How to Respectfully Wean Your Baby at Night

If you decide it's time for your baby to stop nursing during the night, you need to be sure to take things slowly. Today, we'll tell you how to respectfully wean your baby at night.
How to Respectfully Wean Your Baby at Night

Last update: 28 June, 2021

When it comes to nighttime weaning, experts recommend waiting until babies are at least 12 months old. Then, once you decide it’s time to stop nursing during the night, you may experience mixed feelings. Mothers don’t want to take away something that their little ones want so badly. However, they also want to start to sleep better and stop waking up during the night. This leads them to ask themselves how to respectfully wean babies at night.

The reasons why a mother may think it’s time to wean her child at night can vary. But whatever the reason may be, it’s best to carry out the process gradually. So, do you want to know how to go about things in a way that’s satisfying and respectful for both you and your baby? Today we’ll tell you how to respectfully wean your little one during the night.

Reasons for nighttime weaning

According to the WHO (World Health Organization), it’s best to breastfeed babies exclusively until they reach the age of 6 monthsFurthermore, the WHO recommends that mothers continue breastfeeding their little ones until the age of at least two, along with a complementary diet.

Of course, there are some women who, for one reason or another, wean their babies before the age of two. And, at the same time, there are mothers who breastfeed their babies for longer than two years. Whatever the case may be, mothers should always respectfully wean their babies, meaning the process should be gradual.

Some babies stop demanding to nurse as soon as they begin incorporating a complementary diet. However, for other children, breastfeeding continues to play an important emotional role. Many infants associate nursing with security, attachment, affection, relaxation, and sleeping.

It’s normal for mothers to feel exhausted as a result of having to breastfeed throughout the night. Even though they enjoy being able to feed their babies, it’s hard for them to get the rest they need. And that’s exactly why many moms, at some point along the way, seek to respectfully wean their little ones.

How to Respectfully Wean Your Baby at Night

Guidelines for respectfully weaning babies at night

Don’t shove your own feelings aside

Without a doubt, you’ll experience mixed feelings along the way – both guilt and relief – in equal parts. These feelings are normal, so don’t be hard on yourself. It’s totally understandable to want to sleep better at night, so give yourself some slack.

Be considerate of your child’s feelings as well

There may be times when you feel frustrated and even angry with your child during the weaning process. Perhaps your little one isn’t very keen on the idea of no longer nursing at night. But don’t allow yourself to lose your patience – shouting and scolding your child will only make him or her cry more. Remember, this is a difficult time for your little one, so do your best to be respectful.

Choose the right time to respectfully wean your baby

It’s important to find the right time to begin this process. Remember that, when important changes are taking place in your life, it’s not the right time to start weaning your baby. For example, things like the birth of a sibling, a move, starting daycare, etc. are hard enough for babies to process. So, it’s best to wait until things settle down before deciding to wean.

Increase the amount of affection you show towards your child

Offer your child something else to drink if he or she wakes up during the night

For example, you can have water on hand or offer some other drink if your child wakes up during the night wanting to nurse.

If your child accepts, your child can start sleeping in another room

You may find that it’s easier to respectfully wean your baby at night if he or she sleeps in another room. For example, in his or her own room or in a sibling’s bedroom. In fact, your little one may really like the idea of sleeping with an older brother or sister.

You can take this step if your child is receptive and enthusiastic about the change. However, it’s not something you should force. If your little one isn’t ready, then forcing the issue will be counterproductive.

How to Respectfully Wean Your Baby at Night

Let your partner participate in the weaning process

Dads can be very helpful when it comes to nighttime weaning. When children cry, their dads can take on the responsibility of offering support, affection, or entertainment. In fact, if both parents are in agreement, they can put their child’s crib on the dad’s side of the bed. Or, mom can sleep in another room until nighttime weaning is complete.

It’s okay to rewind or stop if needed

Conclusions regarding respectful nighttime weaning

Nighttime weaning is a process that needs to take place gradually in order to be successful and respectful of both mother and child. We’re sure that the experience will be much smoother if you put the above suggestions into practice. And remember, there’s no magic recipe. Use your intuition and your own body as your guide throughout the weaning process.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.