Mission: Weaning Baby off the Breast at Night

weaning baby off the breast at night

“You’ve got your hands full”

This phrase is the one hubby and I most commonly hear at the moment. And yes *does sarcastic voice* I always love the bloody obvious being pointed out, especially by complete strangers! Weaning baby off the breast at night was never going to be easy, and unsolicited “advice” really doesn’t help. 

If working on our 5yo becoming a less defiant child, and potty training our almost 3yo (more on that another time) wasn’t enough, this weekend 5yo went to our friends for a sleepover so we pounced on the opportunity to move baby boy into his own room and stop his night time comfort snacks. At 11 months old he eats at least three solid meals a day, and also has a massive feed before going to bed. He doesn’t need the milk at night, but as I’ve said before, being a third baby, we had got into bad habits.

“I’d never do that with my own baby”

Oh how the mighty fall! Out of sheer sleep deprived desperation, and not wanting him to wake up the girls, I’ve done so many things I swore I wouldn’t do first, and even second time around. I essentially became a human dummy for him at night, comfort feeding in the marital bed to keep him quiet. We were naively hoping that he would just start sleeping through by himself, but rather than get better in the sleep department as time wore on, our situation became more and more dire.

freddy Martina

When I wrote this update three months ago he was up four or five times a night. Gradually over the last couple of months the wake ups increased, and since December he had been waking roughly every hour. On Thursday and Friday he didn’t sleep for more than 40 minutes at a time. Not only that he is a terrible bed sharer – he kicks, pulls hair, stands up and treads on us. If that’s not bad enough he started biting me with his razor sharp teeth while I was feeding him. Just what I need, especially on a day where I have to work!

“You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do”

Some folks swear by controlled crying, but this didn’t sit right with us. Up until Saturday night our son’s cot was right next to our bed and he often slept in our bed, with boobies on tap. To go from that to sleeping in his own room and being left to cry would have been utterly heartbreaking for all involved. Instead we decided hubby would deal with the wake ups as he would probably be angry with me for not feeding him. Every time he woke hubby went into his room, picked him up from his cot and comforted him in his arms until he was sleepy enough to be put back down again. This went on all night, poor hubs was up six or seven times and although he got a lie in until almost 8am looked like a shadow of his former self yesterday morning. Poor guy! 

Fortunately last night was much better, the boy was only up twice and didn’t need nearly as much comfort to get back to sleep. Not only that but he slept until almost 7:30am (he’s been getting up around 6am for ages now), and he ate all his breakfast (he usually only eats half). He was smiling first thing this morning for the first time in a while, it was so lovely. I hope I’ve not gone and jinxed myself here, but hopefully we’re on the right path now. 

The fabulous Baby Whisperer says it takes three nights to create a habit for babies, so fingers crossed by this time Wednesday we’ll have a good sleeper on our hands!  

If you enjoyed this update on weaning baby off the breast at night, you might also like these posts: 

Boobies: My Ultimate Ace Card

Potty Training Do’s and Don’ts 

Can You Die of Sleep Deprivation? and Other Questions I’ve Asked Google

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45 thoughts on “Mission: Weaning Baby off the Breast at Night

  1. Sometimes things work out much easier than you think they will, and other things end up being an ordeal, you just never know with kids! Glad you’re little one is sleeping better 🙂

  2. Totally agree with that! It’s magnified for us because we aren’t in touch with my family at all, and hubby’s family live two hours away, so we only see them once a month at best. We have fabulous friends but no ‘help’ as it were. Makes life really tough at points, but as you said we’ll get there xx

  3. I’m pretty sure most mums eat their own words during the first five years of being a parent. It’s so much harder than I ever imagined and nothing at all could have prepared me for it!

  4. Thanks so much Jane! We got off to a flying start but have had two bad nights – hopefully tonight will be better xx

  5. Boobs are the best asset in the wee hours when we’re desperate for sleep! They worked a treat for my little man until the last month or so. Hope you get some more Zzzz’s real soon!

  6. Best of luck for tonight Jenni! It’s been hit and miss here too, after a flying start we’ve had two bad nights, and he was up and down like a yoyo between 3-6am today. Mind you anything is an improvement on waking up every 40 mins 😉

  7. It’s so difficult to decide when is the right time!
    We have just gone through this process with Boo (controlled crying wasn’t right for us either), and things have been a bit hit and miss but things definitely seem to be more sorted now and she slept from 8pm- 5.20am last night (for about the 4th time ever in her 13 months!) I did feel mean that the hubby had to go in to her on a night because he has work but after a few nights the wakings got less and shorter and we finally feel sorted, I think we should have gone down this route earlier… hindsight!!

  8. I think that if our society was different – if we were more of the village raising the kids as opposed to one or two people, it would be a lot easier to be ok with giving your body entirely to your kids until they no longer need it. Being up with them all night would be ok, because you’d have a team to help you in the day with them. You’d get to catch up on sleep. But we live in a hectic society where we have to do it all, plus a load of other stuff like work, emails, laundry, cooking, blogging, shopping. It is no wonder we go a bit bonkers. We all get there though. We all have our moments of ‘oh my god, if you’re tired will you just please go to sleep!’… But we get there. Good luck honey xxx

  9. Brilliant, well done both, controlled crying wasn’t for us either and your approach sounds so gentle and productive and love that he woke up happy too! Go parents! Thanks for linking up to #brilliantblogposts x

  10. Ooh good luck! My baby is only 2 months and I’m wanting him to spread out his nightly feedings so that I don’t have to wake up at night when I return to work. This isn’t going well yet. Hope your little one cooperates more since he is a bit older and doesn’t really need the midnight snacks.

  11. OMG! Reading your post was just like a description of what we have been dealing with our lo… I hope that this night goes smoothly! With us the nights have been getting worse, and my other half is just able to help with the beginning of the night, and I am afraid that I keep choosing the easy way, meaning I just keep giving him my boobs as the night conforter… I am lucky thought, as my baby is still toothless 🙂 #BrilliantBlogPosts

  12. So it’s not just mine then? We had such a better bedtime routine with our first and though my 6 month old is very good she is still waking up and I just want to sleeeep! Hope it keeps getting better

  13. That’s so great to hear! Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind. As heart wrenching as those first couple of nights are when they’re crying in your arms or in the cot with you next to them they have to be done to break the habit. So pleased your little girl is sleeping well now xx

  14. Thanks Suzanne! The gift of sleep would be a wonderful thing for him to have. We’ve made huge headway, fingers crossed the elusive 7-7 is just around the corner xx

  15. Hahaha love your long winded story my dear, thank you for sharing it because it’s nice to know it’s not just us. Breastfeeding can certainly be a double edged sword because I know I’ve used it for comfort with all my three. Like you though, I know I’ll be sad when the boobies go completely which won’t be long now. We’re averaging three wake ups per night, which is still pretty crap in comparison to sleeping 7-7, but oh so much better than where we were just a week ago xxx

  16. Thanks so much Jess! I think it’s a common theme with baby #3 that the rule book just gets discarded and you do what ever it takes to get through the day. Apparently three is the most stressful number of kids you can have… still wouldn’t give any of mine back though 😉 xxx

  17. I did try and comment yesterday lovely, but couldn’t. Hope you got it all sorted out? We’re doing well, he’s still waking two or three times but it’s such a huge improvement to where we were this time last week!

  18. Nice post and good luck. This has scared me reading this though! Our little one is 5 months old and has been in her moses basket next to our bed each night – we’re planning on graduating her to her cot bed in the nursery when she hits 6 months, but she too wakes quite often in the night for a ‘comfort feed’ – she feeds for 2 mins, doses off and can then be put down. Babies eh, who’d have them! #brilliantblogposts

  19. I have said so many things that I will do and wont do before I got pregnant and became a mother but ate a lot of those words as its hard. I have been there and good luck. I wish that you will find the right way that feels right =) #sharewithme

  20. You do what you have to do don’t you with babies, even if you know you shouldn’t do it! Wishing you heaps of luck, it will happen! xx

  21. Good luck! Actually, this really resonates with me. I (only) have two kids, and after totally cocking up breastfeeding with my elder son, I did slightly better with my younger son. To cut a long story short, he was a mixed-fed (that’s really bad English there) baby, having a combination of formula and breast milk. And in the night, because I was tired, and he wanted comfort, we had him in bed, free to latch whenever he liked, for the first 8 months of his life. And at 8 months, he began to get really angry with my boobs, pulling off, trying to sleep, couldn’t sleep so going back on. I kept offering him boobs whenever he cried, and he communicated beautifully that he did not want them – he just wanted to sleep. So we removed him from our bed, and placed him in his cot, next to our bed. He cried a lot in the first couple of nights. I was there with him, shushing, patting etc. After a couple of nights, he slept. And I lost my breastfeeding experience forever. I really wanted to keep him in our bed, knowing he would be our final baby. I still feel sad it is over, nearly a year later. He sleeps for the most part, but like all kids, has some inexplicably rubbish nights. And now, he just thinks my boobs are willies.

    Anyway, that was my long-winded (sorry!) way of saying that kids are terrible at sleeping, and I’m certain that you’ll have a spattering of good nights, mixed with some bad ones. You probably already know this though! Good luck hon xxx

  22. Oh my, Renee, this fills with with horror for you as I shudder at the memories! I have three too and as you say, had a much more “whatever works” attitude with the third baby, but enough is enough. You can’t function on that little sleep, and I’m glad to hear he already sounds like he’s getting the hang of it. I definitely agree that three nights make a habit – good or bad…argh! Best of luck! And thanks for your lovely comment on my job hunt post. xxx

  23. Thanks so much lovely! It’s going well, he’s been waking two or three times. Hopefully it’ll continue to improve too. I’ll write an update in a couple of weeks. Good luck with weaning hon xx

  24. Sounds like you are doing amazing with operation no more night booby! I love it. I remember doing it with both of mine as well. Just brought back so many memories. Keep it up hunny you will be catching up on those zzzz’s soon. 🙂 Thanks for linking up to Share With Me. Sorry if you had any trouble commenting on my site today as the host is being transferred there are a few glitches to fix. Apologies. #sharewithme

  25. Good luck! Every time we have made a change I the Tot’s sleeping routing I have braced myself. We were still getting her up for a feed at 10pm until she was about 15 months hoping to get more sleep in the early hours. We probably could have stopped sooner but didn’t want to risk it. Anything for a peaceful night! 🙂 #ShareWithMe

  26. Perhaps some kids just hop into bed and have nice cuddles but none of mine share nicely! Now baby boy has been evicted, we’ll defo limit co-sleeping to the absolute bare minimum… So far so good with this, he’s only been waking two or three times which is a huge improvement. Fingers crossed for tonight xx

  27. Thanks hon. He’s been waking two or three times a night which is a masive improvement on only sleeping for 40 mins at a time xx

  28. We had the same thing except my daughter was a bit older from what I can remember. She was never a good sleeper and I knew she was just comfort feeding at night and using the boob to get back to sleep. When we decided it was time we did the same as you and daddy went to her when she woke up. We had a few horrendous nights with lots of crying (her and me!) but after that it got better really quickly and she became a much much better sleeper and started sleeping through for the first time! She was much happier too.

    I really hope it keeps going well for you xx #sharewithme

  29. jI take my hat off to you for doing this – it takes real determination but I know it will pay off. You’ve given your baby everything and now you need to give him the gift of sleep – for all your sakes! As you know, my children are the same age gap as your 3 – why is it that people have to state the bleedin’ obvious all the time about having your hands full?! That did make me laugh. Best of luck. Hope he is sleeping better now x

  30. I hope this is going well. I prefer the gentle appraoch too, and if it works I’ll be following in your footsteps. We are still very much working on getting little Pudding onto 3 good meals a day, so if this doesn’t help her sleeping I’ll be coming back to this post for my strategy #sharewithme

  31. Oh wow good luck tonight hon! Your husband is a star!! Tackling the littlest one’s sleep issues must be a priority – you guys can’t carry on like that. I know breast is best and all that, but I can’t help feeling a bit relieved that I never had to do ‘weaning off the boob’ (JJ was 20 weeks and EJ was only five days) or get used as a human dummy or any of that. I think it was a *lot* easier to get them settled into a nighttime routine that didn’t involve any input from us (other than JJ’s frequent dummy losses – EJ seems to manage to rediscover his on his own!). I had the misfortune to have to share a bed (and not just a bed, but an air bed at that!) with EJ recently and Oh My – he is just like your little one in terms of constant movement and totally unreasonable positioning! I limit co-sleeping wherever possible – I’m a really unattached mum, I know! It’s how I survive! Thanks so much for linking again with #thetruthabout Xx

  32. I’m so pleased Sophie is doing well now with her sleeping, breastfeeding at night certainly becomes a comfort thing, and for us just needed to stop. Little fella did okay last night, up three times… fingers crossed for tonight!! xx

  33. Hope the third night went well. We started the year in a similar situation with Sophie waking frequently for feeds having also got in the bad habit of feeding her back to sleep every time she woke up – we had a couple of tough nights where I felt like I spent half the night leaning over the cot patting her and trying to soothe her without picking her up or feeding her and since then we’ve had quite a few nights where she’s slept through – it has made such a difference. Hope this will be the case for you too x

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