Night Weaning

Since there’s been some interest on night weaning after I wrote my post about fully weaning my second child, I will share how we successfully night weaned our two older children. (I am writing this post with the thought that who is reading it is the person actually breast feeding the child.)

First I would like to share how much I love breastfeeding. It is one of the most amazing things about being a mama to be able to feed my child, while  bonding and snuggling. For that reason I breast fed both my older kids until well past 2 years old. That said, night nursing is a different story in my book. I definitely did it happily with all my children for the first several months. But come around month 7 or 8, I start feeling the exhausting coming on and start to resent the middle of the night feeds. With my daughter, I was over it and that’s why we night weaned her. With my son, I found out I was pregnant with our 3rd, so I wanted to make the shift in order to feel ready to welcome the new baby in our bed without an older sibling already in there.

First things first, let me make this clear: I wouldn’t have been able to night wean our kids without the help of my husband. If your husband or partner isn’t on board with helping out, or if you are a single parent, than this post is not for you. I wouldn’t know how to do it.

If your partner is fully committed than here we go:

  • if you don’t already use them, buy some earplugs. It will make it less difficult to put up with the cries and you might eventually be able to fall back asleep faster.
  • now just brace yourself, and resist the urge to get up and help your husband/partner. (I know the feeling, “I can do it faster/better, I’ll just go in there and do it myself so we can all go back to sleep”)
  • if you are co-sleeping, you will have to stop doing that. I tried co-cleeping and night weaning and it doesn’t work. If my baby knows I’m there, we cannot soothe him or her back to sleep without the boob.
  • if you aren’t co-cleeping, keep doing that 🙂
  • when your child wakes up at night, your partner needs to go in and soothe the baby back to sleep. (It is the same scenario as trying to night wean while co-sleeping.) For us that means, holding, snuggling, carrying, until the baby falls back asleep.
  • the first few nights our kids woke up a bunch, wondering when the milk was gonna get there “I know who you are and you are not the milk lady! Where is the milk lady!!! She normally comes in here and gives me something to suck on!!!”; “You again?? What the hell?!?!? Where is the milk lady??”; “Dang, is the milk lady really not coming? Even if I keep crying like this she won’t come?”; “Wow, she really isn’t coming. Ok then. I’ll go back to sleep”. That’s what I imagine is going on in their cute little head over the nights.
  • eventually our babies got used to my husband coming in and not me that their realized within about 1 or 2 weeks that it was much better to just sleep through the night.
  • if the baby stops waking up at night, congratulations, you did it 🙂

Your partner might not feel thrilled to be the one who has to wake up every night, but remind him/her that you have been doing it for months, that you need a break too and that once the baby is night weaned you will both get some sleep. If you’ve been night nursing for months, surely your partner can suck it up for a couple weeks 😉

I want to remind you that everyone is different, and we all have different ways of doing the parenting thing. I just know that this is what worked for both our older kids, and this is the technique we will use when i am ready to wean my youngest.

Since we night weaned our kids, they sleep through the  night. At first they would occasionally wake up either because of teething, or a soiled diaper, or some other thing that was bothering them, but there hasn’t been a challenging night situation with either the older kids since we did it.

I hope this post helps some of you. If you are someone who has successfully night weaned, please share your comments! If you have any more questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

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5 thoughts on “Night Weaning

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this, Aurore. We are in the midst of our version of this and it is very hard on all of us :-(. We might have to adapt a little and be more rigorous. But Ronja has a cough on top of everyrthing. Poor baby… :-(.
    Question for you: When was the last time and the first time you nursed them during the night weaning phase? Was it when you first put them to bed or did you nurse them before you went to bed? How about the morning? When was the first time you nursed them in the morning during the training phase? TIA 🙂

    • I nurse before bed time, and then we decided to do the first morning feeding according to my husbands schedule and when is the earliest he has to be at work. So at our house it’s 5:30 for the first feeding. But some days it doesn’t happen until 6:30am!! And I never wake the baby up to feed when I go to bed. The point here is to get them used to not eating at night. At their age they do not need to be eating during the night anymore. They can last a good 10 hours without food I believe.

      • The reason the first feeding is at 5:30am is because that’s when my husband leaves for work some days, which means he cannot care for the baby anymore. And usually once I start caring for the baby, he won’t go back to sleep without nursing. If he didn’t go to work until 8am, then the first feeding would probably happen around 7am or depending on who early the baby wakes up. Just wanted to clarify 🙂

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