It’s no secret that new moms don’t get a lot of sleep. When you first start breastfeeding, it’s clear that because your baby will feed every 2-3 hours, your sleep schedule forms around your baby’s needs. But what about when your baby reaches his or her first birthday and does not have to nurse as frequently? Many mothers who practice extended breastfeeding go through a night weaning phase with their little one. Night weaning does not mean that mom wants to stop breastfeeding completely—she’d just rather sleep through the night without waking to breastfeeding since the necessity is no longer there.
What’s the best way for mom to begin the night weaning process, and how long does it take for a toddler to effectively give up nursing at night? There’s no real time frame when it comes to weaning, so be prepared to spend a few weeks at least implementing the new no-nursing-at-night routine. Your new policy might not be met with smiles, too. Patience is going to be the key to getting your little one used to his or her new schedule.
We like this suggestion from Monica Beyer’s night weaning article: anticipate your little one’s schedule so you can alter it effectively and without causing a nighttime temper tantrum. Set an alarm to go off before your child typically wakes up to nurse and wake up your child to breastfeed at different points throughout the night. Spend the whole week following this nursing pattern and slowly make your breastfeeding sessions shorter and shorter. Then begin eliminating feedings altogether. Soon, your child will be phased out of the nighttime breastfeeding routine.
But what if your child completely resists your efforts to eliminate nighttime breastfeeding? It’s ok, your little one is just not ready to go without nighttime nursing, and that does not mean that anything is wrong. Wait a little longer (2-6 months) until you feel ready to try the process again. While this weaning process will inspire a few tears, it should not cause extreme amounts of stress or all-night crying fits.
Looking for alternative nighttime breastfeeding weaning options? Check out this helpful illustrated book Nursies When the Sun Shines by author Katherine Havener; Nursies is a children’s book that helps introduce the idea of nighttime weaning and many parents have found success using it as a tool for their children.
What nighttime weaning tricks do you have to share with other moms? Let us know in the comments.