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Disclaimer: The information in this post is for educational purposes only. I am not a doctor. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the opinions are meant to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. You should always consult your healthcare provider.

How to Wean Baby Off Breast: Tackling Night Weaning

How to Wean Baby Off Breast: Tackling Night Weaning   - BreastfeedingPlace #toddler #nursing I have nursed four babies into toddler-hood and as much as I love and advocate for breastfeeding, night weaning is still my least favorite (and slightly dreaded) part of nursing. I’ve never really been preoccupied with how to wean baby off breast during the day because it was never disruptive to our life or routine for my children to take a few minutes to cuddle up with their nursies for nourishment or comfort. At night, it wasn’t bothersome until my children were nearing their second birthday and still waking multiple times or wanting to remain attached to my breast throughout the duration of the night. Going so long with inadequate sleep can make for a rather exhausted and cranky mommy, so with each child there reached a point when I decided that it was time to night wean so we could all get more sleep.

Night weaning does not mean that your breastfeeding relationship during the daylight hours must change in any way. In fact, I continued to nurse my children for several months after stopping nursing sessions overnight. Sometimes this is a necessary step to take for everyone’s benefit. You can even continue to co-sleep if that is part of your parenting style.

After doing this three times (so far), I have a few tips for tackling night weaning when you are ready. Note: these tips have an older baby or toddler in mind, not young babies or newborns.

How to Wean Baby Off Breast at Night

  • Take your time.
    Unless there is some pressing need (medical necessity, etc.) don’t feel rushed to have this process completed by a deadline. Sometimes slow and steady wins the race.
  • Be prepared to lose more sleep for a time.
    Night weaning can take a few days, a few weeks, or even longer depending on your baby’s attachment to it.  There will be long nights. Clear your schedule as much as possible so that you can rest with your child during the days. If you have other children, watch movies, color, read, and just relax for this time period. Things will get back to normal soon.
  • Introduce a lovey.
    If your child doesn’t already have a special toy or blanket, start encouraging them to get one. Having that extra bit of comfort during this transitional period can be helpful.
  • Make sure that your child is getting enough nutrition during the day.
    Some children night nurse because they are actually still hungry. Make sure that they are getting adequate feedings and food in the daytime so that their little tummies are full. Nurse more and definitely right before bed.
  • Provide a sippy cup of water.
    For some children, you can pacify them when they want to nurse by providing a cup of water instead. This won’t work with all children and it may be something that you have to offer more than a few times before it takes.
  • Make sure that your child is comfortable.
    If your child is experiencing teething, illness, has issues with reflux or allergies, or any other issue that may be the root cause of their night waking, tend to that need first. It will only cause frustration on yours and the baby’s side if there is an underlying problem or need that isn’t being met.
  • Get Daddy to help.
    It may help if Dad can take over some of the night time routines during this time. Baby won’t be near the milk source, so he/she may be distracted enough to be willing to go to sleep without it.
  • Talk to your child.
    Older babies and toddlers can understand when you tell them that the time for night nursing is over. They may be unhappy with it, but you can explain that they are bigger now and the time for nursing at night has passed. One of my favorite resources for explaining this to a child is Nursies When the Sun Shines by Katherine C. Havener.  It is a sweet book that features a mother and child lovingly discussing how milkies will come again in the morning. Read my review of the book here.
  • Be consistent.
    If you refuse to nurse your child one night but then cave the next because they are unhappy, you will lose ground and have to begin all over again. If everyone is healthy and full, stand your ground.
  • Give cuddles and love freely.
    This will be a difficult time for your child. It will also be difficult for you. This doesn’t mean that you can’t provide hugs, cuddles, and affection to your child. Rub their back while they cry, rock them, scoop them up and shower them with kisses. Let them know that even though this part of your relationship is ending, you will still be there to comfort them and be their caring and committed mommy.

Night weaning is but a brief time in the years of mothering. It’ll be but a memory before you know it. You can do this, Mama.

What are your tips for night weaning?

Dusty is a stay at home, homeschooling mother of four and has been married to the love of her life,  a Southern gentleman, for 8 years.  She is trying to find her own path in this great wide world while devouring chocolate and leaning on the Lord.  She blogs about homeschooling, homemaking, motherhood and faith at To the Moon and Back.

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