Baby increasing night feedings

How to Wean Night Feedings – Happiest Baby

By Dr. Harvey Karp, MD, FAAP

Weaning Night Feeds

Getting your baby to eat a bit more in the day and a little less at night can start when your baby is as young as 1-month-old. It's essential, of course, to ensure your baby is getting enough nourishment. If you have plenty of milk (discuss with your doctor/lactation consultant before using these tips), and your baby is gaining steadily, you can begin weaning night feeds and help your baby sleep a little longer at night with some swaddling, white noise…or with SNOO.

When Should I Wean My Baby Off Night Feedings?

When babies should be weaned from night feeds depends on whether they’re bottle-fed or breastfed. Babies that are bottle-fed can be weaned from night feedings at around 6 months of age, whereas breastfed babies may take up to a year to be weaned from night feedings.

Do Babies Naturally Drop Night Feeds?

It is natural for babies to drop night feeds on their own. This is because your baby will be able to last longer without food. You can start to prep your baby to drop night weaning by gradually giving him less time on the breast each night. Below you’ll find detailed tips for weaning your baby from night feedings.

How to Wean Night Feedings

For the first month: If your baby sleeps 4 to 5 hours at night, wake him and feed him to make sure he gets enough milk. I also suggest you use the wake and sleep technique for all naps/nights. It's a gentle and gradual way that teaches your baby to self-soothe and builds her confidence over time that she can put herself back to sleep when she wakes. This is essential as you begin to drop night feeds.

For the next two months: Let your little one sleep longer (maybe up to 6 hours or so) before you wake and feed. Pump a few ounces if your breasts feel too full. Consider waking your baby up for a midnight dream feed. I like to think of this as topping off the tank. It should give your baby more "fuel" so they can sleep a longer stretch on their overnight journey.

I highly recommend you use swaddling and strong rumbly white noise—or SNOO—to improve sleep. With each of these, you'll reduce night waking and help your baby tune out disruptions, both external and internal, that might irritate your baby at night. Some parents worry that their baby will sleep too deeply and go hungry, but those concerns are unfounded. Rest assured, if your baby needs to eat, she will definitely wake!

After 4 months: You can boost daytime calories by offering extra feedings and reducing mealtime distractions. And, continue to wake your baby up for a midnight dream feed.

Final Thoughts on How to Wean Night Feedings

Once you’ve successfully figured out how to wean your baby from night feedings, you may find it easier to get the ZZZ’s that you need to feel well-rested, too! For more tips on breastfeeding, check out:

  • What To Do if Breastfeeding Is Hard
  • Breastfeeding Tips for Better Sleep
  • 411 on Breastmilk

About Dr.

Harvey Karp

Dr. Harvey Karp, one of America’s most trusted pediatricians, is the founder of Happiest Baby and the inventor of the groundbreaking SNOO Smart Sleeper. After years of treating patients in Los Angeles, Dr. Karp vaulted to global prominence with the release of the bestselling Happiest Baby on the Block and Happiest Toddler on the Block. His celebrated books and videos have since become standard pediatric practice, translated into more than 20 languages and have helped millions of parents. Dr. Karp’s landmark methods, including the 5 S’s for soothing babies, guide parents to understand and nurture their children and relieve stressful issues, like new-parent exhaustion, infant crying, and toddler tantrums.

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.

Night Weaning •

By Kelly Bonyata, IBCLC, Becky Flora, IBCLC and Paula Yount

Breastfeeding is not an all-or-nothing process. Night weaning is a workable alternative for many moms, and baby continues to receive the many nutritional and immunilogical benefits of breastmilk.

Remember that sleeping through the night is a developmental milestone (like walking or toilet training) that different babies will reach at different times. At some point, your child will sleep through the night – even if you do nothing to encourage it.


If night weaning is not going well, then consider backing off and trying again a little later. The closer your child is to reaching this milestone on his own, the easier it will be for both child and parents.

Getting your baby to sleep is not a battle to be won, as it is so often portrayed in books and the media. The real goal should be for your family to get the sleep they need, while respecting the needs of the youngest family member(s).

Gentle methods for encouraging less night nursing

Following are suggestions for easing your baby into less night nursing…

Eliminate discomfort
  • Teething.If you suspect teething at all, it may help to give baby a pain reliever before bedtime (check with baby’s doctor for suggestions). Some babies nurse more often to try to relieve gum pain. Teething pain is often worse at night.
  • Room temperature.Find your baby’s temperature comfort level: some babies will wake if they get too hot or too cold.
  • Solid foods.Has baby recently started solids? Many babies (particularly those under six months) start or increase night waking after the introduction of solids, due to problems digesting the food. Try avoiding solids in the evening, or consider decreasing or eliminating the solids until baby’s digestive system matures more. Several studies have shown that adding solids to a baby’s diet does not help baby to sleep more at night.
  • Allergy.Babies with food allergies, environmental allergies or eczema may wake more at night due to discomfort.
  • Reflux.Discomfort from reflux may also keep baby up at night.
  • Illness.Illnesses like ear infections and colds can interrupt baby’s sleep, and result in increased night nursing. A bad diaper rash or other rash might also affect baby’s sleep. Anytime baby suddenly increases night waking, keep an eye out for illness.

Maximize baby’s nursing during the day and during any night wakings
  • Nurse more during the day.Encourage baby to nurse more often during the day (perhaps every 2 hours instead of every 3), so that she takes in more milk during the daytime hours.
  • Minimize distractions.During the day, nurse in a room that is as free of distractions as possible. Turn off the light, close the door, pull the blinds, etc. Get your older children busy doing something before you start nursing. Try nursing while lying down. Sometimes babies can become so distracted during daytime feedings that they don’t take in enough milk and then have to make up for it with more frequent night feedings. One study showed that older babies can consume as much as 25% of their total daily intake of mother’s milk during the night, probably partly because of daytime distractibility.
  • Tank up before bedtime.Nurse often in the hours leading up to bedtime (at least every 1-2 hours). Some moms nurse on one breast only during this time period so that baby gets more of the higher fat milk available at the end of a feeding (this helps baby go longer between feedings). When baby wakes at night, try nursing on the other breast for all or most of the night, again so that baby gets more of the higher-fat milk.
  • Listen to your child.Only your child knows if she’s really hungry – don’t automatically assume that your child is not hungry or thirsty. Many adults wake at night for a drink of water or even to get a snack.

Maximize sleep for the entire family
  • Dream feed.Nurse baby right before you go to bed (even if baby has already gone to bed), so that you get a longer period of sleep before she wakes again. Many babies barely wake at this time, even though they may get a good nursing in.
  • Try to begin settling baby before he’s overtired.Some babies have a hard time going to sleep when they’re overtired, so keep an eye out for signs of sleepiness.
  • Try different sleep arrangements.Find out what sleeping arrangement work best for the entire family while continuing to meet baby’s needs.
  • Full-time co-sleeping.Many babies sleep better when they are close to mom. Consider sleeping close to your baby – many families have found that baby and the rest of the family gets more sleep this way (click here for information on safety). Sleeping near your baby and nursing baby to sleep will not teach bad sleep habits. All the co-sleeping babies/toddlers who I know have begun to sleep through the night at some point without any type of training or encouragement or change in sleep location.
  • Part-time co-sleeping.Part-time co-sleeping works for many families, where baby sleeps in her crib until the first night waking and then joins mom and dad for the rest of the night.
  • Separate beds.If you’re not comfortable with baby in your bed or if you are currently sleeping with baby and no one is getting any sleep, then try other options. Consider placing baby on a pallet on the floor beside the bed, or place baby’s crib with the rail down beside your bed. That way, baby will be close enough that nursing won’t interrupt sleep quite so much (such as when you get up each time and go to baby’s room). Another option that works for some families is putting a bed for just mom and baby in baby’s room for awhile, or Dad might instead choose to sleep in another location himself.

Gentle methods of night weaning for toddlers
  • Limit Access. After you nurse, place the baby back in her area, or slide her away from you so that close proximity doesn’t encourage more frequent nursing. Wear clothing that makes it harder for baby to access your breast at night.
  • Get Dad in on the nighttime routine!If your baby appears to be waking only for comfort during the night, she may accept Dad as the comforter (and won’t expect Dad to nurse her). Dad can comfort baby in other ways, such as offering a drink, just lying next to her, holding her, etc. Dad may even be able to sleep with baby in another room with less interruption than if baby were sleeping near mom.
  • Increase daytime contact.Allow baby unlimited nursing and cuddling during the day. Sometimes toddlers will seek out the breast more at night when they aren’t getting enough close cuddling during the day. Sometimes we as busy mothers, especially if we have other children, forget to pick these little ones up often during the day and just sit and cuddle with them. If you can increase this close contact during the day, she may need it less at night. If you work, night nursing may be her way of trying to reconnect with you.
  • Talk to your child.With an older child, you may be able to explain something like this, “When the sun goes down, or when we go night-night, num nums (or whatever she calls them) go night-night, too. She probably won’t accept or understand this completely at first, but if you say it before bed each night and repeat it each time she awakens, in time she’ll “get it”.
  • Just say “no”… or “later.”With an older child (over 18 months), feel secure enough to say “no” (at least some of the time) while staying sensitive to your child’s needs. At night, you might say, “not now, but we will later.” She may – or may not – awaken again to nurse later.
  • Substitute other comfort measures.You also may try other things to settle her, such as a back rub, just holding and cuddling, getting her a drink of water, humming softly, etc.

Is night weaning necessary to get baby to sleep through the night?

People may tell you something to the effect of “If you nurse your child at night (or sleep near your child, or a zillion other things), you won’t be able to discontinue it in the future. ” This sells books, but it isn’t true at all!

Remember that night waking in babies and young children is temporary!

Children grow out of night waking, even when we do nothing to discourage it. This period of time will be a very tiny part of your child’s years with you.

A child’s internal timetable for sleeping through the night can vary greatly. Some parents are comfortable with letting the child lead when it comes to night weaning, but for others night nursing truly interferes with their quality of life. If night nursing is not working for you, then encourage changes while taking into account the needs of your child.

Your goal is to maximize sleep for everyone, and if what you’re doing works, then you’ve met your goal. If it’s not working (or stops working) then you can always do things differently. All parents find that they change the way they do things as their child grows older and reaches different developmental stages – sleep is just another thing that changes as your child grows.


Additional information


  • Night weaning Jack (one mom’s story)
  • Nursing to Sleep and Other Comfort Nursing
  • Sleeping Through the Night
  • Parenting: Nighttime & Sleep
  • Will giving formula or solids at night help baby sleep better?
  • Book Reviews

@ other websites

  • Read excerpts from The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley
  • Pillow Talk: Helping your Child Get a Good Night’s Sleep By Paul M. Fleiss, author of Sweet Dreams: A Pediatrician’s Secrets for Baby’s Good Night’s Sleep
  • Solving Sleep Problems by Dr. Bill and Martha Sears, authors of Nighttime Parenting: How to Get Your Baby and Child to Sleep
  • Nightweaning: Twelve Alternatives for the All-Night Nurser by William Sears, MD and Martha Sears, RN
  • Nighttime/Sleep Issues articles from LLLI’s New Beginnings


How to wean a child from night feeding, wean a child to eat at night

0-6 months


5/5 2 reviews

A newborn baby eats at any time of the day, day or night. As the baby's digestive tract grows stronger, the interval between feedings gradually increases. Moms have a natural question: when and how should you stop night feedings so that the baby sleeps all night? nine0003

8 min. for reading Feb. 17, 2022


Should I feed my baby at night

How many nightly feeds does my baby need

  • For breastfed babies, combination breastfeeders and babies with reflux
  • Formula-fed babies

How to know if your child is ready to give up nighttime meals

How to wean a baby from night feedings: expert advice



Is it necessary to feed a baby at night while taking care of the baby if you are chronically sleep deprived. But why can't a baby go without food at night?

In the first months, the baby does not have a clear regime, he still weakly distinguishes between day and night: during prenatal development, the baby is used to getting everything he needs from his mother at any time. And most importantly - at the beginning of life, the child grows very quickly and requires a lot of nutrients, while having a small stomach and a still fragile digestive system. For these reasons, the baby cannot go without food for a long time and requires food approximately every 2-3 hours, and pediatricians, in turn, insist on the need for nightly breastfeeding of a newborn. nine0003


Sleep and nutrition patterns, as well as the need for them, are individual for each child. Therefore, if it seems to you that the baby eats little and rarely, or vice versa - too often, consult with the doctor you are seeing.

In addition, night feedings, although they interfere with sleep, are useful not only for the child, but also for the mother. They help to properly establish lactation, because it is at night that the hormone prolactin is produced, which is responsible for the amount of breast milk. nine0003


With proper organization of night feedings, the baby eats half asleep and quickly falls asleep further. To do this, start a night light in the room and be ready to feed as soon as the baby wakes up. Sleep in comfortable nursing clothing if you are breastfeeding.

How many night feeds does a baby need

The smaller the child, the more often he needs to be fed. But over time, the digestive tract gets stronger, and the baby can eat more and endure longer breaks between meals. Below is an approximate number of night feedings, depending on the age of the baby:

1. For breastfed, mixed breastfed and reflux babies:

Age Number of night feedings
0-3 months breastfeeding on demand approximately every 2-3 hours
3-4 months 2-3 ​​times as required or every 3-6 hours
5-6 months 1-2 meals
7-9 months 1, possibly 2 times
10-12 months sometimes 1 feeding
12+ months usually without night feedings

Number of night feedings 0-3 months feedings every 2-3 hours on demand 3-4 months 1-2 times per night or every 3-6 hours as required 5-6 months possible, 1 feeding 7+ months usually without night feedings


During growth spurts, your baby should be fed as needed. Such bursts occur approximately at 5, 8, 14, 19, 26, 37 and 46 weeks of life and last about 7 days.

How do you know if your baby is ready to give up nighttime meals? After this period, the need for nightly meals depends on the pace of development, individual needs and the health of the child. If the baby was born prematurely or is not gaining weight well, experts recommend waking him up 3.5-4 hours after the previous feeding and offering the breast. nine0003


If you're not sure if your baby is ready to stop feeding at night, talk to your doctor. The specialist will help you understand and make the right decision based on the physical indicators of your child.

If the baby is healthy and has a good weight, somewhere between 4 and 6 months old, he will begin to get enough calories during the day so that he does not need to feed at night. In breastfed children, this process may be a little slower - up to 6–10 months [2]. nine0003

It is also important to take into account that the refusal of nighttime "snacking" occurs gradually: there are very few cases when a child stops eating at night and immediately starts sleeping 5-6 hours in a row. Usually, babies who are used to eating several times a night wake up out of habit, and it will take time to change this routine. First, the baby will ask for food half an hour later than usual, then an hour, a little later - two, and so on. Step by step, over several weeks, night sleep reaches 6-7 hours in a row. This joyful moment can come at 4 months or closer to 12 months: all babies are unique, and it's not scary or unusual for an infant to sleep much longer without food, while an older child keeps waking up to eat. nine0003


Dentists recommend abolishing nighttime feedings for children older than one year, as food leftovers in the mouth can damage baby teeth. This risk is minimal when breastfeeding.

Also, remember that your child has many other important needs. Perhaps he wakes up and calls you, not so much for food, but for comfort and closeness. What could be more reassuring and safer than the caring hands of parents who feed and cradle? feedings. nine0003

How to wean a child from night feeding: expert advice

Many parents are interested in how to properly wean a baby from eating at night so that it does not become a lot of stress for him. Especially if the baby stubbornly refuses to give up night feeding.

  • Start the weaning process slowly and gradually. Slowly reduce your nightly breastfeeding time or give your baby less milk (mixture if formula-fed) from a sippy cup. Try to extend the intervals between


Under no circumstances should the issue of night feedings be turned into a battlefield. The “cry - stop - wean” method loosens the baby’s nervous system and can provoke severe stress.

  • Make sure your child eats well during the day. Babies become more active as they get older, and if they get carried away playing or walking, they may skip meals or not eat enough and then try to make up for it at night. Therefore, take scheduled breaks during the day for "silent feeding" in a place where nothing will distract the crumbs from eating. nine0020


If you're not sure if your child is eating enough, check their height by weighing them at the doctor's office.

  • Try feeding your baby before bed. If a child goes to bed with a full tummy, they are less likely to wake up hungry in the middle of the night.
  • Ask dad to get up at night with the baby. If an awakened baby hears your smell or the aroma of breast milk, this can provoke his appetite, even if the baby did not wake up because of hunger. If you sleep in the same room, it's best to move the crib to dad's side. nine0020
  • Phase out feedings one at a time. When the baby wakes up to eat at night, go to him and reassure him, gently but firmly explain that now is the time to sleep, not eat. At the same time, pat and stroke the child on the back or tummy, but do not pick him up. Even if the baby does not yet understand your words, he gradually catches the meaning, and your presence and attention will be soothing to him.
  • Try giving your baby water to drink. Babies may wake up at night not from hunger, but from thirst, especially in hot weather or in a room with dry air. If after half an hour the baby wakes up again, feed him, and if not, then he is full and satisfied. nine0020
  • If the baby has been crying inconsolably when stopping night feeds for several days in a row, stop the attempt and return to your normal routine for a while. Let the baby calm down and start weaning him again in a week or two.
  • Do not stop night feedings during the transition period. For example, when you are going to return to work or go on vacation without a baby. If your baby sees less of you during the day, try to hug and interact with him more in your free time. It is necessary that he clearly feels your connection and care, then the baby is less likely to seek solace in the middle of the night. nine0020
  • If the baby continues to require nighttime feeding, try to create conditions in which he does not want to eat. An excellent opportunity appears at 8-9 months, when the baby is already confidently eating complementary foods. To do this, move the usual bowl of porridge to the evening: this way the child stays full longer and may not ask for an extra portion of food at night.

See also: Introduction of complementary foods to an infant

Advice nine0039

Do not give your baby new foods at night, introduce them only in the morning. Otherwise, you run the risk of observing the reaction to unfamiliar complementary foods instead of sleep. Also, do not give your child meat at night, it is hard to digest, can cause discomfort in the stomach and restless sleep.

Also keep in mind that the decision to not feed at night depends in part on how it affects you. If you enjoy breastfeeding or drinking from a cup at night, there is no reason to stop: at a certain point, the baby will stop asking for food on its own. But if you feel that lack of sleep prevents you from living and enjoying motherhood, and the baby is already physically ready for change, it's time to try switching to a daily routine. In any case, you should do what is best for you and your family. nine0003


1. How often should a newborn be fed?

A newborn needs to be fed every 2-3 hours, i.e. 10-12 times a day. Further, the intervals between feedings gradually increase to 3-6 hours, and the child gets the opportunity to sleep all night.

2. How much should a child eat per day?

The daily "portion" of food for the baby depends on his age and weight. From 10 days to 1.5 months, the baby needs such an amount of food, the weight of which is approximately 1/5 of the child's body weight. From 1.5 to 4 months - 1/6 of the baby's weight, from 4 to 6 months - 1/7, from 6 to 8 months - 1/8, from 8 to 12 months - 1/9.

3. What happens if you don't stop night feedings?

Most likely, the child will eventually refuse them himself. But some pediatricians, notably Richard Ferber [1], warn that unnecessary nighttime feedings can cause sleep problems. Also, food leftovers after late “snacks” can provoke the development of caries in milk teeth.


    • Baby sleep training: Night weaning. By Darienne Hosley Stewart | Medically reviewed by Lisa Dana, M.D. nine0020
    • Night Feedings by Age – When Do You Try Night Weaning? By Nicole Johnson, Founder and Lead Sleep Consultant in Sleep Training.

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Complementary foods, cuddling and replacing milk with water: how to wean a child from night feeding

At what age do children stop eating at night

“Children's stomach volume is small, metabolism is high, so children, especially the first year of life, eat more often than adults . Most children eat at night up to a year, some up to 2 or even 3 years. It is natural. However, according to experts, by 9“For 12 months, a child can already go without food for 10-12 hours,” said Evgenia Zamakhina, pediatrician at the European Medical Center.

According to the doctor, if parents do not want to wean the child from night meals, then they can continue to feed him when he wakes up, but you need to understand that this will gradually become a habit, not a need.

As Aleksey Parfyonov, a neurologist at the Andreevsky Hospitals - NESOLIT medical center, added, one cannot refuse night feedings in a short time. For a child under one year old, feeding at night is not only a need for food, but also a need for tactile contact with the mother. nine0003

“We try to replace body contact with play, hugs. We are gradually transferring the vector of the child's attention to other ways to be in contact with the mother. This just happens from a year to a year and a half, when the child goes through the stage of separation from the mother, ”Parfyonov explained.

How to wean a child from nighttime breastfeeding

Pediatrician Zamakhina emphasized that weaning from nighttime breastfeeding should be done in stages. You can start by reducing the number of breastfeeds during the day.

"It is necessary to wean the child from the breast during falling asleep, that is, to separate the association" food - sleep ". At night, it is desirable to gradually reduce the feeding time, then make the breast less accessible, gradually increase the distance between the mother and the child from night to night, eventually shifting him to his bed, ”the doctor noted.

As Zamakhina added, it is not necessary to breastfeed immediately after a baby wakes up at night. You should calm the baby by stroking and rocking.

Complementary foods will be introduced as the child matures, allowing parents to include all the necessary nutrients in the child's diet during the day so that he does not feel hungry at night. nine0003



“Before giving up night feeds, you need to understand if the baby is ready for this. If the baby eats well during the day, eats his norm during the day, gains weight, then there is no need for night feedings, ”added the pediatrician.

Zamakhina emphasized that if the parents have already introduced complementary foods, the child should be fed slow-digesting carbohydrates, such as porridge, for dinner. This will reduce the chance that the child will wake up for nightly meals. nine0003

As the neurologist Parfenov added, along with weaning, the mother can contribute to the development of the baby.

“Rejection of night meals stimulates the development of speech, the transition from sucking to chewing movements, stimulates the development of motor skills of the tongue and the formation of speech skills,” the neurologist explained.

How to wean your baby from nighttime bottle feeding

According to a pediatrician, formula is not as healthy as breast milk. This can be one of the good reasons for parents to refuse nightly bottle feedings. nine0003

“Any feeding at night is more harmful than during the day due to the risk of developing caries, since less saliva is produced at night to wash away food residues. In addition, tooth decay more often develops from formula feeding at night than from breast milk feeding, since formula milk contains more carbohydrates, ”the pediatrician noted.

Otherwise, according to the doctor, the recommendations for weaning a baby from a bottle are exactly the same as for breastfeeding. According to her, there are some general tips from experts, in addition to the methods listed above, that will help wean a child from night feeding:

• Physical activity, more walks during the day.

• Evening swim.

• Separate sleeping of the child, in his own bed.

As the neurologist Parfenov added, if the child is naughty and keeps asking for a bottle, you can first try switching to a lower-calorie liquid during night meals.

“If such behavior is associated with experiencing some kind of stress, then it is recommended to replace feeding with something less high-calorie, for example, water,” the neurologist concluded. nine0003

According to Dr.

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