How to wean a baby off night feedings

How and when to wean your baby off of night feedings

Wondering when to wean your baby off the bottle or breast at night? Most babies can make it through the night without eating when they're 6 months old. You may be able to start night weaning your baby when they're 4 months old, or you may choose to wait until later. The key is to ensure your baby is getting plenty to eat during the day and right before bedtime. You can then gradually cut back on the amount of breast milk or formula and the number of times you feed your baby at night.

Can you hardly wait for your baby to sleep through the night? Fortunately, that milestone may be closer than you think. Many babies are able to sleep for at least six hours at a stretch when they're 3 months old, or weigh 12 to 13 pounds. However, some babies take longer: Roughly one quarter aren't sleeping six hours overnight by the time they hit their first birthday.

Babies wake during the night for many reasons, but notably because they're hungry. In the early months, babies need to eat every few hours, including through the night. Gradually, however, babies need to eat less and less at night –  until by 6 months of age (possibly sooner or later), your baby may quit nighttime feedings and go up to 12 hours without waking to eat.

Sometimes babies self-wean from night feedings with no help from you – they'll just sleep through the night suddenly and never look back. But sometimes you have to nudge them, especially if they're down to one nighttime feeding they just aren't dropping.

Night weaning your baby means ensuring they get enough to eat during the day so they don't need to wake at night to eat. Here's how to get started.

When will my baby be ready for night weaning?

This varies, but somewhere between the ages of 4 and 6 months, most babies get enough calories during the day to sustain them for five or six hours at night.

It's not unusual for younger babies to sleep for much longer stretches without needing to eat – or for older ones to continue waking up to eat. Even if your baby doesn't need to eat in the middle of the night, they may still wake up wanting to. Babies who are used to eating several times a night tend to wake up out of habit, and it can take time to change this routine.

If you've recently gone back to work and are less available during the day, your baby may want to nurse or take a bottle at night as a way of reconnecting with you. And you may notice that your baby wakes up more often when they're teething, if they catch a cold, or when they're mastering a developmental milestone.

For all these reasons, it's helpful to approach the weaning process gradually and gently. Keep in mind that your baby is still young and has a tremendous need for comfort, closeness, and reassurance – particularly from you.

Should I start night weaning my baby?

Many experts recommend night weaning around the time babies are 6 months old, because at that point most babies don't physically need to eat at night. At this age, most babies wake to eat out of habit. And if you do wait to night wean your baby when they're older, know that it can be more challenging to wean a toddler off of night feedings. But the timeline isn't set in stone: You can start trying to get your baby to sleep longer stretches between feedings as early as 4 months of age, or much later than 6 months old.

Ultimately, it's your choice whether to night wean or not. It's hard to maintain your own health and well-being if you're chronically sleep deprived. The decision to end your baby's night feedings depends in part on how they're affecting you.

If you enjoy nursing or giving a bottle to your baby at night, you can continue until your baby eventually quits on their own. On the other hand, if you find yourself feeling grumpy and exhausted, it may be time.

Keep in mind that your baby's sleep and nutritional needs may vary if they aren't gaining weight as expected or if they were born prematurely. If you're not sure whether your baby's ready for night weaning, talk to your child's doctor. The doctor can help you sort through any issues and help you make your decision based on how your baby's growing.

How to wean your baby off of night feedings

Once your baby is ready to give up night feedings, try the following techniques:

  • Make sure your baby gets plenty to eat throughout the day. As your baby grows and becomes more active, they may not want to stop to nurse or take a bottle during the day, and they may try to make up for it at night. To make sure they get enough to eat, take scheduled breaks during the day for a quiet bottle or nursing session in a place with no distractions. (If you're not sure that your child is eating enough, check their growth by having them weighed at the doctor's office.)
  • Start the night weaning process slowly and gradually. Nurse your baby for a shorter period of time on each breast or give them a smaller amount of breast milk or formula in their bottle when they wake at night. Try to prolong the intervals between feedings by patting and comforting your baby back to sleep.
  • Offer extra feedings in the evening. If your baby goes to bed with a full tummy, they're less likely to wake up hungry in the middle of the night.
  • Give a "dream feed." After your baby's already asleep – say at 11 p.m. or so – you may want to wake your baby for a final feeding before you go to bed yourself.
  • Avoid night weaning during times of transition. For example, wait if you're just about to return to work or take a family vacation. If you've recently become less available during the day, make sure to give your baby extra cuddle time when you're together, so they'll feel more connected and be less likely to seek comfort in the middle of the night.
  • Gradually eliminate feedings, one at a time. Gently soothe and comfort your baby when they wake up, and explain that it's time to sleep, not eat.
  • Keep any feedings you do at night short and sweet. That way your baby won't wake to eat just because they've come to expect late-night cuddles.
  • Consider sleep training. If your baby seems to eat plenty during the day but still wakes at night, it may not be because they're hungry but because they're used to it. At this point, you may want to consider baby sleep training to help your little one learn to self-soothe back to sleep.

Night weaning if you're breastfeeding

Suddenly stopping the frequency of your nighttime nursing sessions can lead to painful engorgement and increased likelihood of developing an infection known as mastitis. That's one more reason it's good to start slow and drop one feeding at a time, so your breasts can get used to your new routine more easily. In the meantime, you may find that you initially need to wake up and pump breast milk during the night to relieve engorgement.

A key to night weaning your baby is making sure they're getting enough to eat during the day. You may find that you need to pump after one or more feedings during the day, then save the additional milk for an extra feeding in the evening. This can help boost your milk supply as well as ensure that your baby fills up before bedtime. As always, you'll know your baby is getting enough to eat if they're gaining weight as expected and having at least six wet diapers during the day.

Once your baby is around 6 months old, they'll start solids. Breast milk will still be your baby's main source of nutrition, although you may find that they need to breastfeed less as they gradually eat more solid foods.

Night weaning if you're formula feeding

If you're bottle-feeding and ready to night wean your baby, make sure they get enough to eat during the day. By 6 months of age, formula-fed babies need to eat between 6 to 8 ounces (or 180 to 240 mL) per bottle, four to five times every 24 hours.

Once your baby starts solids, formula will still be their main source of nutrition. But with time, solid foods will cover more of your baby's nutritional needs – and you'll eventually start giving your baby fewer bottles with slightly more formula in each. The bedtime bottle is usually the last to go, and even once you wean your child off it, you may want to give them a bedtime snack or a cup of milk to help them make it through the night without getting hungry.

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Night Weaning 101 - When and How to Night Wean

Remember when being up at 3am meant you were having a good night? No? Everything’s a bit foggy since you had a baby? After those crazy, hazy newborn days, most parents are longing for an uninterrupted night’s sleep (and likely, a regular shower). Take heart, the promised land may be closer than you think; you may be able to start night weaning.

Night Weaning – When to Night Wean

Is your baby ready for night weaning? A cutting-edge baby monitor like Nanit can let you know if you’re visiting your baby at night more than you need to. But generally, when does that happen? 

Our resident infant sleep expert, Dr. Natalie Barnett, says yes if your baby is 4-6 months old. “Many, though not all, babies are able to make it through the night without food at 4 months. By 6 months, almost all healthy babies are physically and neurologically able to go 12 hours without food.”

Before you start night weaning, it’s important to have two things in place.

First, you need to structure daytime feedings so that your baby is getting all the calories and nutrition they need during the day. If you eliminate nighttime feedings, you need to make up for it during the day, or your baby is going to wake up hungry. Dr. Barnett recommends milk feeding every 2.5-3 hours and 3 solid feedings a day, if your baby has started solids.

Second, you want your baby to fall asleep independently at the beginning of the night. A baby who falls asleep on their own is more likely to settle themselves in the night without your intervention. They’ll find their own way back to sleep rather than looking to food or comfort. If you need some help getting your baby to fall asleep on their own, check out our post on raising an independent sleeper.  

Night Weaning – How to Night Wean

Once you’ve laid the foundation, what’s the best way to wean your baby off night feeds?

“There are a range of options depending on your baby and your parenting style” says Dr. Barnett. You can cut down on night feeds gradually, take a middle-of-the-road approach, or go cold turkey.

If you choose to wean your baby gradually, Dr. Barnett suggests cutting down the amount of milk they’re getting at each night feeding over a period of a few weeks. Reduce the number of ounces your baby is taking for each night feed every few days until they’re no longer feeding at night.

If you’re breastfeeding, nurse for shorter and shorter periods of time over a few weeks. Dr. Barnett suggests using 10 or 15 minutes as a starting point “by 4 or 5 months your baby should be able to get all the food they need in 10 or 15 minutes, so work down from there.” You’ll also want to be conscious of how your baby is sucking. As soon as they stop eating and start comfort sucking, unlatch and put them pack in the crib.

If your style falls somewhere in the middle, give your baby a chance to get back to sleep on their own, but set a time limit on crying. If they haven’t settled themselves in that time period, go in, pat them on the back, rock them, or just feed them. Its up to you. Increase the amount of time you let them cry each night, for example, give them 20 minutes on night one, 30 minutes on night two, and 40 minutes on night three. Dr. Barnett recommends this approach for younger babies (closer to 4 months) rather than letting them cry indefinitely.

If you’re a tear-off-the-bandaid type, make sure they are getting all the feeds they need during the day then eliminate the desired night feed, or all feeds, and let your baby cry until they settle themselves.

Night Weaning – What to Expect

So, how long will it take?

If you take a gradual approach, it may take a few weeks. A middle-of the-road method can take a little less time, but will likely require a week or more. If you’re eliminating the feeds cold-turkey, it should take around 3 days.

Before you start down your chosen path, make sure your baby is getting enough food during the day. “The process will be more drawn out if your baby is hungry,” says Dr. Barnett. “If everything is in place, your baby really shouldn’t need those night feeds.”

Breaking the association between food and sleep will also help your chances of success. Dr. Barnett recommends feeding upon awakening starting at 4 months. “Prior to 4 months, it’s totally appropriate for your baby to fall asleep however they can, but at around 4 months you’ll want to transition to feeding when they wake during the day rather than feeding to sleep. It’s such a strong sleep association.”

Like any kind of sleep training, night weaning can be challenging. Dr. Barnett offers some reassurance “Transitioning from eating at night is a big change and big changes come with frustration. Your baby’s not angry or feeling abandoned, they want to get back to sleep and they’re learning how to do it without a feed. ” When you know what you’re hearing is frustration it can be a bit easier when your baby cries. “It’s okay for your baby to be frustrated,” she says. “I would never want a baby to do something they’re not ready to do, but your 4-6 month old is likely ready to night wean. This is a totally appropriate level of frustration for your baby to experience.”

A good video monitor can also help allay your fears. You can easily check to see if your baby is wedged in the corner of their crib or if their foot’s stuck in the slats, so you know they’re not crying from discomfort.

All this being said, the most important thing you can do is be consistent. “I cannot stress consistency enough,” says Dr. Barnett. “Weaning will take longer than it needs to if you don’t stick to your plan.” It also helps to be confident in your approach. Babies will feed off your mood, so when you’re sure of yourself, they are, too.

Have confidence in your baby and yourself. Set them up for success, trust that they’ll find a way, and chances are, you’ll both get a better night’s sleep.

Looking for more help? Find advice and tips from parents like you in our community.

How to wean a child from night breastfeeding after a year



  1. When to Wean Your Baby From Night Feeds
  2. Ways to wean your baby from night feedings

Sooner or later, every mother begins to worry about the question of how to wean her child from night feeding. Some no longer had the strength to get up several times a night to prepare the mixture. Others are not satisfied with the little "third wheel" who settled in the matrimonial bed. And someone strives to comply with all the prescriptions of his doctor.

When to wean a child from night feedings

Once complementary foods are introduced, i.e. at 4-6 months of age, most children are well fed during the day and no longer require nighttime feedings for their development.

So, in principle, you can try to wean a child from night feedings already from 6 months. Many children by this age are not at all hungry at night, they just have formed a stable habit of waking up at night. Mom should be aware that the weaning process may take some time and in any case will be associated with some additional inconvenience that causes lack of sleep. Therefore, you first need to analyze your own readiness to wean the child from night feedings. After a year, it will be much easier to do this.

But in addition to satisfying the purely physiological need for food, the child, with the help of feeding, makes up for the lack of communication with the mother. This becomes especially noticeable when the baby is sick, or he is teething, or during the day he does not see his mother. In such cases, the child requires attention at night, asks for a breast or a bottle. Therefore, in the process of weaning from night feedings during the day, it is worth giving him maximum useful time to ensure psychological comfort, and the baby did not need to be convinced of his mother's love in the dark. If the baby asks for attention at night due to the discomfort caused by teething, in this article we tell you how to reduce unpleasant symptoms.

Ways to wean your baby from night feedings

  • Gradually replace feeds with water. First, offer the child to just drink water in one nightly feeding. If water does not work right away, then you can dilute the milk or mixture in a ratio of 1 to 3, increasing the amount of water in the mixture every night. Soon the child will not be interested in waking up to drink some water, and perhaps in such a simple way it will be possible to reduce the number of nightly feedings.

  • Reduce the duration of night feeding while breastfeeding. It is necessary to teach the baby to the fact that the night is a time for sleep, and not for food, and you should not use the breast as a dummy.

  • Increase the intervals between feedings by various ways of putting the baby to sleep during nocturnal awakenings (songs, motion sickness, fairy tales, strokes).

  • Feed at night with formula or porridge

  • Increase the number of breastfeedings during the day. When breastfeeding, usually night feeding remains the last feeding before the final weaning, but in the case when the mother wants to keep breastfeeding, but reduce the number of night feedings, it is worth satisfying the baby's need for the breast as much as possible during the day.

  • Change the way the child is put to bed. Cardinally euthanize the child without feeding or, after breastfeeding a little, transfer to the crib. You can put the baby to sleep while walking in a stroller or give it to dad for motion sickness.

  • Restrict access to the chest at night. When sleeping together, waking up and not immediately finding a nipple, the child simply nuzzles his mother in the side and falls asleep, because he is not really hungry, but simply satisfies his need for closeness to his mother. Frequent contact with the chest can be replaced with regular tactile contact, which we talk about in this article.

  • Sleep separately - in different beds or in different rooms. In cases when the baby wakes up, you can lie down next to him to soothe or feed, but then still go to your bed.

  • Explain. Children older than a year can already be explained that no one eats at night, everyone sleeps, and food will be when it becomes light. This must be constantly repeated both at night, when waking up, and during the day, during games. Moreover, it is important not to deviate from your own words, and if the child still requires food, in every possible way to distract from this, tell tales, rock him in his arms, do a light massage. You can offer water.

If you see that the child began to behave very capriciously, aggressively, his daytime sleep was disturbed, he does not let you go a single step during the day, or, on the contrary, pushes you away, perhaps he has not yet matured in order to completely refuse from night feedings.

It is the baby's daytime behavior that will tell you if you are moving in the right direction. You should not ignore the reactions of the child, sometimes it is better to slow down or completely abandon the idea for a while so as not to injure the baby, depriving him of a sense of trust in the world. After all, the period when the baby is in dire need of you is, in fact, so short that later you will remember your nightly feedings with nostalgia, waiting for your grown-up child from the disco.

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How to wean a child from night feeding

November 13, 2021LikbezLife

There are cases when this is not worth doing.

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Is it necessary to wean from night feeding at all

Doctors have no unanimous opinion on this matter. For example, American pediatrician Richard Ferber, founder of the Center for Children's Sleep Disorders at the Children's Hospital in Boston and author of the bestselling book Child's Sleep. The solution to all problems”, warns Baby sleep training: Night weaning / BabyCenter: if the baby no longer needs night food, the habit of feeding him at night can cause sleep disturbances.

The connection is simple: when a child eats, the digestive tract begins to work actively. This means that after eating and falling asleep, the baby will quickly wake up due to an overflowing diaper or discomfort in the stomach. To calm down, the baby will eat again, and the situation will repeat itself. If you do not break this vicious circle and do not stop night feedings, the opportunity to sleep for both parents and the baby will not be presented for a long time.

On the other hand, renowned pediatrician William Sears, author of Your Baby From Birth to Two Years, How to Put Your Baby to Sleep and others, urges parents not to rush to stop feeding at night. Unless, of course, it exhausts the whole family. According to Sears, night feeding helps the baby feel safe and strengthens the bond between him and his parents.

When not to stop feeding at night

HealthLine 9 American Medical Resources Experts0083 Night Weaning: How to End Middle of the Night Feeds / HealthLine and BabyCenter Baby sleep training: Night weaning / BabyCenter list situations when you should definitely not refuse night feeding, so as not to cause unnecessary stress to the baby.

  • The child is sick or teething.
  • Baby is not gaining weight well.
  • The baby is experiencing a growth or developmental spurt. For example, learns to roll over, sit, or rapidly stretches.
  • The mother recently went to work and the baby sees her less during the day. In this case, he may ask for a breast or a bottle more often than usual in order to feel connected to his mother again.

At what age can you start weaning from night feeding

Preferably no earlier than six months. Until this age, babies are fed almost exclusively on breast milk or formula. Although these are high-calorie foods, the stomach is still too small to stock up on them, and the feeling of hunger quickly returns.

According to experts, breastfed babies need to eat Feeding Your Baby: The First Year / Cleveland Clinic 8 to 12 times a day. On artificial - from 6 to 10 times. Thus, the average child under the age of six months will feel hungry every 2-4 hours. Including at night. So night feeding is inevitable.

At about six months, the situation changes: the stomach enlarges, and solid food appears in the diet. Cereals and vegetable purees take longer to digest, and satiety periods become longer.

So by the age of six months, two out of three babies can sleep Infant Sleep / Stanford Children’s Health all night and not wake up hungry. For some children, this happens a little earlier, starting at three months or when they reach a weight of about 5.5 kg. For others, interrupted nighttime sleep lasts up to a year, and sometimes longer. But six months is a good benchmark for parents to finally think about the opportunity to get enough sleep.

How to wean your baby from night feeding

Here's a strategy to help make it as comfortable as possible.

1. Be patient and be prepared to take it step by step

Slowly reduce the duration of your nightly feedings, each time taking the breast a little earlier. Or, if you are formula feeding, reduce the amount of formula in the bottle. And to make the baby fall asleep easier, stroke him, sing a lullaby or shake him.

2. Make sure your child gets enough food during the day

Growing babies are active and curious. Sometimes, having played too much, they may refuse to eat. If this happens several times a day, at night the baby will try to replenish the calorie stores, again and again demanding a breast or a bottle.

Therefore, make sure that the baby eats during the day. At least once every 3-4 hours, take breaks from games or walks, turn off cartoons or music, put away toys and invite your child to rest in your arms, relax and have a thoughtful snack.

If you are following this recommendation, but you are not sure that your child is getting enough food, keep track of his height and weight: they should be within the limits of age. Your pediatrician will tell you about them. Height and weight above or below the norm indicate that you need to adjust the number of calories.

3. Plan your bedtime

Without food, an infant older than six months can average up to 8 hours of sleep. This means that if he falls asleep at 20:00, he will inevitably get hungry by a maximum of four in the morning. Plan your daily routine in such a way that the child goes to bed (and, accordingly, wakes up) at a convenient time for you.

4. Delegate nighttime feeding or motion sickness to dad or another family member

It happens that a baby asks for a breast or a bottle just to smell the mother. Try to break the link "I eat - it means my mother is near."

The easiest way to do this is with the help of dad or another close relative: let someone else, and not mom, take care of the baby at night for a while - offer a bottle, shake it, stroke it. Pretty soon the child will get used to the fact that food is not connected with the mother.

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