when to stop night feeds

When and How To Stop Night Feeds

The process of stopping your baby’s nighttime feedings is known as night-weaning. Just like any other type of weaning, it’s a gradual process and the timescale is different for every baby. Generally, breastfed babies can be night-weaned around 6-9 months old and formula-fed babies can night-wean around 4-6 months old. Most babies will have reached about 12-13 pounds in weight by this age, so no longer metabolically need nighttime feedings. 

If you’re unsure whether to start night-weaning, talk to your GP or Public Health Nurse, they can tell you if your baby’s weight gain is progressing normally. If your baby is gaining weight slowly, they may recommend waiting to night-wean. 

Remember, there is no rush to stop night feeds. If night-feeding works well for your family, then there is no harm in continuing. Most babies will eventually sleep through the night on their own.

Night feeds by age*

Breastfed, combination fed, or babies with reflux:

  • 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

 

Formula-fed:

  • Newborns to 3 months old: Feedings every 2-3 hours, on-demand
  • 3-4 Months: 1-2 feedings per night or every 3-6 hours, on-demand
  • 5-6 Months: 0-1 feedings
  • 7+ Months: Generally no feedings

 

* this is a general guide. Always consult your healthcare provider.

how to stop night feeding

How do I know if my baby is ready to night-wean?

Your baby could be waking during the night for multiple reasons including separation anxiety or teething pain. You know your baby best, you can probably tell when they’re crying out of genuine discomfort or when they just want your attention. 

The rule of thumb is: if your baby takes less than 2oz of formula or less than 4 minutes on the breast during night feeds, they’re not hungry. 

Usually, babies will become less dependent on night feeds when they begin eating solids. This is because they’re eating additional calories and solids are slower to break down than formula or breastmilk.

How to night-wean a breastfed baby

Exclusively breastfed babies are in a habit of waking more frequently during the night, compared to formula-fed babies. This is because breastmilk is easier to digest, so they become hungry sooner. It’s recommended to delay night-weaning until 6-9 months of age so your baby can comfortably last 6 hours without feeding. 

If your baby is only feeding for 4 minutes at a time, as mentioned earlier, you can choose to stop the night feed and just re-settle them with the settling technique of your choice. 

If your baby feeds for more than 4 minutes, you can gradually reduce the amount of time they’re spending on the breast. For example, if your baby is currently feeding for 15 minutes per session, feed for 13 minutes for 2 nights, then 11 minutes for 2 nights and gradually decrease it from there. Once you’re under the 5-minute mark, you can try stopping the feed altogether. 

Keep in mind, your baby sleeping longer may result in uncomfortably full breasts as they’re not being emptied throughout the night. This can ultimately lead to a decrease in your supply. You may choose to pump during the night to empty your breasts and maintain your supply. All breasts are different, so find a balance that works for you.

How to night-wean a bottle-fed baby

If your baby is drinking less than 2oz (60ml) of formula per night feed, you can stop offering the formula and just soothe them back to sleep. 

If your baby is taking more than this, you can gradually reduce the amount you offer at each feeding. For example, if your baby usually drinks 5oz per night feeding session, you would give 4oz for 2 nights, then 3oz for 2 nights, and so on. Once you reach 2oz or less, you can stop altogether.

Growth spurts

If your baby usually sleeps through the night, a growth spurt may throw them off their schedule. Babies are extra hungry during a growth spurt as their body demands more calories, so they may need the extra top-up at night. This extra requirement should subside in a week. If your baby continues to wake during the night, they may have gotten into a habit of waking. 

Growth spurts can happen any time during the first year, but expect them between 1-3 weeks old, 6-8 weeks old, then at 3 months, 6 months and 9 months.

Did You Enjoy This Blog Post?
Share It With Your Friends!

Share on facebook
Share on whatsapp
Share on twitter
NOTICE

AMENDMENT TO OUR 3D/4D SCAN SERVICE

Due to COVID-19 restrictions we are NOT currently providing our full 3D/4D scans. However, you can still see your baby in 3D in our Late Reassurance Scans.

Please head over to our Late Reassurance Scan page to find out more!