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How to Stop Breastfeeding a Toddler to Sleep

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A sleepy toddler being breastfed
Image by Marco

Congratulations on breastfeeding your baby to a toddler stage. It’s not an easy task, in all honesty. But knowing the health benefits your child gets from that sacrifice is super rewarding. So now the time is here, and you want to wean your toddler and want tips on how to stop breastfeeding a toddler to sleep. 

That’s what we are going to talk about in this article. I’ve always loved to breastfeed my babies until they become preschoolers. And while it feels good you’ve achieved the goal, getting the toddler to stop breastfeeding to sleep is super hard. 

But you can still do it without affecting your toddlers’ well-being.

Why Your Toddler Breastfeeds To Sleep

First, your toddler may be breastfeeding to sleep because that’s how you brought them up or just for their comfort. 

You might think it’s hunger, but often it’s not even close to that. And you don’t have to feel guilty about weaning your toddler because, at this point, breastfeeding isn’t essential to them.

How to Stop Breastfeeding a Toddler to Sleep: Tips for Gently Weaning Your Toddler

Baby being breastfed
Image by Manojiit Tamen

Talk To Your Toddler About Weaning

The good thing about dealing with toddlers is that they understand what you tell them. This is when you start telling your toddler why it’s essential for them to stop breastfeeding at night. 

But you aren’t going to tell your baby once and expect the two of you to agree. When your toddler asks for it, gently say “No” and stick to it. You can offer to cuddle until they fall asleep. 

If you do this thrice and the consistency builds up, your toddler will stop asking for it, and that’s how you get off the breastfeeding-to-sleep stage. 

Find Other Ways Of Soothing Your Toddler

You can use other ways to stop your toddler from breastfeeding at night. Bedtime stories and lullabies can be a good example. 

Just postpone giving your baby the breast by pretending to be deeply involved in the storytelling until they fall asleep.

Let Your Partner Help To Put Your Toddler To Bed

Weaning a toddler without the help of your partner is not easy. Sometimes you need to break your bond with your toddler during bedtime. You can tell your partner to help put your toddler to bed and rock them to sleep. 

If your toddler still wakes up at night to nurse a couple of times, your partner can attend to them and give them a cup of cow milk or pumped milk. 

Spend More Time With Your Toddler During The Day

Once a baby becomes a toddler, mothers tend to go out a lot more than before because the toddler is a little independent. The need for your toddler to breastfeed before sleep signals that you’re not spending enough time with them. 

Besides that, your toddler is growing and discovering many things that may consume all their attention and, thus, nurse less often during the day.  So what happens is they crave that moment of bonding at night, which is why they would breastfeed more often at night. 

You have to play smart on this by bringing your toddler closer to you throughout the day and breastfeeding them as much as you can. 

For working mums, you can spend the time you have after work with your toddler. Cuddle as much as you can, touch and breastfeed your toddler and spend quality time together (even if it’s short). 

Sleep In Separate Rooms

Sleeping with your toddler, I’m the same room might be the reason why they’re stimulated to nurse at night. Try sleeping in a different room by making an excuse that you’re going out for dinner or to the movies. If it works once and goes up greatly, your toddler is gradually weaning off. 

Create a Nursing Night Time Routine

Instead of lying down with your toddler and trying to make him sleep by breastfeeding, create a routine and stick to it. 

Nighttime nursing should be done before the toddler feels sleepy, either after brushing their teeth or wearing pajamas. 

Nurse your toddler and then put them to bed and let them sleep independently. This might work because breastfeeding may make the toddler extra full, reducing the frequency of waking up at night. 

Get Back To The Sling

Often mums forget about a sling once the baby starts walking. But you still need it primarily as an alternative to breastfeeding to sleep. 

Put your toddler in a sling and walk around the house until they fall asleep. This bedtime routine is good because your partner can also be involved in the bedtime routine. 

Cons of Nursing A Toddler to Sleep

  1. Babies learn to sleep on their own. When you breastfeed your child to sleep, they grow up with difficulty sleeping independently. 
  2. Breastfeeding a toddler to sleep can inconvenience you if you have other things to do at night.
  3. Leaving your toddler with another carer is hard because they can’t be breastfed.

How To Stop Breastfeeding a Toddler to Sleep: Frequently  Asked Questions 

1. What to do if your toddler doesn’t want to stop breastfeeding?

You can start by shortening breastfeeding sessions and making your breast less available for nursing. Substitute breast milk with cow milk, foods, and other toddler-friendly drinks. 

2. Will the baby stop nursing to sleep on their own?

Yes. All babies can stop nursing and sleep on their own. However, you need to start by teaching your baby to sleep independently. 

3. Can I still feed my baby before bed?

Yes. You can feed your baby before bed, or she’s asleep.

Gloriah Mnyaki
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