How to tackle night weaning has been a common question asked by parents recently. At least one of the most popular feeding/sleep books of the moment advises that a baby should be able to sleep through the night, without feeding, by 3 months old. While for some babies this is absolutely possible, not all babies are weaned from night feeds by this age. Take my 2 boys for example – my first slept through the night of his own accord by 3 months but my second was still having a night feeding at 6 months old.
The first thing a parent needs to be aware of is that not all babies are the same. Just because your friend’s baby has night weaned, doesn’t mean yours is developmentally ready. In general, a lot of babies can go through the night without a feed by about 6 months old, and all babies should have the capacity to sleep through by 9 months.
If you are considering weaning from night feeding and your baby is under 9 months, I would first suggest talking to your pediatrician to determine if your child is ready for night weaning. If your baby is feeding well during the day and a reasonable weight, chances are the pediatrician will give you the go ahead.
Here are some tips for night weaning:
- Make sure your baby is nursing/bottle feeding enough during the day. When night weaning they need to replace the milk they would drink overnight and drink it during the day instead. Their bodies will learn to do this.
- Lengthen the time between feeds. Gradually, make your baby wait longer overnight between their feeds until a night feed is cut out entirely.
- Don’t immediately attend to your baby at night wakings. Give them 10-15 minutes to return themselves back to sleep. You may be surprised that a time when you generally would have fed them, they can fall back to sleep without it.
- Decide how often you wish to feed overnight and go for it. With this approach always eliminate the feedings earlier in the night first.
- Get Dad involved in attending to the baby/resettling, as Dad’s are often not associated with milk, especially for breastfed babies. Babies are likely to resettle better when they can’t smell the breast milk.
Good luck night weaning your little one. If you feel you need more customized support, please do not hesitate to reach out. Sometimes it is helpful to get customized advice and have support from a child sleep consultant while you tackle the night weaning. Little Big Dreamers offers packages to suit all needs and budgets.