Stories from Moms: How I Night Weaned My Baby
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.
“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.
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“[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
“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
“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.”
When – and how – did you your little one night wean?