How do you gently stop breastfeeding your two-year old at night? There are several steps that you can take to begin weaning your toddler away from night time feedings. A bedtime routine can help jumpstart the night weaning process, as can cutting back to a few nights a week.
There are several other ways to stop breastfeeding your toddler at night, and you can be sure that many other moms are asking the same questions that you are. Many parents are ready for their two-year old children to sleep all night in their own bed. Let’s take a look at some tried and true methods of ending those overnight feedings.
How to Stop Breastfeeding a Two Year Old at Night
Talk to Your Child About Night Weaning
Talking to them about what is happening in their lives can help them to adjust to new things, and help alleviate any fears about changes that may be taking place.
“You’re Such a Big Kid Now!”
The same is true when it comes time to wean them from night time feedings. Tell your child how proud you are of them and how excited you are that they are growing up. Explain to them that once they begin eating big kid foods, that they no longer need to nurse as much at night.
Not Nursing at Night Means They’re Growing Up
Although they may not fully understand what you’re saying, the conversation will begin to prepare them for night weaning. Point out that other family members don’t have meals after bedtime. Soon, they will learn not to always associate going “night night” with time to nurse.
Be Sure That the Timing is Right for Night Weaning
When it comes to choosing a time for night weaning, it is important to make sure that the timing is right for you and your child. You can read educational content and peer reviewed studies, but in the end, the timing must be about what’s best for your family, and for that you must rely on your own instincts.
Stop Nursing at Night Only When You Feel It’s Time
Advice such as, “Your little one should be weaned by now,” or “Don’t baby your toddler, let them cry it out,” is not beneficial and can cause more harm than good. You will know when it is time to wean your toddler, and should continue to nurse as long as you feel it is best for you both.
Toddlers May Reject Stopping Breastfeeding
A mutually desired time to stop night nursing is, of course, ideal, but chances are your child will fret about it in the beginning. It is important not to feel guilty and remember that this is normal and is the way many toddlers react.
If your child reacts too violently to the idea, perhaps you can gradually reduce the amount of time you spend on nightly breastfeeding sessions.
Nursing Sessions and Solid Foods During the Day
Many children are hungry and want to feed at night simply because they have been too busy during the day to stop and eat. Mom is also busier during the day, which means that the night feedings are the times that the baby gets mama all to themselves. Feeding the baby more and giving them attention in the daytime may help.
Nursing Through Their Naps
You can encourage less feeding at night by ensuring that your toddler fills up on healthy foods and milk throughout the day, and by giving them more attention during daytime feedings than at bedtime. Instead of using naptime as your time to get things done in the home, try nursing through naptime and doing housework after you put the toddler to bed at night.
Young Child Feeding During the Day
Loading your child up during the day on solid foods that are rich in nutrients is another way to encourage them to sleep through the night. Foods that are rich in magnesium are a good choice later in the evening, as they encourage relaxation and may help your child to not need breast milk until morning time.
World Health Organization Weaning Guidelines for Child Health
The World Health Organization, or WHO, offers guidelines on how and when to stop breastfeeding your child. Their website suggests the book Weaning From Breast Milk to Family Food as a guide for getting through this process. This book covers such topics as when to wean, the food groups and their nutritional value, and how to safely prepare and store food for your child.
Setting Up a Bedtime Routine to Stop Nursing at Night
It is not recommended that you just suddenly stop breastfeeding your little one cold turkey with no routines or plans for how to do it. You can stop nursing your toddler in just a few weeks with a carefully thought out plan.
Bedtime Stories Instead of Breast Feeding
One of the most important things to remember when weaning your toddler is that he or she will need extra attention in place of the nursing sessions that you used to have. One way to do this is to spend time reading a bedtime story instead of nursing. You can even search for books about weaning that you can read to your child.
Make Your Partner Part of Your Child’s Evening Rituals
Along with story time, there are many ways that your partner can be included into the nightly routine that takes the place of nursing. You and your partner can both use this time to cuddle, share, and love on your child. Time spent giving him or her positive attention can be very rewarding and help alleviate the loss the child may feel when you stop nursing.
Move From Co-Sleeping to a Toddler Bed
If you are having a difficult time getting through the night without a nursing session, it is probably a good idea to stop your child from sleeping in the bed with you. You may spend a couple of sleepless nights, but it will help most toddlers to adjust to sleeping through the night without having to breastfeed.
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Have a Plan, Decorate Their Room
Having a plan for how to move your little one to their own bed is essential for this process. You might decide to get them a toddler bed in their own room. Decorating this room with their favorite cartoon characters might make them excited to sleep in it. It can take a week or more for moms and babies to get used to this idea.
Make a Family Night Time Routine in Their Room
The most important step to ending co-sleeping is to be consistent. Although you don’t want to leave your child sobbing and scared, it is important that you show them that it is time to move to their own room. Having story time and cuddles in their room with mom and dad can help form a positive bedtime experience.
Weaning in the Daytime, Too?
Although most moms will begin weaning at night, some may decide to stop breast feeding altogether. If you are considering weaning both at night and in the day time, there are a few things that you will need to discuss with your child’s doctor.
Be Sure Your Toddler’s Nutritional Needs are Met
If you decide to no longer breastfeed your little one at all, you should speak to their pediatrician about the special nutritional needs that growing babies have. Learn how to introduce a sippy cup, and discover which fruits, vegetables, and healthy foods are your child’s favorites.
Ask whether or not your child’s diet should be supplemented with formula milk or whole milk since they will no longer get breast milk. Be careful about allowing your baby to go to sleep with a bottle when you no longer breastfeed, as this can cause tooth decay.
Wean Your Toddler Patiently
Whether you decide to stop having a nursing session at night, or to completely wean your child, it is important to do so with patience, both for yourself and for the baby. The decision to wean is a big step, and should only be made when you feel comfortable doing so. You know your child and your own body better than anyone.
There is no timetable that is set in stone for you to wean your toddler. If you begin weaning and decide that it is too stressful for either or both of you, there is no shame in going back to nursing until you are both ready. If this happens when you are trying to totally stop breastfeeding, you might want to switch to only weaning at night for now.
We hope that this article has helped to guide and encourage you on your journey to wean your toddler at night. Please feel free to explore the other pages on our site for more informational posts on motherhood and growing with your baby.