One of the questions we get asked a lot (via Facebook, e-mails, and phone calls), is “When can I wean my baby from nighttime feedings?” Understandably, most parents are eager to get back to enjoying nights of peaceful, uninterrupted sleep, but still want to make sure their baby isn’t going hungry.
Of course, there is no fixed schedule for night weaning. Every baby is different, so every baby will be ready to wean from night feedings at different points. As we have shared in a previous post, even expert pediatricians disagree on exactly when babies are physically ready to go all night without eating.
This is one reason why we created our night weaning quiz, Is Your Baby Ready For Night Weaning? If you haven’t taken it before, why don’t you take it today? At only 5 questions, it’s quick, and it will give you great insights into whether to not night weaning is right for your baby at this time.
Night Weaning: Baby Night Feedings By Age
While there isn’t a “magical age” at which every baby is ready for night weaning, there are some general guidelines for night feedings that seem to work for most babies:
• 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 night feedings
• 7-9 Months: 1, maybe 2, night feedings
• 10-12 Months: Sometimes 1 night feeding
• 12+ Months: Generally no feedings
Of course, growth spurts, illnesses, and teething will be factors to consider. During those times, your baby may need a night feeding, even though she would not need one under normal circumstances.
“In our experience, formula-fed babies do tend to night-wean sooner than breastfed babies. Breast milk is digested faster than formula and is more concentrated So, baby tends not to eat as much volume of breast milk during the day. We tend to see most formula-fed babies night-wean around 6 months old. Of course, all babies are different and you know your baby best.”
3 Signs Your Baby is Ready For Night Weaning
Those guidelines are helpful, but how will you know when your baby is ready to night wean? Be on the lookout for these signs. They could be indications that your baby is ready to drop nighttime feedings:
- Your baby is not eating as much during the day. If you find that your baby is not eating as much as usual during daylight hours, but is still waking to eat one or more times during the night, that’s a good indication that it may be time to drop (or at least reduce) nighttime feedings. Encourage your baby to eat more during the day. If he can get most/all of his calories in during the day, he’ll be ready to wean away from eating at night.
- Your baby is not eating much at night and treats nighttime feeds as playtime. You may start to notice that even though your baby wakes at night and cries for you, she isn’t very hungry. She might nurse a little, or drink a little of her bottle, and then be wide awake and wanting to ‘play’. In these cases, your baby is likely waking out of habit (or due to her sleep associations), and not out of hunger. This may be a sign that her nighttime feedings are not really necessary anymore, and that she is ready to drop them.
- Your baby has started solid foods (at the appropriate time!) Disclaimer: there is a right time and a wrong time to start your baby on solid foods. For details on when to start your baby on solids, check out this post. Once your baby has started eating solid foods, it won’t be too long before he’s ready to wean from nighttime feeds. Your baby may continue to need one (or possibly two) night feeds after he starts solid food, but after a few months, you should be able to gradually wean him from nighttime eating. (Of course, if you are breastfeeding, you’ll need to make sure you can maintain a good milk supply once you drop nighttime nursing. For details about how to measure your breastmilk supply, check out this page.
*BONUS TIP* There is a wide variance in your baby’s nighttime feeding. This one can be trickier to diagnose. But if you notice a lot of variation in when your baby wakes for night feedings, that can be a sign it is time to night wean. For instance, if your baby wakes at 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. to eat one day, then wakes at 3 a.m. the next day, then wakes at 10:30 p.m. and not again until morning on the third day, that variance may mean it is time to start the night weaning process.
Keep in mind that none of these signs on their own mean that your baby is ready to night wean. For example, a 3 month old baby may have a few nights when there are big variances in the timing of her night feedings, but that certainly does not mean she’s ready to stop eating at night! However, if you see two or three of these signs together, that is a good indication that you can begin the night weaning process. When doing consultations, we look at a variety of factors when giving our professional opinion about whether it’s “time” or not.
Still not sure whether your baby is ready for night weaning? In general, Nicole recommends an attempt at night weaning around 8 or 9 months, due to what she calls a “chicken-and-egg” problem that some families face around this time:
“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. 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.”
For more information about night weaning if you are breastfeeding, and how night weaning may affect your baby’s sleep, be sure to take a look at How Weaning From Breastfeeding Can Affect Your Baby’s Sleep.
60 thoughts on “3 Signs It May Be Time For Night Weaning Your Baby”
Do you have any recommendations on getting an 11, almost 12 month old to wean off that last night time feeding (5am) I keep thinking my daughter is just not sleeping long enough at night and we are beyond ready for her too. She only ever sleeps for 9 hours at a time (which sounds great but really only gives us parents about 5 hours lol). Then after nursing the pre-dawn feed, she has trouble getting back down, she’s mostly up with scattered small naps until it’s time for everyone to wake at 7am. She naps twice for about 1.5- 2 hours each. So I think she’s within range of hours per a 24 hour day, but I’d love for her to get the most out of night sleeping!
Hi @Chelsea – Thanks for writing to us! That last night feed can be tough to drop – especially if your little one is not going right back to sleep afterwards! Before you take action on weaning/pushing that feed later, have you taken our night weaning quiz?:
It’s will help you determine if your baby’s ready to drop that/push that feed back!
Once you’re ready to push the feed back to a later time, do make sure that she’s eating more/enough in the day, and try offering a high protein snack before bed if you’re not already! Our VIP join Members Area is a great option if you need more help! It’s packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies on night weaning, live chats with a sleep consultant, and more! Here’s a link in case you want to check it out!:
Good luck Chelsea!
Thank you for this article. Regarding the bonus tip on variance in nighttime feeding applies to my 8 month old baby. She wakes up twice most nights for a feed and goes to sleep immediately after I nurse her. These one/two time wakings can happen anytime between 11pm – 530am (she sleeps 7pm – 7am) your tip suggests that she is ready for night weaning, my confusion is I also read in the baby whisperer book (Tracy Hogg) that the different times suggest it is genuine hunger (vs habitual waking of the same times every night) any thoughts on the potentially conflicting ideas? And whether I should attempt to wean off at least one night feed? She is of a healthy weight and height and take solids well.
Hi @Sonia – Thanks for writing! Have you taken the night weaning quiz and watched the video on this page?:
For more info, the best bet would be to have a Sleep Consultant take an in depth look at your daughter’s sleep history and sleep logs to help determine why she’s waking and if she’s hungry. Please contact us if you’d like more info about options! You can also talk to your daughter’s doctor for help with determining if she’s ready for night weaning! Good luck!
My daughter is 5 months old and sleeps about 12 hours at night. I’m a first time mom so i’m Constantly making sure she eats enough through out the day. She’s petite in size so she doesn’t eat much to begin with. Her last bottle has rice cereal though and an oz if chamomile tea to help with her colic.
By the 12th hour i wake up refreshed and to a happy baby who is ready to drain all my energy again lol
Hi @Nita – Thanks for writing! It’s great that your little one is sleeping so well at night!!!
Thanks again for reading and sharing!
My baby is 10 months old and ready to night-ween (or drop to one feed). This is going to sound odd, but we have never been able to soothe him during sleep times. He wakes, and *screams*. If one of us goes in to soothe, it makes it so, so much worse; both while in there, and once we leave. We share a room, and our 2 year old is in the next room over. So night time just seems so tricky!
Do you think we are just going to have to commit to cold turkey, and have none of us sleep for a few nights (with him screaming)? 🙁
For reference: I put him down while he is awake. Most nights he babbles for a few minutes and goes to sleep. Other nights he may fuss for a few minutes and protest when I walk out of the room, but quiets within two/three minutes. Bedtime 7pm. We go to sleep around 11:30 and I feed him then (although he often wakes around 10 and cries for 10 or so minutes before going back to sleep). Once we are in the room he wakes every two hours. Awake time is between 6:30 and 7. Daytime nap 9:45-11:15, and 2-2:45ish (although starting to protest that nap).
@Kristin – Thank you for reading and for sharing with us. Night weaning can be a beast! If your little guys cries if you do and cries if you don’t, you may just have to plan to deal with some crying (which you’re likely to have to do anyway to some degree at his age). If you can plan to graduate any changes you make across several days, this may help with that. Hang in there and good luck!
My baby is grabing bottle like his hungry but then pull away during night what can be the problem?
Hi @Fahima, thanks for writing to us! Would you mind sharing a few more details about what’s going on so I can help a bit better such as how old is your baby and how many times a night is he/she waking and doing this? Thank you!
We co-sleep, and my 6 month old baby nurses throughout the night. He typically does not put himself back to sleep when he wakes. I don’t necessarily mind this right now, and I’m not ok with letting him cry it out, but I’m interested to know if babies will generally self wean from night feeds and if’s, when does that happen?
Hi @Jena, thank you for writing to us. All babies are going to be very different so I’m not really able to give you a clearly defined answer on this. I will say that babies do love the comfort of nursing (and it really is so great as the momma too!) and while some self wean I don’t know that would be considered the norm in most cases. At 6 months old the average baby only needs about 1-2 feedings at night, and most often if it goes beyond that it is likely more of a sleep association rather than for the nutritional benefits and it becomes something difficult to sleep with out (just like it would be hard for you to sleep if we suddenly took away your sleep association of a pillow or blanket). Here is a link to a sample schedule for a 6 month old to give you an idea of the average schedule and nutritional needs: https://www.babysleepsite.com/schedules/6-month-old-baby-schedule/
I don’t say that either to say we are anti co-sleeping/bed sharing, because we definitely aren’t when it’s done safely. 🙂 We don’t consider it a problem unless the parents do, and we’ve worked with many families that want to help their child sleep better while still co-sleeping/bed sharing and gladly welcome those families and don’t force you to get the baby out into their own sleep space unless it’s your family’s goal. We also prefer as well to take a gentler approach for sleep training but don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all philosophy either, so our consultants carefully craft plans for families specific to their goals, and parenting approach, and the temperament of the child. If you’re ever interested in working with one of our sleep consultants you can read about it here: https://www.babysleepsite.com/baby-toddler-sleep-consulting-services/
Let us know if you have any other questions!
Hi. My 8 month old baby boy still breastfeeds during the night and more than two times. Almost every 2-3 hours. He is teething, has two bottom ones and now 4 top ones. He was also small for his gestational age and he was born at 38 weeks weighing 2 kg, but is now 8.5 – 9kg. I don’t pump, only once in the morning to mix it with his mushy food. He started solids last month, until then he was EBF. He only had 1-2 tsp of one mushy food a day. He also only sleeps (naps) if he is in my arms. We co sleep at night. Is it fine he breastfeed so much during the night? During the day he breastfeed 4 times, but because I put him to the breast to nap or fall asleep or right after his vaccinations or if he cries or gets scared it ends up being a lot more.
Hi @Alexandra, thanks for visiting the Baby Sleep Site. I am happy to help. I want to start off by saying that if you do not feel like the night wakings are a bad thing, then they don’t have to be. It may be a good idea to try to teach him to sleep longer stretches so that when you are ready to transition him to his own sleeping space that you are not having to get up a bunch of times a night to help. At 8 months we would say 1 night feeding is normal and anything beyond that is likely a sleep association. Here is a link to a sample schedule for an 8 month old so you can get a feel for how to transition some of those night feeds into the daytime so he is still getting all of the calories he needs in a 24 hour period: https://www.babysleepsite.com/schedules/8-month-old-baby-schedule/
Switching a schedule can be a bit tricky so if you need help with that, let us know. Feel free to contact us directly at [email protected] and we will gladly point you in the direction of more resources. Thanks for visiting!
My little boy is 7 months old next week. He is on 3 meals a day and 4 7-8oz bottles in the day and wakes in the night for a feed. We put him to bed at the same time every night. When he wakes in the night I offer him a 7-8oz bottle which sometimes he finishes but recently he only drinks 2-3 oz then pushes the bottle away. He also recently wakes at irregular times anywhere between 12:30am – 4:00am. He is capable of settling himself to sleep as he falls asleep in his cot when we leave the room and I’ve heard him stirring in the night then settle without crying for me.
Do you think it’s worth trying to night wean him? I go back to work in 10 weeks and would like us all to be sleeping through by then.
Hi @Sarah – Thank you for writing to us! You may want to ask your baby’s doctor first about night weaning him. The Pediatrician will know him best, and can help guide you on if he’s ready! He certainly is not taking much at night, and the fact that he can fall back to sleep on his own after a feed and at bedtime is a great start! You can check out this sample schedule for some more guidance on sleep and feeds too:
Good luck Sarah!
hi my baby boy is 7 months and wakes up screaming as if something is hurting him, he screams until u pick him up and feed him then he goes back to sleep.
Hi @Natalie – Thank you for writing and I am sorry that your little guy is waking and screaming! This is so hard for us as parents, and we completely understand! If you haven’t already, we welcome you to peruse our blog with hundreds of free articles or, if you prefer to bypass some of that, we have e-Books and premium resources available where the research has been done for you. Or, for the fastest service, we have expert sleep consultants who can help you determine why your baby is not sleeping well and create a plan to get you and your family back on track and sleeping well!
All of our email consultation packages for new clients include a Personalized Sleep Plan, which is a detailed guide written just for your family given your specific sleep history, which you will share via an online questionnaire that takes just about 10-20 minutes (not necessarily all in one sitting).
If you would like help from one of our wonderful experts, at any time, please check out our sleep consultation packages here:
Hang in there Natalie, and please contact us if yo have any questions!
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