Night Weaning Gently FAQ’s and Night Weaning Week 2020 with Giveaway

Night Weaning Week 2020 is made possible thanks to the generous support of Naturepedic and the Night Weaning Gently Workshop.

 

Learn more about all the brands sponsoring Night Weaning Week below, including Naturepedic organic mattressesArdo, Crane USA, Olababy, the “Night Weaning, gently” workshop, and the upcoming “Sex, Interrupted” e-book.

But first, we’re answering some common questions related to Night Weaning.___________________

Night Weaning Gently FAQs

by Jessica Martin-Weber

 

What is respectful, gentle night weaning?

Respectful, gentle night weaning is a mindful process of ending night feeds that considers the needs of the entire family with awareness of development and the importance of the parent/caregiver – child bond. This process cares for the whole family and can be done with any sleep arrangement in respect for the family’s values, priorities, and needs. While it may be with some tears, it won’t be traumatizing or isolating and there will be comfort for those tears, which teaches your child that they can be upset and still have care and support from you even when they can’t have what they want. It does not involve leaving your child to cry alone.

Ready to night wean but want more help in doing so? Take our Night Weaning Gently Workshop e-course.

 

When is a good time to start thinking about night weaning and does it have to mean moving baby into their own room? How do you know if they’re ready?

(Want to determine your family’s readiness for a respectful, gentle night weaning experience? Start with this free downloadable night weaning readiness checklist.)

I really think the answer to this is very unique to each family and each baby. Night weaning doesn’t have to mean moving the child into their own room if that is not what is desired by the family. It is important to remember that every child is different and their unique temperament may greatly influence their night weaning readiness. While some infants naturally give up their night feeds at a young age, more commonly night feeds remain an important part of an infant’s routine until 10-12 months of age or beyond for both nutrition and comforting reasons. Under 6 months night feeds for the breastfed baby are important in establishing and protecting milk supply and night weaning too early can lead to low milk supply. If your child is under 10 months, they may not be ready to night wean. Both child and parental readiness are important – if you are not ready to night wean your child, you do not have to. Your child’s level of readiness for night weaning is the most important consideration and we do not encourage attempting to night wean if your child’s readiness score is not optimal. 

(Points to keep in mind for your child’s sleep space.)

 

Will night weaning gently end all night wakeups?

Maybe, maybe not. It usually will help but we all wake for a wide variety of reasons, including babies, toddlers, and young children. Night weaning gently will end night wakings to feed while respectfully preserving the parent/caregiver-child bond.

 

How long does it take to night wean gently?

It is very unique and individual, every child and family is different but typically somewhere between 7-10 nights. However, sometimes it is a very smooth and easy-going transition, particularly if your child is very ready for the process and it may be complete in 3 nights. Other times it is a more drawn out process with additional steps, particularly if there are any set-backs such as illness or travel. 

Wondering if your child is really ready? See this checklist.

 

What are some cues that your baby may be ready for night time weaning?

Studies have shown that babies under 12 months still need to wake often to eat both for nutrition and for safety in their sleep cycle.  So I don’t look for any signs of readiness before 10-12 months. After the one year mark, though, any combination of these may be a sign of readiness to night wean:

  • Seems tired and grumpy during the day.
  • Eats well (solids and breast milk) during the day.
  • Has moved through some of the major milestones such as walking.
  • Does NOT have intense separation anxiety.
  • Is not actively teething or sick.
  • Seems frustrated and restless at night at the breast
  • Wakes to nurse but falls quickly back to sleep without really eating.
  • Shows basic understanding of phrases like “all done.”
  • Shows interest and awareness in bed time routines and daytime vs. nighttime.
  • May play putting toys to bed.
  • Responds to soothing other than breastfeeding (i.e. rocking, singing, back rubs, etc.)
  • For a more complete list of signs of night weaning readiness, download your free night weaning readiness checklist here.

I think night weaning is most successful if the child is truly ready for it, please don’t expect that just because your child is over a year old they will be ready to night wean.  If it is a giant struggle or at any time the parents feel this is all wrong and not what they want to be doing then they should stop. It is possible that a child won’t be ready one month but will be the next. Remaining flexible is perhaps the most important key to night weaning. Maybe for all of parenting actually.

 

What’s really involved in respectful, gentle night weaning?

It will depend on your child’s personality, your sleep arrangements, the support you have, and your primary goals in night weaning, but in general you set a kind of time frame that you won’t breastfeed during (your most valuable sleep hours) and soothe without the breast when they wake instead. Go over the night weaning readiness checklist and if it looks like you’re ready, you start with a block of time you don’t feed during the night, say 10pm – 4am and instead offer cuddles, back rubs, soft sounds, empathy for their upset with comforting words, and maybe a sippy cup of water. You may want to do more to prepare and it is likely you will want to more specifically customize the process to be mindful of your child’s personal sleep temperament.

Learn more about your child’s sleep temperament and night weaning gently in this do-at-you-own-pace e-workshop.

 

Can you respectfully and gently night wean a child without the help of a partner?

Absolutely. 

 

Are there options in how to night wean?

There are several and any method should be customizable to your family’s needs.

Night weaning gently method overviews:

The Feed To Sleep Method– For toddlers. If continuing to breastfeed to sleep for bedtime is something you want to continue, this method allows for gently ending middle of the night feeds while allowing for breastfeeding to continue to be the last step in the bedtime routine. With responsive comfort given for wake-ups during a set time frame of your most valuable sleep hours, the Feed to Sleep Method gradually reduces feed times during those hours over the course of several days but does not interfere with breastfeeding to sleep at bedtime.

The Gentle Weaning Method– For older babies and toddlers. This method involves including breastfeeding as part of the bedtime routine but gently weaning off breastfeeding to get to sleep at bedtime and through the night. A respectful, tuned-in approach that ends the connection between breastfeeding and nighttime sleep by observing how suckling changes and gradually reducing the time at the breast for each feed before laying baby back down.

The Time Block Method– For older toddlers and preschoolers. Involves the older child in the process with conversation that breastfeeding (or whatever your family calls it) will only happen when the sun shines or in a specific spot and not during sleep time any more. Selecting one feed to start with and using the light outside, the time on the clock, a color changing clock, or some other signal, the child knows that breastfeeding will not be available until that time but that comfort is still offered.

 

Do you have to night wean or will they eventually stop on their own?

Night weaning is completely optional. All children will stop feeding through the night on their own, often between the ages of 2-4 but sometimes later. However, no child has been breastfeeding through the night by the time they have gone off to college, they all stop at some point. If you don’t want to night wean, you don’t have to.

I can’t stress enough that being flexible and figuring out what works for your family, not following a set schedule of what someone has predetermined your child should be doing at what age is crucial for the night weaning experience to be free from trauma.

For more in-depth support in planning your respectful, gentle night weaning journey and for less than the cost of a night at a hotel, take the Night Weaning Gently Workshop with Jessica Martin-Weber and no-cry Children’s Sleep Consultant, Rebecca Michi. Register here.

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Night Weaning Week Giveaway

 

Many thanks to the brands that are participating in Night Weaning Week. They believe that parents should have easy access to the information they need to make the best decisions they can. Their products reflect that belief, and we’re excited to share a bit about the ones featured in this giveaway.

To enter the giveaway, please use the widget at the end of this post. 

 

Our Title Sponsor, Naturepedic, is all about sleep. Their mission is to provide everyone from babies to adults with a fuller, healthier night’s sleep on a quality organic mattress. Their handcrafted organic mattresses and accessories are a dream to sleep on. You can sleep soundly knowing that you are completely safe from unhealthy materials and chemicals.

Naturepedic Crib Mattress
Retail Value: $349 

The Organic Breathable 2-Stage Baby Crib Mattress combines breathability and waterproofing for a safe, healthy and hygienic crib mattress design. The mattress starts with a firm, flat waterproof surface made from non-GMO sugarcane that is so pure, it actually meets food contact standards and easily wipes clean.

 

 

 

 

A free registration for the “Night Weaning, gently” workshop
$295 Value

Learn how to gently end night feeds thanks to the Night Weaning Gentlyworkshop, with Jessica Martin-Weber, founder of The Leaky Boob and Rebecca Michi, children’s sleep consultant.

 

 

Ardo: Calypso-To-Go breast pump
Retail Value: $300

The Calypso-To-Go is a Swiss-made, closed system breast pump that features: 64 settings, 3 power options (battery, AC adapter, car adapter), less than a pound, piston pump (gentler than membrane pump), 250mmHg (same as most pumps), insurance covered. It goes where you go!

 

 

 

 

Crane: Elephant Humidifier
Retail Value: $55

Meet Elliot the Elephant! No matter the humidity level you would like to achieve we’ve got you covered. The Crane Adorable cool mist humidifiers offer variable output settings and an adjustable 360 degree mist lid making it easy to send the mist in any direction. Plus, our humidifiers are whisper quiet which makes it the perfect option for light sleepers, kids, and especially babies.


Olababy: a transitional feeding set, or a spoon + bowl feeding set
Retail Value: $25

Baby-led weaning training spoons and silicone bottles

 

 

 

 

12 free copies of the upcoming “Sex, Interrupted” e-book
Retail value: $17.99
Coming out April, 2020

What if intimacy and sex could actually be BETTER after baby?

Jessica and Jeremy Martin-Weber, together for over 20 years and still “doin’ it” in spite of having 7 kids, share their stories and thoughts on how they’ve kept their connection – and their groove – alive all this time. Straightforward and honest, they share the good, the bad – the ugly – the challenges and the beauty in maintaining a relationship when babies enter the picture – and stay there FOREVER. 

 

Enter the giveaway here:

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Are There Sweet Dreams With A Breastfed Baby? Sleep and the Breastfed Baby

by Jessica Martin-Weber

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The Leaky Boob is committed to providing free information, support, and community. You can be a part of making that possible by joining our circle of support. Any and all support amount makes a difference.

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This post made possible by the generous support of Naturepedic

 

Ah sleep. Everyone wants it, parents struggle to get it. 

We hear all kinds of things about sleep when kids are in the picture. From the start, tiny humans come out with a different set of sleep needs than the people taking care of them and it doesn’t take long to figure out that they seem to require much less sleep for 1,000 times more energy. It’s a mismatch from the get go. So the quest begins for the elusive right amount of sleep for everyone in the family with a balanced routine so the parents and their infants and children can get what they need. Everyone has an opinion and strategy on sleep and even strangers in the grocery store may share with parents their magic tricks for getting babies to sleep through the night (which is only considered 6 hours without waking).

When it comes to sleep and breastfed babies, the advice and myths abound but sleep, like many other aspects of a child, is very much an individual thing. Personality, developmental stages, individual body quirks, etc. can have a major impact on sleep. The fears we typically hear about sleep and the breastfed baby is that for some reason the breastfed baby will wake more often than their formula-fed peers, become dependent on the breast to fall asleep, and have sleep struggles longer. While often formula fed babies may wake less frequently to feed in the early months because formula takes longer and more work to digest, evidence shows that there’s no guarantee that will be the case. Further evidence suggests that formula fed babies and breastfed babies (and their parents!) still get the same total amount of sleep. Plus, by 9 months, all sleep differences between breastfeed babies and formula fed babies have leveled out anyway. With the lowered risk of health issues including diarrhea and ear infections (talk about sleep disrupters!) and the reduced risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), breastfeeding is still the normal biological way to feed a baby and recommended by experts.

So does breastfeeding mean poor sleep?

8 points you need to know about sleep and the breastfed baby.

Have realistic expectations. Young babies wake frequently, often those wakings are to feed. Frequent wakes are completely normal so adjust your expectations accordingly. Babies have small stomachs, breastmilk is digested quickly because it is exactly what their bodies need, and the part of their brain that regulates sleep hasn’t developed to differentiate between day time sleep and night time sleep or naps and long sleeps. Frequent wakings actually reduces the risk of SIDS, a blessing in disguise.

Breastfeeding helps babies fall asleep. The oxytocin release that comes with breastfeeding is relaxing and naturally makes babies and parents sleepy. It isn’t a bad habit for breastfed babies to fall asleep at the breast and to want to return to the breast to help them settle when they wake in the night, it is normal. Including breastfeeding as part of the consistent bed time routine is a good way to help them get to sleep. If your baby has started solids, just be sure to brush their teeth before breastfeeding so that there aren’t any other food particles on their teeth that could lead to tooth decay. Breastmilk itself is fine for teeth as long as they are clean. Needing to breastfeed to sleep won’t become a lifelong crutch, we promise.

Babies breastfeeding at night helps milk supply. Prolactin levels (milk making hormones) are highest at night which means that babies wanting to breastfeed at night actually work together with those higher prolactin levels to help your body make more milk. A baby that starts sleeping through the night too early could lead to a lower milk supply. It may help to think of your baby waking to feed during the night as protecting your milk supply.

Realistic expectations- again! Research shows that only 43% of babies over 6 months actually regularly sleep 8 hour stretches without waking during the night. That leaves 57% of babies over 6 months that do wake in that time and need help getting back to sleep. By 12 months those numbers flip and 57% of babies over 12 months regularly sleep 8 hour stretches without waking during the night, so 43% of babies are still waking. 72% of babies are making it 6 hour stretches without waking during the night by that age. The expectation that the majority of babies are going to be sleeping through the night by 6-12 months is a myth and causes unnecessary pressure based on unrealistic expectations. If your baby isn’t sleeping through the night, they’re in good company.

Breastfed babies wake for other reasons than to feed. Though they may prefer settling back down to sleep at the breast, they also wake if they’re cold, hot, wet or soiled, scared, were startled, and any other number of reasons. Just like adults. The difference is that adults usually wake and fall back asleep without needing assistance in doing so, a skill that takes some time to develop. Comforting connection that helps your baby feel secure is the best way to help them calm and settle back to sleep.

No matter how they are fed, all babies need a safe sleep space. A firm flat surface (no inclined sleepers) free of blankets, toys, and crib bumpers. Keep in mind that infants up to a year need about 12-16 hours of sleep a day and toddlers need about 11-14 hours a day. That’s a lot of time spent in their sleep space, consider the materials with which your child will be spending a significant portion of their day.

Most breastfed babies aren’t ready to go 8 hours without a feed until after 12 months. Due to stomach size and development, it is normal for them to need a snack and comfort in the middle of the night. Night weaning can actually lead to more wakings if done too early.

Sleep will happen, some day. It may seem like night wakings are lasting forever but most children do eventually settle into the normal sleep patterns we all crave. Even the worst sleepers improve but not everyone ends up with the “sleep through the night” pattern society tells us to expect. My 7yo still often wakes once a night in need of some comfort. Even I have times where I struggle with frequent wakings and have difficulty getting back to sleep. There’s a wide range of normal at all ages.

Keep in mind that there is a wide range of normal and there are a number of factors that can contribute to disrupted sleep for infants and toddlers. Having realistic expectations goes a long way in being patient with the process. If you’re concerned that your child may be exhibiting signs of abnormal sleep, speak with your child’s health care provider about your concerns. Sometimes sleep issues are a sign of something else more serious going on that should be explored by a qualified healthcare professional.

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Drawing from a diverse background in the performing arts and midwifery, Jessica Martin-Weber supports women and families, creating spaces for open dialogue. Writer and speaker, Jessica is the creator of TheLeakyBoob.com, co-creator of wereallhumanhere.com, freelance writer, and co-founder of Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference. Jessica lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest and co-parents her 7 daughters with her husband of 23 years.