In this article, we share helpful guides on several topics on baby feeding at night including;
- Baby feeding/eating more at night
- Portions to feed baby at night
- When do babies stop feeding at night
- Baby feeding at night for different age sets (months and years)
Why does Nighttime feeding causes sleep disruptions
Nighttime feeding causes sleep disruptions in your baby because the baby becomes dependent oN feeding to fall back to sleep instead of self-soothing themselves. Nighttime feedings often awake your baby fully, causing them difficulties in going back to sleep.
You can alleviate sleep disruptions for your baby because of nighttime feeding by feeding them to their fullness just before sleep time to minimize frequent waking up due to hunger. The tactic is called Dream Feeding.
You can also prevent nighttime feedings that cause sleep disruptions by delaying the feedings when your baby wakes up to break the association between night waking and feeding. For instance, you could change your baby’s diaper first after they wake up, a tactic that could soothe your baby back to sleep without feeding.
Expert recommendation on night time feeding
Infants must feed at night, mostly every 2 to 3 hours and experts recommend waking up your newborn for night feeding until they regain the lost weight they lose after birth, especially if they sleep continuously for more than 4 hours.
Babies of 6 months and above, on the other hand, do not need nighttime feeding because they get adequate nutrition during the day to sustain them through the night. You should also never wake a baby of over 6 months a night to avoid sleep disruptions and dependence on nighttime feeding to fall back to sleep.
Besides, you should delay nighttime feeding for babies above 6 months, cut out the nighttime feeding, and reduce the amount of feeding done during the time to phase out nighttime feeding.
When do Babies Stop Feeding at Night/NHS Guidelines
Babies stop feeding at night for 6 months onwards. The National Health Services (NHS) explains that night feeds for babies of age 6 months to 12 months no longer need nighttime feeding because they sleep up to 12 hours a night. Babies of 12 months and above, on the other hand, sleep for approximately 12 and 15 hours per night, eliminating the need for nighttime feeding.
When to Start Weaning your Baby Off Night Feedings
You start at night weaning your baby between 4 and 6 months old when your baby can sleep for 6 to 8 hours without eating. You also have to make sure that your baby reaches 12 to 13 pounds, the weight where their metabolism does not need nighttime feeding. However, it is important to get a go-ahead to wean your baby off night feedings from nighttime feedings.
Gradual vs. Immediate (cold-turkey) Weaning
Experts recommend gradual weaning compared to cold-turkey weaning to make the transition easier for you and your baby. Cold turkey weaning is less effective because your baby has developed a dependence on nighttime feeding before falling back to sleep.
Below are tips for weaning your baby night time feeding gently:
- Stretch the time between each feeding, adding and an additional 15 to 30 minutes every other night. This way, your baby will start sleeping longer and ultimately stop waking up for night feed.
- Make each feed shorter by reducing the amount of time your baby suckles or putting fewer ounces of formula in the baby’s bottle. Your baby will stop waking up to feed in about a week.
- Make feeding interactions minimal. For instance, keep the lights off or dimmed and do not change their diaper.
- Dream feed your baby to keep them full for long
- Be consistent in your nighttime weaning program.
Baby Feeding Guide by Age
Read this baby feeding schedule for infants
Baby Night Feeding For breastfed babies:
- 0 to 1 month: your baby will feed 8 to 12 feedings daily
- 1 to 3 months: Your baby will feed 7 to 9 times per day
- 6 months: Your baby will feed around 6 times in 24 hours
- 12 months. Nursing may drop to 4 times a day because the introduction of solids at 6 months supplements their breastfeeding.
How to stop breastfeeding at night for 1 year old
The best way to stop breastfeeding your 1-year-old baby at night is to reduce the night nursing duration gradually until the baby has no motivation to be a night nurse.
The best strategy for stopping night nursing for your one-year-old is consistency in the weaning routine. You could also let your partner or any other comfort the baby with cuddles to make weaning easier.
Note. do not replace night nursing with bottle feeding because your child does not have nighttime feeding. Remember that a one-year-old child can stay without feeding for at least 7 hours.
Read here to learn more about the gentle weaning off night nursing for your 1-year-old.
Baby Night Feeding For Bottle-fed Babies:
- Bottle-fed newborns should eat on demand, which is usually every 2 to 3 hours.
- At 2 months, your baby feeds 3 to 4 hours
- AT 4 to 6 months, your baby feeds every 5 to 5 hours
- At 6 months and beyond, every 4 to 5 hours.
The charts below are feeding guides for your breast-fed or bottle-fed baby from months 4 to 12 months when the baby starts feeding on solids.
How to Stop Bottle Feeding at Night
Gradual weaning is the most effective when stopping bottle-feeding at night. The most important strategy to stop bottle feeding at night is ensuring that you feed your baby well during the day to prevent the urge to snack during the night.
Below is an example of how to stop bottle-feeding your baby at night:
- Reduce the volume of milk by 20-30 ml every second night from their usual amount.
- Re-settle your baby after every smaller feed with the settling techniques of your preference.
- Stop the bottle feeding altogether when you get down to 60 ml or less.
Feeding Portions at Night
Feeding portions at night depending on the age of your baby.
- For a baby of 0 to 3 months of age, feed on demand until the baby is full.
- For a baby of 3 to 4 months, feed 3 to 4 feeds per night.
- For a baby of 4 to 6 months, feed 1 to 2 times a night.
Babies of 6 months and above should not have any nighttime feeds as they can sleep through the night. You should train your baby to self-soothe back to sleep when they wake at night. Otherwise, you can feed them according to your liking.
Below is a snapshot night feeding chart by a baby’s age from the babysleepsite.
Baby feeding more at night, is that Ok?
Infants feeding a lot at night is okay because they need to feed every 2 to 3 hours. An older baby feeding more at night, however, is not okay because it indicates that the child is not feeding sufficiently during the night. Remember that experts recommend that babies of 6 months and beyond sleep through the night. Hence, ensure your baby feeds well during the day.
Is a 1-year-old waking up at night feeding normal?
It is unusual for 1-year olds to wake up at night to feed. Babies of age 6 months and above should sleep throughout the night without night feedings.
A 1-year old waking up at night for feeding indicates their lack of adequate feeding during the day and before bedtime, resulting in hunger in the middle of the night. Hence, ensure your baby feeds well during the day and you dream of feeding them before sleep time to avoid them waking up at night to feed.
Tips to assist your baby to sleep through the night
Your baby will have to get used to sleeping through the night after weaning them off night feedings.
Below are tips to help your baby sleep through the night:
- Ensure your baby is well fed before putting them to sleep to prevent waking up of hunger.
- Follow a consistent and calming bedtime routine to avoid overstimulation that makes it difficult for them to fall and remain asleep. Bathing, cuddling, singing lullabies, playing soothing music, and reading age-appropriate story books will allow your baby to settle for sleep.
- Make sure that your baby’s last nap before sleep time for the night is well-spaced to make sure your baby is sleepy enough to sleep through the night.
- Sleep-train your baby to self-soothe back to sleep when they wake up at night without feeding.
- Avoid your baby’s screen time just before sleep because it hampers sleep.
- Ensure that your baby is not sick, teething, suffering sleep regression, undergoing a growth spurt, or their sleeping area is cold or hot.
- Do not change your baby’s diaper during the night to avoid waking them up. Change your baby’s diaper only when they have pooped or are completely wet.
- Let your baby sleep far from you.
- Allow your baby to develop an attachment to a lovey such as a teddy bear or blanket to become a comforter through the night.
Giving Baby Water at Night Instead of Milk
Giving your baby water at night instead of milk allows your baby to sleep through the night. Giving your baby water at night instead of water enables them to learn to self-soothe back to sleep when they wake up at night because water is not the nighttime feed they are used to. Consequently, your baby will sleep throughout the night.
Sleep Training Methods and Courses
Other times, you have to sleep train your baby to sleep through the night. Sleep training enables your baby to sleep through the night because it teaches them how to self-soothe back to sleep instead of depending on nighttime feeds or soothing by mummy and daddy.
The Ferber method, the sleep sense course, and taking car babies are some of the effective sleep training methods and courses that enable your baby to sleep through the night.
A summary of each training technique is provided below.
The Ferber method also called graduated extinction, is a sleep training program by Richard Ferber where parents leave their babies alone for timed intervals, ignoring the child’s fussiness until the stipulated checking time arrives. The Ferber method trains babies to self-soothe themselves back to sleep because they accept gradually that mummy or daddy is not coming to comfort them back to sleep.
The Sleep Sense Course by Dana Obelman is a popular sleep training program that helps your baby of between 6 and 5 years learn how to sleep through the night. The Sleep Sense Program teaches your baby how to sleep through the night by providing you with a simple, step-to-step process that shows the parent what to do every day and night. The Sleep Sense Program also underscores a consistent sleep schedule, bedtime routine, and teaching your baby to sleep independently.
The Sleep Sense Program is also effective in training your baby to sleep through the night because it is customized for your child’s age and personality
Taking Cara Babies
Cara Babies is a sleeping training program effective for babies between the newborn age and 2 years, each age group having a customized sleep training program. The 4 Taking Cara Babies sleeping programs are newborns (0-12 weeks), 3-4 months (13-20 weeks), 0-4 months (0-20 weeks), and 5-24 months. Simply find the class suitable for your baby, watch the class and apply the lessons, and finally, you and your baby sleep through the night.
Learn more about Taking Cara Babies from here.
Below is a snapshot of Taking Cara Babies classes and resources.
Sandra W. Bullock is a grand-mom to two boys and is part of the review board here at Motherhood HQ. She is responsible for the quality control of content and is among our most experienced moms. She has over 20 years of writing parenting content online focussing on baby safety indoors and outdoors. She has written widely on babyproofing nurseries and homes for infants and toddlers and published work on privacy and the safety of baby monitors. She is a renowned advocate for non-wifi baby monitors that cannot be hacked and spends a lot of time educating parents on how to secure their homes – including ways to secure the baby from harm in and around homes. Sandra is a native of Atlanta where she also works. She can be reached using her email, Sandra.w(at)motherhoodhq.com