Oh, night weaning.
Not the most fun motherhood adventure, but definitely not the worst either.
Over the years I’ve night weaned all three of my little ones. All at different ages for different reasons, but nonetheless, we’ve survived the transition and gone on to continue nursing during the daylight hours.
It takes some commitment (definitely don’t sway back and forth once you start, that’s confusing for everyone!), but with most nurslings it seems to take 1-2 weeks for a new routine to take hold.
Here’s 5 tips to get you and your baby or toddler successfully wean at nighttime!
1. Have a Conversation — Babies are smart! I’m always amazed at all they can soak in and understand despite their limited response. Before you begin nighttime weaning I suggest having a simple conversation with your little one. Explain that mama milk is going bye bye, but only when it is dark. Say that you’ll still be close to snuggle and take care of them. Tell them it’s ok to be sad. Remind them at bedtime nursing that this is the last milk until morning. Repeat this conversation each night in various ways with familiar words so it clicks. They might not be happy, but at least it won’t be a total surprise.
2. Read “Nursies When the Sun Shines“ — This book is the absolute sweetest and reinforces the idea of breastfeeding being for the day, or, when the sun shines. It has such a loving tone and beautiful illustrations. Highly recommend!
3. Wear a Crew Neck Tee — We often cosleep and when my kids were used to nursing at night they were all about easily accessing mama. When it came time to cut out nighttime milk I started wearing a high neck tee or sweatshirt to bed instead of a nursing tank as a physical deterrent. It was frustrating for them in the beginning, but I’d verbally reassure them that “milk is sleeping, we can snuggle now and wake up milk in the morning”.
4. Hand Off Nighttime to Dad — One of my children was more persistent than the others. After a few nights of being pretty vocal about his disdain for nighttime weaning, my husband and I decided that it would be best for me to move to the guest room for a few nights while he handled our son’s nighttime needs.
5. Find an Alternative — If we were used to having one thing of comfort for our entire lives it would be quite the rude awakening for it to disappear without much reason. We would need an alternative form of comfort and so will our little ones. Decide what you want to offer when they verbally or physically ask for milk. We’ve used sippy cups of water, special blankets, calming music, and a stuffed animal.
If you’re in the season of nighttime weaning, most of all, give yourself and your nursing grace. It’s not an easy transition for anyone!