However, the need to wean your baby from night feeds cannot be generalised and can be decided according to your baby's age and the actual situation. If your baby's nighttime feeding is not affecting his growth and development, and if your mother is enjoying the process, it's not too late to consider it after 9 months or your baby's first birthday!
Is weaning really a "selfish" way of starving your baby?
There is no doubt that breast milk is the most essential source of nutrition for your baby. Frequent night feeds can also help to solve the problem of breastfeeding for mothers. The experts at La Leche League encourage mothers to nurse on demand at night without restriction.
Although there is a lot of controversy about the issue of "continuous night feeding", several authorities (e.g. the American Dental Association (ADA) and the American Academy of Paediatric Dentistry (AADA)) clearly advocate night feeding and even recommend that it should not be done in bed at all and must be done at bedtime.
After 6 months of age, babies start to sleep regularly and the nutritional needs are not fully met by breast milk at this time and complementary foods start to be added.
So this is the time to gradually quit night feeds for your own baby's situation, which not only helps your baby to establish a good eating and sleeping routine, but also facilitates the secretion of growth hormones and brain development at night, while effectively reducing the occurrence of dental caries in formula babies. It can also greatly improve the mother's sleep and give her better energy to take care of her baby during the day.
Weaning your baby from night milk is not a quick fix"Weaning is a holistic event involving feeding and sleeping, so mothers must plan ahead and implement it in steps.
Step 1: 0-3 months No need to think about night feeds during this stage, feed your baby exactly as he/she needs.
Step 2: 4-6 months Your baby will start to develop the habit of regular feeding at this stage. "Regular feeding" is the key to weaning, weaning and sleep later on, so set yourself small goals during this 3 month period.
Step 3: After 6 months At around 6 months of age, your baby's first teeth will have started to erupt and you will be able to start weaning your baby from night feeds now that you have achieved your previous goals. A common way to do this is to increase the amount before bedtime and to "delay gratification" at night.
For example, on the first day of weaning a baby who normally gets 150 milk at night can be fed 180 milk. If your baby wakes up in the middle of the morning at 3am and wants to feed, don't feed him immediately but delay the feed until 3.30am; the next day, delay the feed until 4am; the third day, 4.30am ...... and so on, gradually and slowly weaning your baby off night milk.
Remember, 4-6 months is the key period for regular feeding. If regular feeding is done, then weaning your baby from night feedings is not a difficult task!
What should I do if my baby just can't stop night-time breastfeeding?If you are trying hard, but your baby still can't wean from night feeds. This is the time to take a closer look to see if you have any of the following reasons.
▶ Baby's complementary feeding schedule
Some mothers will feed their babies at night or just before bedtime to avoid night feedings, but babies go to bed earlier so that during the night your baby will definitely feel hungry and need to drink night milk.
▶ Find the real factors for your baby waking up at night
When your baby wakes up at night, apart from the physical nuisance of illness, check if it is cold, hot, pooped, peed or if the surroundings are uncomfortable. Avoid the habit of eating as soon as your baby cries.
▶ Avoid habitual milk sleep
You should try to separate the two things, breastfeeding and sleeping, to avoid the mere association of both breastfeeding equalling sleep for your baby, which will effectively reduce the need for breastfeeding during the nighttime sleep.
Moreover, sleeping with the nipple in your baby's mouth not only affects your baby's breathing leading to poor sleep, it also has a negative impact on the normal development of your baby's teeth. In addition, the mother's breast can easily block your baby's mouth and nose, triggering the risk of suffocation.
When your baby is sleeping with her nipple in her mouth, do not force her to pull it out. You can stick your fingertip through the corner of your baby's mouth or use your index finger to quietly press on your baby's chin and gently interrupt the sucking.
▶ Learn to tell if your baby is really hungry or not
To check if your baby is really hungry, see if he or she eats as much milk at night as he or she does during the day, if he or she does, he or she is really hungry; if he or she just takes a few bites, he or she is just a "milk addict".
When your baby needs to nurse soothingly, ask someone other than the mother to soothe her. Often, the mother will ignore the baby at first, but after a few minutes of crying she can't bear to start feeding. This will give the baby the reflex "I will only be fed if I cry", and the next time the baby may cry even more.
▶ Guiding your baby to distinguish between day and night
Your baby starts to accept the change of day and night at 2 to 3 months of age. At this time, the home should be kept quiet at night and the lights switched off to get into sleep mode; during the day the family can move around normally or even make noise to keep the baby awake. In this way, after a while your baby will get into the habit of sleeping at night.