by Jenn (Meyer)
I have a daughter who will be turning 1 soon. We have co-slept with her in our bed from day one.
However, with her first birthday looming and plans for a baby brother or sister in the works, we feel it is time to start slowly transitioning her into her own crib which is also in our bedroom (we don't see any reason why she should be removed to her own room).
She sleeps 2-4 hrs in her crib and when she wakes I bring her to bed. My question is; for a baby who is used to free feeding all night long, how do I transition her to not needing to eat (or eat so much) during the night so she will sleep longer?
She's not a huge fan of solids and I know the milk goes through her quickly. Does she still need to nurse all night long or is it safe for me to start cutting back?
Physiologically there is no real reason she needs to nurse through the night as long as she's growing well. A baby at her age often just nurses at night for comfort more than for nutrition.
However, you know her and you know exactly how much she's eating. So you need to decide if you feel like those night nursing sessions are making up a significant part of her diet, or if you feel it's just for comfort.
If she's fine with the mechanics of eating solids, there's a big chance that she'll either increase her intake of solids during the day, or she'll nurse more during the day (or longer during her regular nursing times.)
I night weaned my first two children around a year, even though my first wasn't eating a lot of solid food yet. She was good with solids so I felt sure she's get the nutrition she needed.
I'm not sure what your sleeping situation is, but for me the first way I stopped the “all-night” feeding was to wear pajamas my babies couldn't lift up. I wanted to night wean before I moved them into their own bed. Some moms prefer to move them to their own bed, though.
I kept a sippy cup of water by the bed and offered that when my baby woke up, but did not nurse. The first few nights there was some fussing and some crying, and I just held my little one until they fell back asleep. This worked for me, and I felt OK with it since I was right there holding my baby.
It didn't take long for them to learn that nursing wasn't going to happen at night any more. It was shortly after that point that I began the transition to their own bed for the whole night (they all were already starting the night in their own bed.) They generally made this transition quickly once they realized they weren't going to get to nurse (and the water in the sippy cup was generally not very appealing!)
I hope this helps some – good luck with your little girl and on your plans to add a baby brother or sister into the mix 😉(Hint: Would you like practical, no-nonsense, really-help-you-get-more sleep tips on handling nap time and bedtime with your little one? Check out the baby sleep crib sheet - no crib required - and get better sleep tonight. Get it here.)