How Weaning from Breastfeeding May Affect Your Baby’s Sleep

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If you’re considering weaning your baby from breastfeeding to a bottle or cup, you’re probably thinking about which weaning method you’ll use. Or, you might be considering which bottle or cup will make the transition easiest. And, if you’re reading The Baby Sleep Site, you are probably also thinking about how this may impact your baby’s sleep. This article will discuss ways, both good and bad, that weaning from breastfeeding may impact your baby’s sleep.

Weaning from breastfeeding can cause an otherwise great sleeper to wake and fuss more often, and if your baby already struggles with sleep, weaning can make your nights even more sleepless. On the other hand, if your baby is breastfeeding to sleep, weaning can improve sleep, in some cases.

A Word of Warning: A Reason Not to Wean from Breastfeeding!

Breastmilk digests faster than formula. For this reason, formula-fed babies do tend to sleep for longer stretches at night than breastfed babies, sometimes, depending on the baby. That said, if you’re considering weaning to formula in an effort to get your baby to sleep through the night, please reconsider. This isn’t a strategy we recommend here at The Baby Sleep Site, simply because we’ve found that it is possible to breastfeed your baby AND have him sleep well at night and for naps. Changing your baby’s food source probably won’t change his sleeping habits; instead, you’re better off working on the sleeping habits themselves. We work with many families who don’t breastfeed that have just as many baby sleep problems and babies who do not sleep through the night.

Why Will Weaning Impact My Baby’s Sleep?

The reason weaning can have a major impact on sleep is because weaning is about more than simply exchanging one food source for another. For our babies, the end of breastfeeding can be an emotional, difficult experience.

How Will Weaning Impact My Baby’s Sleep?

For starters, weaning means the end of prolonged skin-to-skin contact between mom and baby. Remember that breastfeeding is more than just feeding time; it has comforting associations for baby. Some babies even end up using mom as a “human pacifier”! For these reasons, weaning can make your baby much fussier than normal, which can lead to interrupted naps and lots of nighttime waking.

Weaning can also disturb your baby’s sleep if you’ve made a habit of nursing your little one to sleep each night. If that’s the case, then nursing has likely become a sleep association for your baby. Therefore, when you change that feeding, you’re changing the thing he needs to fall asleep. This can make bedtime an exhausting battle each night.

If your baby is no longer feeding at night, then her nighttime sleep may or may not be affected. Her naps, however, could be. If you’re weaning and find that your baby’s naps are disrupted because of it, consider downloading our FREE napping guide, 7 Common Baby Nap and Sleep Schedule Mistakes.

Weaning can also impact your baby’s sleep when the weaning is “mom-initiated” instead of “baby-initiated.” Generally, at some point between 1 and 2 years of age, a baby will show signs of self-weaning. Baby-initiated weaning like this is usually easier and takes less time. Of course, baby-initiated weaning isn’t always possible; sometimes weaning has to happen earlier! If you’re weaning your baby before the one-year mark, however, it’s important to remember that the process may take longer, and your baby’s sleep may be disrupted.

Once you begin to wean, you may notice that it takes a little time for your baby’s appetite to adjust. This can be another reason for sudden nighttime waking and sleeplessness — your baby’s appetite is adjusting to this new method of feeding. This adjustment can take 1-2 weeks. You can help your baby during this time by making sure you’re offering enough nourishment during the day. But, remember that breast milk and formula should be your baby’s primary nutrition during the first year, so do not overcompensate with solids, if it’s not time. Check with your doctor on adequate amounts of formula for your baby’s age.

Finally, it isn’t just baby’s sleep that may be disrupted during the weaning process — mom’s may be, too! Weaning can lead to engorgement and possible infection, called mastitis. This is especially true for moms who try to wean their babies quickly, cutting out multiple feedings at once.

How Can I Help My Baby Sleep Well During the Weaning Process?

Avoid a “cold turkey” approach (in which you abruptly stop nursing). This can be very upsetting for your baby, and, as mentioned earlier, it’s likely to cause complications for you. Instead, opt for a gentler, “slow and steady” approach; it’ll be far less disruptive to your baby’s sleep. A “slow and steady” approach would look something like this:

  • At feeding time, nurse your baby as you normally would. Then, offer your baby a bottle of formula or cup of milk.
  • When your baby has gotten used to the bottle/cup, then reverse these steps: offer the bottle/cup first, followed by a nursing.

Consider using the “Don’t Offer, Don’t Refuse” method. This is the gentlest way to wean. With this method, you don’t offer your baby the breast, but if your baby is clamoring to nurse, you don’t refuse her, either. This method is slower, but if you have the time to put in, it’ll mean more restful nights and restful naps for your baby!

Don’t wean too fast! Nicole remembers that while weaning one of her sons, he’d start biting her shoulder when she’d hold him. That’s a classic sign of weaning too fast, and she had to slow down. Experts recommend that you eliminate no more than one nursing at a time; then, wait about a week to let your baby’s appetite adjust.

Like so many other things in life, weaning goes best if there’s a plan in place. Try to plan weaning during times when life is most normal — in other words, don’t wean around a holiday or a vacation, during a move, right before the birth of a new baby, etc.

That said, remember that you work the plan — don’t let the plan work you! Life happens, and unexpected things like teething, illness, a work-related trip, new medication for mom, etc. can sometimes destroy a mom’s best-laid plans. What’s more, you might find that your baby simply refuses to cooperate! You didn’t exactly consult him when you made your plan, after all. If this is the case for you, remember that like sleep training, weaning is not a battle to be won. Consider taking a break and trying again later if your baby is showing major signs of resistance.

What about you? Did you find that weaning affected your baby’s sleep? Do you have any weaning tips to offer moms who are struggling?

If you’d like help getting your little one to sleep soundly during the weaning process, please be sure to pick up your FREE copy of 5 (tear-free) Ways to Help Your Child Sleep Through the Night, our e-Book with tear-free tips to help your baby sleep better. For those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3-Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep (babies) or The 5-Step System to Better Toddler Sleep (toddlers). Using a unique approach and practical tools for success, our e-books help you and your baby sleep through the night and nap better. For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about! Sometimes it’s not that you can’t make a plan. Sometimes you’re just too tired to.

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36 Responses to How Weaning from Breastfeeding May Affect Your Baby’s Sleep

  1. Vanessa says:

    Hi
    I am wondering is my baby due to weaning off the bottle of a night she is 5 mths old and has up to 5 bottles a day (180-210mls). She feeds 3-4 hourly throughout the day and has a top up around 4-5am. This is where I am struggling as she will sometimes be wide awake at this time and will not go back to sleep unless given a bottle yet some mornings she will be so wide awake that she wont settle back down ( I was giving her 180ml) but recently changed it to 150mls as I felt that 180mls was too much and maybe had been keeping her awake. Sometimes I still struggle on the 150mls as she will still want to get up not long after (as I cant get her back to sleep) so I get up with her at 5am and then she is dwn again at 6-7am. I think I might either have an early bird on me or I am just not getting something right here.

  2. Rochelle says:

    I can attest to the fact that formula fed babies don’t necessarily sleep better. Due to difficulties breastfeeding, we switched to formula at three months. She didnt sleep any differently. Then, like clock-work, went through her 4 month sleep regression like so many babies do. Whenever mothers consider giving formula at night to make their babies sleep longer, I tell them my experience. There are good reasons to wean, getting babe to sleep longer is not one of them!

  3. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Vanessa — I don’t think your situation sounds abnormal. 5 months is still pretty young for a baby to sleep through the night without one feeding (to “top her off”, as you said!) It might help you to know that we have an article on the site addressing your exact question. Check it out here: http://www.babysleepsite.com/sleep-training/night-feedings-by-age-when-do-you-night-wean/ It outlines night feedings by age as well as when and how to night wean.

    @ Rochelle — Exactly! I think that switching to formula in an attempt to get baby sleeping well ends up being a “band-aid” kind of a fix most of the time. Usually, there are deeper, underlying sleep issues that need to be addressed. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  4. Allyssa says:

    Both of my boys would not sleep through the night until I nightweaned at 14 months. I made sure I didn’t nurse the youngest to sleep, and he could easily go to sleep on his own, but he would NOT go back to sleep when he awoke during the night without nursing. Once we nightweaned, he is now doing much better putting himself back to sleep as he wakes throughout the night. I will say that for my kids, they needed the extra nutrients at night, and I didn’t feel comfortable completely nightweaning them until after a year. With my youngest, I tried to do the one nursing a night at 7 months, but found that he found it too confusing (why can I nurse at 1 am, but not 11 and 3?), so we had to eventually go cold-turkey when I thought he was ready (14 months), but it was a long time coming.

  5. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Allyssa — yes, it can be hard for some kids to go all night without nursing/taking a bottle before the 1 year mark. Thanks for sharing your story! Lots of good, specific details that’ll be helpful for moms who have questions :)

  6. Mahua Mandal says:

    Thanks for a great topic! I had the same situation as Allysa with her youngest. Before my son turned 12 months, I tired to breast feed him only once or twice at night, but he found this confusing, and was never able to get on a “schedule” for night nursing (especially since he’s a very inconsistent baby anyway). So sometimes we’d inevitably be back to 3 wakings per night. After 12 months I cut down to one nursing session at night (but he still found this confusing), and at 14 months I totally night-weaned him. It took three weeks of no night-nursing at all and he finally started sleeping through the night. But, I definitely was not comfortable with night-weaning before he was at least a year old, esp. since he wasn’t very interested in solids and still got a lot of calories from breast milk. I still nurse him twice a day, but he never nurses to sleep.
    In the article you stated that generally babies show signs of self-weaning between 1-2 years of age, but I’ve seen numerous other sources (Kellymom and also books/blogs by lactation consultants) say self-weaning largely occurs between 2-4 years of age.

  7. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Mahua — yes, I agree that often, babies (especially those who don’t show much interest in solids!) need to feed once during the night up to the one-year mark.
    With regards to when babies start to self-wean, it’s generally accepted that it really doesn’t happen before one year, and that if a baby seems to be self-weaning before then, it’s probably a nursing strike. Kelly (such a great resource, isn’t it?) states that self-weaning can start between 18 and 24 months and can go as late as 3 or 4 years. (http://www.kellymom.com/bf/weaning/babyselfwean.html)

  8. Kristine says:

    Thank you so much for this very timely article! I am also struggling with my youngest who, at almost 15 months old, still wakes at least once a night, and often twice, to nurse. This is despite the fact that he rarely has fallen asleep nursing (unless very, very tired). After bathing, I nurse him in the rocking chair, while his dad and his big brother read him books. Then we brush teeth, and into the crib he goes wide awake, and off to sleep.

    My oldest naturally self-weaned to a cup at just under 14 months and from that point on he slept better and better. My experience with both babies is that as long as milk is available, even if they do not fall asleep nursing, they do tend to wake looking for it. This has been very frustrating for me because many ‘sleep experts’ advise simply putting them to bed awake and they will learn to sleep all night. This has not proven to be true for me. The 2nd time around I have been even more diligent about not nursing down for naps or bedtime….only to end up with a worse sleeper than my first. That’s why I believe so much of it personality, and that sleeping through the night for 11 hours at a time is, for many babies, a developmental milestone just like any other. While you can do things to help them reach that milestone faster, you can also take a ‘wait and see’ kind of approach (even though you may be blind from exhaustion!) for as long as you can.

    As I said, my oldest gladly took a cup at that age but I have tried with baby #2 and he is just not interested in giving up his bedtime nursing session yet. I don’t see him all day since I recently returned to work full time, so why force it and make us both stressed and unhappy? Do I wish he slept better? Yes. Does it frustrate me to no end? Yes. Do I think the nursing has contributed to his night waking? Yes. Do I feel like I can night wean him comfortably? Not yet!

  9. Kristine says:

    Also, could you please comment on whether there is any truth to “weaning windows”? I have read that between 13 and 15 months there is a weaning window (see my experience, above), and another one between 19 and 22 months. This implies that weaning in that range of 15-19 months might be more difficult.

  10. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Kristine — glad this article came at such an opportune time for you! You are so right about personality and temperament playing a part in a baby’s sleeping patterns. Nicole did a whole series of articles on how baby temperament affects sleep: http://www.babysleepsite.com/temperament/baby-temperament-sleep-series-part-1/ You might glean some useful info from those to apply to your 2nd child :)
    In terms of a nursing window, I’m not familiar with that idea. I checked on Kelly Mom, but couldn’t find anything about it. Let’s hope another reader has an insight…

  11. Erin says:

    My 14 month old has been sleeping through the night for many months. He eats a lot of solid foods (joins us for all our meals), and he’s still nursing 4 times a day. He can go to sleep at bedtime without needing to nurse to sleep, but he won’t nap without nursing (unless he’s in a moving car). I was thinking about trying to wean, but he is not interested in milk at all. He does drink water from a cup. I’m not in any rush, but I wonder if weaning might help his napping. (I’m also wondering if he would be more open to cow’s milk after weaning.) I have no idea how to get him to nap without nursing. For bedtime, we did a gentle cry it out. That, plus moving him to his own room, ended the nighttime wakings. I’m reluctant to try CIO for naps, and it hasn’t worked before and just feels like a miserable day to me. I’m unsure how to break his association of napping with nursing.

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  13. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Erin — Totally understandable! Breaking sleep associations can be so hard, and it’s heartbreaking to listen to a little one cry. You may be right, though, that weaning him from the breast to a cup of milk would break the association. You could always try the technique mentioned in the article — to offer a shortened nursing session first, and then, while he’s still a little thirsty, offer him a cup of milk.
    Also, you might want to check out Nicole’s article on sleep associations: http://www.babysleepsite.com/sleep-training/sleep-association/ That might give you a few new insights into how to deal with your son’s naptime nursing association.

  14. Lori says:

    I would love to know more about the weaning windows! My son is 18.5 months, and we are needing to have him weaned by 24 months. I would love to BF longer, but it just isn’t practical for many reasons. If anyone knows the gentlest, easiest way, please share. He nurses first thing in the morning, at bedtime, and the rest of the day varies. Since he isn’t the greatest sleeper, he tends to want to nurse all day on days he doesn’t get enough sleep. If he’s well rested, he doesn’t nurse as much.

  15. Victoria Roe says:

    My 4 and half month old son is still waking between 2-3 times a night for nursing, which I am finding exhausting as haven’t had 1 single full nights sleep since he was born. However, looking at this it doesn’t seem so abnormal now. My other 2 kids only woke once a night at this stage and I do seem to compare too much. I just don’t get why he still wakes this often for a feed, as he is a big baby (16lb) and recently started on solids. It is as if he is nursing for comfort in the night. Am wondering also whether a combination of a little CIO and moving him to his own room may help, as I do think I also offer him the breast too easily when he does wake in the night,rather than have him fuss and cry.

  16. Cristina Rodriguez says:

    Hi Ladies! I will share my experience. My 11 month old is still nursing, but we started the process of weaning about 20 days ago. First, for 10 months he wouldn’t drink milk (mine or formula) from a bottle or cup. He will drink water with no problems, but as soon as it was milk forget it! Finally I made two important changes: I got a Tommie Tippee bottle. The nipple is great, very soft and flexible kind of resembling the human nipple. I started giving him water in this bottle so he can be familiar with it. Then I tried formula and of course he didn’t like it. I finally found a formula called Babys Only http://www.naturesone.com/soy/, sold at whole foods (cheaper than any other regular formula and besides it is organic) and I will mix it with a little bit of non alcohol vanilla, and he drank about 1/2 oz. That was an improvement. So I started increasing the amount and then nurse after he drank about 2 oz. Right now he nurses in the morning, drinks 5oz of formula and 5 minutes of nursing before morning nap, 6oz of formula and 5 minutes of nursing before afternoon nap, 4oz of formula and 10 minutes of nursing before bedtime. I’m planning to increase the formula and reduce the nursing time slowly until completely eliminate nursing. With this changes my milk supply is very low already and he kind of understand this. It will be about one or two more months before I wean him completely, but it is a work in progress. He is also sleeping much better at night thanks God!

  17. bev says:

    Hi there!
    I am having a rough time with my 10 month old. He has been very stubborn when it comes to the bottle, but finally started taking the wide nipple Playtex bottles. The only formula he likes is the President’s Choice kind & it’s way cheaper than the brand name kind (which is kind of a bonus!) But….I’m having a horrible time getting him to go to sleep ( I have always nursed him prior to putting him down for a nap) It’s a minimum 60 min battle. I have let him scream and cry & I don’t know what else to do :(. Also, at night, he goes to bed around 730 & wakes up crying around 2 or 3 for at least an hour. We have let him CIO several times over the past few months, which works great after one horrible night, but then, a couple nights later, he’s back at it. Any suggestions?? I am SO SO exhausted!!!

  18. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Lori — check out the Don’t Offer, Don’t Refuse method mentioned in the article. You can read more about it at kellymom.com; they go into more detail than I was able to in the article. Good luck!

    @ Victoria — I would say your situation isn’t abnormal at all, given that your son’s still so young. But it’s easy to compare, isn’t it? I have 3 kids, and I still find myself comparing what my baby girl is doing to what my two boys did when they were her age. Like you said, moving him to his own room might help, if he’s still in the room with you. I always found that I slept better when my kids were out of my room, since I tend to wake up at the slightest sound. Every little sigh made me sit bolt upright in bed :)

    @ Cristina — thanks for your advice! Very specific, which is nice; it’ll likely be really helpful to moms who are struggling.

    @ Bev — glad you found a formula that worked (and an inexpensive one!), but that night waking sounds hard. Is it possible he’s going through the sleep regression that happens at 8, 9, or 10 months? (http://www.babysleepsite.com/baby-sleep-patterns/8-9-10-month-old-baby-sleep-regression/)

  19. Vanessa says:

    Hi

    I was actually trying to get some idea as to what I am ment to do when she wants to wake up for the morning and be up at 5am when (I would preferr to go back to bed). As I feel that there are some nights that she will generally sleep right through to 6am and there are the nights that she can’t make it through to 6am (as I find 6am a better time to get up). I also wonder if I really need to get up if she is just talking and chatting to herself (is this just a wake up time or a feeding time) as sometimes she will keep going until you go in there and feed her yet that may not always work as she will continue to be wide awake and want to get up (she is not your average baby who likes to drink a full bottle of milk of 210mls all the time) hence for the 180mls-210mls, she can usually only make it through one-two of those a day and if you give it to her before bed of a night she will be wide awake then, (this is why I have cut it back to 150mls of a night). This is helping but like I said there are still some mornings thats she wakes at 4-5am as she is more a morning feeder than a night feeder at the moment (she has grown out of late night feeding). I guess I just want to know weather these are signs that she doesnt need it or if I should just play it by ear until she is fully ready to sleep right through!

  20. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Vanessa — if you’re wanting to get your daughter sleeping later in the day, we actually sell an e-book package that addresses that specific issue: http://www.babysleepsite.com/baby-waking-too-early/
    Also, I’d say that if your daughter seems happy when she wakes up early, and is babbling and talking to herself instead of crying for you, you’re probably fine to leave her in there. Both of my boys (who are 4 1/4 and 3 at the moment) learned to amuse themselves in their cribs after waking up in the morning and after their naps. It’s nice, because it gives you a bit of a break and keeps you from feeling like you have to rush in the first time they make noise :)

  21. Zamina says:

    This article is so timely. I’m a confused mamma and my little girl is 10 months – I have been wracking my brain on how to night wean her. She was ‘sleep trained’ at 6 months and used to sleep through about 9 or 10 hrs, have her feed at 4 or 5am and then finish the rest of her night sleep. Since the 9/10 month regression, I think we have gone back to a sleep association. And now, getting her weaned from nursing to sleep is so much more difficult as she just wants to play if we follow the drowsy but awake method, which by the way used to work. In fact we didn’t even need to nurse at all!

    Interesting that you mention the biting of the shoulder indicates weaning too fast, as she has been doing that quite a bit. I’ll keep in mind to slow down, not that I want to stop feeding, I just want her to sleep through again and stop nursing to sleep… I often wondered if weaning would help her sleep better but obviously not.

  22. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Zamina — glad you found this article helpful! Sorry, though, that you’re struggling with the aftermath of that 8/9/10 month sleep regression :( Those can be so hard.

  23. Whitney says:

    This is an interesting article. I am very thankful that you point out that night sleep is more about baby habits and temperament than the method of feeding (breast vs. bottle). Both of mine have been frequent wakers. I just wanted to point out that there is another option. If your baby is over a year old, and you are interested in cutting back on nursing at night, you don’t have to wean entirely, but can night wean instead. There is a very helpful plan here (works for either co-sleeping families or baby sleeping in a crib):
    http://drjaygordon.com/attachment/sleeppattern.html

    While Gordon suggests 3 days at each stage, many people I know have spent weeks on each stage, which has made the transition go more smoothly. However, I have to point out that for some babies with some temperaments, there is just not such thing as gentle — ANY change will be traumatic (this was my first!). But, I think it is an option that could help some people and wanted to post it.

    Wishing everyone a good night’s sleep!

  24. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Whitney — thanks for this link! Very helpful. And you’re right, of course — what works for some babies won’t work for others. My firstborn is an intense little guy still, even at 4 1/2 years old, and all change was traumatic for him, too. Still is :)

  25. Sasha says:

    Oh it was one of the nicest things when I weaned my boy. even if it sounds selfish, it was such a relief!
    he was around 1,5 yrs, and I was pretty tired by than. he slept fine through the night since 2 or 3 months. I had to wake him up myself so that he could get a proper feed!
    around 1 he started waking every night (only once a night. I know it`s not too bad and it`s not something unusual, though it was frustrating after almost a year of good night sleep). it was going on for months and I thought it was due to anxiety (relationship with his father was not so good, unfortunatly) otherwise I didn`t know what to think.
    than I just desided to wean because to me it seemed that it was more of a habit than a real need, and I was really tired. and what do you think? he started sleeping through the night since the 2nd night after weaning! Maybe I should stop night feedings earlier, but I just couldn`t figure it out!

  26. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Sasha — glad to hear night weaning led to better sleep for you! (And so quickly, too!) Thanks for sharing your experience.

  27. Chris says:

    My daughter is 18 months and has been sleeping soundly through the night since she was 7 weeks. She naps for 2 hours every afternoon, and goes to bed between 730 and 8 every night until 730 or 8 every morning. For the last 3 months, she has only been nursing in the morning and at bedtime. Now, in an attempt to wean we have cut out the bedtime nursing, giving her a cup of milk instead and since then she’s been up at between 230 and 3 almost every night. Some nights its crying, others she figures its time to get up. She has never been a ‘nurse for comfort’ type kiddo; she was never ever nursed to sleep, she didn’t wake for night feeds after 7 weeks, and the bedtime feed was first to go because she was easily distracted and was barely feeding by the time we weaned. I’ve followed the ‘Don’t Ask-Don’t Refuse’ philosophy while cutting out the bedtime feed, and she has never sought out the opportunity to nurse, nor is she really showing signs of wanting to nurse when she wakes up in the middle of the night. I’m so confused! Could it be a sleep association to nursing that neither of us knew was there until it was gone, or does it sound lilke good old 18 month sleep regression?

  28. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Chris — if she’s a highly routine-oriented kid, it could just be that replacing the bedtime feeding with a cup of milk is throwing her off a little. Some kids are more sensitive to changes in routine than others. If that’s it, I imagine it’ll likely pass quickly. It could also be a sleep regression; one of those can take place around 18 months. That’s actually the topic of next week’s blog article, so check back to read it and see if that’s what you might be dealing with :)

  29. Kristine says:

    In following up to my previous comment regarding ‘weaning windows’, I have come across several references to developmental changes at 13-15 months and 19-22 months that might ease the weaning process. In other words, there might not be a actual weaning window, but children might be less adaptable to change in the 15-19 month range and weaning might prove to be more difficult at that time. I would love to know if anyone else can find any information on this, and/or let us know, if you tried mother led weaning several times, if you found your baby was more accepting at certain ages than others. When did weaning ‘stick’ for your baby?

  30. Lana says:

    I breast fed exclusively for the first six months and my daughter is 2 years now and does not sleep through the night because she wakes up looking for that breast and seems very miserable when she is denied. I find the statement about bonding through breastfeeding is true. I love her but still think its time to stop breast feeding

  31. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Kristine — that’s a good distinction, I think. Maybe it’s not that there’s a window when weaning goes perfectly; instead, maybe it’s that there are times when a toddler’s development make weaning easier or harder.

    @ Lana — to each her own! It can be easy to get lost in the breastfeeding literature that’s out there, or to feel pressured to either stop or continue nursing. Only you know when it’s best for you (and your daughter) to be done.

  32. Kat says:

    Dear All, first let me say that I have gleaned so much wonderful information from this site and have shared it with others much to their relief…so thank you for all your hard work.
    On the subject of breast feeding and sleep I would like to share my experience and knowledge. In my case I had to have my son weaned and babysitter trained at 12months as I had to return to work as a full time continental shift working ICU nurse. I started slow at five months, but it took six weeks to even bring a bottle near his mouth without him screaming and bawling. Long story made short: when it came to night time weaning as the last step, he was waking every two hours or so for a 5 minute nurse, and was often crying and squirming. After researching the issue I discovered that going slow was the wrong call at that point, and finally closed the mummy snack bar for good. I found out that nursing to resettle him was actually causing the reason he was waking; short nursing or if your milk supply changes during the weaning process supplies foremilk high in sugar which when digested creates gas and in sleeping position he could not relieve himself. He would wake and want nursing again starting the cycle all over again. This in fact may have contributed to my son now having developed GERD which is a whole different sleep issue….the puke fairy comes to visit.

  33. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Kat — “the mummy snack bar” — that made me smile :) So glad you’re finding the Baby Sleep Site helpful! Thanks for spreading the word. And thanks, too, for sharing your experience. This is a good example of the fact that what works well for some (going slow when weaning) doesn’t necessarily work for everyone. Good for you for taking control and figuring out what was best for your little guy!

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  35. Tina says:

    I have a night weaning question. My baby just turned 9 months old. He slept pretty terribly for the first 6 or 7 months. A couple months ago I stopped nursing him right before bed in order to avoid having a sleep association (and because he often wasn’t hungry after eating solids). I also heard about dream feeds and decided to give that a try. I’ve been nursing him around 4:30 or 5 and then feeding him solids. Then I put him to bed around 7 and do a dream feed around 9 or 10. The last month or so he has been sleeping most nights from about 7 to 7, so I’m hesitant to change anything, but I’m wondering if I should stop doing the dream feed.

    Would it be better to feed him before bed and try to completely night wean him? I noticed in your sample schedules that it says to nurse right before bed, but usually when I do that he falls asleep nursing. But, I worry that although the dream feed has been working so far, it’s going to start creating a new problem (sometimes he wakes up just before I am going to feed him, and I also wonder if he’s not eating as much during the day because I feed him at night).

  36. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Tina — you ask a really good question here! We have an article on the site written specifically about the practice of dream feeding; it’ll likely help you answer these questions. You can read the article here: http://www.babysleepsite.com/sleep-training/dream-feed/
    Hope this provides some insight, Tina! :)