Night Feedings by Age -
When Do You Try Night Weaning?

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Night Feedings By Age - When Do You Night Wean?

A very common question I get is when a baby can go all night without a feeding. This article will outline general guidelines about how many night-feedings you can expect at each age.

Pediatricians all seem to disagree to the answer to the question when a baby can go all night without a feeding. There is Ferber who claims babies don’t need to eat at night after 3 months old and then there is Weissbluth who says that babies need 1-2 feedings up through 9 months old. Who’s right? They are both pediatricians with a lot of experience. Talk to your pediatrician and the answer will likely be even something different.

Although I do really like Ferber’s book and have learned A LOT from it, I can not, in good conscience, ever recommend night-weaning at 3 months old. I think that is extreme to think that all babies can do that, particularly breastfed babies. Some parents are lucky enough that their baby does it on his own that young or younger, but many parents simply aren’t that lucky.

I am not, in general, an extremist and when it comes to hunger at night, I err on the side of caution. I know that it would be sooo much easier, for US, to not feed at night, but there are adults who can’t go 12 hours without eating, so I am not sure why we expect our babies to. I am all for breaking sleep associations and promoting healthy sleep for our babies, but I don’t recommend night-weaning until your baby is showing signs she is ready and that age varies by child.

Now, I know that it can be difficult to tell when exactly your unique baby is ready for night weaning – that’s why I created a night weaning quiz, Is Your Baby Ready For Night Weaning? It’s very short – just 5 questions – and easy to take, so if you’re struggling with whether or not your baby is ready for night weaning, I suggest you take this quiz. The response you get will help you determine whether not you should move forward with night weaning, or whether or not you need to wait a bit, and try night weaning later.

Below are the number of feedings at night, at various ages, that are within “normal” range (in my experience) and don’t throw up a red flag that there is more going on than just a feeding:

•   Newborns to 3 months old: Feedings every 2-3 hours, on demand
•   3-4 Months: 2-3 feedings per night or every 3-6 hours, on demand
•   5-6 Months: 1-2 feedings
•   7-9 Months: 1, maybe 2, feedings
•   10-12 Months: Sometimes 1 feeding
•   12+ Months: Generally no feedings

Obviously, growth spurts are an exception and you should feed as needed during those. Growth spurts are generally over within a week.

I typically recommend at least an attempt at night-weaning by 8-9 months old, because at some point, sometimes it is a chicken and egg problem. A baby needs a certain amount of sustenance during the day and if he gets some at night, he won’t eat more during the day and if he doesn’t eat more during the day, he needs it at night. So, sometimes, a baby really does feel hungry at night, but it doesn’t mean he can’t go all night without a feeding, it simply means he needs to adjust how much he’s eating during the day. The idea is to gently help him do this.

I personally tried to night-wean around 9 months, but with both my boys, they did continue to eat at night up through a year and I weaned to cow’s milk (not sure if it was age or the weaning, though). They did, however, sleep better after I at least nudged them in the right direction, so I was glad I at least tried.

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When did you night-wean?

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Comments

  1. Rose says

    I don’t know if i can achieve what some of the people who posted have. i have two daughters, one just turned one and the other will be turning two next month :-)
    It took us a while to wean the older one from bottle feeding to cup feeding, as she would demand a bottle when we fed her little sister- but that hurdle we managed to pass well thanks to the amazing support from my mom in law. NOW the issue we have is night feeding. both wake up at least once every night to feed. i tried decreasing the amount of milk at night to try and gradually wean them off it but it only increases the frequency of night wakings. I tried making sure that they’ve eaten when the y go to sleep so they don’t get too hungry at night but no luck still. they both have a hard time falling asleep at night (but surprisingly they don’t give trouble during the day). please help!

  2. Nicole_M says

    Thanks Nicole for the sleep advice-
    My son is six months old and breastfed. We have been working on getting him to sleep in a crib, he preferred his swing when he was younger. We slowly transitioned to his crib, things were going well for a while with the no cry method, but he seemed to be waking more frequently in the night. We just started sleep training last Friday, and while many advice columns talk about getting your baby to sleep, our problem was keeping him asleep. My dilemma was when do you know it is time for a feeding and when is it a normal sleep cycle of stirring, and he would go back to sleep on his own? For example, tonight- we did our normal sleep routine- a bit of cereal, bath, then nursing. Put in his crib at 9:30 asleep (I know he should be awake when you put him down, and sometimes he is, but tonight he fell asleep while nursing)- he was up at 10:15. I let him cry himself back to sleep- less than 5 minutes. Up at 12, 1, and finally 2:30- when I got up to feed him. I normally had fed him at each night waking, but am trying to spread out the feedings. I expect he’ll wake again at 5 and 6, but I am hoping he will wait until 7 for another feeding.
    Will extending night feeding- encourage him to eat more during the day? I work full time, and pump, but really can’t continue waking like this, my memory is gone and I am just not thinking clearly.
    Any thoughts?

  3. says

    Newborns – The first weeks of life baby should eat less and more than once a day because their tummy is not big enough to hold large amounts of milk at once. Many babies will consume somewhere between 30 and 60 ml per meal, eating 8 – 10 times a day.
    One month baby – During the first months your baby will begin to take more milk during the meal each time, gradually increasing the amount of 60 – 90 ml 90 – 120 ml per serving.
    It would be good each time increase the amount of milk to 30 ml per serving because it will provide enough milk to your baby every time she feels can increase their meal, and also to prevent interruption of meals, if the baby is still hungry to make a additional amount that will saturate. When your baby starts to empty the whole bottle with the regular amount (though you should never force your baby to drink all the milk if you do not want to) you will know that your baby is increased appetite.
    2 months old baby – When your baby turns two months, will require food 6-8 times a day, consuming 120-180 ml at each meal.
    4 month old baby – 4 months old babies typically need 4-5 servings per day and consume 180-200 ml of milk per meal.
    6 months old baby – By the time your baby turns 6 months, usually require 3-4 meals a day with consumption of 200-220 ml of milk per meal.

  4. Cathy O says

    Hi Nicole,

    I came acrosee your site from googling weaning night feeds. I have a 7 month old who has gone some nights sleeping 9 hours feeding then back to bed or even a full 12-13 hours a night. But…this past week he’s been waking at 12 and 6am. I typically feed him at 12 but he wakes at 6 and starts playing in his crib. I’ve left him but after 30 minutes he slowly starts to cry so after 15 minutes of crying, I go in, nurse him and then he goes back to sleep. How can I wean him from a feed? I don’t mind waking up once to nurse but I know he doesn’t need both feeds. I put him to bed by 815 each night and he nurses before going to bed. We sleep trained him a month ago so he goes to bed awake and never fusses. He nurses 4-5 times a day and eats 10 ounces of solids and 5tbsp of cereal (breakfast, dinner and a snack). Should I up his solid intake, maybe more at dinner? I nurse him on a schedule every 3-4 hours during the day and dinner is at 6pm. If I wean the 12am feed, do I just let him cry it out? Sorry for all the questions but I’m not sure what to do.

    Thanks!

  5. Debbye says

    @ Cathy- The good news is that he can and has slept through the night, so you know he is on the right road! There are many different approaches you can take when night weaning. You do not have to leave him to cry it our. Here is a link to an article that may be very useful:
    http://www.babysleepsite.com/sleep-training/night-feedings-by-age-when-do-you-night-wean/
    You can try a high protein snack before bedtime if you suspect that he may be hungry too, this may help him get through a few more hours…
    Good luck!

  6. charlotte says

    Hi my little boy is 8 weeks, he has a bottle at 6 then goes too bed at 7. I them give him a dream feed at 10/11 when I go too bed! He will wake up at 3/4 for a feed should I leave him too cry for a bit and see if he goes back off or give him another bottle straight away? Brill website very helpful!

  7. Debbye says

    Hi Charlotte-
    At 8 weeks (or 9-10 by now) most babies would need a feeding in the night. You can wait a few minutes before going to him if you are comfortable with that, maybe he will go back to sleep on his own. Before 4 months of age, a baby’s sleep is still rather disorganized so it’s okay to just help him get to sleep however he needs to and not worry too much about bad sleep habits yet. You may find these articles about newborn sleep to be helpful to you now and as a part of starting to teach good sleep habits.

    http://www.babysleepsite.com/newborns/newborn-sleep-schedule-patterns/

    http://www.babysleepsite.com/newborns/newborn-sleep-baby-tips-10/
    Good luck!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] If you stay home with your child all day, nap time is your time to do the dishes, make the grocery list, or do any of the millions of things parents need to do to keep the household running smoothly. Or, maybe you just need some “me” time to recharge yourself after giving your baby all your attention the rest of the day? Go ahead, you deserve it! If you are a working parent, it’s downright brutal going to work the next day, if your baby is not sleeping through the night, yet, especially if it’s more frequent than normal night feedings. [...]