Deciding when to wean your baby off of their nighttime feeding(s) is a conversation you should definitely have with your pediatrician. This is to ensure your baby’s weight and health is optimal for dropping any feedings they may be receiving. I actually require my clients who work with me to ask their pediatrician first how many feedings their baby needs before even attempting sleep training. With that being said, the list below will help you look out for the signs that baby may be ready to wean. And after, you could read up on how to wean.
I usually advise my clients that after the age of 4 months it’s safe to assume that your baby is able to go down to one feeding from bedtime through morning. For various reasons some parents decide, along with the approval of their pediatrician, that it’s time to wean off all night feedings from bedtime to morning (which at this age should be about 11-12 hours).
Personally, I don’t suggest cutting out all night feedings until at least 5 to 6 months of age unless parents wish to do otherwise. Once your child is firmly into their 6th month it is acceptable to wean them of all night feedings. Notice I say acceptable – many parents choose to maintain a night feeding for some time, and provided baby goes back to sleep immediately after a single night feeding, there is nothing wrong with continuing to feed at night.
The advice on weight and night weaning is all over the map. The lowest weight number I’ve been told by a number of pediatricians is that infants can go 10 hours without feedings at 11 pounds and 8 weeks of age. This seems extremely early to me, however medically acceptable it may be.
To reduce to a single feeding per night, I advise parents wait until baby is within 11 to 13 pounds. To eliminate to no feedings, I advise babies be at a minimum of 14 pounds, though there is no rush to eliminate the single night feeding before 5 to 6 months of age.
How their feeding is affecting them
Perhaps beyond age and weight, this should be the biggest factor in deciding whether or not to keep a night feeding. If your baby wakes once a night, takes in a hearty feeding, falls back to sleep soundly, and remains sleeping until the earliest of 6:00 am the following morning than keeping a night feeding is acceptable.
If at any age past 4 months you notice that a) your child wakes repeatedly after their single feeding, b) your child does not fall asleep after their feeding and is awake for more than 5-10 minutes before falling back to sleep, or c) your child takes in next to nothing for their feeding and then falls to sleep immediately at the breast or bottle, then it is time to consider dropping their night feeding. These are all indicators that the feeding may not be *needed* and that your child may be waking for some reason besides hunger.
If you are ever concerned your baby is not very hungry throughout the day you should immediately look to their nighttime feeding habits. If they are taking in more than 4-6 ounces a night they may be taking in too much, and Mom and Dad should consider cutting out night feedings all together.
To recap, the signs baby may be ready to night wean are…
- Baby is around 5-6 months of age.
- Baby is at least 14 pounds.
- Their night feeding is beginning to disrupt their sleep, they are not eating much, or they have begun to wake repeatedly after their typical feeding.
- Baby is feeding more at night than during the day.
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So how do I sleep wean? If in stop feeding my 10 month old through the night she wakes up every half hour. She doesn’t want the bottle. But she hardly drinks or eats or sleep throughout the day.
It sounds like baby does not yet know how to fall asleep on their own. In order to resolve the frequent overnight feeding issue, you’ll want to explore sleep training baby. It will likely involve talking to your pediatrician to make sure it is safe to withhold feeds overnight in order to encourage baby to eat more during the day. A good sleep training program will guide you through the entire process.
My little guy is 8 months and still does 1 or 2 overnight feeds a night. Usually he goes about 5-6 hours between overnight bottles, but will typically drink almost the whole thing, then passes right out to sleep. However once or twice a week he makes it 8 hours and one overnight feed. I’ve tracked everything and nothing is different those days. Should I try to wean him to the one night feed since I know he is capable? He’s just shy of 19lbs.
This is a question for your pediatrician. If the doctor approves cutting all night feeds cold turkey for 12 hours, I suspect you’d see him taking in more ounces during the day within 3-5 days of cutting the overnight feed.
My boy is 14 months old and he is still waking for a bottle during the night. He cries if we don’t give him it. We have started giving him his milk in another room while reading stories before bed to stop the sleep association. This hasn’t helped so far. How do we stop the night feed?
I would look more into the concept of sleep training. That will help resolve this issue: https://www.babysleeptrainer.com/what-is-baby-sleep-training/
We started sleep training a few weeks ago and for the most part baby has done well with learning independent sleep skills. We typically give him a dream feed at about 10 and he gets up on his own between 4 and 5 am. After the feed he will put himself back to sleep right away and sleep until 7 am. Do I need to night wean or will the wakings drop off as he eats more solids?
In my experience most babies don’t drop feeds on their own, but your first stop should be asking your pediatrician about whether or not baby needs to eat overnight, and how many times. Then ask if you should proactively wean from night feeds and how to protect your milk supply if/when baby does stop eating overnight.
Thanks for the info. What do you suggest for babies who meet all the requirements to not have a night feed but are not old enough to sleep train? We have a 3-month-old who is 14.5 lbs and we decided to add a feed during the day and remove the 3 am feed (keeping the dream feed). It’s been a week and he is doing no better- he still wakes up at 3 and doesn’t fall back to sleep for more than a few minutes at a time. I’m worried to add it back in because he’s already getting more than enough calories. Thoughts?
If baby is waking in that manner it is very likely an indicator of hunger. It is possible baby needs more ounces than they are able to consume across their daytime feeds. I’d communicate with your baby’s pediatrician about this as soon as possible to ensure baby is getting enough to eat each 24 hour period.
My son is waking up earlier each night before the supposed time (3 am) for me to dream feed him. He’s been waking 2.50am, 2.30am and now 1.45 am. Should I be shifting the dream feed time earlier too?
My twins are 5 months and recently just started sleeping between 10-12 hours overnight and they don’t wake to feed anymore. I feel them when they wake up around 7-7:30. The thing I’m unsure of is if they’re actually ready to drop that because they now wake up extremely miserable. I think because they are starving. The morning now starts with them crying hysterically and me rushing to feed them. So my question is, even if they want to sleep through the night, should I still wake them at least once to eat?
My son is 5 months old and has been sleeping through the night since he was 3 and a half months old. He goes down between 8-9 and wakes up between 5-6 for a feeding. The feedings have been decreasing. Before he would take 6 Oz then 5 Oz then 4-3 Oz consistently. Today he took 2 Oz. And when he wakes up between 5-6 lately, after the feeding, he doesn’t go back to sleep.