Stories from Moms: How I Night Weaned My Baby

Real stories of night weaning
Image via Mindi Stavish

My baby boy is 14 months old, and our nursing relationship is still going strong. I don't have any plans to wean at this point. His nursing sessions are brief and are primarily used for comfort when he is hurt, tired, or when he wakes up in the middle of the night. None of my children slept through the night during their first year of life. Sure, there were a few random nights here and there when I woke up in a panic in the early morning hours with full breasts and a racing heart because my kids actually slept all night long, but those nights were and still are few and far between.

I often wonder to myself if I enabled their bad sleeping patterns by nursing them to sleep at bedtime and then back to sleep when they woke up. Every time I thought about night weaning, my gut told me I shouldn't do it. It just didn't feel like the right thing for me and my baby. Recently, I asked other moms how they night weaned their baby. I got a wide range of responses, which isn't surprising, because much like anything in parenting, there is no one-size-fits-all family.

{ MORE: Getting Your Toddler into His Very Own Big Kid Bed }

breastfeeding
Image via Flickr/ David Leo Veksler

“Ours was different than most because until 18ish months, Piper actually NEEDED the calories, even according to the pediatrician. We co-slept, too, but around 20 months, we told her that she could nurse before sleep. If she got up to play, that was it, and when the lights go out, the milk goes to sleep. She was mad at first, but she got quickly adjusted. If she woke up, she'd snuggle with Daddy and go back to sleep. Now she usually just doesn't wake up.”

— Kit Jenkins, mother of two and co-founder of The Carrying On Project.

baby
Image via Megan Stilley

“With #1, it wasn't too bad because he took a pacifier. Once he turned 18 months, I decided it was time. When he would wake at night, I would give him the pacifier and tell him, ‘No milk right now.' The first night was hard, and he cried for a bit, but I was right there with him until he fell back asleep, and by night three, he was sleeping through the night. Still haven't done this with my second child, but I don't feel he is ready yet.”

— Megan Stilley, Megan's Digest

nursing
Image via Jamie Davis Smith

“I also sat with my kids while they cried. At first, we tried using Dad to soothe, but I realized they wanted me even if they couldn't nurse, and that worked better. We also made a clear rule that they could nurse when the sun comes up. This may be earlier than you like in the summer, but it's something all kids can understand since they won't be able to tell time yet! I told them things like ‘Milky is going to sleep,' ‘Milky is closed,' etc. Of course, this won't work with a baby, but it does work with slightly older kids (or at least it did with mine).”

— Jamie Davis Smith, mom of three and expecting baby #4

breast milk and formula
Image via Flickr/ David Leo Veksler

“I waited until [my kids] night weaned on their own. I can't even remember when it happened, but they did it on their own. They needed me for a reason, and I met the need until they didn't have it anymore.”

Jayne Heinrich, The Naptown Organizer

IMG_0859
Image via Jeanelle Walker

“With my daughter we weaned cold turkey. Her pediatrician informed me that she wasn't really hungry and she was waking for more comfort vs. hunger. It took two nights of her waking and me rocking her back to sleep. Then it was smooth sailing. Every blue moon, she would wake up for a feeding, but no longer on a nightly basis.”

Jeanelle Walker

nursing baby
Image via Flickr/ mahalie

“I sleep trained using SleepEasy, which incorporates weaning from night feedings. Using dreamfeeds (breastfeeding while baby is asleep), you do a dream feed one hour before baby usually wakes up and feed for their usual amount first night and decrease [the] length of dreamfeeds by 1 minute per night (or whatever interval works best for you) until baby is weaned. I did this between 5-6 months.”

–Sarah Schultz, mom of two boys, Nurse Loves Farmer

{ MORE: PSA: You Might be Poisoning Your Child with that Humidifier }

sleeping baby
Image via iStock

“[My daugther] did it on her own around six weeks. Both my kids slept through the night around that time.”

— Krista Ulyansky, mom of two and blogger at Army Wife Style

becky
Image via Becky McCoy

“Caleb started sleeping through the night and wasn't interested in eating at night pretty early on. I think he ate between 9:00 and 10:00 p.m. and then between 5:00 and 6:00 a.m.”

— Becky McCoy, Our Life IN Four Bags

toddler nap
Image via iStock

“It came through him sleeping through the night. Nap nursing I just stopped because he was full from eating lunch. Some days he takes a bit to fall asleep. We are only nursing before bed now.”

Melissa Dell

{ MORE: Does Baby-Led Weaning Increase Your Child's Chance of Choking? }

When – and how – did you your little one night wean?

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Stories from Moms: How I Night Weaned My Baby

Mindi is a working mom with three boys ages 4, 2, and an infant (born June 2013). She spent her first 8 years of her career in Speech-Language Pathology at a Children's Hospital. She currently works with adults and children in home health. The real fun for her happens when she is at home with her boys, chasing them around and pretending to be a super hero. She blogs about life as a working mom at Simply Stavish. Her weekly feature, Words in the Sand, teaches parents how to grow their child's s ... More

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2 comments

  1. Profile photo of JoyRied JoyRied says:

    I night weened my son at 15 months. I didn’t want to, but my husband thought it was time. One day I got so sick I was unable to nurse during the middle of the night. So My husband patted him back to sleep whenever he woke up. After that we just stuck with the same routine. It took about a week before he stopped constantly getting up in the night. I still nurse him before nap times to get him to sleep and only recently stopped nursing him right before bed. How? Just have the hubby put him through the nighttime routine.

  2. Profile photo of Theresa Theresa says:

    These are some pretty good tips. My baby is 17 months now and I really really want to stop breastfeeding especially at night. I’ll have to try to just let her cry.. or soothe her some other way..

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