How to Night Wean a Baby
Constantly feeding a hungry baby during the night can leave the mother tired and exhausted from the lack of proper sleep. Many times babies take one or two comfort feeds in the night just to go back to sleep. Transitioning smoothly from feeding once or twice in the night to completely weaning them off breastmilk can be very tricky. Although there is no single success formula for night weaning, there are a couple of tricks that you can follow to slowly make your baby sleep through the night. Read on to know about some effective ways on how to stop breastfeeding at night.
At What Age Will Your Baby Be Ready for Night Weaning?
Every baby is different, and each of them has their own needs and routines. However, between the ages of four to six months, most babies are ready to sleep through the night. Typically, at this age, they receive enough energy from their daytime feeding to sustain through the night. You can check their wet diaper count to ensure that they are getting enough milk.
How to Know if Your Baby is Ready?
Babies who are ready for a night wean show one or more of the following signs:
- Eats less during the day: If the baby feeds less during the day and compensates for it in the night, it is high time you shift the cycle and focus on feeding during the day. This a is a clear sign that the baby needs to fall back into a regular daytime feeding habit.
- Plays during the night feed: If your baby wakes up to have some fun with the feeding, then it is clearly an indication that he is not hungry and is simply unable to break the habit of waking up to feed.
- Baby is on solids: When the baby has started having solids during the day, he or she is less likely to feel hungry in the night. This is the right time to wean from feeding in the night.
Tips for Night-Weaning Your Baby
If you are unsure about how to wean off breastfeeding at night, the following tips can help you.
- Gradually increase daytime feed: Observe the quantity that the baby drinks during the night and try to add a few ml of milk extra during the morning and evening feed just to keep the baby full. Gradually increasing the quantity of daytime feed can make them less hungry during the night,
- Break the mental map: Observe the time at which the baby wakes up crying for a feed. Wake yourself and the baby up half an hour before the feeding time and feed the baby before it cries for milk. Doing this over time breaks the mental map that the baby has between crying and feeding.
- Slowly reduce feeding time: Slowly reduce the time that the baby feeds during the night. Stop the session a couple of minutes before every day and compensate for the milk consumption during the daytime feed.
- Feed before sleep: Feed the baby to its heart’s content before sleeping time, to make sure that the baby is full. This will give you a couple of more hours to sleep, as the baby will not feel hungry for a long time.
- Involve another family member: Sometimes, babies feed in the night to soothe themselves. You can try to involve the father or any other member of the family to do the job of calming the baby. You can slowly break the association between calming down and feeding, by allowing somebody else to take over while you step aside.
- Include an evening feed: Feeding in the evening, few hours before dinner can be very helpful in creating a feeling of fullness. This reduces the chances of getting up repeatedly in the night because of hunger.
- Empty one breast at a time: Sometimes, babies get hungry frequently because they do not get enough of the thick and nourishing hindmilk. Make sure you allow the baby to drain one breast at a time. If your child switches breasts in very short time, she may get only the foremilk making her wake up again for feed.
- Avoid distractions: Make sure you keep the distractions during the day minimal while feeding. If the baby does not take enough food during the day because of any distractions, she tends to catch up with the food at night.
- Cuddle up well: Babies require a lot of physical touches to feel safe and secure. During the day and even the night make sure you cuddle them and constantly nurture them. This avoids any kind of insecurity-led feeding that some babies tend to adopt.
- Reason it out: If you are trying to wean a toddler who has got into the habit of feeding in the night, then you can reason it out with him or her. Sometimes, a clear message of ‘no’ does the job. You can lovingly reiterate the fact that it is sleeping time and not feeding time.
Is Night Weaning Necessary to Get Baby to Sleep Through the Night?
Yes, weaning at night is necessary for babies to learn to sleep through the night. Nursing sessions typically break their sleep and make them irritable and cranky. A baby with full stomach tends to sleep peacefully the whole night. Night weaning a 1-year-old is also a vital step towards growth as babies grow during their sleep.
Common Reasons Why Night Weaning May Not Be Working for Baby
sometimes it more be exceptionally difficult to night wean a baby. Here are few reasons why this may be happening to you.
- If your baby is a dream feeder, then the connection between sleep and nursing can be very strong sometimes. Breaking this connection can take longer than usual, prolonging the process of weaning. Although these babies are capable of sleeping without a feed, they still wake up in the night to feed and go back to sleep.
- If your baby calms down only by feeding, then in such cases feeding often in the night becomes very important for the baby. Night weaning might not be possible until the baby learns to self-soothe and sleep.
- If the baby is too small, then he or she may not have the ability to go long hours without a feed. Typical age at which weaning can be started is between four and six months.Trying to night wean before that is not good for the health of the baby,
- When the baby is eating solid food, he or she may be requiring some extra calories in the night. Until their calorie requirement is taken care of in the day, night weaning can be difficult.
- If your baby eats very little during the day, then he may tend to feel hungry in the night. You may have to regularize your baby’s daytime eating habits to start night weaning.
- When your baby prefers to feed breastmilk directly over other formula feed from a bottle, you may have a tougher time weaning your baby. Some babies particularly prefer feeding on the breast in the night. This rules out the option of using a bottle or even requesting other family members to share the responsibility.
Night weaning can be tricky if your kid is very strongly attached to nursing and sleeping. To get a full nights sleep for both you and the baby, you can follow any of the above-mentioned techniques to wean your baby at night.