About a month ago, we decided that it was time to start trying to wean Jasper off milk feeds in the night. Before this he could be awake up to 6 times in the night and wanted milk up to 3 of those times. As he is breast fed, I needed to do all the wake ups with him and I was starting to reach a point of complete exhaustion after 11 months of little sleep. It was really starting to affect my mood and ability to function throughout the and with my return to work looming we decided that this would be a good time.
Overall he has done really well with this change. Typically he will now have his bedtime milk between 6pm and 7pm and then next have milk between 5am and 6am so this is quite a big improvement fo us compared to what it was before. I think only once in the last few weeks have I caved and given him milk at 4am. Generally his sleep has also improved a little bit, he does still occasionally have up to 3 wake ups in a night or periods of being restless but it has still got better. Also because he doesn’t have milk in the night anymore it means daddy can help more in the night which has been useful more me to try and catch up on some sleep.
Just for a full disclaimer even though Jasper s playing in his cot in the picture below, he has never slept a full night in there. He has pretty much co-slept with me since he was about 4 months old because he was waking up so regularly it’s the only way I could get any sleep. I secretly really like that he sleeps in my bed so I can watch him sleep and we can we extra cuddles.
So here are 6 tips that have helped us make the transition to weaning Jasper off night time milk:
- Give it time – basically what I mean by this is wait until your little one is ready. It can be tempting to want to stop night time feeds sooner because of the sleep deprivation. But I found waiting until Jasper was a bit older made it not only easier on him but made me feel a bit less guilty about weaning him off.
- Be prepared for a couple of hard nights – As with any transition, your baby will need some time to adjust to the change in routine so you might be in for a couple of hard nights. We found with Jasper that he cried a bit more on the first night. So it might be worth thinking about timing and planning for when you time to have a change in routine and when you are ready to persevere. We also picked a time when we knew he definitely wasn’t ill or teething.
- Make sure you know they are having enough food or milk in the day – I found this one important because I was so worried Jasper would be hungry that I needed to make sure he definitely wasn’t.
- Offer water instead – Just in case your baby is a bit thirsty it might be worth having a cup of water to hand to offer them, although if they want milk this one might make them more cross!
- Get daddy to deal with wake ups – We found it really helped when daddy stayed with Jasper when we first tried to wean off milk. He cried much more when I was in the room and then forgot that he wanted milk when I wasn’t there. After he had done a full night without having milk from me this then gave me confidence that he didn’t actually need the milk when I was with him.
- Give comfort in other ways – If your baby is waking up for comfort it might be worth thinking of other ways you could give them this like lots of cuddles, shushing or placing a hand on their chest.
I hope you found these tips useful and if you have any others that worked for you then I would love to know. Or if you have this stage coming up then good luck, it will be fine, I really worried about it more than I needed to. Although Jasper is breastfed, these tips are also applicable to weaning your baby their night time formula milk.
Thanks for reading, Jen x