NIGHT TIME WEANING
Knowing when your baby is ready to wean from night feedings can feel like a heavy weight on your mom shoulders. Before you begin to think about night weaning, make a log of your baby’s night feedings for 3-5 days. Do you see a pattern? Is your baby consistently waking at a certain time each night? If these feedings are short and just enough for your baby to settle down and go back to sleep, it might be time!
Night feedings can be weaned once your baby is 5-6 months old. By this age, most babies get enough calories during the day that they no longer need to eat at night. Note: There are babies that fall outside of this guideline. Check with your pediatrician if you are unsure if your baby is ready to wean night feedings.
Some babies will still need night feedings. This is ok! YOU know your baby best. This is a choice you will make for your baby, not me as your sleep consultant.
If you are seeing a night feeding pattern and absolutely know your baby does not need that feeding, she may just be waking out of habit. This is called a sleep association. My favorite analogy… if someone gave you a sandwich every time you woke up at night, you would be looking for that sandwich on routine to fall back asleep!
When it comes to how to wean your baby from night feedings, you have two options: a gradual weaning method or cutting out the feedings cold turkey.
GRADUAL WEANING METHOD
Start with a max amount of 5 ounces or 5 minutes max if breastfeeding. Most babies 5+ months can satisfy their hunger in 5 minutes or with 5 ounces. On each subsequent night, you will drop each feeding by a ½ ounce, or 1 minute. You can decrease every other night for a slower transition. After your baby is reduced to only ½-1 ounce or 1 minute, they will be done with this feeding. It would then be eliminated the next night. In some cases, by the time your baby is reduced to 1 ounce, it is best to cut the feeding as it is so short. Once a feeding has been weaned, do not go back to it. If your baby sleeps through a scheduled feeding for 3 nights, consider that feeding completely weaned.
Once your baby has been fed, put your baby back in bed awake and use you sleep method to handle any protest.
It is acceptable to wean from one night feeding at a time. If this works better for you, wean the earliest feeding first. Example: If your baby’s bedtime is 7PM, and they are waking at 11PM, 3PM, and wake time is 7AM, wean the 11PM feeding first.
If you are seeing one or maybe two night wakings, every few nights, sometimes it is best to wean those feedings cold turkey! You will use your preferred sleep method to handle any night wakings after you drop these feedings.
Whatever method you choose, stay consistent! For further help or more guidance, let’s chat today!