Your cart is currently empty!
Weaning Nighttime Feeds
Your Baby is generally a decent sleeper, but still waking up at night for feeds. You are ready to stop nighttime feedings, but don’t know how to go about it or where to start. Let me help you!
When is baby ready to drop feeds?
Before we talk about weaning nighttime feedings, let’s make sure your little one is ready!
Most pediatricians say that a baby should be able to drop feedings at night around 6 months. Here is a quick reference guide on how many nighttime feeds your baby might take:
When you will actually completely wean all night feeds is totally up to you! Some babies are able to drop them at 4-5 months, some will keep one feed until 1 year or longer.
where do i even start?
You want to start by keeping track of how often, and at what times, your baby usually wakes to eat at night. I know it might not always be at the same exact time, but it gives you a good idea for a time-frame.
Once you have determined how often Baby eats, I recommend dropping one feeding at a time. There is a specific order, that seems to work best to drop feeds:
- Baby is taking 3 feeds at night: Drop middle, then first, then last feeding
- Baby is taking 2 feeds at night : Drop first, then last feeding
Your baby gets a full feeding right before bed at 7pm, wakes up to feed around 11pm, 2am and 5am. You would drop the 2am feeding first, then the 11pm one, lastly the 5am feeding.
If your little one wakes up twice at night, let’s say around 11:30pm and 4am, drop the 11:30pm feeding first, followed by the 4am feeding.
How do i drop the feeding?
I like going slow for weaning feedings at night. Your baby’s body is used to the feedings, so this ensures that we don’t get him or her too upset about it. Keep in mind, we are only working on one feeding at a time for this. The other feedings of the night will be as usual.
Note down how many minutes your baby usually nurses. Reduce it by 2 minutes every night, until you are down to zero minutes. So if your little one averages 10 minutes of nursing for the feeding, on night 1 of weaning you will only nurse 8 minutes, on night 2 you only nurse 6 minutes, and so on. By night 5 you will have dropped the feeding.
Bottle fed babies
Start with the amount of ounces your little one eats per feeding at night, and drop it by 1-2 ounces each night. For example, if your baby takes 6 ounces each night, you will start with only offering 5 ounces on night 1, 4 ounces on night 2, 3 ounces on night 3, and so on. You will be done with that feeding by night 6.
making up for missed nighttime calories
As you are slowly decreasing the time of nursing/amount of ounces in a bottle, you will simultaneously increase the amount you offer per feedings during the day.
This is easier to do for bottle-fed babies. If your little one for example eats 6 ounces, 4 times during the day, you would slowly work your way up to offering around 7 or 8 ounces per feeding instead. But don’t let the amount of ounces stress you too much, if your baby is hungry from the missed nighttime calories, he will eat more during the day if he needs to.
This can be more challenging for breastfed babies, especially if you are an under- or barely-enough-producer, like I was. Weaning your baby at night most likely will affect your breast milk production. You can counter-act this by adding regular pumping sessions to your daily routines. You can then use the pumped milk to top your baby off after nursing.
I would try to stay away from adding extra feedings to your day. You want to encourage your baby to take full feedings and not continuously stack, so instead of offering an extra feeding, see if baby will take larger feedings during the day.
If you are concerned about your baby’s calorie-intake and appropriate growth, please talk to your pediatrician before starting the weaning process.
What if my baby still wakes up to eat?
Once the feeding is dropped, there is no going back. You will not offer that feeding anymore. If your baby still wakes up, you will use a sleep training technique to get him or her back to sleep. There is many sleep training methods you can use, like a “Pick up/Put Down”, “Gentle 3 Minute Drill”, or “Ferber”. Stay tuned as I will cover all sleep training methods in a future blog post! (Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter so you don’t miss it!)
Depending on your little ones age, personality, and adaptability, you can usually expect him or her to stop waking up for the feeding within a few days. I recommend to give it 2 weeks of consistently not offering that feeding and using a sleep training method instead. If the wake-ups keep happening after 2 weeks, that might be a sign that your little one is not ready yet to drop that feeding, and you would then have to add it back in and try again in a few weeks.
Once you have dropped the feeding and your baby is not waking up for it anymore, you can go ahead and move on to dropping the next nighttime-feeding.
What if my baby wants to snack all night long?
If your baby wakes up all the time, typically every 1 or 2 hours, and goes right back to sleep after a quick, small feeding, this is usually a different issue. I see this a lot, and most likely it’s because your baby hasn’t learned the skill of falling asleep independently yet. I can help with that too! Check out my Services & Pricing or schedule a free 15 minute Discovery Call to see how I can help your family get the rest you need!