If you're like me, you have a love-hate relationship with those middle of the night feeds. Dragging yourself out of bed at 3am when you are utterly exhausted and all you desperately want is to sleep. But, at the same time there is something so special about those quiet, warm, snuggly 3am feeds.
Making the decision to night wean is very personal and should depend on the needs of mother and baby. There is no right or wrong way to go about it.
Most babies under 6 months still require a night feed, so unless baby is dropping night feeds on their own, I don't encourage night weaning before then.
After 6 months it is very individual as to when you and your baby will be ready to night wean. There are many factors to consider.
So, don't feel pressured just because your friend's babies are sleeping through the night without feeding. If you are still secretly enjoying those sweet, private, bonding moments and it's not a problem for you, then there's no point trying to change something you are not 100% committed to.
If you feel you are ready to night wean, here are some signs to look out for to see if your baby is ready as well;
Your baby is 6 months or older.
Your baby is thriving in their overall growth.
Your baby feeds well during the day having 4-6 good breastfeeds or bottles.
Your baby has started solids and having 1-2 meals a day including protein.
Your baby is not hungry when they wake in the morning, so not having a full feed at 7am.
Your baby occasionally sleeps through the night without a feed.
Your baby can self-settle and re-settle back to sleep.
You do not need to be able to tick all these boxes before night weaning, they are just a guide of indicators that your baby may be ready. This might be at 6 months, or twelve months, every baby is different so try not to compare your baby to others.
How do you night wean?
This depends on the age of your baby, how often they are feeding overnight and whether they are breast or bottle fed.
There are a few options;
Gradually reducing the number of feeds over night by re-settling instead
Gradually reducing the volume of the bottle or the time at the breast then resettling if they continue to wake.
If your baby is only having one feed, then you can try cutting the feed cold turkey and resettling instead.
It’s important to note that if your little one is breastfeeding multiple times a night that you will want to wean slowly to reduce the risk of developing mastitis.
The trick can be finding a strategy that works for you and your baby. Working on settling at night without a feed can be exhausting as they will likely take longer to settle in the beginning. Be careful not to start introducing new sleep props like rocking or holding to sleep to speed up the process.