Tuesday, 13 April 2010

To night wean or not to night wean

Every night I go through this battle in my head. Eloise has good nights, where she only wakes up once to feed, but those are few and far between. More often than not she has bad nights where she wakes up 4 times. Though I know she doesn't need to eat, in my sleep deprived state I go to the easiest in the short term solution and plonk my boob into her crying mouth so we can all get to sleep again NOW.

While I'm feeding her in her darkened nursery the same argument runs through my mind. She's not even 9 months yet, and a couple experts say that sleeping through the night is a milestone to reach just like sitting up or crawling. Plenty of other books say that by 6 months your baby does not need to feed at night and should be sleeping through. I go back and forth. I know I am creating a habit for her, that she is nursing for comfort and doesn't need the breastmilk (at least not 4 times a night!), but at the same time do I want to put us through a week of sleep training hell if she's just going to get there on her own at some point? And especially as she isn't getting any milk while at nursery I can easily guilt trip myself into feeding her more than she requires.

And if we do decide to night wean, how much crying are we willing to subject our child to?

This would be a lot easier if we were trying for a second child. Then the decision would be made for me - if I want another child, I would HAVE to get Eloise off of the night feeding. (Breastfeeding - especially at night - is a very potent natural form of contraception). I could use the promise of a sibling for Eloise as motivation to handle the sleepless nights. But so far we're holding off on baby number 2.

It's quite impressive how mother nature makes sure that you are sleeping through the night before having another child. Makes perfect sense to me. What I need to know though is whether mother nature is waiting for your baby to get to the point where they no longer need their mom and her milk jugs to sleep or is mother nature waiting for you to prove you are a good enough parent by getting your child the much needed undisturbed night's rest before she grants you a second kid to fuck up love.

Feel free to add your opinion to the mix that is my muddled Mama brain.


  1. Wean her now. I made the mistake of not, my son is 3 and still wakes a lot at night. Of course that's my fault to for giving him more water in his cup-ARGH!!!! I NEED SLEEP

  2. My daughter usually sleeps through the night, but when she does wake up, I'm guilty of the exact same thing as you. I know she probably doesn't need to be fed, but the easiest thing to do? Shove my boob in her mouth and I know she'll settle much more easily. When she was younger and went through a wakeful period, I was much more disciplined. I would go in to calm her, but refused to feed her. It worked.

    So we have don't sleep training with Annika, just not in the middle of the night. We sleep trained her in the evening and for naps. And guess what? It totally worked for us. It was really, really hard in the short-term, but it was definitely the best thing for our family in the long-term.

    The book I used was The Sleepeasy Solution and I found it really helpful.

    Whatever you decide to do, good luck!

    As a sidenote, when Annika started sleeping through the night at 3 months old, I got my period back immediately AND I WAS STILL EXCLUSIVELY BREASTFEEDING! I couldn't believe it!

  3. Phew - what a novel! Sorry for the long comment!