Last updated on May 26th, 2024

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Kim West, MSW, Mom of 2, creator of The Sleep Lady Shuffle

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Night Weaning My Baby: My Baby Wakes at Night! Please Help!

A mom named Melody was desperate for help. She asked, “I need help night weaning my baby!” Here’s what she had to say:

“My 11 month old son doesn’t have a problem falling asleep, it’s staying asleep. He still wakes at night… sometimes 3-4 times a night! He wakes up crying and wants me to put him back to sleep. In order to fall back asleep I need to either carry him or nurse him to pacify him. He’s not nursing out of hunger. He often falls back asleep within a minute or two. I’m just his sleep soother. Will he eventually just sleep through the night? Do I just wait till he does? Or should I just let him cry it out to fall back asleep (can take up to 20 minutes & by then will be in a full blown cry). Also if I don’t pick him up out of the crib, he’ll roll around in the crib often times banging his head. Can you help with our baby sleep issues? Please, I’m desperate and wanting to stop nursing by the time he is 1 years old. How do I night wean my baby? -Melody

Learn to:

  • Rule out medical problems
  • Assure the appropriate amount of sleep
  • What is “Drowsy But Awake”?
  • Use The Shuffle

Rule Out Underlying Medical Issues

First things first, make sure you have spoken with your pediatrician and have ruled out any underlying medical conditions. They can give you the green light on night weaning.

Make Sure He is Getting Enough Sleep

Second, make sure you are following an age-appropriate sleep schedule and that your son is getting enough sleep at naptime and has an early enough bedtime. Average sleep at his age is 11-11.25 hrs of sleep at night and a total of 2.5-3 hrs during the day.

Have a goal to reduce or eliminate night feedings for your baby?

Gentle Sleep Solutions can help with a gentle, step-by-step guide to get your baby sleeping again.

Get More Info

Put Baby to Bed Drowsy But Awake

Third, put your son down more AWAKE at bedtime. This is one of the MOST critical steps you need to take in order to teach your son how to sleep through the night. When you teach them how to fall asleep independently at bedtime, night weaning is easier.

It is hard convincing parents of this critical step and its importance. They say “Bedtime is so easy, I just nurse him and put him in the crib and he goes right to sleep…it’s the night wakings that are driving us crazy!”

What does “drowsy but awake” really mean?
Read: Drowsy But Awake – The Cornerstone of Successful Sleep Training

Remember, bedtime is the easiest time to learn to fall asleep. If you do most of the work for your child at bedtime then he won’t be able to apply the skill in the middle of the night or at naps when it is much harder.

night weaning
Bedtime is the easiest time to learn to fall asleep. If you teach this skill before night weaning your baby, it will be an easier task.

Use The Shuffle

Your child should be awake enough to know that he is going in to his crib. When you start to put him down more awake than he is used to, he will probably protest and fuss more than he has in the past. Don’t worry—but don’t get him out and start the whole routine over again. (Remind yourself that this is confirmation that you were putting him down too drowsy in the past.) Instead, stay nearby and start the Sleep Lady Shuffle.

Want to end night feedings?
Read: How to End Night Feedings: Gentle Night Weaning After Six Months

Follow the guidelines outlined in the 9-12 month old chapter in The Sleep Lady’s Good Night, Sleep Tight for addressing night wakings and night weaning. He is a great age to do the Sleep Lady Shuffle!

Author: Kim West, MSW, Mom of 2, creator of The Sleep Lady Shuffle

My name is Kim West, and I’m the mother of two beautiful girls, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been a practicing child and family therapist for more than 21 years, and the creator of the original gentle, proven method to get a good night’s sleep for you and your child. My sleep journey began when I started experimenting with gently shaping my daughter’s sleep by not following the conventional wisdom at the time. After having success (and then more success with my second daughter!), I began helping family and friends and my step-by-step method spread like wildfire, exactly like an excellent night of sleep for a tired parent should!