How to wean your child off of night feedings
Night weaning your child can easily be classified as one of the finer moments a parent has in their life. Read more on how to wean your child off of night feedings and find out how to get a much needed, solid night's sleep after a long gap!
You love your baby and no one doubts that. But you’d give anything up for a solid night’s sleep, wouldn’t you? 'Fess up'…it’s okay. Weaning your baby from night feedings is one of the more finer moments that a parents has, and one of the most anticipated too.
When should you night wean your baby
While there is no magic number, a baby between the age of 4 to 6 months should be able to make it through the night without needing to eat. Did you get that? The operative word there was ‘needing’. Night weaning is more about breaking habits than it is about decreasing food intake. Babies, just like adults, get into habits or patterns of behaviour. While some infants will naturally night wean themselves, others wake to eat out of a need to soothe themselves rather than fill their bellies.
How to night wean your baby
Night weaning is a lot like any other aspect of parenting in that what works for one child may not work for another. The key to successfully night weaning your baby, however, is to eliminate the ‘problem’ or the reason they wake up during the night.
Fill ‘em up
If your baby is taking a full or almost-full bottle during the night, offer an extra bottle or nursing session right before bedtime. Another popular choice is to night wean them with a snack of baby cereal or other solid food. This will keep them full until the morning.
Don’t soothe with food
When your baby wakes up in the night try weaning by not feeding them. Instead, gently massage their little forehead with your thumb or first two fingers. Massaging their foreheads in either a circular motion or across the length of their forehead is soothing and almost hypnotic. You can also rock your baby back to sleep but try not to remove your baby from the crib.
Let someone else do it
Babies most generally associate mum with feeding. So, if at all possible, have dad soothe your baby during the night weaning process.
Watch what you eat and drink
If you are nursing your baby, you need to double check your intake of caffeine (that includes soda and chocolate) and make sure you stop consuming it by 3 pm. Your baby eats what you eat and the effects of the caffeine are more intense in your little one.
Give them your scent
Night weaning is about providing your baby with the security they need to sleep through the night. You can do this by rubbing a bit of your body lotion on your baby’s blanket to give them your scent. Some mums hang the shirt they wore during the day on the outside of the crib.
Make the nursery a pleasant place to sleep
Make sure your baby’s room is dark, perfect temperature (not too warm, stuffy or cold), and is located in an area of the house where they won’t be disturbed by extra movement or activity.
Hang in there
Sometimes it comes down to a battle of wills. Don’t go rushing in at the first sound of fussing. Give your baby the chance to night wean him or herself. If the crying persists, go in, comfort, soothe and leave. You may have to repeat this several times for a few nights, but by extending the amount of time between going into the nursery each time, you will teach your baby that they can go without a feeding, so that everyone (including them) gets a good night’s sleep -- eventually.
Tell us if any of these tips helped you in night weaning your child! We'd love to hear from you
For more on night weaning, watch this video: