When should you stop dream feeding your baby

The What, How & Everything Else You Need to Know– Nested Bean

A dream feed might just be the solution to helping your baby sleep through the night! This article covers everything from what it is to know if it's right for you and your baby!

Continue reading to learn:

What is a dream feed
Why a dream feed could be good for your baby (and you!)
Should I dream feed my baby?
How do I dream feed?
Dream feed Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Dream Feed?

A dream feed is basically exactly what it sounds like: you’re feeding your baby while they are still dreaming. More specifically, a dream feed is when you feed your baby while they are still asleep by gently rousing your baby enough to feed or nurse them in an effort to reduce middle-of-the-night wakings and feedings.

Usually, you would do a dream feed some time between 10pm and midnight. Parents choose the time of dream feeding based on when they go to bed themselves and what seems to work the best for their baby. The idea is that if you dream feed your baby (without fully waking them) before you go to bed, they will be full enough to sleep a longer stretch at night and/or until the early morning, which means you could potentially avoid a 2:30 or 3:30am wake up!

Why can a Dream Feed be good for your baby (and you)?

Many moms find that a dream feed helps their baby sleep for longer stretches through the night, which results in more rest for both baby and mom! According to Dr. Harvey Karp, author of Happiest Baby on the Block, research has shown that introducing a dream feed around 11pm reduces night wakings among 3-month-olds, which is the ideal time to start a dream feed.

Once babies reach 3 to 4 months of age, they’ll eat 8-12 times throughout a 24-hour period, and most are capable of going 7 to 8 hours without a feed.

Many babies will still wake up multiple times for a feed out of habit, since as a newborn, they were fed more frequently to keep their tiny stomachs full.

Until you’ve weaned night time feedings, your baby won’t be sleeping through the night. But even after they reach the point when they can go a long stretch without a feed, if their last feed is between 7 and 8pm before bed, and they get 7-8 hours of sleep, that puts them at waking between 2:30 and 3:30am for a night feed.

Many babies, depending on their age, will wake up a second time around 5:30, which means your schedule might look a little something like this:

Without a dream feed

6:30 P.M.

Feed your baby before putting them down for bed

7:30 P.M.

Baby goes to sleep

11:00 P.M.

You go to sleep

1:30 A. M.

Baby wakes up for a feed

2:30 A.M.

Finish feed, settle baby back to sleep

3:00 A.M.

You fall back asleep

5:30 A.M.

Baby wakes up for another feed

6:30-7 A.M.

Finish feed & maybe get baby back to sleep...but it's already time for you to start your day!

Alternatively, if their last feed is at 11pm, before you go to bed, and they have 7-8 hours of sleep, they’ll be waking up around 6am. Meanwhile, you’ve had a night of uninterrupted sleep as well!

With a dream feed

6:30 P.M.

Feed your baby before putting them down for bed

7:30 P. M.

Baby goes to sleep

10:30 P.M.

Dream feed

11:00 P.M.

You go to sleep

2:30 A.M.

Baby wakes up for a feed

4:00 A.M.

You fall back asleep

7:30 A.M. or later

Baby wakes up, you feed & start your day!

Some babies might still wake at 3am out of habit, if they’re used to usually being fed at that time. If you do a dream feed at 11pm, as that's when you go to bed, and they wake around 2:30-3am, try to help your baby get back to sleep without a feed. Even if you can push it another hour and you feed them at 4am instead, you can keep pushing the second feed later over time until you get to your desired wake up time!

The Zen Sack can be helpful in weaning and eventually dropping the second night time feed, and in reducing night wakings in general. Because of its weighted center, the Zen Sack provides the same comfort and security of your hand resting on your baby’s chest, which can help them soothe back to sleep after that 3am wake up and break the association of feeding and/or being held.

Many moms have seen success in combining a dream feed with the use of their Zen Sack or Zen Swaddle to get their baby sleeping through the night.

Sweeter Sleep Story

“Before we started using the Zen Sack she’d wake up every 2-3 hrs. Started the Zen Sack around 4 months. My little one (breast fed) started her bedtime routine around 7:30 and be asleep by 8pm...I’d dream feed her before I went to bed (11pm). She stays asleep until 5am! At that point she eats and goes right back to sleep until about 6:30am."

- Courtney D., March 2018

Read more reviews  

The Zen Sack™: can help your baby sleep
through the night & tech them to self soothe

Shop Zen Sacks


Getting more sleep is no doubt the most attractive benefit of a dream feed, but it’s not the only one! Feeding or nursing your baby while they are still asleep also lessens the risk of an association forming.

As we mentioned, weaning nighttime feedings is an important step to getting your baby to sleep through the night (remember, you should only decrease feedings when your baby is developmentally ready as determined by your doctor), but it can be very difficult to break the association of feeding to get back to sleep.

However, since a dream feed is done while your baby is still sleeping, no association will form.

Think of a dream feed as acting proactively instead of reactively. You feed your baby before they wake, instead of feeding them once they’ve already woken up and need to be soothed to go back to sleep.

Additionally, doing a dream feed means your baby won’t get distracted like they might during feeding while they’re awake. Dream feeding allows them to focus only on feeding and ensures that they get the proper amount of food they need per day.

Should I Dream Feed My Baby?

How do I know if dream feeding is right for me and my baby? It’s like that old saying - you’ll never know unless you try! The Baby Sleep Site mentions that a dream feed could be problematic for some babies, but notes that there is usually no harm in trying. Other sleep consultants, like - Tizzie Hall, A.K.A the “International Baby Whisperer”, highly recommend a dream feed:

From the experts

“The reason I recommend the dreamfeed, is to try to avoid you having to get up more than once in the night. When your baby is about eight weeks old, I recommend the dreamfeed at 10:30 at night.

If you followed the routine but didn’t have the dreamfeed, your baby would go to sleep at 7pm and maybe wake between 11pm and 1am for the next feed.

Let’s say your baby woke at 1:30am, you would get up and feed your baby. Maybe your baby would be back in bed asleep at 2:30am, but he might wake again at 5:30am for another feed.

Then, by the time you have him asleep again, it would be time to get up and start the day.

With the dreamfeed, your baby may sleep until let’s say 2am and then when back in bed; he is more likely to sleep until 7am. This means you have only had to get up once in the night."

- Tizzie Hall, Director of Save Our Sleep


If you or your baby falls into one of the following categories, you should consider trying a dream feed:

  • Your baby is past the newborn stage (2 to 3 months or older), and can now go longer stretches without a feed.
  • Your baby doesn’t feed enough during the day or gets easily distracted while feeding, and you’re concerned she might not be getting enough food.
  • Your baby is overcoming a cold/illness and needs to maintain their hydration.
  • You are breastfeeding and your breasts feel full, making you uncomfortable.
  • You're having trouble helping baby sleep through the night.

Dream feeds do not work for every baby, but they do work for many! Moms who have seen success with it, encourage any new mom to give it a go.

How Do I Dream Feed?

Step 1: Rouse your baby without fully waking them up. Your baby will need to be alert enough to take your breast or a bottle, but you want to be extra careful not to fully wake them, which could lead to a cranky baby and throw the whole night off. For some babies, all you need to do to stir them is gently take them out of the crib and position them to feed. If your baby needs a little extra help, see our FAQs for tips!

Unlike sleep training methods that encourage babies to sleep longer stretches without eating, dream feeding doesn’t interfere with a baby’s normal need to be fed at night. It just tweaks your baby’s schedule a bit so that babies and parents are on a more similar sleep schedule.  -Healthline

Step 2: Feed them! Continue on like you would during a normal feed. Make sure their head is slightly elevated, as feeding while lying flat poses a risk of choking. If you’re bottle feeding, you can usually wiggle the bottle into the baby’s mouth to initiate suckling. If you’re breastfeeding, get your baby to latch on to start suckling. If you’re having trouble getting them to take the breast or bottle, they probably aren’t awake enough - see our FAQs for tips!]

Common questions about the dream feed

Q: How many mls are appropriate for a dream feed? 

A: Generally, you should aim to have your baby drink as much as they would during a normal feed while dream feeding. The amount that a baby should be eating every feed is based on their age.

Newborns generally drink about 45-90 milliliters every 2-3 hours. At 2 to 3-months-old your little one will be drinking about 120-150 milliliters every 3-4 hours. From 4 to 5-months-old they could reach as much as 180 milliliters per feed. And by 6-months-old most babies are up to about 180-230 milliliters every 4 to 5 hours. 

Q: What's the best time for a dream feed?

A: The ideal time for a dream feeding is between 10p.m. and midnight. Typically, parents choose to dream feed their infants right before they are about to go to sleep themselves, to reduce wake-ups during the night. The goal of dream feeding your baby is to avoid you having to get up for more than one feed in the middle of the night, meaning that both you and baby sleep longer.

Q: Should I leave my baby swaddled for the dream feed?

A:In most cases, yes. Leave your baby swaddled. You want to stimulate them as little as possible - only enough to get them to feed. Un-swaddling might wake them up.

The Zen Swaddle will also help baby sleep longer because of its gently weighted chest and sides that mimic your touch. However, if your baby is too drowsy to feed, un-swaddling might help them wake up enough.

Q: What if my baby is too drowsy and won’t eat during the dream feed?

A: Some babies will take a little more stimulation than others to get them awake enough to feed, just make sure you don’t rouse them too much, or they’ll completely wake up! Here’s some tricks you can try rouse them enough to get them to feed:

  • Run a wet wipe or cloth across his cheek
  • Rub or tickle the bottom of his feet or chin
  • Put some milk on his lips

If those don’t work, put your baby back down. You can try again briefly a little while later, if you’re still up. If it doesn’t work, don’t force it. Like they say, “never wake a sleeping baby.” - you don’t want to run the risk of having a cranky baby all night because you accidentally woke them up mid-slumber.

If you try without success for a few nights, give it a rest for a couple weeks and come back to it.

Q: When should you start dream feeds? Is it ever too late to try a dream feed?

A: Dream feeds work best for babies 3-9 months old. When your baby is a newborn, they need to be fed frequently because their little tummies can only hold so much. Once they get between 3 and 4 months old, they’re ready to start going longer stretches.

However, after 9 months old, if your baby still isn’t sleeping through the night, a dream feed probably won’t help as much. At this age, there are likely other sleep associations that are keeping them from having a longer stretch of sleep at night.

Q: Should I change my baby’s diaper after the dream feed?

A: Only if you feel it’s necessary. You’ll know best once you try a dream feed for a few nights. Again, the idea is to stimulate your baby as little as possible. A diaper change might wake them up, so avoid it if possible.

However, if your baby wakes up a hour or two later because of a wet diaper, it might be necessary to do a quick change after the dream feed before putting them back down.

If you find your baby needs the diaper change after a dream feed, we’d recommend using the The Zen Sack. Its gently weighted center will help keep your baby calm and drowsy while you sneakily use the 2-way zipper to make a quick diaper change and a longer stretch of sleep!

Sweeter Sleep Story

“I love this[Zen] Sack and so does my 4 month old son! I ordered up a size so he would be able to wear it longer and it works perfectly! It is so soft and the zipper is perfect for late night diaper changes. Will definitely be using this for a while!"

- Amazon Customer, 6/15/2017

Read more reviews  


Q: Should I burp my baby after the dream feed?

A: During dream feeds, babies tend to take in less wind because they are so relaxed. When you’re finished the dream feed, just sit him up for a couple minutes to allow any trapped air to escape.

Q: Should I dream feed at the same time every night

A: The timing of your dream feed will be based on what is best for you and your baby. You can experiment with different times, especially when you first start, to try and find the best time range for your baby. Once you find it, keep it consistent.

Q: What if my baby won’t eat for the dream feed?

A: Parents are encouraged to try for at least a week before giving up on dream feeding all together. If your baby won’t eat for the dream feed, they simply might not be awake enough and require some extra gentle stimulation.

Alternatively, dream feeding might not be for your baby and can often disrupt babies sleep. Try to establish it for a week, but know that a dream feed is not for everyone!

Q: What if my baby still wakes up multiple times in the night and/or wakes up more than normal after trying dream feeding?

A: Dream feeds are not for every baby. It’s also not a fool-proof solution to sleeping through the night. For some babies, there may be other things at play that are causing them to not sleep through the night, in which case, check out our article When Do Babies Sleep Through the Night and What Might Be Preventing It?

If you tried a dream feed and your baby started waking up more than before introducing the dream feed, it may be messing with their natural sleep cycles, or prompting them to want to eat more than normal - which is exactly the opposite of what you want! In this case, dream feeding might not be the right solution for your baby, but you can check out our other 8 Solutions to Sleeping Through the Night!

Q: When Should I Stop Dream Feeds?

A: Once your baby is consistently sleeping through the night (without a 3 am/second night feed), you should try gradually moving the dream feed earlier each night until you can drop it altogether.

Typically, by 9 months old, babies can sleep through the night on their own, and you should be able to stop dream feeding. If your baby starts waking earlier as you start the dream feed earlier, go back to doing the dream feed at the time you were previously and try again in a couple weeks.


Other Resources

Zerotothree.Org: Safe Sleep, Sweet Dreams

American Academy of Pediatrics: Feeding Challenges

When To Stop the Dream Feed

by valplowman

When To Stop the Dream feed. What to look for to know when to stop the dreamfeed for your baby and get baby sleeping a solid 10-12 hours a night.

Dropping the Dream Feed can be a scary prospect.

Dream feeding your baby up to this point has allowed for a long stretch of sleep at night.

Dropping it might mean that baby stops sleeping as well at night.

It can also be a sad milestone because that quiet time spent with just you and your baby is coming to an end.

Despite the fear and sadness, there is great benefit to stopping the dreamfeed.

Baby will sleep through the night, which means you can go to bed any time you like without disruption. Dream feeding meant you had to stay up to feed baby. Now you can go to bed when baby goes to bed if you want to! That can mean more hours at night for you of sleep.

It also allows you to hire a babysitter and go out on a date without worrying about getting back in time to feed the baby.

Even if you don’t go out, there will be extra time you can spend with your spouse.

There are things to look forward to!

So when should you stop the Dreamfeed?

Post Contents

  • The Best Age to Stop the Dreamfeed
  • What Is a Dream Feed
  • Signs Baby is Ready to Stop the Dreamfeed
  • Baby is Sleeping from Dreamfeed to Morning Wakeup Time
  • Baby Stops Sleeping Well at Night
  • Baby Needs a Change to the Schedule
  • Give it a Try
  • Related Dreamfeed Posts

The Best Age to Stop the Dreamfeed

There is a wide age range of what is the “best” age to drop the Dreamfeed.

The range is 3-7 months old.

Most babies are probably more 4-5 months old when they are ready to drop the dreamfeed.

Age is only one factor in a long list of factors of when to drop.

Once your baby hits three months old, be on the lookout for other signs of readiness.

What Is a Dream Feed

Before we go too far into how to stop dream feeding your baby, I want to be clear on what it even is.

This is a feeding that happens typically between 10-11 PM. You get baby up and feed one last time before you go to bed for the night.

The idea is that baby will wake up less for night feedings or at least go longer before waking in the night for another feeding.

>>>Read: The Basics of a Dreamfeed

Signs Baby is Ready to Stop the Dreamfeed

Once your baby is in the correct age range to stop dream feeding, watch for these readiness signs.

Baby is Sleeping from Dreamfeed to Morning Wakeup Time

In most cases, you will want to keep the Dreamfeed until your baby is consistently sleeping from the Dreamfeed until your morning wake up time.

Once your baby starts sleeping solidly through the night, give it two weeks and then try to drop the Dreamfeed.

If your baby still wakes up for night feedings, she probably isn’t ready to drop the dreamfeed yet.

Baby Stops Sleeping Well at Night

Another sign baby is ready to stop the Dreamfeed is if baby suddenly stops sleeping as well through the night.

Your baby suddenly starts to have night wakings when he previously was sleeping through the night.

This is a hard sign to go by. There are many, varied reasons a baby wakes in the night.

One of those reasons can be that the Dreamfeed is actually interfering with baby’s natural sleep cycle and causing baby to wake up early.

This was the case with my fourth child, and only happened in one out of my four children.

If your child’s sleep is regressing, consider the Dreamfeed as the cause; however, before you drop the Dreamfeed, read my post on Nighttime Sleep Issues so you can rule out other possible problems before stopping the Dreamfeed.

To learn more about sleep patterns, read circadian rhythm and how it impacts sleep patterns. 

Baby Needs a Change to the Schedule

Another sign to watch for is just knowing baby is ready for some sort of change to the schedule.

Most babies get to the point where either dream feeding needs to stop OR a 4 hour schedule needs to start.

Some babies will do better with moving to a four-hour schedule before stopping the Dreamfeed.

>>>Read: When and How to Move Baby to 4 Hour Schedule

Others will do better with stopping the Dreamfeed before moving to a four hour schedule.

You do not want to do both at the same time.

If your baby is showing signs of being ready to move to a four-hour schedule, decide if you would rather do that or drop the Dreamfeed first.

Two of my children went to a four hour schedule first and two stopped the Dreamfeed first.

I like both ways and there isn’t an overarching right or wrong on this.

Many times, there is not a long period of time between both schedule changes. It can be as short as two weeks between each event happening.

>>>Read: Dropping the Dream Feed Ultimate Guide

As a review, here are your signs to watch for:

  • Baby is at least 3 months old
  • Baby is sleeping from the dreamfeed to morning wake up time
  • Baby was sleeping through the night but has stopped
  • Baby needs something changed in the schedule

Give it a Try

If you think your baby is ready to drop the Dreamfeed, give it a try!

The worst that will happen if baby is not ready is baby will wake in the night.

If you try it and the baby was not quite ready, simply start dream feeding back up again!

Once you stop the Dreamfeed, it does not mean it is dropped forever no matter if it was a good idea or not.

Do not be afraid to experiment and see what happens.

Related Dreamfeed Posts

  • Dropping the Dream Feed Ultimate Guide
  • Dreamfeed Frequently Asked Questions
  • The Basics of a Dreamfeed
  • The Benefits and Drawbacks of Doing a Dreamfeed
  • Dream Feed and Babywise

This post originally appeared on this blog September 2018

Termination of breastfeeding | Stopping breastfeeding

When is it time to stop breastfeeding and what is the best way to do it? Read our article for useful practical tips on weaning.

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How long should breastfeeding continue? Three months? Six? Year? Or maybe a few years?

The World Health Organization (WHO) and other authorities recommend that infants be exclusively breastfed for the first six months and then continue to be breastfed along with other foods (complementary foods) for at least two years. 1

The fact is that breast milk is not just food. It is a natural sedative if the child is anxious or tired. In addition, milk contains immune-boosting components, the amount of which increases dramatically when the baby gets sick. 2

According to anthropologists, the natural age of a person to stop breastfeeding is even more than two years. Given factors such as tooth development, body weight, comparison with other primates, and historical evidence, some scientists believe that breastfeeding may last up to two to four years. A number of researchers even believe that our ancestors breastfed children up to six or seven years of age. 3

Today, more than 60% of mothers in developed countries start giving their babies formula or complementary foods before six months of age, 4 although WHO does not recommend this.

When is it time to stop breastfeeding?

Weaning means that you gradually stop breastfeeding your baby. Ideally, the first step in this process is the gradual introduction of complementary foods, starting at about six months of age. In this case, breastfeeding continues. The weaning process continues until the mother's milk has been completely replaced by other foods and drinks.

“After six months, the baby needs higher doses of certain nutrients, such as iron, zinc, vitamins B and D, that he cannot get from breast milk or from his own reserves,” says Sarah Beeson, health visitor from Great Britain.

“But solid food should at first only supplement the main diet with breast milk and gradually replace it. Mother's milk remains the main source of nutrition for the baby for many months to come.

On average, a seven-month-old baby gets 93% of its calories from breast milk. And even between the 11th and 16th months, milk provides him with about half of the daily calorie intake. 5

“Sometimes moms think that breastmilk isn't that important once a baby has started solid foods, but the truth is, no matter how many months old a baby is, there's nothing better than your milk,” continues Sarah.

In fact, the process of finishing breastfeeding can take as long as mother and baby want. “When to stop breastfeeding is up to you,” says Sarah. The only thing that matters is what you think is right for you and your child.”

How to wean

Whenever you decide to start weaning your baby, it's best to do it gradually. An abrupt cessation of breastfeeding can lead to lactostasis, blockage of the milk ducts and mastitis, and in a child such a sudden change can adversely affect the state of the digestive and immune systems. In addition, it will be difficult for both of you psychologically.

When should I stop breastfeeding?

Sometimes mothers mistakenly believe that it is time to stop breastfeeding, when in fact there is no reason to. If you're returning to work, breastfeeding can be a great way to stay close to your baby during this difficult time for both of you. You can express milk at work, and morning and evening feeding sessions will give you the opportunity to spend time alone with your baby. If you need to leave without your baby, you can also express milk and bring or send it home.

If you get sick, this is not always a reason to stop breastfeeding. Read our advice in the article on breastfeeding when sick and consult with your healthcare professional.

Weaning up to six months

If you cannot continue breastfeeding until six months and want to try weaning your baby, start by replacing one feeding a day with a bottle of formula.

“It's best to start with midday feedings. Babies are very alert and able to smell breast milk nearby, so ask your partner or relative to give your baby a bottle when you're in the other room,” Sarah advises.

“Be hygienic when preparing meals. Be prepared for the fact that the baby will take fewer servings of expressed milk per day than if he was fed directly from the breast. Don't make him eat more milk than he wants."

You will probably feel that your breasts are fuller and more tender. This is due to the fact that your body is rebuilding to produce less milk. If this creates discomfort, try expressing some milk—just enough to relieve the discomfort without stimulating extra production.

When your body adjusts to the new volume - usually after a few days - replace with formula for one more meal a day. Continue this until you have changed all feedings and your baby is completely weaned.

“I had complications after my first birth, as a result I lost a lot of weight very quickly, and besides, I developed mastitis. Lactation was very weak, and at three months I was forced to stop breastfeeding,” recalls Jennifer, a mother of two from the UK, “I gradually replaced one feeding, so physically it was easy, but mentally it was hard for me.

If you want to maintain closeness with your baby and all the health benefits of breastfeeding, but still need to cut down on breastfeeding, try partial weaning, replacing only a few feeds a day with formula.

Weaning after six months

Once your baby starts eating solid foods (about six months old), you will notice that breastfeeding naturally occurs less and less. For a year, it can be reduced to just a couple of times a day, and feedings will be replaced by full meals and healthy snacks.

Anyway, if you intend to continue to reduce breastfeeding, do it gradually, replacing one feeding at a time. Use formula milk if your baby is under 12 months old. With cow's milk, you should wait at least up to a year.

“When I decided to wean my son, I breastfed him three times a day and gave him other foods three times plus light snacks. Gradually, I replaced all breastfeedings with formula. By 11 months, we only had one nighttime breastfeed left,” says Ruth, a UK mom.

There are various ways to distract a child from changes in his diet. Some mothers suggest that instead of breastfeeding something to drink and eat together to maintain a sense of closeness. You can also change your daily routine, play your favorite game, or replace feeding with caresses - from you or from your partner. Some children take longer to get used to the new food, but in the end everything falls into place. If you are having difficulty weaning, ask your healthcare provider for advice.

Ending breastfeeding naturally

Ending breastfeeding can be guided by the baby's wishes. This is called baby-initiated weaning, or the natural termination of breastfeeding. Such a process is likely to be long and gradual. Month after month, feeding sessions will become shorter and less frequent, until one day the child completely loses interest in the breast.

“My daughter stopped breastfeeding on her own when she was four years old,” says Sarah, a mother from the UK. And once, when we were on vacation, she seemed to just forget about her breasts. Now, six months later, she sometimes still asks for breasts, but she already knows that there is no milk there.

You will have a huge amount of time for the body to adapt, so there should be no discomfort or swelling of the breast. However, you may find it difficult emotionally, so spend more time petting and bonding with your baby.

“Child-initiated termination of breastfeeding was right for me because I never gave my son formula or a bottle. I didn’t want to abruptly stop feeding and refuse him,” recalls Kelly, a mother from the UK, “He himself lost interest in breasts at the age of two and a half years. For us, it was the best scenario, although emotionally it was not very easy for me.”

What if you need to stop breastfeeding quickly?

It is best not to stop breastfeeding abruptly, but sometimes it is necessary for medical reasons or because you cannot be near the baby.

If you have been breastfeeding your baby up to this point, you will most likely have to express your milk to avoid breast swelling. Some mothers prefer to use a breast pump for this, others find it easier to express milk manually. You only need to pump a little, just to eliminate the discomfort, otherwise your body will take it as a signal to produce more milk.

At first, the breasts may swell and become tender, but this will pass. Breast milk contains a so-called feedback lactation inhibitor. When breastfeeding is stopped, this inhibitor tells your body to slow down milk production, but it can take days or even weeks for your breasts to rebuild.

Certain medications can relieve pain and should be discussed with your doctor. Always follow your pharmacist's instructions or directions, and consult your healthcare professional before taking any medication.

“I had to abruptly stop breastfeeding when my daughter was eight months old because she had to take strong painkillers,” says Peggy, a mother from Switzerland. “It was very difficult because the baby was constantly looking for a breast and crying. I held her tightly to me as I gave her a bottle. This calmed her, and after a month everything was all right.

Can I continue breastfeeding if I want to get pregnant again?

Breastfeeding is a natural contraceptive. However, this method is not the most reliable, especially after six months or if you are not exclusively breastfeeding. This means that you can get pregnant even while you are breastfeeding.

Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers sometimes receive conflicting advice about whether to stop breastfeeding. Consistent feeding of two children of different ages is of course possible, and with the advent of the second baby, your body will produce the kind of milk that both of them need.

It is not uncommon for an older child to refuse to breastfeed or skip feedings if the mother is pregnant. This may be due to changes in milk composition that occur during pregnancy. Milk can change the taste and become less sweet. 6 If your baby is under one year of age when he starts to stop breastfeeding, make sure he continues to gain weight.

Talk to your doctor if you want to continue breastfeeding during pregnancy, but have had a preterm birth or miscarriage, or have any bleeding in the past.

If you need medical help to conceive, certain drugs and procedures may not be suitable while you are breastfeeding. Discuss all possible options before deciding to stop breastfeeding.

And finally...

Whenever you decide to end breastfeeding, and whatever method you choose to do so, be kind to yourself and your baby. This is a huge change for both of you physically, hormonally, and emotionally, so proceed thoughtfully and carefully.

“Although my body responded normally to stopping breastfeeding, it was psychologically difficult for me. The thing that united us for so long is over, - Jane, a mother of two children from the USA, shares her impressions, - I worked long hours, five days a week, and breastfeeding made me feel that I occupy a special place in the lives of children. But when it stopped, we soon found other ways to be together.”


1 World Health Organization. [Internet] Health Topics: Breastfeeding: 2018 [Accessed: 02/08/2018]. Available from : http://www.who.int/topics/breastfeeding/en - World Health Organization. "Health Issues: Breastfeeding" [Internet]. Geneva, Switzerland: WHO; 2018 [Visit 02/08/2018]. Article linked: http://www.who.int/topics/breastfeeding/e

2 Hassiotou et al. Maternal and infant infections stimulate a rapid leukocyte response in breastmilk. Clin Transl Immunology. 2013;2(4): e 3. - Hassiot F. et al., "Infectious diseases of the mother and child stimulate a rapid leukocyte reaction in breast milk." Clean Transl Immunology. 2013;2(4):e3.

3 Dettwyler KA. When to wean: biological versus cultural perspectives. Clin Obstet Gynecol . 2004; 47(3)712-723. - Dettwiler KA, "Time to wean: weaning from a biological and cultural point of view". Klin Obstet Ginekol (Clinical obstetrics and gynecology). 2004; 47(3):712-723.

4 Victora CG Breastfeeding in the 21st century: epidemiology, mechanisms, and lifelong effect. Lancet. 2016;387(10017):475-490. - Victor S.J. et al., "Breastfeeding in the 21st century: epidemiology, mechanisms and long-term effects". Lancet 2016;387(10017):475-490.

5 Dewey KG et al. Breast milk volume and composition during late lactation (7-20 months). J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr . 1984;3(5):713-720. — Dewey C.G. et al., "Amount and composition of breast milk in late lactation (7-20 months)". F Pediatrician Gastroenterol Nutr. 1984;3(5):713-720.

6 Prosser CG et al. Mammary gland function during gradual weaning and early gestation in women. Aust J Exp Biol Med 9021 9029 Sci. 1984;62( Pt 2):215-228. - Prosser S.G. et al., "Breast Function During Gradual Weaning and Early Gestation." Aust J Exp Biol Med Sai. 1984;62( Pt 2):215-228.

Pediatrician's Step-by-Step Guide to Weaning Your Baby From Night Feeding

It seems that the brave broccoli-tasting baby will soon be able to do without nighttime snacks. But everything has its time: first of all, we deal with the schedule of daily meals, build a regimen. And only after that we begin the process of smoothly weaning the child from night feedings.

Until what age to keep night feeds

Eating at night is a physiological need for children under one year of age. It contributes to the harmonious growth of the child and provides his mother with stable lactation, which is important when it comes to breastfeeding. Artificial babies also need to have round-the-clock access to nutrients in order to develop properly.

The older children get, the less often they wake up at night to satisfy their hunger: for newborns, the norm is up to 3-4 awakenings per night, for one-year-olds, there are usually fewer feedings (1). However, some scientists note that at the age of 3-6 months, many children stop waking up at night, as there are fewer feedings, and the total duration of sleep is reduced to 12-15 hours (2). Of course, this process is different for every baby, so watch your baby carefully and don't hesitate to ask your pediatrician for advice if you're worried about something.

It is worth it to postpone with the refusal of night feeding if the child:

The weight is poorly gained due to teething Crazy
Turges . "walks" during the day

Night feedings and breastfeeding

The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding children up to two years of age (3). There is no contradiction: reducing nightly attachments by no means means a complete rejection of breastfeeding if the mother does not want it.

Normalization of sleep - this is what we are talking about in this case - is necessary when chronic fatigue and lack of sleep become a problem for parents.

“The absence of night feedings does not mean that the baby is ready to wean, and vice versa,” says Ekaterina Zaets, lactation consultant, pediatrician, leading courses for pregnant and lactating mothers . - Everything is individual: there are families in which there are several feedings during the day, and there are no night feedings from eight months.

Night feeds and bottle feeding

It is believed that bottle fed babies are much easier to wean from eating at night: they do not have the habit of falling asleep on the chest. But, again, everything is individual. Some children continue to demand a bottle of formula, and their peers easily part with nightly attachments and sleep sweetly until the morning.

What to do to wean a child from night feeding

You need to understand that abrupt cancellation can be a big stress for the baby. At night, it will not be possible to keep him busy with a game, to bring his grandmother to help. Therefore, you need to prepare for the fact that this can be a difficult task that will take time.

Weaning in stages

Observe your child's behavior before cutting down on nighttime feedings.

What you should pay attention to:

  • how many times during the night the baby wakes up;
  • which awakenings are related to hunger and which are not;
  • Does the quality of sleep differ when the baby sleeps in his own crib, separate from you;
  • Can baby sleep without formula or breastfeeding.

After analyzing this information - and you will definitely see patterns - smoothly start working on reducing nighttime feedings.

We go to sleep full

A child who has dinner at six in the evening will definitely wake up hungry closer to midnight. Include a snack half an hour before bedtime in your diet and you will feel the difference. Feed your baby something light and nutritious, such as fermented milk products.

Putting away the first feedings

First, say goodbye to feedings that fall during the first hours of sleep. At this time, the baby still does not have time to get hungry, so it is enough just to rock him without additional manipulations.

Less food at night

Try to organize nighttime feedings so that the baby spends less time on the breast. For artificial children, try to reduce the concentration of the portion.

During the day - more calories

Night feedings are removed from children who are familiar with complementary foods. Make sure your child gets enough "adult" food and water throughout the day. It is also important to build a diet.

Sleep and food separate

Breastfeeding is almost always a key part of the sleep ritual. Incredibly comfortable: the baby eats and immediately falls asleep, without motion sickness and persuasion. But this bundle must be separated if you are determined to regain a good rest. Feed the baby so that he calms down, relaxes, and eventually falls asleep without a breast.

Practicing self-sleep

The easiest way to reduce nighttime feedings is for children who have mastered the skill of self-sleeping: they no longer notice the change in sleep phases and wake up less often.

Connecting dad

Dad, as you know, can do anything. Including rocking a baby who woke up in the middle of the night. Probably, at first the process of laying will be delayed, but gradually the child will get used to it.

Photo: pixabay.com

Trying separate sleep

Feeding non-stop, in a dream, is a common story for mothers who are unable to get up at night. The child comfortably settles down next to him, finds food himself and, having had enough, falls asleep again. Mom may not even know how many times the baby ate at night. This habit may be the hardest to break, but without separate sleep, night feedings cannot be removed.

One study showed that children who fall asleep on their own in a separate bed sleep better and longer and wake up less often (4).

Water and other tricks

There is an opinion that a child who wakes up at night can be offered water. It will only give a temporary "fake" feeling of satiety and will not replace a baby who really wants to eat, milk or formula. If you see that the child did not wake up from hunger, pour him a drink - water can calm him down (only it should be in a cup, not in a bottle). Do not offer juice or sour milk instead of water - these products contain sugars that can provoke the development of caries, because at night the natural protection of the teeth is reduced (3).

A few more life hacks to help reduce the number of nighttime feedings are related to the organization of children's sleep. Cool and humid air in the room, late bathing, performing "sleep" rituals help children fall asleep faster and sleep better. If you reduce the duration of daytime sleep, it is likely that the child will also sleep better at night.

Starting to remove night feedings, do not expect an immediate result. This is a leisurely, careful process filled with love and care for the child. Give your baby even more attention during the day than usual. At some point, he will stop waking you up, the feedings will go away, and you will be able to enjoy a full night's rest.

Popular Questions and Answers

Ekaterina Zayets, Lactation Consultant, Pediatrician will help answer questions:

How do you know if your baby is ready to stop feeding at night?

Readiness of both is important: mother and child. If we talk about timely weaning, then this is due to the ability of the mother to transfer their communication to another format. Much depends on the state of the mother, on the support of others. All stories that can be stopped only, for example, after two to five years, are about fanaticism. There are children who, with a competent approach, attention and sufficient maternal resource, already at 1. 3 years old perfectly outgrow the internal need and may not be applied to the breast.

Mistakes that mothers make when starting to clean up night feedings?

They try to remove them too early, often - they themselves are not mentally prepared for this, without taking into account the peculiarities of the psyche of their child. Sometimes this happens under pressure from others. As a result, we get a neurosis, perhaps in a child.

Everything must be done carefully, with basic knowledge. Ideally, an advanced level is when a mother consults a specialist on her issue (tells how old the child is, how many feedings, etc.). It is optimal to at least read something on this issue, especially if the child is very small - a year and a half. Emotionally, children at this age are not ready for such experiments on the part of the mother.

Many parents fail to understand an important point: if breastfeeding is completely gone (ie, night feeding is the last), you need to build a daily diet, introduce complementary foods correctly and make sure that the baby gets enough liquid. It is with this that mothers most often get consultations, and in rare cases, children can even end up in a hospital with dehydration - and this is no joke.

Are there any differences in weaning from night feedings in children of different ages?

With older children, of course, there is a fundamental difference, because the situation does not depend on the number of feedings, but relies on an individual approach,

All children are different in temperament, it is laid down initially, at birth, we cannot change it. And each child has its own unique mother, who also has her own temperament. Her condition must also be taken into account. It can be a first-born mother who is exhausted, or a first-born mother, but full of strength. Or maybe a mother of many children, in which there is so much energy that she would still feed and feed.

Each case has its own tactics. Sometimes they choose the path of self-weaning - the child is offered to gradually reduce the proportion of feedings himself. And he outgrows his needs, he has enough of everything, and his mother is not exhausted. With age, night feedings are completed - by the age of 2-2.5 with the right actions.

Advice for mothers whose children after the age of two continue to wake up at night for a snack?

You need to understand what the family needs. If you are generally comfortable and want to continue breastfeeding, continue. If this process is tiring, it is recommended to take a nap during the day, eat well so that calories come in, leave the house - so as not to get hung up on the situation.

It is also important to receive competent information support. Often mothers are afraid of weaning as a fact, but for starters, you can simply reduce the proportion of feedings, and everyone will be fine.

Watch your child's daily diet: 4-5 meals, drink (water is a priority). About a liter of food even with continued breastfeeding plus emotional readiness on the part of mother and baby are good indicators to start weaning, or reduce the proportion of feedings, or complete breastfeeding.

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