New parents are tired, always. As a breastfeeding mother, you may be finding the exhaustion even more of a struggle. After all, you’re likely to be the one awake with a hungry baby at 3am. Your baby probably goes through periods of frequent night wakings, and during these phases, you’re likely to feel like a zombie. It’s no wonder that so many parents are attracted to the idea of night weaning. When you start feeling bone-achingly sleep-deprived, you’ll probably be willing to do absolutely anything to get just a few more hours of sleep each night. Here are five tips to help you get to grips with night weaning:
- Set realistic expectations
I know, you wanted a baby who would sleep through from day 1 and that is certainly not what you got. It’s important to remember, however, that young babies aren’t really designed to sleep through the night. In fact, there are plenty of benefits to night feeds, though it may not seem that way at 2am. As your baby grows older, however, he may be ready to sleep for longer stretches during the night. Don’t forget, though, night weaning doesn’t necessarily guarantee that your child will wake less frequently, it just means you won’t be able to boob her back to sleep if she does wake.
- Be gentle
Night weaning doesn’t need to be a difficult transition for your baby, there are ways to stop night feeds without your child becoming upset. To achieve this, you’ll need to take your time and tread gently. Follow your child’s cues and look out for signs that things are moving too quickly for her.
- Provide other sleep cues
To prepare your child for night weaning, you’ll need to create other cues to help your child fall asleep each night. This could be a piece of music played softly in the background or the presence of a particular toy or comforter. You’ll need to introduce it at bedtime for a month or so before you plan to start night weaning. This will help your child associate the new cue with sleep, so that when you stop breastfeeding, your child will still have a sleep aid at her disposal. After four weeks, you can try guiding your child back to sleep with the sleep aid instead of the breast.
- Keep feeding in the day
Keep breastfeeding on demand during the day, this will help to ensure your child continues to get enough breast milk. You may find that your baby wants to feed more often during the day when you begin night weaning, this is normal and should settle down as your child adjusts to the change.
- Expect setbacks
This is one thing parents always have to be prepared for. No matter what stage your child is at, there will always be moments of regression. Regression is a normal part of child development. If your child is feeling unwell or about to take a huge developmental leap, you may find that the night wakings increase. Unfortunately, this is something you can’t avoid. These regressions won’t last forever, though. In just a couple of days or weeks, your child will be back to her usual self and you’ll be able to get some sleep again.
Are you thinking of night weaning your baby?
Written by Fiona (@Fiona_Peacock), mother, writer and lover of all things baby related.
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2016. All rights reserved.