Its a very common question and one a lot of parents tend to struggle with, how do I wean my toddler off the night feed? Don’t worry, you are not alone in feeling like giving a bottle or breastfeed is the only and/or quickest way to get your toddler back to sleep when compared to what can feel like hours of crying or sitting with them.
That being said as long as you use the night feed to settle your toddler at night, they will continue to want your attention, and those feeds are going to be there to stay. Often children who receive night feeds, also tend to be early risers. In catering to the night feed, we are unfortunately not allowing our children to develop the skills they ned to settle themselves in for that last early morning sleep cycle. Warning this may result in parents finding themselves in a constant state of exhaustion and exaggerates their lack of interest in food during the day, they are getting their calories at night, when they don’t really need them.
Let me take a moment to reassure you all babies and toddlers wake up four to six times a night. When do they, and as importantly, you, get to sleep through? Once they know how to self soothe and get back to sleep without assistance. When its bed time, if you are using the bottle or the breast to get your little one down, its teachign them that they need to feed to fall asleep. If this happens every time they wake up, you are reinforcing this idea, and suddenly the child is entirely dependent on you getting up every time to provide them with milk, so that they can get back to sleeping. This is turn actually increases the number of times your child wakes up during the night and they are going to want more feeds, more frequently, until that is YOU decide its time for a change. once the decision has been made, you need to rope in everyone responsible for your child’s care during the night, your partner, your nanny, siblings; everyone needs to commit. This is going to be tough, but think about your child’s development and your sanity/sleep deprivation needs. Once a decision is reached, you cannot confuse the child by sometimes giving them a bottle after a certain amount of crying. This will leave the child feeling confused and they will take longer to learn to adapt to the new routine and learn the new skill to put themselves back to sleep. You will be pleased to find all the ways in which your commitment pays off. They will start eating and consuming more calories during daylight hours.
Next week, we explore practical tips for weaning your toddler off the night feeds, why not subscribe to receive our latest articles or join our new Facebook group. Next week we explore treatment for anxiety and helping your child cope. Got a childcare related question? Drop us a line at sitters (@) sitters4u.co.za or visit our website: www.sitters4u.co.za or visit the Moms Link Directory to find activities in your area