During your early days as a mother, you may be assailed by doubts concerning when to start night weaning.
After birth, you'll find yourself dealing with night feeds, which we've heard about so many times and seen portrayed in many films and books. Well, if you have been wondering if it is going to happen to you, don't waste more time thinking about it, because the answer is 'yes'. During the first months of their life, babies can't take much food at a time, and their stomachs need to be filled every two or three hours to prevent hypoglycaemia, that's it, when the sugar levels drop to below normal levels. As a result, you may have to provide him between 8 to 12 intakes a day and that, of course, will cover the night-time as well.
How long are you going to be spending night after night without sleeping? Your child may dictate that, but you can also speed the process by following different steps. Do you want to know them? Then don't miss the following lines.
When should I start night weaning?
Doctors don't recommend stopping night feeds until your munchkin is between four to six months old. By then, most babies are able to increase their intakes, which can keep them content for longer, even up to six or seven hours. However, those babies who are used to eating a few times during night-time may still wake up asking for it despite not needing it, but out of habit. In general, bottle-fed babies usually start dropping night feeds spontaneously, while the breastfed ones take longer. This happens because formula is more filling than breast milk.
However, if you can handle nursing your child at night and it doesn't cause any impact on your routine, especially once you are back to work, you can put off night weaning or let your child 'quit' on his own.
Night weaning: Let’s call it a night
Night weaning isn't a one-night experience. It may take you weeks, if not months, to succeed in having your child sleep through the night without disrupting yours in the process. That's why we want to offer you some practical tips that you can try to make it easier:
- Do it gradually: take night weaning slowly, cutting down little by little on the amount of milk your child gets either by giving him a shorter time on each breast or reducing the milk in his bottle. Do it gradually for over two weeks until the feeding is almost non-existent, which could make your baby stop asking for it.
- 'Play' with the clock: a very useful trick is to delay the last feeding before bedtime and do the contrary with the first intake in the daytime, in other words, move it forward. That way, it'll take longer for your child to get hungry and, as a result, to wake up in the middle of the night.
- Keeping him focused: when babies grow up a little bit, they tend to get distracted and be more active during the day, which can make them refuse to take 'eating breaks'. Of course, that usually leads to extra feedings at night, so try to keep your child focused and settled by placing him in a quiet room or giving him a baby massage.
- Dad's taking over: Let Dad step up once you have started night weaning, especially if you are breastfeeding. After all, your baby associates you with food, as he can smell your milk, if you are not there to settle him, he'll be less likely to get gluttonous once again.
If you are stressed and tired of feeding your baby at night, you may be tempted to call it off all of a sudden, which isn't a good idea. Even if your paediatrician tells you that your baby is ready to achieve this milestone, you need to give him time to complete the process. If, for instance, you are going through remarkable changes in your life, wait until things feel better and you are more settled in.
Well, as you can see, night weaning requires some patience, and that may be tough after not getting much sleep for many months. Just remember that the first trimester after birth may be especially hard, but once you are past it, your baby will start making progress. So hang in there, mum!