How to Wean Baby From Night Time Feedings
Weaning your baby from overnight feedings is a huge milestone for both your baby and you. Successfully weaning your baby from feedings during the night means better quality sleep and longer stretches of sleep for your baby and it means better sleep for you too! As babies grow older it is totally ok to want to drop night feedings and encourage them to sleep longer stretches at night. Typically, somewhere between four and six months of age, babies are ready for nighttime weaning/dropping night feeds. Some babies even eliminate their night wakings and feedings on their own. If your baby hasn’t started to sleep longer stretches on their own or eliminated feedings at night on their own, don’t worry, I’m here to help! There are a few different ways you can approach night weaning with your baby either by bottle feed or breastfeeding, I’ll dive into each below.
How To Wean Baby From Night Time Feedings
1. Cold Turkey
Does it feel like your baby is waking up in the middle of the night to feed out of habit instead of hunger? If so, the cold turkey might be a good option for you! When you’re ready to night wean, make sure your baby is getting enough calories, feeds or (depending on their age) solid food during the day. The trick with this method is to STAY CONSISTENT! It might be tough for both you and your baby, but if you stay consistent it will only take a few days. If your pediatrician does not have concerns on weight gain and to stop night feedings, this may be the best option for you.
2. One Ounce / One Minute
This method is a bit gentler on both you and your baby. To slowly wean your baby from feeding during the night, reduce the amount of their bottle feed by one ounce per night if bottle-fed or one minute per night if breastfed until you get to zero ounces or zero minutes.
3. Stretch the Time
Another gentler method for you and your baby is stretching the time between feedings. For example, if your baby typically wakes up at 12am and then 2am for night feedings, try stretching the time between feedings by 15 minutes or 30 minutes, stretching it a bit longer each night. This will encourage your baby to go longer between feedings and eventually sleep longer until you can eliminate one and then both.
A Few Tips for Breastfed Babies
Your body is used to feeding during the night. Adding a pumping session during the night can help alleviate some engorgement you may feel. Pumping for comfort can make you feel SO much better and your body will slowly adjust to the cue that you no longer need to supply your baby with a full feeding during the night. It’s also very important that you ensure your baby is getting enough to eat during the day. Whether it be an extra nursing session or two or if your baby is old enough to eat solid food it may mean an extra snack before bed. Whatever works for you and your baby is totally fine, we just want to make sure they’re getting enough calories during the day.
A Few Tips for Bottle Fed Babies
Making sure your baby gets enough to eat during the day is also key for a bottle-fed baby. By the time your baby is old enough to stop feeding at night they will typically be drinking 24-32 ounces during a 24 hour period of time. Adjust to have your baby drink those ounces during the day, this way they’re getting their calories in during awake time instead of night time.
A Few Tips for All Babies
A dream feed can be a great start to eliminating night time feedings. Filling them up with a feed right before you go to sleep can help keep their tummy full and stretch their sleep longer. However, if your baby wakes up each time or gets too excited with a dream feed this may not work for you. Also, don’t rush right in as soon as your baby wakes up. Oftentimes, your baby will protest for a bit and lay right back down and go to sleep, but you have to give them the opportunity to fall asleep on their own. If you go in as soon as they wake up, they haven’t had a chance to settle themselves back down.
The biggest tip of all I can give you is CONSISTENCY! Be consistent with whatever method you choose and however you decide to address night time wakings and feedings. It may take a few days, but your baby will get the hang of it and they will be sleeping through the night before you know it! If you feel like you’re struggling with baby sleep in general, on top of night time feedings/wakings, I’m happy to help!