Night weaning can be intimidating for many parents. We thrive on making sure our children are nurtured and provided for, and weaning marks the beginning of having to put up boundaries and deny your little one something she wants. However, nighttime weaning does not have to be a scary and painful process. There are many tips and tricks that you can implement for loving, gentle night weaning. Here are 10 of our favorites:
1. One Transition at a Time: If you just started back at your job or switched up the feeding schedule, now is not the time to start night weaning. Babies and toddlers can usually only handle one big transition at a time, so start night weaning when everything is reasonably calm.
2. Bountiful Feedings During the Day: It’s time to crank up those feedings! Even if your baby or toddler isn’t asking for it, offer them feedings on a regular basis during the day.
3. Extra Evening Feedings: Try to get in an extra feeding in right before your baby sleeps or awaken her for a feeding right before you go to sleep. This way you go to sleep when she has a full tummy and you’ll hopefully squeeze in a little extra nap time before she wakes.
4. Cut the Caffeine After 3 PM: Caffeine and sugar can be transferred to your breast milk, and should be avoided after 3 PM.
5. Communicate: Whether or not your baby is old enough to understand, it’s important that you communicate what’s going on. If you’re playing the waiting game (see #6) or at ‘no milkies’ (see #7), let your child know. Explain in a calm and loving voice so that they feel secure.
6. The Waiting Game: A common technique is to play the waiting game. Communicate to your baby or toddler that she needs to wait a little bit to be fed. Sometimes babies will fall asleep before the wait is up, and other times they will stick it out, at which point you feed them.
7. No Milkies: This is when you draw a hard-line and communicate that there will be no feeding until the sun comes up. Don’t forget to continue tip #9, and it’s important to not give in, which can confuse your child.
8. Increase Partner Involvement: If you’re in the ‘no milkies’ phase, have your partner come in and console your little one. You can also try having them fall asleep in a carrier and then gently transfer the carrier to your partner. This way your baby begins to associate comfort and nighttime with the partner and not your nipple.
9. Don’t Stop Consoling: You’re denying your little one milk, but that doesn’t mean you’re denying her your love. Keep comforting and providing your love to get her back to sleep.
10. When to Throw in the Towel (For Now…): You’ve tried all these weaning tips and more for the past two weeks and your baby is still inconsolable and no less interested in the breast. It’s time to throw in the towel and accept that now is just not the right time. Give it a few months and then try again (remember, it will eventually happen!).
What are your tips for gentle night weaning?
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