One of the most common issues for parents with their baby’s sleep is when they are ready to stop night feeding. It’s a good question. Particularly when you’re several months down the line and your baby’s waking once or more in the night to feed.
First though, it’s important to determine if your baby is READY to sleep through the night.Is my baby ready to stop feeding?
Is my baby ready to stop?
Depending on who you talk to, you’ll get lots of different opinions. From a biological perspective, it’s reasonable to expect your baby to sleep through without a feed when they:
- are around 6 months old;
- have doubled their birth weight and is 14-15 pounds or more;
- are in good health (i.e., don’t have any unresolved issues like reflux); and
- are gaining weight well and aren’t moving through multiple centile lines.
It’s also a good idea to confirm with your GP or health visitor.
How do I stop night feeds?
The first thing I do when trying to stop night feeding is to look at what’s happening at bedtime. Is baby falling asleep independently and without your help?
The cause of night waking, and often feeding, often comes back to how your child falls asleep at bedtime. This has a knock on effect on what happens during the night. More often than not, baby is prop dependent and is bottle or breast feeding to sleep. So they become drowsy or fall asleep completely and then go into the cot. Then they’ll most likely wake for night feeds because they wake looking for the same thing they had at bedtime to resettle.
But, if you can show them how to fall asleep by themselves at bedtime, often they’ll drop the night feeds without any help from you.
What if my baby goes down independently at bedtime?
There are some circumstances in which babies fall asleep independently at bedtime but still wake for night feeds. Most likely, this is happening because your baby falls asleep while feeding in the night. Even though baby goes down awake at bedtime, during the night they feed to sleep. Our little ones can associate different ways of falling asleep with different times or situations. So they sometimes learn one way for bedtime and another during the night. If this is happening to you, you need to break the habit. If you plan to keep a night feed, you will need to keep baby awake during the feed, and break the association between the feed and sleep.
Sometimes babies can wake out of habit to eat in the night, and will keep waking for as long as you feed them. If you have some night feeds happening, you can just stop them and try settling baby in other ways. Or continue to feed and keep them awake. It won’t take long, as baby is already falling asleep independently at bedtime, so it’s just a case of teaching them to use those skills in the middle of the night too.