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There are many reasons why mothers who wish to continue to breastfeed during the day want to encourage their babies and toddlers to stop nursing at night. They include a wish to get pregnant again (nightweaning may promote ovulation), hoping their baby will start sleeping through the night, and concerns over dental health. Nightweaning sometimes sounds like the ideal solution. But is it possible?

When I started trying to nightwean my then nearly two year old I thought the answer was that no, nightweaning is not possible. My toddler would scream for milk, reject water, and continue fussing until I gave in. Women who had successfully nightweaned told me that daddy was often key in the nightweaning process.

My husband is, unfortunately, often away for work for days and is not always around. When he is, I like to give him some sleep! If nightweaning was going to be a success, it would have to be relatively easy for all of us. No crying baby, no angry neighbors, and no total lack of sleep. When we started, I now think, my baby simply was not ready for nightweaning. Months later, he is no longer interested in nursing during the night. Success! He sleeps through the night and just needs some cuddles and perhaps a glass of water when he does wake up. So yes, I can now say that nightweaning is possible. How? These are some tips to make it work.

Your baby has to be old enough not to rely on nightly nursing as a means for nutrition. Nightweaning is for older babies and toddlers. It helps if you wear something that does not grant easy access to the breast. It helps if the person comforting a baby who wakes up at night has no breasts men come to mind :). But this is not a prerequisite. Learn to comfort your baby in ways that don't involve nursing. Rocking, hugging, and a glass of water are all possibilities. If your baby just won't sleep, there are answers other than nursing. Try starting gently by not offering the breasts unless your baby asks (with words, or gestures).

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