It put her to sleep and stopped any crying after all.
Now, how do you tell a baby who has been breastfed to sleep for almost a year to sleep without breast milk and much more so, stay in her crib? And so, I never thought it would be possible to wean my daughter easily; not from breast milk and certainly not from night feedings.
The decision to wean her was sort of taken from me though I initially planned to breastfeed beyond a year. Feeding her at night was beginning to take a toll on me because I found out I was pregnant with my second child. My breasts had become sensitive and the whole process of night feeding so exhausting.
Weaning fro night feeds was easier than I thought it would be! It took exactly three days. Since then, she sleeps throughout the night. And so here I am sharing what worked for me, if your baby doesn’t automatically wean from feeding or breastfeeding at night even after you’ve introduced solids !
One key thing to know before night weaning your baby is that, your baby waking up at night doesn’t necessarily mean they’re hungry.
It could be that they are thirsty, have a wet diaper, they pooped, generally uncomfortable, too cold, too warm, want to be cuddled or even had a bad dream.
That said, how do we cut the night feeds so everyone can get some more rest?
1. Cut the midnight snacks
My first advice to any mom who’s dead serious about weaning from night feeds is to end any form of feeding after bedtime. That is why it’s important to ensure your baby is well fed throughout the day so they have can have a goodnight sleep. If you have an overall goal to end your breastfeeding journey, you must breastfeed less during the day and offer more solids.
This means, being intentional about your meal plan for your baby so breast milk is not the first thing you offer when your baby is hungry.
If you’re wondering if your baby won’t die from hunger because when you don’t feed or breastfeed during the night, the answer is NO. But then again, how would you know if your baby is really hungry. That brings me to the next point:
2. Always offer water first
When your baby wakes up at night, do not offer milk or a snack first. Always offer water first. Most babies who feed well during the day are able to sleep throughout the night.
If your baby is still cranky after being given water, then maybe it is time to give a snack.
3. Daddy time
My baby had associated me with breastfeeding so whenever she woke up and I picked her, she expected to be breastfed.
So the first night I decided to wean her from night feeds, I let her daddy put her back to bed.
He soothe her by offering water, rocking and singing to her.
Initially she very unhappy! But eventually, she went back to sleep – first win!
By the second day, the tears had toned down drastically. She went back to bed after being rocked and slept till morning.
On the third day, I took over from her dad and rocked her when she woke up. Interestingly, she did not reach for my breasts as she used to.
Always remember to keep the lights low or completely off when trying to offer water or soothe the baby.
These simple tips worked incredibly well for me when I was weaning my daughter from night feeds!
By the fourth day of starting this routine, my baby slept throughout the night. There’s been no waking up to feed since then.
What other ways have you heard are effective for helping a baby or toddler sleep throughout the night?
Good luck if you’re desperately trying wean from night feeds. Your baby will eventually sleep throughout the night. It may take time and patience but it will happen.