Sunday, October 9, 2011

Nightweaning thoughts

I just had a "first": Baby Seal was fussing and crying as I held her in the living room and offered her the breast. Then all of a sudden, she looked across the room and smiled. She had seen her daddy, and she stretched out her little fat arms to be picked up by him and played with. It's at moments like this that I have to pull myself up and remind myself that I'm no longer nursing a newborn. She has grown into a "big little girl"; not just her size and her heaviness but in the things she does, I can already see hints of the toddler she is going to be before long. Nevertheless, there is one aspect in which Baby Seal is still very much a baby: she is still up twice a night to be fed. And in the last weeks or so, the "thoughts of the late-night nurser" have begun to turn towards nightweaning.

When she was very little, nightwakings were normal because, well, she was little. Then she started sleeping through the night at about four months! Yes! Except that a week later we went to the UK with an eight-hour time difference, and we got all messed up. A baby can't be expected to sleep through when she's jetlagged, after all. Or when her mother's milk is jetlagged, for that matter. And then, well, she's growing and growing, and hardly eating any solids. She needs the calories. And so on.

That said, a week ago I did what I usually do when I need a reality check: picked up my Sleep Lady book (Kim West) and had a look at the "Six to Eight Months" section. The Sleep Lady was merciless: "The overwhelming odds are that the main reason your baby still gets up in search of breast or bottle is that you allow it!" Ouch.

So, over the past week I have started the process of slooooowly shuffling towards nightweaning (with the aim of being done by about nine months), following Kim West's suggestion of reducing the length of the breastfeeds at night--the idea being that they will switch their calorie intake round to daytime, and eventually decide that it isn't worth waking up at night for nursies. So far she is still up twice, but has indeed managed to fall asleep after just a couple of minutes on the breast, and is eating a little more food in the daytime (which makes me suspect that Kim West was indeed right, and that she was filling up too much at night, rather than interrupt her play for boring old food in the daytime).

I'll see how this goes and report! One of the reasons I decided to start this blog was that I felt that there was a lack of sane and supportive online resources for breastfeeding mothers wanting to nightwean before toddlerhood. I already knew it was no use going to Kellymom for advice as I can practically feel the finger wagging just thinking about it.


  1. Excuse shameless promotion of own blog here, but will link to my nightweaning story in case anyone's interested in reading a different approach - what I did was switch to the bottle for night feeds so that I'd know exactly how much she was taking and could reduce it from there.

    Will look forward to reading how it goes for you and more of this blog, which looks really interesting!

  2. Sarah, I read the story, interesting idea! Would not have worked for Baby Seal, sadly, as she detests bottles and the open cup is wayyyy too messy to use at 2am, but I can definitely see the logic for a baby who is good with bottles. Much as I love BF the downside is that you can never know how much they are getting at any one time, which can lead to you to just keep flipping the boob out "just in case."

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