Weaning from Night Feeds

It’s possible you dream of a time when you will get a full night’s sleep. It’s why the loaded question of ‘do they sleep through?’ feels so loaded. There’s pressure from people around you but also, probably, from yourself, because you’re exhausted.

Weaning baby from night feeds is by no means a guarantee of a full night’s sleep, as we’ve said before there are loads of reasons that babies wake up and hunger is only one of them. However, if and when baby and you are ready, night weaning can often be a huge step towards it.

We’ll also answer our listener Lynn’s question about whether she can night wean her baby when they’re still sharing a room.

1 – Be Realistic 2 – Stop, Look, Listen 3 – Look at your Day 4 – A Gentle Stretch

5 Night Weaning Hacks

[EP15 Weaning from Night Feeds Transcript]

Cat: [00:00:02] Midnight feasts, the dream of my childhood, I know big aspirations as a seven year old, all I wanted was a Kit Kat at a stroke of 12, not realizing I'd kept my parents up for multiple midnight feasts as a new baby. But when did they stop and how did they stop? This week we're looking at how to wean your baby from those midnight feeds. Hello, I'm Cubie TV presenter, podcaster and midnight snacker. And this is Sarah Carpenter, pediatric sleep consultant and podcaster. I feel like the more I say it, the more you're going to believe it. What was your nighttime snack of choice?

Sarah: [00:00:37] I'm an absolute sucker for a Wispa and a bag of salt and vinegar McCoys. And because of working nights. I get to indulge quite a lot.

Cat: [00:00:49] So actually midnight snacks are more like breakfast for you!

Cat: [00:00:52] After the novelty of being up with your baby in the night and having those cozy feeds wears off - and that could totally be on night one - you will likely be dreaming of a time where you get a full night's sleep. It's why the loaded question of 'Do they sleep through?' feels so heavy. There's pressure from both the people around you and probably from yourself because you're exhausted. And the thought of getting six or seven or even eight (what even is that?) hours of sleep seems amazing and at times totally unimaginable. Weaning baby from night feeds isn't a guarantee of a full night's sleep. As we've said before, there are loads of reasons that babies wake up and hunger is really only one of them. However, night weaning is often a huge step towards it. Sarah, I'm sure this must be one of your most asked questions.

Sarah: [00:01:45] It is, you know, people even before they've had baby, this is the question that they're asking, when will my baby sleep through or when will I get a full night's sleep? And it's so hard for them to understand that it isn't a one size fits all answer. But, you know, there's a lot of reassurance around it and a lot of explanation, which we're going to go into.

Cat: [00:02:10] Ok, so I mentioned the question that one hundred percent gives me the eye twitch 'Do they sleep through?' It's seen as some sort of badge of honour for baby and parents, like a mark of success, which is what makes it feel so rubbish if you answer anything other than 'Yes, of course!' It is a milestone, but as we always say, all babies are different and all parents are different. So our first thing is be realistic.

Sarah: [00:02:39] Absolutely, it's all about being realistic. It's so difficult when it's the topic of conversation at every catch up, every play date, every baby group. And so people get really, really hung up on that. They become obsessed with, you know, Bob next door is doing this and I worked for him, then it's definitely going to work for me. And it doesn't work like that. As we know from so much of the advice that we've given, you really have to look at your specific baby and your specific situation, and it's just so important to focus on that. And I know how hard that is. Like, if you're going to class where you think nine other babies are and yours is the only one who isn't then, of course, you're going to become obsessed with that. But you really, really can't. Like your baby is your baby. Your baby is not the same weight as the other babies, not the same age as the other babies, hasn't had the same type of delivery as other babies. You know, it's everything contributes to your baby being an individual.

Cat: [00:03:36] And also there isn't, like as you say, there isn't a specific date, or age, that you're like, oh, your baby should totally be able to do this by this point. It is a very flexible point. Some babies will not need feeds during the night from a really young age and some will need them for longer. You know, that's the whole point. There is big differences. So don't get hung up in the fact that, say, your buddies kid. And this happened to me. And I think anecdotally you probably got the same stories and all my friends do, you know, a baby that started sleeping through without a feed from like a month old or something like that. Like I mean, obviously it depends on how you term sleeping through, but going for a large chunk of time without having a feed. And you think, why is my baby not doing that? And, you know, it didn't happen for a lot longer for me. But so is is it age related?

Sarah: [00:04:32] Totally not. Of course, as they get older, they are going to change their day schedule, which means that they're going to be taking on more food during the day, which will contribute to them sleeping through. But it's not there's not a magic age where we're going to see, OK, when your baby turns twelve weeks, they are all going to be sleeping through. It doesn't work like that. You know, they're so, as I said before, like weight is a big contributing factor and your general routine and schedule contributes heavily to when they are going to start sleeping through, so you actually just touch on something really important as well as the perception of what sleeping through actually is . You know, a lot of people will term sleeping through, and when you actually say, so what hours has your baby sleep? It will be maybe 11:00 p.m. until five a.m. And for somebody else that isn't sleeping through because actually they go to bed at nine o'clock. So if they go to bed at nine o'clock and they're getting up at eleven o'clock, then they haven't slept through. Their baby hasn't slept through. So when I talk about sleeping through as from bed time, so six thirty to seven until between 6:00 to 7: 00a.m. in the morning, that's what I term as sleeping through. But, you know, it's really important. Again, if you are chatting to somebody who's saying, oh yeah, my baby has slept through for four weeks, they might be referring to 11 till five or 11 till six...

Cat: [00:05:51] And also to take it with a pinch or salt!

Sarah: [00:05:52] Exactly. And remember that some babies, you know, they might sleep through once and then they might not sleep through again for another X amount of nights or months or weeks, you know, and it could be anything. It could be that they've had their injections at eight weeks and they've slept through that night because of the injections.

Cat: [00:06:12] And also, I think, particularly if you're speaking to older generations, speaking as a parent whose firstborn is now five, you also forget you're like, oh, yeah, they totally slept through like from whatever point. If you talk to my mum and dad, apparently I was sleeping a full night from 10 days old, which I know is not true!

Sarah: [00:06:36] Ah dream baby, Cat!

Cat: [00:06:36] Wel... I definitely didn't produce them, so that can't be true! If we go back to talking about night weaning, when should you start to think, OK, this should be happening now, if it's not age related? At what point do you go, OK, babies X months old?

Sarah: [00:06:54] So really you're starting to think about from the point when you're aware of your baby waking up, settling themselves, then waking up again, feeding for less time than they have been, or taking less milk from the bottle then they have been, so you're really looking for the changes in their behaviour rather than looking for an age. By six months, you know, the majority of babies would be ready to sleep through. But again, it's not a guarantee and there will be lots of factors that can contribute to some babies who just aren't ready at that stage.

Cat: [00:07:30] It depends on the baby, obviously, and it depends on the parent as well. It depends how ready you are to make it happen, I guess, sometimes. Because there can be a bit of a process and that's what we're going to talk about.

Sarah: [00:07:43] Yeah, one hundred percent. You know, I've had people get in touch saying I'm totally ready to get my baby sleeping through. And, you know, everything in terms of the baby has been one hundred percent ready and their tweaks that we can make to make this happen. But I actually haven't had a more in-depth conversation with the parents. I've then said, you know, but we've got another few weeks because actually you're not ready for the process. And it can be just down to the fact that, you know, mum actually really enjoys just getting up at night and having those cuddles because she's got a busy lifestyle during the day and she's going to miss them too much. And there's no point in trying to make the changes and push for something if everyone's not on board. It's really important that everybody's ready for it and everybody really wants it.

Cat: [00:08:22] Our second thing relates to this too, seeing as we're talking about listening to yourself as a parent but it's also really important to listen to your baby. Whilst there is no rule that says you have to have weaned your baby by a certain age, it's important to look for signs, as we just mentioned. So this is a saying of yours - number two - our second thing is Stop. Look and listen. Although there is something about that slightly reminds me of like a safe crossing the road campaign from when I was a kid. This isn't about crossing the road. This is about night weaning. So Stop. Look and listen. Tell me about it, Sarah.

Sarah: [00:09:05] So the stop look and listen rule is basically when your baby does wake up rather than leaping off the couch or out of bed and running to the slightest sound, just take a breath, just stop. Think about it. And then if you have a video monitor or if you're in the same room, just have a quick look, see what babies doing, you know, lots of times their eyes will still be shut and they'll just be having a bit of a wriggle. They'll just be getting comfortable, just like we do at night. And then the third thing, listen, really listen to the sounds that they're making, so if they're just having a little bit of a moany groan, if they're just, like I say, having a bit of a wriggle that comes with the sound, they've just sort of made a little bit of a meow...

Cat: [00:09:50] What do you look after kittens?

Sarah: [00:09:55] All sorts! Then you can just leave them, you can leave them just to have that little wiggle around and see if they do go back over. So you're really listening to those noises, you're listening to the cries, and when you know that it's a cry that you need to respond to, that's when you're going to go in. So you're just giving it a bit of time before you leap up and do anything.

Cat: [00:10:15] This was actually the very first thing that I think you taught me. And you came through the door eight months pregnant and I was perched on the edge of my sofa feeling extremely anxious and obviously wasn't quite... And this is going to sound dramatic, love at first sight, but I bonded with you very quickly because that's what you're very good at. But I think you pretty much walked in the door of the sofa and Indy cried out. We had a monitor and I lept up off the sofa to go and get her. And you're like, wait, just wait a minute. Let's have a listen. I'd like to hear what that cry sounds like or that shout sounds like. And she gave a shout and she did a bit of a 'rrrrrr'. That totally as a new parent, I would have been, you know, flying up there and into her room to pick her up and then I would probably have ended up feeding her to settle her. And I think we waited and I don't know, she had a wee moan and then she actually went back over. And I was totally stunned, I have to say. And that was must have been within about 15 minutes of you walking in the door. And it sounds so obvious, but it was such a light bulb moment for me. I think she then did actually wake up properly around 15 minutes, 20 minutes after that. But we'd already stretched her a bit. So it was it was such a light bulb moment for me. So Stop, Look, Listen and take a pause for yourself as a parent, but also to see what they're going to do because it doesn't always ramp up.

Sarah: [00:11:39] Exactly. It really doesn't actually, you know, if it's going to ramp up to the crazy and you are going to end up feeding or resettling, it can take time. So use that time where you've stopped, use that time to go for a pee, it's the little things like that, that once you're in that room or once you're sat in that chair, if you don't, you actually can't do. So just think, OK, I'm going to stop, I'm going to have a little listen. I'm going to go for a pee, I'm going to get a glass of water. They're going to be fine. You know, even if you do end up having to go in, that little pause will mean that you're more comfortable for the period of time you're then there, meaning that ultimately the baby will be more comfortable as well.

Cat: [00:12:18] I know we love sleep, but we are forever saying it's important to look at your day because that's where the foundation of good sleep comes from. And really, when it comes to night weaning, that is really true, because the more you fulfil baby's needs during the day, usually the more easy it is to be able to help them to sleep longer at night.

Sarah: [00:12:36] Yeah, so some babies will just naturally night wean themselves, and that is when you will have a night where you haven't slept at all because you're waiting in anticipation of your baby waking up. And so you're going to be in every thirty minutes checking on them. The reason that some babies can naturally night wean themselves as because your day routine is just flowing, we're about to get invaded.... It's OK. You can come and say hello, you're here...

Alfie (Sarah's son): [00:13:04] Where's the electric blender?

Sarah: [00:13:16] Where's the electric blender?? Of all the things to come in and ask for! That is just Alfie to a tee!

Cat: [00:13:16] I'm a wee bit nervous about what you might come down to after we've done this podcast!

Sarah: [00:13:26] Yeah, so it's really important to be looking at your daytime schedule. Some people obviously, well, naturally night wean themselves. So that's very much based on following the schedules, being a step ahead. You know if you are meeting your baby's needs, which we've talked about so much in other podcast but if you're meeting your baby's needs, then they are going to be fulfilled during the day, which is going to mean that they are going to naturally night wean more easily. But again, it's not a guarantee. And if you follow the Stop, Look, Listen, then you will realise at some point very quickly that there are a lot of times that your baby is about making noises that you don't need to go to, and that is going to encourage that natural night weaning. But it's not something that happens a lot.

Cat: [00:14:10] No, exactly. So I was going to come back to that because you might have a beautifully perfect - whatever that is for you - daytime schedule. Baby might be getting brilliant naps, brilliant feeds, and you might still be up multiple times a night for feeds because it can also become something that is habitual.

Sarah: [00:14:29] Exactly. Definitely. And the more you jump up to every sound, the more habitual it's going to become. So you're then in a vicious cycle of feeling like you're doing absolutely everything right and you're doing everything for your baby. But they are still up very, very regularly.

Cat: [00:14:45] And I think there is a massive fear. I mean, from my point of view, obviously had worries about Indy getting enough food because of issues with her losing weight at the start. But I think that's true really for all parents. Whether you've had issues or complications at all, you are really worried that your baby's waking up so they need a feed. And that feels like the most automatic thing to do because, you know it will settle them. Even if,it's a kind of false economy, because it means that ultimately you all end up with less sleep if they're at an age and a stage when they're ready to not have feeds during the night.

Sarah: [00:15:17] Yeah, definitely. I mean, it's drilled into all of us during our pregnancies that, you know, babies do need to feed at night. And that's absolutely right. They do.So it is natural for you to want to feed them at night as well and to want to, you know, become quite obsessed about those weight charts and see it all a climbing in the right direction. And so you do you fall into this trap. I mean, I remember with all my knowledge the first night that Harry slept through, I was desperate to wake him up and feed him. I mean bearing in mind that he was a massive 10lb baby!

Cat: [00:15:54] I know,kudos to you for Harry!

Sarah: [00:15:59] Yeah! So but, you know, it's that sort of psychological, mental block of my baby is awake you want to feed them. So, yeah, you can you can see why it becomes such an easy habit to fall into. And also because none of us like you hearing our babies cry. So if we can pop a bottle or a boob into your baby's mouth and that crying instantly stops, then of course you're going to do that. You know, any mum or dad is going to hate hearing their baby cry to say it.

Cat: [00:16:28] Totally. And it does feel like I think, you know, a lot of early parenthood, you're a bit like 'I don't know what the hell I'm doing... I was about to drop a big swear, but I've realised how sweary our last episode was! I don't know what what I'm doing. And because you don't know what you're doing or you feel like you don't know what you're doing, often feeding is this one thing where you're like, oh, I can do that, whether it's bottle or boob, it is this amazing comforter for your baby. So it feels like a relief - I know it doesn't always work smoothly for people, so I'm not being flippant about it - but it can feel like a relief of, oh, there's this thing that I can do that makes everything OK, which is why you get caught in the cycle of being up through the night and it happening multiple times because and sometimes, as we've said, it can be a lovely thing. Like, I was definitely aware of that, you know, with my son that actually I held on to those feeds a little bit longer than necessary because having another child meant I didn't get as much quiet alone time with him. So I really treasured those nighttime feeds and I wasn't ready to give them up as quickly. He could have gone way earlier, but I, I kept them for me. But I knew I was doing that because of having a bit of experience, so it was a conscious choice rather than it being something that I was completely wrecked over like I was with Indy.

Sarah: [00:17:54] Yeah. We talked about that a lot. I remember you phoning and we had big chats about that. And the conversations just being very much, you know, it will happen when you're ready. And it does like I did the same with Emily. I definitely held on to the night feeds, partly because with the boys, once they were sleeping through, I felt like there was no need for me not to go back to work. So as soon as they dropped their night feeds I was surplus to being at home, so it was like oh well I better go back to work! So I definitely fed Emily for longer than she needed just to take a little bit more nighttime's off!

Cat: [00:18:27] Yeah. So I suppose look at your day, but also look at your night and how you feel about it. And that's kind of a core message of what we're we're talking about. But if you want to know how to do it, if you're at that stage, then that's what we're going to come to next.

Cat: [00:18:44] So we are all about being flexible, just don't ask me to do the splits, my pelvic floor is not going to enjoy that. So our fourth tip for night meaning is to do a gentle stretch. You can, of course, go cold turkey. But to be honest, usually it's going to be easier on you and your baby to do things gradually over a period of time. Obviously, we have no idea how many times you're up during the night with your baby, but we're going to talk on a general level. So, Sarah, talk to me about stretching out my feet.

Sarah: [00:19:17] So yeah, the stretching process comes again from the stop,look, listen. As soon as you start to follow that rule, then you are going to see a natural stretch anyway because there will be those times, that baby does just have a little grumble. As you said with Indy, you know, immediately, within 15 minutes of being in the house, we'd stretched Indy by 15, 20 minutes just because you didn't rush upstairs. So follow that rule and you're going to see small stretches, then if you do have to go in, do try to resettle them before you feed them. So, if you've listened to the cry and it's got to a level where you think actually they need a little bit of assistance, then go and use some of the same techniques that we've talked about. So, you know, you can rub babies tummy, you can roll them onto the stage of their back or pat their bottom, if they're over six months, and they're sleeping on their tummy. Then again, you can use that bottom pat technique to really get them tp resettle. Now initially, when you first start this process, you might be seeing that you're resettling them quite regularly and you're only getting an extra 15, 20 minutes each night. But that 15, 20 minutes the next night might be 20 minutes, 30 minutes. And I'll just keep stretching and stretching and stretching. The only time that I would recommend going fully cold turkey and stopping all night feeds immediately, is if somebody came to me and said, OK, for the last fortnight, baby has been getting up really regularly and feeding really regularly overnight. But then I can't get them to take any milk or food during the day. So, you know, if they've already got on solids and they suddenly haven't been very enthusiastic and they've been on a good schedule during the day, and they're feeding and eating, well and then they just stop by, then you're up 10 times a night feeding. Then obviously you need to flip that back around. They need to be getting the food on board during the day and not at night. So that's when I would see that going cold turkey is ok.

Cat: [00:21:10] Is that almost a bit like jetlag at the start of when you've got a newborn and that they kind of have flipped their their needs to be at nighttime?

Sarah: [00:21:17] Yeah. So, you know, you might have one unsettled night where you've relied on feeding them to get them back to sleep. And then, of course, the next day they're just not hungry so it quickly, you know, that sort of three to five day period, it quickly becomes a habit of them just feeding overnight because you've provided that food on that first unsettled night. So, if you're always sort of thinking about your gentle settling techniques, thinking about your stop, look, listen, then you are going to see that natural stretch and it will be a gradual process. But you'll be meeting babies needs by following it..

Cat: [00:21:50] Are there any differences between breast and bottle weaning overnight?

Sarah: [00:21:54] The biggest difference, to be honest, is that it takes you longer to make up a bottle than it does to get your boob out. So often, somebody who's bottle feeding will get up to make that bottle in the middle of the night and actually baby will have resettled before you've even made the bottle. So if that happens, don't give them it, you know, people will say, well, I'd made it anyway and even though they'd gone back to sleep, I thought, I don't want to be up in an hour. So I just lifted them and fed them. But I actually don't. You know if it's taken that time to make the bottle and they have resettled. Then just, you know, strike that off as a wasted bottle but it's not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. You know, if you're then going to get a longer stretch, it's worth wasting a couple of bottles.

Cat: [00:22:34] Oh, God, the Scot in me is like, absolutely not! 'Waste not, want not!' I've got that bottle and I'm going to give it to baby! [laughter]. Obviously, with breastfeeding, there's some hormones going on. I mean, that's true whether you're bottle or breast but it's a wee bit different, I guess, for you, because you'll have a physical response to stopping feeding.

Sarah: [00:22:54] Yeah, definitely. And you do have to be aware of how you feel. You know, you don't want to have had a smooth breastfeeding journey and then suddenly at the point of dropping breast feeds get engorged and get mastitis. So you do need to be a little bit aware of that.

Cat: [00:23:09] We'll come to some hacks that might help with that later as well. OK, so let's talk through how you might go about doing this stretch, because I think some folks might think it sounds a wee bit daunting. So let's take my six month old baby wakes every two hours for a feed, which is basically probably a question I asked you when I first spoke to you. How on earth do I win them from night feed? So how would I go about that process?

Sarah: [00:23:32] So you've got your day schedule. You've done that. You've had a really good bed time. You are satisfied the baby has had a nice full feed at bedtime. They've gone into their cot awake, they've settled by themselves or they've needed a little bit of intervention and they've drifted off to sleep, perfect. Your settling down for the evening and baby starts to make a noise, you know, two hours after they've gone to bed, you know in your heart of hearts, you know that two hours after they've gone to sleep, they are not hungry. So the first rule about night weaning is having the confidence. If you're confident the baby isn't hungry, then everything else is going to start to get easier to implement. So you're satisfied baby's not hungry, you're going to sit for a minute, just listen to the noises that they're making, have a look, see if their eyes are still closed. If babies over six months and they are sleeping on their tummy, then they might be rubbing their head left and right - I'm demonstrating and we're on a podcast! - They might be rubbing their head against the mattress or using their comforter, if they have one, against their cheek. All those things are good signs that they are still tired, that they want to be asleep. They don't want to be awake. Once you've given them a minute, then you would be listening to the noises that they're making. And if you feel like those noises are ramping up and it's going from a bit of a moan and groan and it's turning into a cry, then that's when you're going to enter the room. The first stage would just be to make some noises. So you're going in and you're going to do ssssh, ssssh, ssssh! You're not even going to be touching baby at that point. You are just going to stand somewhere quietly and make that sshing sound. And if that doesn't help baby to settle, then approach the cot, make sure that they've got any comforters that they use, make sure they're close by them and continue with the sshing sound. And then if they're on their back, you can roll them onto their side and just gently pat their bottom. Or if they're on their tummy, then you can gently pat their bottom that way as well. So, you're just using those gentle techniques that we've spoken about before. Once you've made the decision that you're going to either try and stetch them or cut the night feeds, it's really, really important that you are consistent and that you continue with that. So, you don't want to go into the room and settle for ten, fifteen, twenty minutes and then think, oh, no, I don't want to do this anymore,I'm just going to feed. Once you've decided that you're going to resettle them to sleep then stick with it. And it's not that we're saying that you can't feed them at all. It's just stick with it for this one. And then the next time, they wake, if that's the one that you choose to feed them, then that's fine.

Cat: [00:26:11] And so the idea is kind of to set a bit of a benchmark, isn't it, so, you know, if they wake at night, if they regularly wake up at nine o'clock, and that's kind of your first wake up and that's when you're feeding them. Or it could be 11 o'clock or one o'clock, whatever that time is for you, then, you know, you set that time and then you resettle them for a period of time and say you manage to get from 9:00pm to 10:00pm and then you give them a feed or eleven o'clock till twelve o'clock on the next night, try not to go backwards and then you can just gradually build on it. So it's a gradual stretch of their feed, but it's also a gradual sort of stretch over periods of nights as well.

Sarah: [00:26:50] Yeah. So you are setting yourself little goals. You know, you can set that right from the start. So if you know the baby generally doesn't wake until 11:00 or 12:00am, then before you even start this process, just say in your head, ok that is the first time that I'm going to feed. So you've got that. And then, you know, if you say resettle at midnight and they go through until one, two o'clock morning, then the next few nights, that's your start time for feeding. And just keep doing that. And then also think about your morning. So if you've fed them at four o'clock and they wake again at half five, you know that they're not hungry. So again, you're just going to keep resettling them until it's time to get up for the day and think about, you know, so if it's seven o'clock is the time you start your day, then four o'clock is three hours ahead of that. So you really wouldn't be feeding them after that anyway, because three hours is more than fine to go between feeds. And also think about the time in between other feeds as well. You know very quickly that a baby can stretch three to four hours between feeds. So when you're ready, if they are waking up earlier than that, then you can just push them gently to that three hour mark between feeds, so just set that in your head that. You know, so if they've had to feed at seven, then you're not going to feed them again until ten and things like that. So it's just those gentle ideas and little rules in your head that are going to help the process along.

Cat: [00:28:18] And we've spoken quite a bit about settling techniques. So I should probably say that they are so important in this because you're you're choosing to do something other than feeding to settle your baby. And so if you haven't listened to our episode on settling, then I would say go ahead and listen to it could be quite useful.

Cat: [00:28:39] We've spoken about the gentle approach to night weaning, so there isn't some clever hack that's going to get you there speedier. Unfortunately, however, there are a few tricks that will help you through the process. So the first one you've kind of mentioned, I'm thinking of new ways to say basically what you probably say every single week, but it is be more volvo. So this is about consistency. So Sarah, why should you be more Volvo when it comes to night weaning?

Sarah: [00:29:06] I mean, night weaning is an adjustment for you and your baby. And it's why we do kind of try to recommend the gentle approach, but it's really important to stick to the plan. So as I said earlier, you know, going back and forth between feeding, it's not going to get you to the end result that you both need. If you feed one night and then you don't feed the next night, baby is going to be confused, you're going to be confused. You're not going to know, you're not going to have those goalposts set. So you're not going to know what you're doing each night. You're going to go into panic mode. You might try a bit of settling and then because you haven't...[dog barks loudly]

Cat: [00:29:40] Ohp! That's the blender getting used on the dog [laughter] But if you feel like your baby needs a feed, as we've said, we're not saying there's this hard line that you must not pass. And I kind of Gandalf sort of a way. But if you must feed, try and keep it short and sweet without too many distractions or making it exciting for baby, don't want to get into this habit. You just kind of using it as an end of the line settling technique, I guess. And we want you to feel confident in using those settling techniques once you've made that decision to try and wean baby from night feeds. And it doesn't make you a bad parent. By the way.

Cat: [00:30:22] Just while we're talking about consistency and just to give folks that kind of an idea of how long it might take, and I know that every baby is going to be different and we talked about a gentle approach and it depends how gentle you go. You know, if you're pushing feeds by ten minutes or you're pushing feeds by an hour, there's going to be a difference in how quickly you get there. But roughly how long can it take once you've made this decision? And if everything else is working well within your day, will it take to wean baby from night feeds?

Sarah: [00:30:50] So, you know, if you're taking the gentle approach, then you really are looking at a good couple of weeks to really get to your end goal. Whereas if you've taken more of the same cold turkey approach, then we go back to our three to five night rule and you really would be seeing a difference in those three to five nights. But certainly with the gentle approach, you know, like you said, it does a lot will depend your timeings and how far you're pushing baby between each feed, but you should really be setting yourself up realistically for it to take a couple of weeks if you're going for a gentle approach.

Cat: [00:31:21] I think that's always important for parents to know as well. There can be quicker routes, but it just depends how you want to do it and that choice should be yours.

Sarah: [00:31:31] Absolutely. Definitely. You know, there's certain things you can look for, like we said, if baby's not taking on much of their food during the day, or if baby's just playing with you at night, then they are all things that are pointing towards the fact that you might be better taking a firmer approach, but you have to be comfortable. And the gentle approach, there's absolutely nothing wrong with doing that and taking your time with that. You don't want to rush something if you're not ready.

Cat: [00:32:00] So, in fact, I mentioned earlier on when we talking about breastfeeding, but actually it goes for bottle feeding as well. If one of you, if one partner has done most of the night feeds and you're trying to night wean, it can be an idea to get the other partner who's not been doing the feeds to settle baby.

Sarah: [00:32:18] Yeah, definitely. It's really, really important. I know it's a trap that we all fall into where, you know, if one of you is on either maternity and paternity leave, then you can naturally fall into doing the overnights because you want your partner to have had a good rest before they're at work. But actually, it's super important just to, you know, share the role. If another person can't help when you're doing it, try to wear a jumper or t-shirt of theirs. You know, if you're feeding, then obviously it's going to mask some of the smell and also just try and sort of stand back a little bit. So if you're using settling techniques, which involves a hands on approach, just move yourself further down the cot a little bit and just make sure it's your hands. So if you've previously sort of lent right across the cot and into the cot to really comfort baby and just start to sort of move yourself back a touch. So there's a little bit more distance between the two of you.

Cat: [00:33:12] Because essentially what we're talking about in terms of weaning from night feeds is at the point that these feeds have become habitual rather than necessary. So by switching up the person that does it or how you do it or by wearing a jumper or t shirt or something that covers up the smell of you, which might sound a bit like sad to some parents, but that is about breaking the habit that you've got into because, you know, the baby is waking not because they need a feed and that they would be much better off staying asleep.

Sarah: [00:33:44] Every week we answer a listener question because it's really important to us that we put our advice to practice in the real world. If you have one, you can, of course, get in touch with us online at the sleep moms on Facebook or on Instagram or on our website, where you can send us a message and you could even email us. This week, we have a question from Lynn about night weaning.

Lynn: [00:34:09] Hi, Cat and Sarah. My baby is still in our room. Can I still wean them from night feeds?

Sarah: [00:34:14] That's a great question, actually, and one that we do come across quite a lot. And it works both ways. You know, for some people, they are saying that they do want to move baby out of the room until they're night weaned. And others are saying that they want to keep baby but they're scared to night wean because they're in the room. So the first thing that I would recommend would just be to start putting a little bit of distance between yourself and baby. So if you've been using like a next to me crib, then just gradually start to move that away from the bed. You know, it could initially just be like a foot away from the bed and then a little bit further.

[00:34:47] Or if you got a walk in wardrobe or an en suite then you can use that to put the baby into there so close to you, they're still in your room, but you're just putting that little bit of distance between you.

[00:34:58] I guess, as well a bit like we were talking as well, about wearing a t shirt or a jumper of your partners for night weaning you can also sort of do that by just moving, literally moving to the other side of the bed or swapping places with your partner if you have a partner or just moving away if you don't. And just that tiny bit of space, if you've got the cot close to the bed, can make a big difference. It seems crazy that, you know, a couple of meters might make a difference, but it can.

Sarah: [00:35:24] Definitely can. And then, you know, again, just try and keep all the rules in your head. So even though baby is right there, it's still just stop, listen to the sounds, think about what they're doing. And if you can see into the crib, then obviously have a little look without baby being too stimulated. So you're just really following the exactly the same rules that we've talked about for the evenings and overnight if they're not in your room. You just want to be using them. So it can feel a bit alien lying in your bed, not moving because you don't want to disturb baby. But just try that, you know, just sort of count in your head, and then at the point when you think, OK, something's changed, you know, the cries change or the wriggling about too much and you just want to have a wee check then do that. The only other thing to think about as well, when you are moving the cot, depending on the layout of your room, you obviously don't want to be caught right in front of a window or, you know, the obvious choice if you've got a room that has a bay window, you think I will just pop maybe over there, but actually, that can get quite drafty. So just be again, just be very wary of your environment when you move in the cot around.

Cat: [00:36:31] And we hope that helps Lynn. As I said at the start, if you want to get in touch with us with a listener question, we'd be delighted to answer it. We always really are questions to whatever podcast topic we are covering. So get in touch and we might use and one of our podcasts.

Sarah: [00:36:51] So that's five things to help you with how and when to wean your baby from night feeds with a few side order tips as well. That sounds a bit like chips, a few side order chips as well. Weaning my daughter from night feeds was why I got in touch with Sarah in the first place. Following her advice within about two and a half weeks, she had helped me to help her to sleep seven till seven. I'm not even kidding. It was life changing and in many ways also where The Sleep Mums was born. Overnight changes will not change overnight. They need consistency and there might be some tough long nights to get there. But you will. Have faith in yourself, in our advice and the dream of more sleep could be just around the corner.

Cat: [00:37:34] We would love it if you would share our podcast with your friends and on your socials. The more parents we can help get more sleep, the better. We really want to move parenthood away from being the super competitive thing. The advice is there for all of us. We can help each other. And if you want to get in touch with us, as I've said, we're online at The Sleep Mums. Come and find us on Facebook or Instagram and give us a week follow and show us some love.

Cat: [00:37:58] Look after yourselves and sleep soon.

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