If your baby is over six months, still feeding at night, and it’s becoming a problem for you, here are some tips to wean your baby off night feeds.
1 – Make sure your baby is getting enough milk and solids in the day for her weight and age.
2 – Ensure your baby is getting enough day time sleep and napping well so that you can be sure she isn’t overtired at bedtime. An overtired baby may wake during the night and need your help to fall back to sleep. All the sleep training in the world won’t be able to fix this. All babies are different but for a rough guide on how much sleep your baby needs, take a read of, How Much Should My Baby Sleep?
3 – Teach your baby to go to sleep by herself from awake at nap times and at bedtime. The easiest way to do this is to set up nap time and bedtime routines which are consistent and predictable. This way your baby will know what is about to happen next when you put her in her cot to sleep. If your little one won’t self settle without you helping her, take a look at our suggested sleep training techniques to improve things.
4 – Create a sleep environment that is dark, comforting and familiar. Your baby should feel safe when she goes into her cot to sleep. Introduce a baby comforter to reassure your baby when she is learning new sleep habits. You may also find soothing sleep sounds help.
5 – Once you have all of the above in place, your baby may stop waking for night time feeds by herself. Give her a few nights to see if this happens.
6 – For a baby of 6 months or less, try introducing a last feed at 10:00pm. You should be able to do this while your baby is still asleep and this will help her to go for longer – hopefully until morning!
7 – If she is still waking at night, eliminate one feed at a time. To eliminate a feed, try first to push it along. You can do this by waiting for a little while when she wakes at night to see if she will settle herself. If she doesn’t, go in and reassure her, give her a dummy if you are happy for her to use one. Tell your baby that it’s time for sleep and not for milk. Next time she wakes you can feed her. Each night, push the feed on a little and don’t go backwards! Eventually the feed should end up merging with a later one and finally become the first morning feed.
8 – If you find this very difficult, or if your baby becomes very upset, perhaps your partner could help? Sometimes dad going in makes things easier, sometimes not. It is often a case of trial and error.
If your baby refuses to go back to sleep and appears to be very hungry, take a read of How to Wean my Baby off Night Feeds (part 2) for another useful tip to help wean your baby off feeding at night.
9 – Maintain the late night feed (between 10 and 11pm) until your baby is between 7 and 9 months. Then start weaning your baby off this feed too. Some babies just do it themselves by taking so little milk that it is no longer worth your while giving it to them!
If you follow the above 9 steps, and remain consistent, your baby will soon learn that night time is for sleeping and not feeding!
However, if she does continue to wake, you may decide to try some sleep training techniques which are summarised in the below articles. It’s worth reading these through before you decide which approach might work best for you, your baby and your family.