Responsive Night Weaning: When, Why and How!

baby sleep feeding to sleep night weaning sleep consultant toddler sleep Dec 07, 2023

Are you ready? 

There are so many reasons why you may want to reduce night feeds, but this is a really big change for the whole family, so the first step is knowing your WHY, and being confident that this is the right thing at the right time for your family - we absolutely do not want to wean back milk feeds until you truly do feel ready for the change.

Is it right for you? 

  • You are struggling with the number of night feeds and feel confident you want to reduce them
  • You have considered how you feel and its the right change for your baby and your family
  • Your baby is an appropriate age for reducing feeds and you feel confident they are ready for the change - you may seeing signs of this in the day

Let’s pause: 

  • You are only considering this because of baby's age
  • The change has been driven from outside pressure - options of friends etc
  • You feel this is all you need to do in order to ‘improve night sleep’
  • You feel really uncomfortable at the thought of resettling without feeds overnight

Time it well 

Reducing night feeds is a really big shift so it is really important to time this change well.

It can be really helpful to ensure you are in a good, well regulated place yourself and you feel really good about supporting your baby through the change.

It can also really help to make sure there aren't any other big changes going on for baby like starting day care, welcoming a new sibling or moving hours.

Remember, its okay for this to be the right change but not the right time and its more than okay to pause on this to come back and revisit later!

Layer, layer, layer! 

We can expect tears

When we remove a feed we are taking away the quickest and easiest settling tool we have & baby’s fave form of comfort. We can expect them to have an emotional response to this change, this is normal - remember, tears in and of themselves are not bad (check out my crying highlight on Instagram HERE!)

You will need to be comfortable supporting your baby and their emotions through this change - we are changing the comfort but not taking the comfort away (this is why knowing your 'why' is really important)

The feeding relationship is about both you and your baby. Its okay for you to need to make this change, BUT it is so normal for your baby to have an emotional reaction - supporting the emotions and co-regulating is key.

How to support daytime feeds

We are going to be removing calories at night time, so thinking about tools to optimize daytime feeds is important:

  • Thinking about the times your baby feeds best and aiming for this - there is nothing wrong with feeding before the nap and you don’t need to stop feeding to sleep to reduce night feeds
  • Feeding on demand during the day, but making sure the gap isn’t too big!
  • Creating a designated feeding space, free from distractions - darkened room, calming music, door closed etc
  • Reaching out for support from an IBCLC, which I would always recommend especially if you are night weaning completely.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint! 

Remember this is a big change for both you and your baby. Weaning doesn't always mean dropping all milk feeds and night feeds are more than just nutrition!

Feeds can represent ways for your baby to seek comfort and connection. It’s also completely normal for your baby to need milk feeds overnight even when they’re on established solids.

With that in mind, remember that this is a journey and it can take several weeks to get to your goal, that is more than okay!

Hope this helps! 

Claire xo 

Need more help? 

Do you need tailored 1:1 support with night weaning or another sleep struggle? 1:1 Consultations (Worldwide!): HERE

The Gentle Sleep Coach Membership: HERE 

Age Specific On-Demand Sleep Guides: HERE

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