Planning to night wean - please share your experiences and advice with me

(194 Posts)
Dillybear Sun 11-Oct-20 11:34:50

Hello all! My DD is eight months old and I think we are both ready to night wean. I think she is ready because:

- her feeds are now 3-4 minutes long, and she is off and on during feeds quite a bit
- it used to feel like she was taking a lot of milk overnight but it doesn’t anymore. I have had issues with oversupply and if she woke late or missed a night feed, even until fairly recently, I would experience engorgement and have had mastitis more than once. Now, when she misses night feeds I don’t get any discomfort. However, I would still be uncomfortable if she missed a daytime feed
- her wake ups have become random, whereas before she woke at fairly predictable times for long feeds

I am ready to night wean because I am very tired, and I’m returning to work soon. I have a long commute on the motorway, and at the moment I wouldn’t be safe to travel to and from work. I also drive a lot for work - it isn’t unusual for me to drive 100 miles in a day.

DD has two naps a day, between 2.5-3.5 hours’ daytime sleep. She self settles to sleep happily most of the time. Sometimes needs a little extra comforting in the cot, but really only if she’s teething. After a night feed I put her back in the cot awake and she self settles back to sleep without any fuss, so she isn’t feeding to get back to sleep.

DH has booked a week off work, and we’re ready for a few hideous nights (hopefully followed by the best sleeps of our lives!). I would be so grateful if you could tell me what method you used to night wean, how long it took, and did it work? Please share all your wisdom, advice, and knowledge with me!

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Chocolatealllllday Mon 12-Oct-20 20:56:12

No idea but good luck! Please share how it goes. I am planning to night wean around Christmas time when LO will be 15 months...don't know if I will see it through though. So worried that she will just still wake up anyway and I'll have lost my magic tool (boob!) of sending her straight back to sleep!

TradedAtlanta Mon 12-Oct-20 21:16:29

Watching too. Almost 1 year old here still waking once to feed overnight. Used to be two and we got rid of one by sending DH in to shhh and pat which worked a dream with almost no tears. I was really excited and thought I was about to get a whole night’s sleep but the same thing just hasn’t worked for the last feed. She gets really upset and doesn’t go back to sleep and then I cave and go and feed her because I hate the crying. So now I think I’ve accidentally taught her that she just has to cry and I’ll give in. Weaning her is a nightmare - she hardly likes anything and is perfectly happy to go without rather than eat something she dislikes and I’m sure this last night feed doesn’t help with that either. So, in summary I would say, keep you and your yummy boobs out and leave it to DH but once you start, don’t stop!

Dillybear Tue 13-Oct-20 11:16:50

@TradedAtlanta that sounds tricky, especially for an early morning feed. I think the 4/5am one is the one I’m most worried about as I could imagine if she doesn’t get what she wants she might not be able to go back to sleep. But at this point even managing to drop to one feed would be amazing. If I could sleep 9/10pm - 4am I’d feel like a new woman! I’m really struggling with sleep deprivation. Although we’re down to two wake ups, at times she goes through phases where she’s up for hours at the second wake up and it takes me weeks to feel human again.

@Chocolatealllllday I will come back and update you. I am not too optimistic if I’m honest! But it’s worth a try. Hopefully someone will be along with some tips for all of us! 🤞🏻

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MamatobeFeb20 Tue 13-Oct-20 21:35:01

I've no advice but I'm following with interest. In a similar position with the 8month old on two feeds a night. Going back to work next month and although I don't have the driving, I work in healthcare so I need to be pretty alert. Which just isn't the case right now!
My DD is perfectly happy to have just one night feed IF she sleeps beside me but I really don't sleep well when co-sleeping.
I'll be following for some hints and tips and want to wish you the best of luck!

Twistiesandshout Tue 13-Oct-20 22:23:31

Am also following. I have a 7 month old and am back to ft work in 3 weeks. She is waking 3/4 times a night and has very quick feed then off to sleep. I need sleep desperately.

Was thinking about moving her to her own room and letting dh shhh her for a few nights. But am now terrified that doing that while also being away from her during working day/having her in childcare will make her feel too unsettled sad

Dillybear Wed 14-Oct-20 03:46:03

Well, this doesn’t fill me with a lot of confidence. She woke at 11.30 for a feed, so I fed her, put her down and she was asleep by 11.40. But then she woke again at 2, which is very soon for another feed so I didn’t want to feed her again as if she wakes at 2am she will wake again at 5am so that would be three feeds overnight, which she absolutely doesn’t need. I am gradually reducing the amount of milk she’s taking overnight even further in preparation for the night weaning, so really don’t want to increase the number of feeds. Anyway I think she might just have fallen asleep around ten minutes ago. I’ve been frightened to check the monitor so thought I’d write a post on here instead! She cried (cross/grumpy crying) for a while and I’ve been in and out of the room soothing her. I left her again a few minutes ago as she was beginning to chat, but she’s gone very quiet so maaaaaybe she’s asleep? Anyway, the girl is determined! Generally speaking, a fantastic quality, but in the middle of the night, not so much! It’s just highlighted to me how tough night weaning is going to be.

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difficulttod Wed 14-Oct-20 06:41:43

keep you and your yummy boobs out confused

OP how are you going to feed her when you go back to work? Could you try expressing and giving her a bottle? She's still under a year and doesn't sound like she's eating a lot of solids, you said she's quite fussy. And as she's breastfed it's still normal to need a feed. If you gave her a bottle you could maybe just leave her with it and she can drink and settle herself, that way you can go straight back to bed.

ShirleyPhallus Wed 14-Oct-20 07:50:32

I’d pick two times when you will feed her and stick to those. It will be confusing for a baby to wake and sometimes be fed but not other times. If you’re feeding her anyway, then I’d give her a full feed than feeding her little and often.

So maybe do one at 11 before you go to bed and the other at 4am to fill her up before she goes back to sleep for a few hours. Can you express and DH do one of them?

refusetobeasheep Wed 14-Oct-20 07:54:00

Just a little alert about leaving the bottle with her overnight - this is advised against as it can have a poor effect on their teeth.

Dillybear Wed 14-Oct-20 08:12:11

@difficulttod she is eating well during the day and not fussy - maybe you’re thinking of another poster? When I go back she will me ten months. The HV told me that she most likely won’t be having milk during the day at that age and will have moved to milk feeds morning and night, and then three meals and snacks. If she needs bottles, she will have formula.

@ShirleyPhallus I don’t express due to the oversupply issue - I have found I have to be really careful with expressing so only do it when she has fed less/missed a feed to relieve discomfort. That’s how I know she’s taking so much less overnight now! I wouldn’t have been keen to stop the feeds a few weeks ago when she was having two full feeds. But her eating has really improved and she has consolidated her daytime feeds as well, and her night feeds are around 1/3 of the length they used to be, and that’s without me trying to reduce them. I am now trying to reduce them by a few seconds each night. I’ve seen your thread on CC - I hope your nights are still improving?

Anyway, she did just settle back down to sleep in the end around 3.30 and then woke at 7.20, perfectly happily. So maybe there is some hope!

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Seventytwoseventythree Wed 14-Oct-20 09:00:02

I haven’t done it yet but a friend has recommended this method www.preciouslittlesleep.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-sleeping-through-the-night-part-3/

(Hope it’s ok to post a link, promise I’m not a troll, if not ok then you can find it by going on the precious little sleep website and searching)

Sunnydaysstillhere Wed 14-Oct-20 09:04:43

At 9 month ds had me on my knees... Bf 6/7 snacks during the night...
First night I sent dh in with a bottle of bf... He drank an oz. No chatting, quick hug and back down..
Second night dh offered water. None taken, quick hug and back down, no chat! .
Third night he slept 7-7 and at 6yo is an amazing sleepover!!
He was an amazing toddler with transition from cot to bed absolutely no issue.. He loves his bed!!

Ohalrightthen Wed 14-Oct-20 09:10:35

I just went cold turkey. No boob at night, we did CC when she woke, took an hour the first night and then she slept through. Until she got a cold 3 months later, then the night waking picked back up with a vengeance!

Dillybear Wed 14-Oct-20 09:56:39

@Sunnydaysstillhere stories like this are what make me want to give it a try! Did your DS take any water? I am not sure whether to offer water or whether that confuses things. After he started sleeping through, if he woke at other times would you try water? I am confident that she doesn’t need calories overnight but worry she could be thirsty and I wouldn’t necessarily realise. She drinks lots of water with her meals though so hopefully not.

@Ohalrightthen Thanks for your post. How old was your DD? I’m not sure about the comforting method we should use overnight. She self settles to sleep perfectly happily at bedtime and we have used a combination of gradual retreat and a little bit of ‘crying down’ - basically leaving her to grump but not cry if she’s upset. I’m not sure if we should use the same approach overnight or if we should be offering more soothing. But then I don’t want to substitute one sleep association for another!

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Ohalrightthen Wed 14-Oct-20 10:06:12

@Dillybear she was about 9 or 10 months. We did CC at bedtime at 6ish months and it worked well, so we just did it overnight too.

GrumpyHoonMain Wed 14-Oct-20 10:14:48

Dillybear

*@difficulttod* she is eating well during the day and not fussy - maybe you’re thinking of another poster? When I go back she will me ten months. The HV told me that she most likely won’t be having milk during the day at that age and will have moved to milk feeds morning and night, and then three meals and snacks. If she needs bottles, she will have formula.

@ShirleyPhallus I don’t express due to the oversupply issue - I have found I have to be really careful with expressing so only do it when she has fed less/missed a feed to relieve discomfort. That’s how I know she’s taking so much less overnight now! I wouldn’t have been keen to stop the feeds a few weeks ago when she was having two full feeds. But her eating has really improved and she has consolidated her daytime feeds as well, and her night feeds are around 1/3 of the length they used to be, and that’s without me trying to reduce them. I am now trying to reduce them by a few seconds each night. I’ve seen your thread on CC - I hope your nights are still improving?

Anyway, she did just settle back down to sleep in the end around 3.30 and then woke at 7.20, perfectly happily. So maybe there is some hope!

Do you plan to keep breastfeeding? If not then crack on. If you do then when you return to work it’s fairly normal for a 10 month old who is used to daytime feeding to go crazy at night. If I were you I would reduce the day time feeds and then slowly get the night feeds down to one.

For my 10 mo I feed him once at 7am (long feed). Then another long feed again after nursery approx 6pm. Then he’s pretty much on and off until 8pm. He’ll sleep for 4 hours, wake for another long feed, then wake for another one at 3am. He has taken to solids excellently and is drinking loads of water but needs at least 3-4 feeds.

BigusBumus Wed 14-Oct-20 10:25:11

I am older and my sons are all late teens now. But when I weaned my boys during the day (back in 2002 it was at 16 weeks) and they were having 3 full food meals, they would have a bottle of milk at 7pm before bed and possibly a silent, in the dark Dream Feed given by DH at about 11pm before he came to bed. That was dropped at about 6 months i seem to recall.

Basically if a baby then woke in the night, it wasn't for milk after that and to carry on providing milk just prolongs the process. I offered water for a few nights, in the dark, no speaking, lay back down and leave the room. They were all sleeping 7-7 very quickly after that, definitely by 7 months.

Dillybear Wed 14-Oct-20 10:31:12

@GrumpyHoonMain thanks for the insight, I hadn’t thought about that as a possibility. She doesn’t seem to be particularly bothered about where the milk comes from. She has a bottle of formula every day which she is just as happy with as breastfeeding. On the very rare occasion that I’m not around for a feed she will happily take a bottle of formula and doesn’t seem to change how she feeds after that happens. But of course, missing one feed isn’t the same as going to nursery and I am worried about how she’ll cope with being apart for the full day, so possibly that’ll change. If that happens, I would probably have to switch to formula (which would be fine with me) because the bottom line is I have to be safe to drive for work. She needs me to be in one piece more than she needs breast milk! At the moment her wake ups are at such unpredictable times, it’s really affecting my ability to relax and fall asleep, so even though I go to bed around 9pm I’m very often still awake when she first wakes up. I recognise that’s my fault, not hers. But unfortunately that’s how it is at the moment sad and something has to change before I go back to work.

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Dillybear Wed 14-Oct-20 10:42:26

@BigusBumus thanks for your comment. Sometimes it feels as though the mother’s welfare is very very far down the list of priorities, especially when it comes to breastfeeding. I get the impression from my own mum and other women I’ve spoken to that when I was a baby there was less pressure to completely ignore your own basic needs in order to be a ‘good mother’. Of course there is a balance to be struck, and my baby’s needs and wants come before my needs and wants. But I am genuinely concerned about how I will manage the driving on the amount of sleep I’m getting at the moment without causing an accident, and for me, that has to come first, especially now she really doesn’t need those feeds. Ultimately, I feel that whilst it might be nice for her to have 2-3 comfort feeds overnight, every night, it isn’t sustainable once I return to work.

I know that night weaning an eight month old probably seems barbaric to some, but I think it is my only option now. It’s really comforting to hear about babies being weaned from night feeds and being absolutely fine. Of course there will still be wake ups and rough nights but hopefully not every night!

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BigusBumus Wed 14-Oct-20 11:14:18

@Dillybear, Ahh bless you. I do come from a completely different generation of mothers i think (I am nearly 50) and i do find it very interesting reading what young mums of today do, but i also worry about how its all about the baby nowadays with much less emphasis on the mothers needs and relationships with husbands etc. I usually have lots of angry people shouting at me on MN if i ever say "what we used to do" back in the day.

For example 20 years ago (in my experience and in the area where i lived) we weaned quickly, got the baby into a fairly strict routine by about 10 weeks, bathed and bed at 7pm, so that you had the rest of your evening free to be normal again with your partner, eat together, chat, watch TV etc. Controlled crying and Gina Ford was the thing. You didn't let toddlers and little children into the marital bed, you took them back to their own and soothed them there if they got up. They stayed in a cot until they could physically climb out, in their own room. You didn't offer endless choices at lunch or dinner and babies got to eat Petit Filous as a weaning food! Your relationship, friendships, mental health, getting back to work etc was priority and you had to teach and guide your babies/children in how to fit in happily around those things with love and boundaries and rules. And it used to work very well.

Its all so different now and sometimes i am sad to read what i read when its obviously (to me) that the woman should start putting her needs forward of her babies at times.

I'm pretty sure i'll be flamed for writing this, as usual. <sigh> Good luck with it all Dillybearx

Ohalrightthen Wed 14-Oct-20 11:40:44

BigusBumus

**@Dillybear**, Ahh bless you. I do come from a completely different generation of mothers i think (I am nearly 50) and i do find it very interesting reading what young mums of today do, but i also worry about how its all about the baby nowadays with much less emphasis on the mothers needs and relationships with husbands etc. I usually have lots of angry people shouting at me on MN if i ever say "what we used to do" back in the day.

For example 20 years ago (in my experience and in the area where i lived) we weaned quickly, got the baby into a fairly strict routine by about 10 weeks, bathed and bed at 7pm, so that you had the rest of your evening free to be normal again with your partner, eat together, chat, watch TV etc. Controlled crying and Gina Ford was the thing. You didn't let toddlers and little children into the marital bed, you took them back to their own and soothed them there if they got up. They stayed in a cot until they could physically climb out, in their own room. You didn't offer endless choices at lunch or dinner and babies got to eat Petit Filous as a weaning food! Your relationship, friendships, mental health, getting back to work etc was priority and you had to teach and guide your babies/children in how to fit in happily around those things with love and boundaries and rules. And it used to work very well.

Its all so different now and sometimes i am sad to read what i read when its obviously (to me) that the woman should start putting her needs forward of her babies at times.

I'm pretty sure i'll be flamed for writing this, as usual. <sigh> Good luck with it all Dillybearx

As a 20something first time mum, i have got ENDLESS stick both online and in real life for putting my needs first in terms of sleep training, weaning, time to myself and the like. I've got a very well adjusted nearly 1yr old who's happy as larry going to other people, and I get plenty of time to myself and with my husband. 3 marriages in my NCT group have fallen apart in the last 6 months, all of them with women who kicked their husbands out of bed to cosleep and have completely martyred themselves for their infants. It is mind boggling to me, but I've been told that makes me a cold and detached parent.

BigusBumus Wed 14-Oct-20 12:11:05

@Ohalrightthen Can i just say well done to you. 👏🏼 You're not cold and detached, your teaching your little one that they don't rule the roost, you do as the adult and they will learn from you, not the other way round.

I used to say, "I won't be dictated to by someone who can't wipe their own bottom". Lol

Dillybear Wed 14-Oct-20 12:30:16

BigusBumus

**@Ohalrightthen** Can i just say well done to you. 👏🏼 You're not cold and detached, your teaching your little one that they don't rule the roost, you do as the adult and they will learn from you, not the other way round.

I used to say, "I won't be dictated to by someone who can't wipe their own bottom". Lol

That made me laugh! I think I do get dictated to quite often - I often joke that the baby is my boss! But I do agree that sometimes being a good mum (especially on mumsnet) seems to equate to being a martyr, and that the mother’s needs are often at the bottom of the list of priorities. I think there has to be more of a balance, though. I don’t think that what I want is more important than what my baby needs, or even what I need is more important than what she needs. But I do think I have to put my needs above what would be nice for her (in this case, small amounts of milk that she doesn’t need overnight!).

@Ohalrightthen my marriage has definitely suffered as a result of having a baby. I have been lost in looking after her and doing everything for her, and my DH has at times felt that there has been no room in my life for anyone other than my DD. Not to say that he’s jealous of her, he is a devoted dad and absolutely adores her. But I did fall into shutting him out a little, feeling that to be a good mum I should do absolutely everything with no help from anyone, but then being completely overwrought and resentful of him! However, since I have let my DH be more involved, our relationship has improved, and it’s wonderful to watch their lovely relationship. It doesn’t feel selfish though. I think having happy parents is just as important for me as it is for her. I want her to grow up with us modelling a healthy relationship. Resentful, bickering parents will not make her happy either! And part of that has to be making space for us to continue to be individuals and not just parents. Now, one day we need to manage to get out as a couple! We haven’t done that since before she was born!

This has gone a bit off topic now! But I think there is so much guilt and shame surrounding any sort of sleep training, and it helps to talk about it.

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misselphaba Wed 14-Oct-20 12:46:50

I was having a conversation with a tearful friend at the school gates recently about exactly this. Her marriage is suffering and she is exhausted and miserable because she still has both of her school age children waking up during the night to get into their bed. She won't seek any support for this as she feels it's entirely normal for children to wake up every night for comfort, indefinitely. She may be right but it's not sustainable.

It's a different situation to yours OP as yours is younger but it highlights how we are expected to subjugate our own needs and wants in their entirety for our children.

You're right to night wean OP. I wish I'd done the same with DD as she definitely didn't need milk at night at that age. I believed all the people on here who told me she did need it and found myself night weaning at over a year. I can't remember how old tbh as I've blocked it out. I've not made that mistake again!

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