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Any tips for toddler night weaning?(43 Posts)
DD is 27 months and still breastfeeding last thing at night (but not to sleep, she goes in her cot awake) and when she wakes in the night. A good night is one wake up, a quick feed and back into cot but most nights I’m up with her for an hour as she feeds and faffs and wants more. I’m not totally convinced night weaning will stop her waking though and wonder if I’m shooting myself in the foot by taking away a method of getting her back to sleep. But it’s starting to do my head in- I think it’s almost waking her up more than is necessary. Any tips? DH can’t settle her at night anymore- she used to nod back off for him a dream but now she screams for me and milk. She never feeds in the day any more and I’m happy to keep the before bed feed. We do often talk about how mummy’s milk is running out so we save it for bedtime and I leave her a cup of water in her cot. But as soon as she wakes she just demands milk and gets hysterical!
She’s nearly 2 and a half. She really, seriously does not need food or drink during the night and hasn’t for probably a year or so. If your up for an hour during the night each night you must be exhausted- how are you managing to go to work and function?
It’s most likely she’s just in a habit of waking and wanting your company/warmth etc but as soon as you start just offering a cup of water (no pick-ups, no cuddles, no boob, no milk) she’ll quickly break the bad habit and learn to sleep better and more independently. You might initially feel a bit uncomfortable going cold turkey but look on it as a parenting duty to help her learn how to sleep properly and self-soothe in night.
She’ll be starting pre-School in a few months and will really struggle if she’s exhausted by day from being awake breastfeeding through the night.
Jusr for context: at the same age as you DD my two DC’s were already sleeping in ‘big beds’ (with a bed guard on side) and had been sleeping solidly through the night for a full year by then. No milk, no water, no boob etc. We dispensed with all bottles/teats/breastfeeding by the time they were 1, and just used sippy cups of cows milk from then on. Proper bedtime routine, bedtime story etc at 7pm, into bed, sleep through until they got up for breakfast.
At age 2-plus they’re really not babies and don’t need teats, boobs, night-cuddles, cots etc.
Is this your first DC?
I night-weaned about 15m, it took about a week or so, and I made the feeds I was prepared to five later and later. So, if he woke after midnight, I wouldn’t feed until 2am, then 3am etc. I made a kind of feed-exclusion zone.
He still woke, of course, so we brought him into bed for cuddles, but no milk. He cried a tiny bit - but no longer than a couple of minutes, and then went back to sleep. I took this as indication that he really wasn’t waking because he was so hungry.
He still woke in the night for a while after, but settled quickly by just coming and sleeping with us. Much less of a disruption to a night’s sleep.
Perhaps your daughter will be old enough to understand why you’re saying not at night. Good luck!
Xmasguilt, I think you’ve probably given the OP enough there. The ‘is this your first?’ is pretty condescending isn’t it?
There’s no problem with children breastfeeding after two, during the day or night. You did things differently, but there isn’t a cut-off - and babies aren’t the only ones who might like a cuddle at night. Well done you for having sleeping children, but we’re not all the same (and neither are our non-sleeping children).
I might weaned about 16 months I think. At that point she was mostly sleeping through and rarely woke for it. I just started offering a bottle of water but at your toddlers age, a cup would be fine. Just say no milk and stick to it. She'll kick off the first night or do but they are very flexible. I suspect once she gets the message about the milk the sleeping will improve too.
Thanks for the support Callamia.
I posted in breastfeeding because I was looking for advice from parents in similar situations, not a lecture on how my child doesn’t need to be breastfed anymore, or a load of assumptions on whether I go to work or how tied I am or when my daughter will be going to preschool (?!). The ‘is this your first’ comment is particuarly choice too, thanks for that.
So, any otero extend breast feeders out there? TIA.
It did make me laugh a little bit. Stop comforting your child woman!
@xmasguilt I'm a single parent breastfeeding 15mo DS through the night, and hold down a full time, demanding senior role in an arts organisation
Functioning I'd say well above average, thanks.
@nymeria - good luck whatever you do- watching with interest for when the day comes....
Would You be able to leave DH to settle her? I know you said she won't settle for him anymore but if you leave him to it even if she is getting very worked up she'll give in at some point. It won't be fun for any of you (especially DH who will be the one getting shouted at) but it'd probably be only a couple if nights. This is what we did when I was ready to drop night feeds sent DH to settle them with a sippy cup of water and I just stayed in our room
desperately trying not to go and interfere
It was a tough few nights but all three of them soon got it and stopped waking at all in the night.
I am still feeding 27 month old too and just started trying to night wean yesterday! She only feeds at night, none during the day. She was still sleeping in our bed and feeding several times a night so enough is enough!
She is now in her own bed (where she starts off every night) and we are trying Dr Jay Gordon’s method i.e no feeding between 11pm and 6 am.... though the last two nights she has had a small feed around 2am and I’ve tried to ‘cuddle’ her back to sleep. The first night she was awake for hours as she couldn’t self-settle but last night it took less time. I will aim to cut this 2am feed out completely over the next few nights...
We’ve also been talking to her about ‘no more feeds’ as she’s a ‘big girl’ but not sure if that is sinking in! It’s not easy as I would hate for her to be too upset....
I’m taking everyone’s tips on board, thank you!
That’s not a bad plan... I keep telling DH that me going in and saying no is a bit like him wanting a mars bar and me having one in my pocket and saying he can’t have it?! Much easier if the boobs aren’t even an option. But he’d have to steel himself...
I night weaned my almost two year old about two weeks ago. She was waking between one (very rare) and five (argh!) times a night for a breastfeed. I'd just completely had enough! She also fed a lot in the day. We'd tried to night wean/cut back feeding several times before, but had always slipped back, so DH and I made a pact that we'd cut her back to three feeds a day (morning, bedtime but not feed to sleep, and nap time, when i feed her to sleep [although she does go to sleep fine without milk for everyone but me!]) and be consistent!
So when she woke up, instead of me feeding her, DH went in to settle her. The first night she woke up about 1am and DH spent two hours settling her. Then she was up again at 4am, he tried for two hours but she wasn't going back to sleep, so we all got up at 6. The second night was slightly better, about an hour to settle her twice, the third night she woke once and was quickly settled, then the fourth night she slept through! I was amazed but the first couple of nights were HARD. If this had been a few months ago then i would have caved and fed her, but i was so desperate to stop the night feeds. She was doing my head in with it and i was getting an aversion to feeding.
Most nights since she has slept through, and when she has woken up DH has been able to stroke her or hold her hand and she goes straight back to sleep. I never thought this would be possible after the first night.
We have an added complication in that she is profoundly deaf and doesn't wear her hearing aids at night, so we'd always wanted to go a gentle night weaning method. She did cry a lot, but she was with and comforted by DH the whole time. I don't know what will happen during illness or teething, but so far so good...!
I night weaned at 2yr10m. It was just one wake up usually. I just went cold-turkey, he wasn't upset weirdly, just kept asking over and over . I stopped all feeds though, with a newborn, terrible latch and bad nursing aversion I just couldn't do it anymore. He was old enough to understand I think, I just repeated it was too sore and they were sleeping. He slept through about a week after I stopped.
Well done on feeding thus far!
My LO is 3.5 and this time last year was still waking for milk/comfort/feeds every 20-90 minutes.
His sleep started to improve in Jan so i though I would try to take advantage of this and reduce night feeds too.
I bought a couple of toddler night weaning story books. 'Sally weans from night nursing' it great!
We started reading it most nights for a few weeks before we started the process.
We followed (roughly) the Jay Gordons night weaning method and started off with feeding to sleep on the sofa as usual in the evenings, then I would resist until after midnight. Lots of quiet talking about sleeping close (heads on same pillow) and rubbing his back till he tally asleep like Sally.
It worked pretty well. He did protest a little, but was not distressed, just a bit cross with me.
I won't lie, it has been a LO g process with some set backs due to illness etc,but he now sleeps mostly ftom evening till about 5.00.
We still cosleep, and if he does wake I can settle him without milk 99% of the time till he knows it is morning.
Odd mornings he does not have milk before we get up. Often he has milk and another little sleep.
Just to add, then when I had even mentioned 'milk being asleep' or anything similar he had gone in to full panic mode. He simply was not ready.
He has always been a milk monster
We did cold turkey with DD when she was around 22 months. I went away for a night with the girls and DH soothed her when she woke (she was in her own bed by then). That was it. Afterwards, I suffered hardly any engorgement, which proved it was purely a comfort habit and she was not taking much milk....
I'm so glad to hear that people have had success with the jay Gordon method. I'm working myself up to try it, eventually, with my 22 mo milk monster. Not quite ready yet, I figure eventually I'll just have had enough and that will give me the impetus to see it through!
Clearly there is nothing unusual about a small child wanting comfort in the night, same as in the day. Breastmilk is much more than food and drink and your child will eventually sleep through the night without it. Eventually.
I have a teenager as well as a toddler so I am well qualified to say it's not only first time mums who struggle with lack of sleep and night parenting. I know it's cold comfort now but it does end!!
I did lots of 'working up to' Jay Gordon's.
Read it frequently for about year, then decided I would just go to sleep
Yeah I pretty much have it memorised by now
Crikey. I apologise for causing offence. I saw this thread pop up in my ‘active threads’ and saw the OP hadn’t yet had any advice, so I just clicked and gave my honest opinion and advice, seeking to provide an alternative perspective.
In my own opinion I don’t think of 27month-old children as being aged in terms of ‘months’, I think of them in terms of years. And now both my kids are older I can see that with my first I mistakenly assumed he was still a baby when in fact he was more than old enough to do certain ‘older child’ things. Second time around I had more experience of older kids and had a bit more perspective around what children can do at what stages, and I realised that some of my toddlers’ ‘needs’ weren’t really needs but were more about my perception of them, if that makes sense? That’s the only reason I asked OP if it is her first child (I genuinely wanted to know if that’s the case, for context).
I honestly didn’t intend to be condescending or to get a flaming .
OP- I’m very sorry I upset you with my own perspective and by offering advice based on my own parenting experience.
I’ve remembered why I learnt to stay away from the hot topic feeding threads, but they still pop up on my ‘active’ threads, so I think it’d be prudent for me to hide these threads in future, now that my own parenting stage has moved-on past the highly-emotive feeding/weaning/AP/CC debating stage.
OP I wish you good luck and hope you get advice on here which is more to your taste.
I fed ds1 including many night feeds until he was 35 months old.
To stop, I just said no milk and put a dummy in. I did this for a week with each feed until I stopped completely.
What also worked was changing the evening and morning routines, eg, instead of a morning feed we got straight up and instead of bedtime feed we did story and cup of milk in bed.
Thank you for your apology and good wishes XmasGuilt for me the issue is that you weren’t so much offering advice as saying that your children just slept through from 12 months. This is the last thing people want to hear when their child doesn’t sleep! Also you made a lot of assumptions about my life which I really didn’t appreciate!
Thank you to everyone who is sharing their experiences of night weaning it’s so helpful.
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