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Night-Weaning Your Baby

by Maxine
Posted August 18 2010 01:51pm
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Want your baby to start sleeping through the night? It can happen! But, first you need to begin night weaning your baby. We can guide you through this process with some time-tested Comfort, Play & Teach® strategies.

Generally, it’s okay to start night weaning your baby after he’s 6 months old. But check with your health care provider to be sure there’s no medical reason to continue a night time feeding. Some babies wean themselves, while others are open to it if their parents take the lead.

In many cases, babies cry only a little for a night or two along this process before adapting to going through the night without waking for a feeding. However, if your baby cries inconsolably for several nights in a row, go back to your normal routine and try again in a week or two. He may be going through a growth spurt and need that feeding to satisfy his hunger.  This is not spoiling him. In this situation, you are not training him to get what he wants by crying. Instead, you will be responding to his needs—and this is a good thing.

Our experts have created the following Comfort, Play & Teach® activities to help you night-wean your baby.


  • Timing is everything. Don't try night weaning if your routine is changing or about to change—especially if you’re about to become less available. For example, it’s not good for your baby to attempt night weaning just before you return to work. Try to undertake night weaning a long time before or considerably after you make such a change. It’s also not a good idea to try night weaning during a vacation or shortly after a move. Your baby can be affected by these changes in her routine. She will naturally want to connect with you at night if she is in a strange place or if she has less of your time during the day.
  • If you’re the one who comforts your baby when he cries at night, try having your partner attend to the baby. The smell of you or your breast milk can make your baby want to feed.
  • Throughout the process, gently soothe and comfort your baby when he wakes. Explain that it's sleepy time. Repeat gentle soothing, but firm words such as “sh,sh” or “night night” while patting his back or tummy. Even though he's too young to understand your words, most babies gradually understand the meaning, and your presence soothes them.     


  • Be sure to keep any play that takes place just before bed quiet and calming such as reading a book or giving baby a massage. A revved up baby may fall asleep in exhaustion, and then wake up in the middle of the night with energy left to burn off.
  • Don’t reward your baby with play in the middle of the night. Some parents feel that if their baby is awake, they might as well get up and play. Keep nighttime for sleeping and daytime for play.


  • Wean slowly and gradually. This is the most important key to successful night weaning. Remember that your baby is still young and has a tremendous need for comfort, closeness and reassurance—particularly from his parents.
  • Very gradually give your baby less time on each breast or a little less milk at each feeding.
  • Very gradually prolong the intervals between feedings by patting and comforting your baby. This will gently urge him to go back to sleep.
  • Make sure your baby gets plenty to eat throughout the day. Offer your child extra feedings in the evening so he won't be hungry in the middle of the night. Wake him for a final feeding before you go to bed.


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