by Mei Lele

September 24, 2022

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Are you wondering what sleep training and night weaning are? There are many questions that people have about nighttime routines. The tricky thing about weaning babies is that you're trying to establish a new routine and make it work.

If you're reading this article, there's a good chance something inside wants an explanation and guides to sleep training without night weaning. I have written this article to answer your questions and help you make sense of the topic.

Sleep Training And Night Weaning

Sleep training and night weaning are two very different things. Sleep training is a natural, positive way of helping your baby learn to self-soothe. Night weaning is another way of encouraging your baby to sleep through the night on its own.

Sleep training and night weaning are the most common methods pediatricians, and parents use to help toddlers learn how to fall asleep independently.

Sleep training 

Sleep training is a gradual process that occurs over several weeks or months. It involves gradually removing one source of comfort from your baby until they learn to fall asleep without it and teaching your baby to fall asleep and stay asleep without your presence.

This can include removing a dummy, bottle, or breast at bedtime and leaving them in their crib with nothing else until they fall asleep. Sleep training aims to remove unnecessary distractions from a baby's bedroom so that he can learn how to fall asleep on his own.

Night weaning

Night weaning is designed for parents who have already successfully introduced their baby to sleep in a daytime nappy or crib but still struggle with falling asleep during the night because of separation anxiety or other issues caused by prolonged weaning.

Night weaning is when you gradually stop allowing your baby to nurse during the night. It is ‌transitioning a child from breastfeeding to formula or solid foods at night. The reason for this is that your baby has outgrown the need for breastfeeding and can go on to solid foods.

Sleep training and night weaning are two practices that can ‌help babies learn to sleep through the night. The process of night weaning is gradual and is not the same as sleep training. It involves gradually reducing the number of night feeds.

The good news here is that if you prefer either option—weaning without sleep training or sleep training without night weaning—you have control over the ‌time each takes!

How sleep training and night weaning affect the sleep cycle and the baby’s health

A baby’s sleep cycle is divided into two stages: REM (rapid eye movement) and non-REM (also known as deep sleep).

  • A baby will have a light, dreamy period of REM in the first few months.
  • As the baby gets older, they will ‌have longer and deeper sleep during this time.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends putting babies down for naps no longer than 30 minutes at a time, and for them to develop into healthy adults, they must have a minimum of 12 uninterrupted hours of sleep each day.

If a child does not get enough restful sleep, this can cause problems for both you and your baby, such as:

  • Mid-of-the-night awakenings may happen when you are away from home or when you are tired and need a break from caring for your baby.
  • excessive daytime napping. If they occur during the day, they can disrupt playtime with other children or family members.
  • The ‌time it takes for your baby to fall asleep causes stress and anxiety, which can lead to crying or other behaviors.

The reason ‌all those problems happen is that your baby's sleep cycle is directly related to the way they are breastfeeding. Both sleep training and night weaning affect the sleep cycle and the baby’s health.

Can You Start Sleep Training Without Night Weaning?

Many parents still wonder “Can you sleep train and still night feed?”. When you are sleep training your baby, they are still in a very vulnerable state. Your baby is not used to sleeping through the night yet and, as a result, may wake up in the middle ‌of the night for no apparent reason, and you must ‌get them back into a routine as soon as possible.

You can ‌sleep train without weaning. It’s not ideal, but it is possible. The reason ‌it’s not ideal is that you will deprive your baby of the same nighttime routine that they had before. You’re introducing a new routine, and it takes time to adjust to it.

It takes a lot of patience and consistency. Many parents find ‌their babies sleeps better if they don't completely stop breastfeeding at night. There are many benefits to night feeding, including‌:

  • It helps babies fall asleep easily. By nursing him before he goes down for his nap or bedtime, you’ll be helping him learn ‌‌it means bedtime for everyone else too. This will let his body know that it needs rest now.
  • It helps babies stay asleep longer. Research has shown that infants who are fed at night have longer stretches between feedings than those who aren’t fed at all during these hours.

How To Start ‌Sleep Training Without Night Weaning

You can sleep train babies, even if they are still on breast milk.

  • The first step is to get your baby used to going down at night and staying down for about an hour. This will help them learn how long it takes for them to fall asleep on their own. Then you can wean your baby into a routine of sleeping without having to rely on breastfeeding.
  • Another best way to approach ‌sleep training without night weaning is to use a timing method. The most common timing method is the Ferber Method, which has been around for many years and has been very effective in helping parents get their children to sleep through the night.
  • The Ferber Method is based on a certain time of day—usually 10 p.m.—when your child should be asleep. However, if your child doesn't fall asleep at 10 p.m., then you don't have to worry about putting them down for bed yet.
  • You just keep going until they fall asleep ‌during the night (usually around 3 a.m.). Once you've reached this point, you can put your child down for bed, but don't let them get out of it until morning!

How Can I Calm My Baby At Night Without Breastfeeding?

The answer is that there are several ways to soothe your little one back to sleep without breastfeeding. If you decide not to night feed as part of sleep training, then you'll have to be prepared for every time she wakes up. Here are some tips to help your baby:

Establish good habits

By setting a routine, giving specific times for each nap and bedtime, and then following the schedule and sticking with it.

Before bedtime

  • Give your child a bottle of formula or breast milk with a pacifier in it before bedtime. If they don't take the bottle or pacifier, then try again in 15 minutes.
  • If that doesn't work, try giving them something else, such as a cereal bar or cracker with a piece of fruit inside. If they still don't take it at bedtime, ask them if they want anything else (like another piece of fruit).
  • Don't overstimulate her.
  • Use a pacifier. I think the sucking motion of breastfeeding helps babies fall asleep, but you can mimic this sensation with a pacifier. Make sure it's clean and safe for your baby, and encourage your baby to use it to help soothe himself.
  • Use a white noise app that plays ambient sounds like the ocean waves crashing on the shore, or raindrops falling onto leaves; these types of noises may be very effective at helping babies calm down so they can go back into deep slumber mode.

Is Night Weaning Necessary?

Night weaning can indeed be an emotionally hard process for you and your child. But don't let this discourage you from continuing to work toward it. Night weaning is a gradual process that often takes months.

The first step is making sure there is enough time between feedings and naps during the day so that your baby doesn't get overtired at bedtime (for example, don’t feed her right before she goes down).

Then try limiting nighttime feedings by one every three nights until they are eventually phased out completely. To keep things from getting too stressful for either of you (or yourself), be patient with each other; remember that no one enjoys being hungry or tired!

Conclusion

Sleep training without night weaning is a tough method to achieve a new night routine for your child. There is no magic solution to solving night weaning woes. It's a tough transition for both parents and child that requires patience, understanding and lots of love. 

However, we hope this article has answered ‌questions you may have about sleep training and whether it’s necessary to night wean. If your little one is ready for sleep training, just remember it might take some time before they are fully off nighttime feedings, so be patient!

About the author 

Mai Pham

Mai Pham discovered her passion for writing a few years ago and she never stop thinking about it ever since. She finally took the leap and created Live a Worthy Life to brag about her smart ass (mainly just for fun). Enjoyed the fun writing brings, now with her new interest in everything-baby-related, she created Mommy Instinct, to tell mamas that it's ok that they mess up, that they don't know what the hell they are doing, and that it's okay to sit back and relax for a while.

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