When do babies no longer need 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.

Learn more:

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How to Night Wean Baby

“Don’t worry, honey. It will get easier.” It’s something new moms hear all the time from well-meaning relatives. We can’t say it’s true for all things baby, but when it comes to finally getting more sleep, you can bet that there’s light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. That’s because at some point, baby’s cries will be less likely to jolt you awake just as you’re settling into a dream. She’ll sleep for hours—yes, that’s hours with an “s”!—on end, and you’ll be able to, once again, indulge in six, seven, maybe even eight hours of sleep, and feel human again.

This is how night weaning happens in the best of scenarios: Baby no longer wakes up, because she’s no longer hungry, and you follow her lead. But, of course, it’s not always this easy. Baby may need more time than you have patience for, or she may be a little tricky, crying for your bosom, not for food but comfort. For whatever reason, you may have to urge baby along the night weaning process. And, of course, as with most changes in routine, the transition process can be fraught with doubt: Is she ready? Is she hungry? Is she getting enough to eat? But don’t worry. We’ve got the expert advice you need on night weaning so that both you and baby can feel good about it in the morning.

In this article:
When do babies stop eating at night?
Signs baby is ready for night weaning
How to night wean
Night weaning tips

When Do Babies Stop Eating at Night?

The short answer is at 4 months. Younger babies, whether breast- or bottle-fed, need to interrupt their (and your) sleep because they’re hungry; they need the additional calories. But “by 4 months, most can sleep through the night,” says T. J. Gold, MD, a pediatrician at Tribeca Pediatrics in Brooklyn, New York. This is when their liver has completely matured and makes glucose overnight, which keeps them from feeling hungry. They’re also able to eat enough during the day to keep up with their calorie needs. Explains Russell Horton, DO, a pediatrician at Banner Health Center in Queen Creek, Arizona: By now, babies can take in 28 to 32 ounces of formula or breast milk a day. As a result, they can also sleep at least five hours at a stretch and, by age one (when they’re already eating real food), for around 10.

3 Signs That Baby Is Ready for Night Weaning

If your friend’s baby stopped night feeding at exactly 3 months, that doesn’t necessarily mean your baby will do the same. All babies are different; yours might need a few more weeks and that’s totally fine. When babies are ready for night weaning, they will show some of the same signals. Here’s what you should look out for:

She sucks a little then falls asleep. This suggests she’s not actually eating for the nutrition but for your warm, snuggly bosom. Yes, you like that cuddly feeling too, but remember, you also like (and need) sleep—are we right? If so, then both of you are ready to learn how to night wean.

She eats solid foods during the day. These foods offer more sustenance than milk alone—which means you shouldn’t have to worry about whether she’s getting enough calories. It’s time to consider night weaning.

She sleeps for longer stretches or even through the night. Her belly feels satiated, so you probably don’t need to wake her up to get in the extra calories. Proceed to start night weaning!

How To Night Wean In 4 Steps

Some strategies for how to night wean are similar to how to stop breastfeeding in general: In both cases, it helps to have a plan. And, in general, gentle weaning is the best approach. Says Horton: Suddenly changing a child’s behavior can be stressful, and it can be a trying time as it is. For a smooth transition, try the following:

Check in with your pediatrician before you start night weaning. If your baby is showing the signs explained above, then chances are she’s ready. But it’s always nice to be reassured by her doctor that she’s ready for night weaning from a nutritional standpoint.

Shorten your night feedings by a few minutes each night. “Continue to do so until baby isn’t waking for feedings anymore,” Horton says. This can typically take anywhere from one to two weeks.

Offer breast feedings more frequently during the afternoon and early evening. Try feeding every two to three hours between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. This should help baby feel full by the time she’s ready for bed.

Feed baby more nutrient-rich foods during the day. This makes up for the calories she otherwise would have consumed during the night. As Betty, a mother of three, can attest, “After my oldest started eating baby food, she stopped needing the night feedings. ” If your child weighs 13 or more pounds, she may be ready for more substantial foods such as rice cereal and other grains made for babies. (This typically occurs at about 4 months old—which happens to be around the time most babies can sleep through the night.) Once baby has mastered cereals, she can move on to fruits, vegetables and even pureed proteins.

Night Weaning Tips for Insistent Night Snackers

For babies who feed not for calories but for comfort (see sign No. 1, above), the key is to separate eating from falling asleep. “If your baby thinks she needs to eat or suckle to fall back asleep, she’ll demand that,” says Ari Brown, MD, FAAP, founder of 411 Pediatrics in Austin, Texas. In this case, night weaning cold turkey may actually be an effective strategy. To make it easier on you and baby:

Empty your breast before bed. Your milk production should eventually begin to wind down in response to the new routine. As Lisa, a mother of four who is currently nursing 5-month-old twins says, “I’ve sort of trained my body. I pump once at midnight and then in the morning around 8 or 9.” Until your breast is down with the program, any overnight leakage could be pumped or squeezed out a little, but not completely. (Otherwise, your breast will continue to “think” it needs to make milk at night.)

Have your partner soothe baby. Now it’s your partner’s turn to do their share of the night weaning process! When baby learns that there’s no milk to be had, she’ll find new ways to soothe herself. For extra tips on sleep training, check out our article here.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

90,000 night feeding to what age - how much to wean a child from night feeding




Feeding and dream

months-18 months


Team Babysleep

Team BabySleep

Sleep Consultants, Physicians, Psychologists, Breastfeeding Consultants

Everyone knows that frequent nighttime awakenings when a newborn needs to be comforted or fed is a natural part of motherhood. How pleasant it is to hug a child in the silence of the night and attach it to your chest! But one day there comes a moment when the uninterrupted sleep of the baby and mother becomes more important than nightly breastfeeding.

Child crisis calendar

Night feeds: until what age?

Many parents are interested in night feedings: until what age should they be kept? When should a child be weaned from night feeding? In this article, we present the opinion of our American colleagues on breastfeeding. Their recommendations may need tweaking, but it's certainly an interesting take on the issue.

BabySleep considers it necessary to emphasize that reducing nighttime feedings at any age does not in any way mean a complete rejection of breastfeeding, unless the mother has such an intention. This is just a reduction in the number of attachments to the chest during a night's sleep. The mother can still continue breastfeeding even if the number of nightly feedings is reduced.

It is also important to remember that breastfeeding is not only a process of satiating the child, but also a time of physical and emotional closeness between mother and baby. In some situations, this factor is of paramount importance and it is not worth reducing the number of feedings.

What do doctors say?

Many children continue to wake up for night feedings from one to several times a night, although, due to their age, they are already able to sleep for a long period of time without awakening. The reason is that they are used to getting calories at night. Very often, nighttime awakenings and the need to breastfeed in order to fall asleep again are caused by an association with falling asleep. This means that when you wake up at the end of your sleep cycle (every 40–90 minutes), the baby simply cannot fall asleep again without sucking, even if at that moment he is not hungry. Some children only need to take a few sips to calm down, and someone eats, consuming calories that the body does not need at that moment.

When the baby wakes up to satisfy his hunger, he actively sucks and swallows for at least 5 minutes or drinks more than 60 ml. milk from a bottle. If there is an association to fall asleep, or if the baby needs to breastfeed to calm down, the baby sucks out only a little milk. If the baby is really hungry at night, it is not recommended to drastically reduce the number of nightly feedings. If the child is hungry, he must be fed!

How many nightly feedings does a child need?

Before cutting down on a baby's nighttime feedings, the mother should make sure that the baby is ready for it and that her expectations are realistic. If there are no problems with lactation, the baby is healthy, calm, eats well during the day and is gaining weight, you can simply use the table as a guide, which indicates the number of nightly feedings recommended by American baby sleep experts.

Talk to your doctor before starting to cut down on nightly breastfeeding. It is also important to consider the age of the child depending on the EDD (estimated date of birth). If the baby eats at night more often than indicated in the table, but sleeps well, and it suits you, there is no problem. If your baby is eating less often, but your pediatrician is happy with how he is growing and gaining weight, you are doing great too!

The recommendations in this article are for those mothers who are worried about the fragmented sleep of the child due to the fact that the baby often eats at night.

Until what age should night feeds be continued?

Children's nutritional needs differ, but you can focus on the average data from the table:

When should a child be weaned from night feedings?

A child's readiness to reduce night feedings can be tested by answering the following questions:

  1. Is your baby 6 months old or older and eating solid foods well?
  2. Was the baby born at term with a normal weight?
  3. Does the baby need night feedings, rather to calm down than to satisfy the feeling of hunger (applications are very short)?
  4. Feeding for a baby is an association for falling asleep, does he not know how to calm down and fall asleep himself during daytime and nighttime dreams, does he often wake up at night?
  5. Is co-sleeping a forced measure for you because of the association for the baby to fall asleep (see paragraph 4)?
  6. Do all family members lack sleep and feel constantly tired (as a result of points 4 and 5)?
  7. Are night feedings erratic (time and number of awakenings vary each night)?
  8. Does your child eat more at night than during the day?
  9. In the past, has the baby been able to sleep for three or more days in a row for long periods of time without feeding, or with one feeding between 22:00 and 24:00 (not during illness, etc. )?
  10. Does the baby eat once a night - at 3-4 in the morning - and constantly refuses morning feeding?

If the majority of answers are yes, this shows the child's readiness to reduce the number of nightly attachments.

Reduced night feedings. Where to begin?

If you can't tell exactly what time and how long your child eats at night, watch him for 2-3 nights. When you see patterns in nightly breastfeeding, you can draw up a work plan and gradually wean the baby from breastfeeding.

  1. Start with feedings in the first hours of sleep, when the baby has not yet had time to get hungry.
  2. If nighttime breastfeeding is associated with falling asleep for your baby, separate breastfeeding from the process of falling asleep—feeding before bed to soothe and relax, and then falling asleep without suckling.
  3. Reduce the time your baby spends at the breast at night, or reduce the amount of milk in the bottle.
  4. Increase your daily calorie intake.
  5. If you soothe your baby at night without breastfeeding, but the baby starts crying when you put him to bed after that, this crying is most likely caused by an association with falling asleep. In this case, if you want to reduce the number of feedings at night, you need to help your baby learn to fall asleep without a breast.

If a child has an association with falling asleep, putting together a work plan to reduce bedtime is not an easy task. If you need help and support from a sleep consultant, you can get it in the format of an individual consultation. We'll help you determine what's causing your sleep problem, how it can be managed, and how realistic your desired goals are.

The article was prepared based on materials from sites: happybabysleep.com, childsleepscience.wordpress.com. Transfer BabySleep



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Elena Muradova

Founder of BabySleep, first sleep consultant in Russia and CIS

Weaning at night

Weaning from night feeds and uninterrupted sleep throughout the night is the dream of many new parents. However, kids have completely different plans in this regard. Many of them continue to wake up to eat or drink, even at 3 years old. We understand why this happens and whether it is possible to wean a child to eat at night.

Why night feedings are needed

Night feedings are not a whim, but a necessity for the normal development of the baby. First of all, they are needed by the child, and then by the mother. The main reasons why a child needs to wake up at night include the following:

  1. physiological immaturity. Compared to adults, children's metabolism is very fast. This is due to the active growth and development of the baby. In addition, both formula and breast milk are absorbed very quickly - on average, in 2-4 hours.
  2. Features of lactation. The amount of milk in the mother is regulated precisely by feeding at night, since the hormone prolactin is actively produced at this time of day. If a woman wants to breastfeed a baby, at least one nightly application is necessary.
  3. evolutionary mechanisms. According to one hypothesis, night waking is an evolutionary mechanism that protects the baby from sudden infant death syndrome.
  4. Compensatory. If the mother removes daytime feeds, the baby may begin to wake up more often at night to compensate for the lack of daytime feedings. This is more relevant for children on breastfeeding one year old and older.

If night waking does not cause inconvenience to mother and baby, then there is no need to specially clean them. You can wait until the baby's nervous system matures and he refuses such feedings on his own.

� When the baby is ready to leave night feeds

The ability to sleep through the night without waking up for a night snack develops as the baby's nervous and digestive systems mature. Attempts to reduce nighttime feedings before this point can end in failure, exhaust the mother and cause sleepless nights for the whole family.

The following terms are considered physiological:

Type of feeding

When do night feeds end?


A breastfed infant stops eating at night around 18–24 months of age.


Depends on what kind of food (formula or breast milk) prevails in the baby's diet. Age can vary from 9 to 24 months.


Formula is considered a heavier product, so formula-fed babies may refuse to eat at night as early as 9-12 months.

Some babies, whether breastfed or formula-fed or mixed-fed, may start sleeping without waking up for nighttime feeds as early as 6 months. If the mother has enough milk, and the baby is gaining weight normally, you do not need to specifically wake the baby to feed him.

Important! Night feedings are the key to successful lactation. If the baby of the first months of life does not wake up at night, you need to offer the breast to a sleepy baby. This stimulates the production of milk and will help to avoid problems with its quantity.

How to stop feeding your baby at night on EW

It is much easier to remove night feedings from a baby on artificial feeding than on breastfeeding. This is due to the fact that a baby on IV immediately gets used to the schedule, and with a greater nutritional value of the mixture, and less difficulty with its replacement. On average, babies who eat formula wake up only 2-3 times per night, so it will not be difficult to refuse such a number of feedings.

However, weaning from nighttime eating should begin no earlier than 6 months. By this age, the brain of children in general is ready to sleep without awakening from 6 to 8 hours. What can be done to reduce the number of feedings?

  1. If the mother practices co-sleeping, you should not combine moving the child to the crib and accustoming to uninterrupted sleep at night. It is better to reduce the number of wakings first, and then move the baby to your bed.
  2. If the baby has entered a clear mode, you can gradually increase the intervals between night feedings. You can move them no more than half an hour at a time.
  3. When the baby asks for food at night, offer him water first and only then formula. Perhaps he wakes up from thirst, not from hunger. This approach will help increase the intervals between feedings.
  4. After a year, a hearty dinner helps to improve sleep. Feed your baby porridge or porridge with meat 2-3 hours before bedtime. Such food is digested for a long time and will help the baby sleep better.

It is important to remember that the reduction in feeding should not be accompanied by tears and tantrums of the baby. Restless night sleep and discomfort will cause the baby to wake up more often.

Weaning from night feeds should not be a problem for the baby and other family members. Our doctors will remotely advise on the features of children's sleep and help you choose the right moment for weaning from night feedings.

How to remove night feedings with breastfeeding

The regimen of children who are exclusively breastfed is different from the regimen of children who are fully or partially artificially fed. For children on IV, night feedings, rather, are a consequence of the characteristics of the child's psyche and metabolism. For children on breastfeeding, they are rather a necessity.

It is at night that the hormone prolactin is produced, which regulates the production of milk in the mother. If you do not feed your baby at night or leave such feedings too early, this will directly affect the amount of milk and, as a result, the development and growth of the baby.

It is believed that during weaning, night feedings are the last to stop. However, you can reduce the number of nightly attachments before the mother decides to complete breastfeeding. What can be done for this?

  1. If the mother practices co-sleeping, moving the baby to her crib will help reduce the number of nightly attachments. At first, you can put a baby bed with the side removed to the parent one and shift the baby after he falls asleep. Then the side rises, and the bed moves away.
  2. After a year, giving up or reducing the number of night feedings helps a hearty dinner and a bowl of water instead of breastfeeding at night. You can also give kefir or a mixture at night.
  3. The number of nightly attachments is also affected by daytime feeding. If the mother cancels too many daytime attachments and severely restricts the baby, he can compensate for the lack at night. Therefore, if the mother does not plan to completely cancel breastfeeding, it is better to allow the toddler to apply during the day.

If the mother does not plan to stop breastfeeding in the near future, then it is better to postpone weaning from night feedings to a more suitable time for this and wait for the moment when the baby himself refuses nightly feedings. After a year, you can teach the child self-attachment. In this case, neither the baby nor the mother practically wakes up at night.

Read also What kind of breastfeeding is considered prolonged


How many times does the child eat at night?


The number of night feedings depends on the age and type of feeding. Formula-fed babies wake up 2-3 times a night on average. Breastfed babies may wake up more often.

When do children wake up at night?


The baby's brain is not adapted to a long night's sleep. This is believed to be an evolutionary mechanism that protects infants from sudden infant death syndrome. The child begins to sleep more than 6 hours in a row after a year, and all night - closer to three.

What can I do to stop my child from eating at night?


You can reduce the number of nightly feedings by moving the baby to a separate bed, starting to feed a denser dinner and gradually increasing the intervals between nightly attachments.

When should a baby be weaned?


The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding or formula feeding until two years of age if it is comfortable for both mother and baby. If a woman decides to wean the baby from the breast earlier, you need to replace the breast mixture.

Is it necessary to wean the baby from the breast if he does not sleep well?


Weaning does not guarantee that the baby will sleep through the night. For this to happen, his nervous system must mature. Weaning, especially through tears, can cause restless sleep and frequent waking.

Expert opinion

Night feedings are necessary for the normal growth and development of the child. On average, children self-refuse by the age of 9-24 months. However, this does not mean that the child stops waking up at night. The brain fully matures for this only at the age of 3 years. To wean a child from waking up at night, you need to feed him more densely before bedtime, move him to his crib and offer water at night instead of breast or formula.

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Article author

Pruzhinin Mark Yulievich pediatrician

Experience 30 years

Consultations 1572

Articles 104

An experienced pediatrician with extensive experience and clinical experience in various medical organizations in the field of general pediatrics, resuscitation and anesthesiology and neuroinfection.

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