December was a crazy month for us. We went on vacation, attended holiday parties, went away for Christmas, had guests over. And in amongst all of this Willow was teething. It seemed the madness would never end.
Despite all the craziness we managed to keep Willow’s brand new and rather delicate sleep routine intact. A feat for which I am really proud. The was an upset in the middle there, during the teething, when she struggled to fall asleep. But all-in-all she was a real trooper and I couldn’t be happier.
So when life returned to normal I knew the time had come for the next big challenge: Night Weaning.
Willow had settled into a good routine: 7/7.30pm bedtime, a quick feed at 10 or 11pm, a bigger feed at 2 or 3am and sleep ’til 7.30am. In the meantime, I had been researching night weaning and had devised a plan.
The most helpful article I found was this one on Precious Little Sleep (this whole website is brilliant if you have sleep issues btw!) and this was the plan I decided to follow. Basically, I would cut the time I spent nursing after bedtime by one minute per side every couple of days. Sounded simple enough.
The first time I seriously overestimated how long she spent nursing at night. I set the time for 9 minutes and she was done long before that. For the second feed I set the time for 8 minutes. Again she was done long before that.
So night two I decided to cut two minutes. It was the first time I had to break her latch but I slipped her into bed and she went back to sleep quite happily.
After that night, I cut a minute from the time every other night. Every night she went back to sleep with no issues.
I put a pause on the night weaning around her birthday party. We were down to four minutes a side, but we had a house full of guests and so much was happening during the day that I felt it would be too much for her.
The Monday after her birthday party, after all the guests had left we returned to the program.
She is now fully weaned. She hardly ever wakes in the night now and I have been clocking eight to nine hours of sleep! We have had blips here and there – generally when she’s sick or teething. But she has been really easy to settle down and normally she goes back to sleep quickly.
I’m so proud of her and how she handled the whole process. The method also totally works. My biggest piece of advice: wait until your child is ready to give up night feeds. Some may say I left it a little long with Willow, but it was the right thing to do for our situation. If feeding at night is working for you then keep going until it becomes unsustainable.