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Do you want more sleep?   Yes! I need more sleep.

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  1. 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: https://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…

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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. (https://kellymom.com/ages/older-infant/babyselfwean/)

  5. 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.

  6. 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 🙂

  7. 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.

  8. 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: https://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!

  9. 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!

  10. Vanessa says

    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.