Are you considering night weaning?
The first thing you need you need to figure out before night weaning is whether or not your baby is ready to wean off breast milk at night. There is no particular standard to decide the right time to night wean a baby, as every baby is different. But there indeed are some general signs that denote that your baby may be ready to night wean.
Signs your baby is ready to night wean
Stable sleep cycle: Babies have different sleep cycles and depending on that, some may or may not be ready for night weaning. Generally, newborns nurse every two to three hours, while babies around three to six months nurse two to three times every night, and night nursing sessions grow less frequent as infants get older. Hence, once you find that your little one is sleeping through the night, you’ll know that your baby is quite ready for you to attempt night weaning.
Solid food habit: Weaning works when your baby is getting comfortable with alternatives – which in this case are solid foods. Once your baby starts eating solid foods, you can be assured that night weaning is a possibility.
Not eating much at night: If you find that even if your baby is waking up at time but is not feeding much, then it is a sign that your baby is ready to wean off the night nursing. On the flip side, if your baby is not eating during the day and is waking up more at night to eat, then it could be a sign to wean off and get the child more used to daytime feeding so that he or she is not as hungry at night.
It is important to note that seeing any one of the above signs is not a clear guarantee that your child is ready to wean. But if you see a few of them together, then your baby may indeed be ready for weaning.
Will night weaning affect my baby’s sleep quality?
This is one of the primary concerns that mothers have regarding night weaning. Often, night nursing is more of a soothing routine for the child. Richard Ferber, a pediatrician, believes that night weaning is helpful to the sleep habits of babies, enabling them to have a peaceful night’s sleep. However, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) Katy Linda also noted that some babies sleep when you wean them, but there are many who will not, so it does not really mean that night weaning leads to more sleep. In other words, the baby’s sleep quality does not really depend on night nursing or weaning after a point of time. However, night nursing is indeed a time for the child and parent to bond. So, there’s no reason to rush this process too much. If you feel your baby is ready to wean, and night nursing is getting too disruptive for your family, then it is advisable that you night wean your baby.
How to Successfully Night Wean
Start it slow: As stated before, there is no reason to rush the night weaning process. Begin the process gradually by feeding your baby for a short while on breast milk or a bottle. Gradually increase the intervals between each feeding.
Feed your baby during the day: In order to successfully wean the child at night, it is important that the child is sufficiently fed during the day so that they don’t wake up hungry at night. If required, you can feed your child a little extra in the evenings so that their stomach remains full at night as well!
Ask for your partner’s support: If your baby is used to being close to you at night, then the smell of breast milk will naturally make them want to feed. To counteract this, when your baby cries at night, ask your partner to hold them close and soothe them instead. The dad can employ many other comforting methods. Soon the baby will get used to not being nursed as a way of comforting.
More day contact: Because you are trying to stay away from the baby at night in order to wean them, make up for it by increasing your day time cuddling, hugging and spending time close with your baby. The baby needs its mother’s touch, and suddenly decreasing it (even though for weaning) might affect them negatively.
Don’t worry if you are not able to night wean your child completely at first. Eventually every child grows out of the nursing phase. Watch your baby closely and understand their needs, and decide accordingly!