This is a very common question asked by many moms who are exhausted from feeding baby multiple times at night knowing that their baby does not need it anymore. they come to me and ask me this question how and when to stop these night feedings? So, As per the AAP guidelines when a baby is over 12 pounds of weight or over 12 weeks of age then chances are their little tummies are big enough to go all night without feeding.
When you consider the weaning night feeding and how do you know if they will go without feeding or they just use feed as comfort or snack
- Are they eating well all-day
- Are they snackers or just taking comfort feedings
- Reflux or any other health concern involved
- Any other factor that needs that need to be concerned
- If your baby is over those markers of 15-pound weight and over 3 months of age and you feel they are just waking out of habit or maybe just feeding to get comfort to falling right back to sleep then you can make a decision to stop all feeding altogether or still keep overnight feed and drop rest of those.
- Talk to your pediatrician and ensure your doctor is comfortable with your no overnight feeding decision.
Signs of comfort feeding
- The minute you put the bottle in their mouth they start closing their eyes and get drowsy or pretty heavy.
- You can also notice that if your baby is only falling asleep while nursing at bedtime then may not have the skill to put themselves back to sleep in the middle of the night. so, then you can not expect baby to reconnect their sleep cycles if they are not doing it independently at bedtime.
At this point, you need to work on bedtime independent sleep skills first before you move further with dropping night feeding altogether. If you need one-to-one support in teaching baby independent healthy sleep skills then I am here to help families to stronger their little ones sleeping skills.
When you are ready to drop night feeding?
- You might wanna look at first what is your baby’s personal best
- Both mom and baby are not enjoying these night wakeups or eat/sleep association
- Mom is sleep deprived and exhausted from multiple night feeds
- Mom or dad is going through postpartum depression
- Baby is growing healthier and achieving all the milestones as expected
- Other personal reasons or health concerns
As now you know “when” to drop night feedings, So Let’s move to the next step which is ‘HOW”
FIRST STEP- Monitor their everyday feeding amount
- If they are typically feeding 2 times at night then you can start by limiting them to one first.
- Putting some parameters around that night feeding and maybe holding off until midnight
- And then you can feed somewhere between midnight and then 4 am.
- Focus on reducing the number from 2 to 1 and then down to none.
Method how to drop night feeds?
If your baby is 6 months and up then finding cold turkey is often the best choice. Stop offering the night feedings. So, night one would be difficult meaning that you may have 1 or 2 nights waking quite lengthy but once the baby learns to fall back to sleep without feeding then they will catch on pretty quickly.
The second method is to reduce the time per feeding.
- If you normally breastfeed the baby for 15 minutes then drop the time to 10 minutes and gradually lessen the amount of time by 2 to 5 minutes every other day.
- If you are bottle feeding baby for 6oz normally then reduce the amount to 4 oz, 2 oz and then drop it to zero.
- Log everyday progress
but the most important thing is if you going to continue to feed but reduce the quantity of feeds each night then you are gonna do your best to keep the baby awake while feeding sessions because if they are feeding for comfort and to fall asleep then it really does not matter how much they are getting it but matters are they are using it as comfort tool. So you wanna try to keep your baby awake throughout the night feeding so you can lay them back into the crib and they can learn new ways to fall asleep and not always fall asleep on those night feeds.
So the most important thing while dropping those night feeding is Consistency.
The first night is going to be difficult for both mom and baby as they did not get control of middle-of-night feedings.
But if you can catch it through the entire first night, most babies will see some of the improvement the next day so on night 2 you may have the same number of wakings but you see those are shorter. So I would say most average babies with good independent sleep skills that they already have mastered at bedtime and then within 3 nights probably will see a reduction in night wakings and/or a reduction in the duration of night wakings.
for example, the first night you had night waking that was last for an hour or more before they fall back asleep without the feed and then the second night maybe there was one-night waking lasts for 30 minutes and then night 3 often it’s little bit wakeup where they may be a fuss for 10 minutes and then will fall asleep as they getting used to new normal.
So, when I go for cold turkey with feeding, I find it’s a little bit quicker; however, for parents who are comfortable, they do a wind-down method. It may take a little bit longer for your baby to get the clue that night feedings are not offered anymore. So it may take a week or more before those night wakings are really resolved.
However in the cold turkey method often parents are seeing improvements in 3 nights.
So, choose one method and stick with it knowing that it will not be one night process. It might take several nights for your baby to get hang of it but if you stay consistent with your messaging and your signalling cues to the baby they can and will learn pretty quickly.
So that’s kind of dropping night feeds, in a nutshell, knowing that’s a quick and dirty version of it and that’s where by a lot of intricacies around that so if you feel like you already tried some of these tips and you want some specific tips then I am happy to help on that.
More uninterrupted sleep means the baby’s mind and body get more of those glorious restorative effects that take place during the night, making for a happier, healthier tomorrow!
For those of you in the latter camp, I’m happy to help in any way I can. Just visit my website to book a free 20-minute sleep evaluation call so I can get to know the specifics about your little one’s situation, or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. we can work on a more personalized program for your little one. The most common thing I hear after working with clients is, “I can’t believe I waited so long to get some help!” We can move forward as soon as you’re ready to get your little one sleeping through the night.
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