13 Mar When Can I Night Wean?
Parents ask me about night weaning all the time.
My first answer is the one most pediatricians agree with… if your baby is six months or older, and there are no weight or developmental concerns, there is no need to feed during the night.
But, I’m sure you’ve read that any time you’ve Googled this question and if that was all you needed to know, then it’s unlikely you’d be reading this blog.
What you probably really want to know is, if this is true, then why does my baby wake up in the middle of the night and can’t seem to get back to sleep without a feed?
If you had pulled his night feeds and baby was doing great and sleeping through the night, you wouldn’t be online looking up information about it.
You’d either be in bed, enjoying eight hours of blissful, uninterrupted sleep, or you’d be at the playground, telling all the other moms how easily your little guy gave up night feeds, and how this whole parenting thing is such a breeze!
(I’d advise not doing that though; Moms hate that.)
So let’s discuss the real question at hand. Why does your baby continue to wake up at night and demand food if they’re supposedly ready to give up night time feeds?
The real reason is actually (probably) pretty simple. It’s likely how them get themselves to sleep.
Feeding and/or nursing to sleep the number one sleep prop I see as a sleep consultant. Parents don’t usually think feeding as a “sleep prop” because of how natural and necessary it is.
More so, parents tend to associate the term sleep prop with pacifiers, mobiles and crib aquariums. But a sleep prop is really anything external that your baby relies on in order to get to sleep.
So if you’re still feeding your baby to sleep at bedtime, chances are, that’s where you need to make some changes.
Sometimes though, Mom is doing everything right at bedtime, prop-free, independent sleep, but the problem arises in the middle of the night, where baby is fed to sleep when they wake at night.
Some babies are just habitual nighttime eaters; they aren’t hungry or need the calories. They’ve been able to disassociate bedtime sleep with waking in the night, and if Mom’s still willing to give breast milk or formula in the night, well then, so much the better.
The bad news is that you’re going to have to break this association by giving up night feeds. That’s going to mean some protesting, which won’t be fun for anyone.
But the good news is that, since your baby has learned to sleep without props at bedtime, that means he’s already got some strong sleep skills, and the protesting should be over within a couple of nights.
So what’s the strategy for this? The same as it is for quitting just about anything else. Cold turkey. Stop tonight and don’t start again. The sooner your little one learns those skills, the sooner he’ll be sleeping through the night. That’s great news for you and your partner, but it’s even better news for baby! More uninterrupted sleep means baby’s mind and body get more of those wonderful restorative effects that take place during the night, making for a happier, healthier tomorrow!
Sounds easy, right? For some, this blog will be all you need to cut out those night feeds. For others, you may need further support around dropping those night feeds.
Contact me today to get started with a customized sleep plan that allows your little one to easily drop the night feeds, allowing for a full night’s sleep, for both your little one and yourself.