The last six weeks of night weaning my 21-month-old have been frustrating, emotional, exhausting, and interesting. My daughter LOVES to nurse and the last four months or so have been a roller coaster of change on my supply (and on my hormones) because she was not consistent with a nighttime nursing schedule. Part of it was due to being sick, another part was due to lack of eating dinner as she is becoming a picker toddler, and another part was due to not staying on her usual sleep schedule.
She went from pretty much sleeping through the night for months and only nursing a couple times in the night to unpredictable nursing times, up to six nursing times in the night! I was starting to get exhausted from how many times she was getting up. It seemed like we were going backward instead of forward with our nursing relationship. If she’s getting proper food in the day then there’s no reason why, at 21 months, she should be eating like a newborn in the night.
So, my goals of trying to get back on our usual night schedule, taking every precaution to prevent illnesses again, and finding ways to make sure she is getting enough protein and nutritious food before bed are what I have focused on.
Now, this is where I tell you how after lots of research and some precautious trial and error I figured out the most successful way to night wean and to get your baby to sleep through the night.
However, that is not what happened in the beginning for us.
The reasons why I wanted to night wean were because I wanted my body to get its rhythm back, and for Little Miss and I to both feel rested after a night of sleep. My body physically was not having any trouble keeping up with her demands of needing supply (my supply was very high); however, I was emotionally upset because I practice family planning and my body was starting to get out of sync. At nearly two years postpartum, my hormones were all of a sudden off track when she started eating anywhere from 8-12 times a day again. I became so frustrated. The extreme amount of night nursing was impacting our lives too much, so I decided it was time. Time to night wean.
As recommended by WHO, The CDC, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, I too urge any breastfeeding mom to wait until 2 years old to fully wean. However, to night wean, if your baby is over 18 months, you are having a hard time getting proper sleep (I mean no more than 1-2 hours of sleep at a time), and you are hoping to regain your regular hormonal cycle for either family planning reasons or other medical needs, then it might be time.
What I tried to do our first week of starting to night wean is not what I recommend doing. I jumped right into eliminating all night feedings, therefore, after a few days of that, my supply took a HUGE hit. I became so emotional because I now worried that I damaged my supply permanently by getting rid of her night feedings too quickly. I then spent the next few days drinking a large amount of water, nursing on demand, resting my body, and taking my trusted lactation supplement goodies. I also didn’t refuse night feedings, but I tried to make sure she was properly fed at dinner so she wouldn’t nurse all night. Thankfully, the second attempt was successful in the end and I didn’t lose my supply.
After a rough start to night weaning, I did lots of reading and research, and I decided to not put so much pressure on myself and Little Miss to eliminate all night feedings until she’s ready. Especially, after I reacted so emotionally to thinking I might not be able to nurse her again already. That told me to slow down and just enjoy the nursing–ride a little longer because she’s only three months away from turning 2 years old. I do not have an end date to completely stop breastfeeding her, so I hope my hormones can figure itself out without interfering.
As for getting sleep, we are back down to only a couple night feedings through the night, so that’s perfect! This is what our 24 hours of nursing looks like now that we’re back on schedule:
- 2-4am feeding (if she does not sleep through the night)
- 8am feeding when wake up
- 10:30am feeding if she didn’t like breakfast
- 2pm nap feeding
- 8:30/9pm bedtime feeding
The main advice I want you to focus on after reading this post is please wean slowly and do your research before choosing a method that will best suit you and your baby’s needs. Check in with yourself about the possibility that it might go faster or slower than you might think. Breastfeeding your baby is one of the best bonds a mother has with her child, so remember this time is only temporary and there will probably be a day you’ll miss it.
Happy Breastfeeding, Mamas! And remember to go slow when night weaning.
We’d love to hear your stories! Do share with us your night weaning stories, have you had any low supply? We want to hear about it so drop us a comment below!
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