Night weaning from nursing — The Bump
January 2016 Moms

Night weaning from nursing

My LO has been consistently nursing 0-1 times/night for a while now, but it's generally once (he only occasionally sleeps all the way through). I've been fine with that because I am not working and often like the nighttime snuggles.

For a variety of reasons, I'm ready to help him drop that nighttime feed. He still nurses plenty during the day (5x), eats a ton of solids, and is growing great in the 70th-80th percentiles for height and weight. 

When I wanted to get down to one nighttime feed I simply stopped going in before 1 a.m. if he woke up. It took two or three nights but he figured it out and almost never wakes before one anymore. But going to zero seems trickier. 

My question is, how did those of you who are nursing handle night weaning? Did you just not go in when LO woke for a feeding? Did you go in and comfort but not pick up? Pick up but not feed? Send DH in your place? I would really appreciate hearing what you have done, pros/cons, etc. 

Re: Night weaning from nursing

  • I'm in the same boat over here! I've weaned her completely but use nursing as our 3 am crutch. I'm ready to be done but how? Just let her CIO like I did before to get down to 1 night feed? Ugh!!!
    mamadcb
  • I weaned my eldest naturally over time. Meaning I let her drop feeds herself over a long period of time. When the baby is big enough to sleep through the night it will. A hard sell on a gentle approach but, it's true. Night weaning is a highly debated subject, I feel. My dd eventually slept though the night around 18m. Be mindfull of growth spurts and teething it might set you back. Nursing at night right now keeps your milk supply up for that mess. But, Then you'll find after baby starts sttn, the day time nursing will start to decrease too. Like, just when baby wakes and then for nap and to sleep. Then that will go on for a while. Not offering to nurse but not refusing. Then it will be just at night before bed. And by that time age 2-3 you can say let's just snuggle and or sing or give them a massage and they'll understand because they are older and they'll fall asleep without nursing. And a few weeks later you realize it's been  while since they've asked to nurse and it will be over. "Tears"  I just want offer you encouragement, my like guy was sleeping through the night until he had the flu last week. And now we are back on 1am and 3am nursing schedule. I'm a sahm too, and sleep deprivation it it's own special kind of torture, lol. But you can do it!  Dr. Sears has some wonderful articles on how to night wean in an expedited way that's also gentle "no cio" if your definitely on your straw. 
  • My LO sometimes slept through the night, but then got used to waking up at least once and usually needed to nurse to go back down.  I stopped nursing during the day and would nurse just once in the middle of the night, but wanted to encourage her to sleep through without a nursing.  When she woke up I offered her water before nursing.  She took a bit of water then nursed a bit then went back to sleep.  I did that a couple nights in a row and that seems to have worked to stop the night feeding / waking (fingers crossed).  I didn't want to do CIO as it seemed it would have been disruptive as when baby would wake and I would nurse she would go straight back to sleep, and thus be awake 3 mins max.  I felt letting her cry would just make that middle of the night wake time much harder for all involved...  Good luck !
  • mamadcbmamadcb member
    500 Love Its 1000 Comments Third Anniversary Photogenic
    edited January 2017
    @Hipshaker I appreciate the encouragement. That has been my approach to nursing all along and will continue to be during the day, but we are expecting our second in July. Not only am I more tired than usual due to the pregnancy but I also just can't be up with two different babies in the same night. This LO has a lot of transitions coming up (new room, molars, new baby) and I can't wait until they've all past to start. 

    @juliaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa The water idea is interesting! I may give that a try. 
  • Mine weaned herself from nursing at 6-7 months. Completely refused to nurse at her usual 5am feed. She continued to wake up at 5 because she was so used to waking up at that time. Just patted her back without picking up, had white noise on,...anything to encourage her to sleep..took less than a week, and "the kitchen" was closed for good...she sleeps through the night unless she has growth spurts or leaps. Baby's  deep sleep cycle ends around 4-6am, they don't know how to transition to light sleep cycle after that time. They need to nurse to go to help them transition. He is not hungry. You have to "sleep train" them to learn to transition. That's why this early morning feed is the hardest feed to drop before 18 months when their sleep matures. Good luck.
  • @mamadcb that's awesome! Congratulations! Good gracious I know your tired then. I also nursed while pregnant. My dd weaned herself when I was six months pregnant. My supply had dwindled low suddenly. I never dried up completely though, which was a comfort in a way. I knew that my supply would be up and going day of delivery since the factory never completely shut down. I always wanted to tandem nurse for "sibling bonding" and what not, but dd is was no longer intrigued with being a baby. Your baby could be night waking in response to lowered supply, night nursing is a catalyst for boosting supply. Maybe if your supply dips baby will realize and accept comfort when night waking. Good luck!
  • We sent DH in with water when we were going from 3 down to one wake up.  We're going to do the same with the 3 am wake up over presidents day weekend.  I'm working full time and haven't slept through the night in over a year.  I'm a mess and so ready to be done.
  • edited February 2017
    We dropped the night feeding at 9 months by sending DH instead. LO seemed ready for it and once we did he finally started sleeping through the night. He also nurses much better in the morning and wasnt as distracted. It was much smoother than I expected- 1-3 nights where he woke at normal feeding time but DH was able to get him back down. A few weeks later he seemed to go through a cycle what he was expecting a feeding again but that passed in 1-3 nights again. 

    ETA: whoops, new phone, logged into the wrong account-should be under SDaniels19 
  • @SDaniels19 Did DH offer water or anything? Do you know if he picked him up? I'm sure my DH would be happy to help (on a weekend!) so I'd like to have a good plan in place. 
  • I'm wondering the same!!! Graham is still nursing 0-1 times a night anywhere between 4 & 6. I'm thinking of trying a bottle of water this weekend
    mamadcb
  • @mamadcb he did not offer water or anything else. I believe he would try to just give paci and rub his back if possible but otherwise he would pick him up. We generally try to wait 5 minutes before going in, provided he's just fussing and not totally losing it, and sometimes he would get himself back down (we did a modified CIO this way around six months). Good luck! :smile:
    mamadcb
  • We did the water trick this weekend and it worked!! 2 nights of my husband going in and Graham is finally sleeping through the night! Fingers crossed it isn't a fluke!
    SDaniels19
  • mestokes said:
    We did the water trick this weekend and it worked!! 2 nights of my husband going in and Graham is finally sleeping through the night! Fingers crossed it isn't a fluke!
    Congrats! Enjoy that uninterrupted sleep....
    mestokes
  • I was all set to start with water this weekend but all of a sudden he's sleeping through without it! Four of the last five nights. We could always slip back into one wakeup but I'm pretty pleased at this point. 
    mestokesSDaniels19
  • Yay! My LO also randomly started to sleep through the night!!! Not every night... It's about 50/50. It gives me hope that it'll be consistent soon though! Sleeping for that long at a time feels amazing. 
    mamadcbmestokes
  • Yay, great to see things are going well for you ladies! :smile: I think the hardest thing for me whenever we decide to have #2 will be gearing myself up for the lack of sleep again.. but I'll cross that bridge when we get there!
  • Yay, great to see things are going well for you ladies! :smile: I think the hardest thing for me whenever we decide to have #2 will be gearing myself up for the lack of sleep again.. but I'll cross that bridge when we get there!
    I'm with you there. I don't know how I can take sleep deprivation again. 
  • Maybe you ladies can help, because I am at a total loss right now and extremely exhausted. LO usually sleeps through with one wake up during the night usually between 4-6 (has been for several months). Not a big deal, but we are starting to think about adding another baby to the family and I do not want to be nursing two at the same time. LO eats plenty of solids, and gets coconut milk during the day as he has a dairy allergy. I started out with cutting out our AM feeds and it's been going great. He has no interest in nursing in the morning. He gets one feed when he wakes up from his afternoon nap as he is a total crank and can't seem to settle without it (nap time is a whole different animal, it will take up to 30 minutes of whining in his crib for him to go to sleep even when he's exhausted). Now my problem seems to be that the past few nights since cutting that morning feed out he has been waking up at 10, 2:20, anid 3:30 (it's like clockwork ladies). I have tried sending DH in to settle him, but it just turns into a screaming crying nightmare and he won't settle back down and go back to bed. We did a controlled crying sleep training when he was 8 months and it worked (DH was deployed at the time and I had to do it on my own). I guess we are going to have to go back to this? LO usually is awake for less than 10 minutes at these wake ups which leads me to believe that it's out of habit and inability to settle rather than actually needing to eat. LO doesn't take a pacifier (never has), and we keep several comfort items in his crib, which he promptly chucks out anytime he goes in his crib. Any advice welcome! We are going to try sending in DH with water this weekend, but I am at my wits end and soooooo ready to be done breastfeeding. I'm done being a human pacifier (which is really all I am at this point as my supply has dropped significantly as LO gets older). I should also add that I am a very tiny person (5'3" 110 sopping wet) and it is getting extremely hard and tiring to nurse LO the bigger he gets, so it's time to get this done.
  • @Cricket99 I haven't been through exactly that but have two thoughts: 

    1. I normally spend all day with LO. One particular Sunday we drove for several hours (I was driving and DH was in the back seat with him) and then I spent all afternoon at a bridal shower. He went to bed early that night, so I hardly saw him all day. That night he woke up inconsolable. He didn't even want to nurse-- just wanted to be held. That happened one other time too. Maybe it was something else, but my suspicion was just that he needed some Mama time. Could that be the case with yours? It would explain why Dad going in would not help at all. I realize they're not great snugglers at this age but I wonder if you could try to replace the morning nursing with some form of cuddle time and if it would help. Just a thought? 

    2. As to sleep training: A few months ago LO had gotten into a good 1-wakeup routine also, then started waking two or three times for no apparent reason. I knew like you do that he was as getting plenty of solids and wasn't waking out of hunger but out of habit. I opted to set a time before which I would not go in to him. For me it was 1:30 a.m. And basically, yes, we had to do sleep training for a few nights before he figured it out. It only took two or three nights but it was hard. You know you can all be back to sleep so much sooner if you go in! But ultimately it was worth it. 

    I think in your shoes I would try some daytime modifications and, of that doesn't work, go back to sleep training. Good luck!!
  • @mamadcb I'm a stay at home mom so he definitely gets a lot of mommy snuggle time. I think we are going to have to go back to sleep training. I'm going to try sending DH in this weekend and do some controlled crying. If that doesn't work I may set a time like you did. I'm expecting a rough few nights.
    mamadcb
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