Motherhood is a piece of cake, whereas night feeding – a fly in the ointment. Waking up a few times during the night is stressful. Therefore, mothers anticipate the time when they can begin night weaning.
Night weaning is a period of transition that you need to think thoroughly through because it will affect both the baby and your health.
In this article, you will find information such as:
- How to night wean
- When is the time to start night weaning?
- How to night wean breastfed babies
- Pay attention to the baby's age.
- How to night wean bottle-fed babies
- Night weaning expectations
- How to night wean: more of helpful tips
You will be able to come up with your own plan, get the idea of what will be better for your baby and the whole family. Let’s go over the most important topics together!
PAY ATTENTION TO BABY’S AGE
All children are different. Yet, we can group and divide into the periods most of their developmental peculiarities.
Kids grow, and so change the frequency of feeding. Here is a guide for you to help you decide when it is time to start night weaning.
- Newborn baby – 3 months old. At this period, babies need night feeding. However, some children can have 3-5 hours of sleep without waking up.
- 4 – 5 months of age. At this age, many babies can be night weaned. However, a little one might need one feeding per night.
- 9 – 12 months old. The majority of children can be night weaned.
- A year-old child and older. At this age, children don’t need night feedings anymore.
WHEN IS TIME TO START NIGHT WEANING?
A baby can’t tell you, "I'm not hungry, thanks, though." Instead, a little one can show you this. Here are some signs that it is high time you had some sleep at night!
A baby is 4-5 months old.
At this tender age, babies are ready to have only one night feeding. However, some doctors believe that it is better to wait until the baby is at least 5-6 months of age. If you are in two minds about the perfect time to begin night weaning, you can consult your little one’s pediatrician.
The theory in books usually differs from reality because books give the idea of how things should be, and truth is how it is. Therefore, you should decide what is best for your baby based on how a little one feels and acts.
In order to reduce to only one feeding per night, it is best to wait until the baby weighs at least 14 pounds.
A little one is not eating much during the day.
In case you see that a baby does not eat much during the daytime but still has "lunch breaks" in the middle of the night, it means that it is finally time. It is time to night wean! A child eats when it wants to get as many calories as a little organism needs.
Therefore, encourage a little one to eat more during daytime feedings. As a result, a child will get most calories during the day, and there will be no need to wake up every 3-5 hours to feed the baby.
A baby does not eat much during the night.
If you notice that a baby does not eat much and is wide awake after the feeding, it is a sign. It shows that baby wakes up out of habit rather than because of hunger. Eventually, you will see that night feeding has become unnecessary and that a little one can do without them.
The baby has started consuming solid foods.
One of the signs that you should start night weaning is that you have begun to incorporate solid foods in the baby's nutrition. It is a perfect time to begin reducing night weaning to one per night. A few months after, you can gradually move on from night feeding.
Check our Important Baby Cues that Most New Parents Miss. Read on to discover the 7 baby cues that all new parents should know!
HOW TO NIGHT WEAN
Whatever you decide to do, remember that you are in no rush. Therefore, take your time and make sure that a baby is ready for the night weaning. There are two ways to stop night weaning: gradual approach and cold-turkey.
Cold-Turkey or Gradual Approach
There is a way to stop night feedings cold-turkey, meaning an abrupt and quite nerve-racking approach. Therefore, most experts suggest gentle night weaning.
A gradual transition is a perfect decision for the baby and the whole family. It may be a longer path but definitely less stressful than the first option.
After months of day-to-day night feedings, a baby is used to waking up at night and waiting for something to eat. Therefore, here is what you can do:
- Stretch the time. Before every other night feeding, take extra time (15-30 minutes). This way, you will make them irregular. By prolonging the time, your baby will start sleeping longer and, with time, stop eating at night at all.
- Make night feedings shorter. Reduce the amount of time you usually spend on feeding. Put fewer ounces of milk in the baby's bottle and cut down on the amount of time a baby feeds on each breast.
- Let a baby go back to sleep on its own. It would be great if you could give the baby an opportunity to go to sleep independently. Aside from this, set a time limit on crying. A baby will need it in case a little one cannot fall asleep on its own and, as a result, starts crying.
Give the baby 15 minutes to cry. It is great if a child calms down and falls asleep without your help. However, if a little one continues crying, you have to calm it down.
Increase the limit every night (20 minutes – first night; 30 minutes – second night; 40 minutes – third night), and with time, a child will learn to sleep all night long.
In case you are still willing to go with the cold-turkey night weaning, you will need to do only a few things:
Make sure that the baby gets all the calories and feedings during the day;
Let a little one cry until it calms down on its own.
This option has only two steps, but I think that the first option is more comfortable and gentle. The second option will tickle both baby's and family’s nerves.
HOW TO NIGHT WEAN BREASTFED BABIES?
Check our How to wean a baby from breastfeeding: Tips to make it easier for you and your baby. Learn Methods of weaning the baby away from breastfeeding!
Night weaning is a tricky process as it is. However, it gets even trickier when it comes to breastfeeding. Here it is more about a woman's health because night weaning will affect milk supply as well. Here are some tips for a smooth transition:
A baby must eat enough during the day.
Breastfed babies, who have yet to start consuming solid foods, need to eat every 2-3 hours during the day. In total, it is from eight to twelve feedings per 24 hours. It means that a little one will be eating 5-6 times a day, and it will become a routine.
Take care of your body.
Rapid changes can harm your body and lead to mastitis or engorged breasts. Therefore, don’t cut off multiple night feedings at once.
This advice is aimed at your comfort. Whenever you feel that your breasts are getting full, pump the milk.
HOW TO NIGHT WEAN BOTTLE-FED BABIES?
Same as in the first case, children need to get enough calories during the day. Once the baby is at the right age and weighs enough, you can start night weaning.
Typically, a baby ready to move on from night feeding drinks around 23-32 ounces throughout 24 hours. Furthermore, the baby adjusts milk intake after you start incorporating solid foods in a little one's ration. Hence, the more calories the baby eats during the day, the less hungry it gets during the night.
NIGHT WEANING EXPECTATIONS
A gradual approach may take a few weeks. Aside from the fact that it is longer, I think it is much better. It is aimed at a comfortable and smooth transition for both you and the baby.
A cold-turkey approach can take around a few days. It is more stressful and challenging for both parties.
At the end of the day, the choice is yours to make. Therefore, make sure that the baby is ready and decide which approach is best for you.
Remember about calories that baby needs because if a little one feels pangs of hunger, it will be much more difficult for the baby to fall asleep, resulting in sleepless nights for both of you.
Another aspect that you should remember is that baby's associate food with sleep. This association is made rather involuntarily, for each time you feed the baby to put a little one to sleep, you show that feeding equals sleep.
Therefore, it is difficult for most kids to fall asleep on their own because they are waiting for you to feed them. It is not a problem at the beginning. However, it would be best if you broke this food & sleep association, starting from the four-month age.
Because a night weaning is a big deal, a child will cry. We have already talked about a time limit on crying, and it is a normal reaction.
A baby is frustrated because this is something new for a little one. Crying is a normal reaction to frustration. Therefore, give a child some time to cry and try to fall asleep on its own.
I am the type of person who would rush into the baby's room as soon as I hear the cries. Therefore, if you want to check on your baby without necessarily coming into the room, you should consider getting a video monitor. It will be of great help to you.
Check our How to Create Perfect Conditions for Child’s Development? Learn different tips on how you can help improve your child's development!
HOW TO NIGHT WEAN: MORE OF HELPFUL TIPS
Apart from the tips above, some more ideas will prove useful. Please take a quick look and give them a try!
Try dream feeding.
It is a tricky way to make a little one sleep all night. There is a chance that it might not work for your baby. Here is what you need to do.
Try feeding a baby when a little one is a little drowsy. The baby will have not more than a few sips and fall asleep right after. This way, the child might sleep until the early morning.
However, there is a chance that it might wake a little one up, and it would be even more challenging to put the baby to sleep. Therefore, if a child gets energetic and doesn’t want to sleep after the feeding, it would be better to skip this advice.
Don’t rush if you hear a baby crying.
Whenever the fazes of sleep change, a person starts tossing and turning. Therefore, if a little one wakes up and starts to cry, just wait a little bit and give a baby some time to settle in without your help.
Consistency is your everything.
It would help if you had a plan. Come up with the strategy and follow each step. A child will adjust quicker and better if you are confident and consistent.
Therefore, follow your plan and don’t back down. If you see that something is not working for you and the baby - make some adjustments.
Nothing personal, baby. It's business
If your baby has a hard time falling back asleep and you see that you need to help a little one, then go ahead. However, do it in a business-like manner.
Meaning you should minimize verbal contact, have dimmed lights (you can turn on a night light to create a soft sleepy atmosphere), do not interact much, and change a diaper only if it is necessary.
Night weaning is a very sensitive topic. The result depends on you and the plan you create. Therefore, think your actions through, stick to them, and be confident.
Whatever approach you decide to go with, make sure that your the is ready. If you are still in two minds, consult the pediatrician. I am sure that you will do a great job!
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