Are you worried about how or when to stop night feedings? Let’s talk about night weaning, including when to stop night feeds, how to stop feeding at night, and whether night weaning and sleep training can happen together.
Expert Tip: Every baby has unique feeding needs. Please be sure to discuss any night weaning plan with your pediatrician to ensure that your plan is appropriate for your individual baby.
How do I know when to stop night feeds? When do babies stop eating at night? anchor
Most doctors will agree that you can stop intentionally waking your baby for night feedings around 3-4 months as long as they’re showing stable weight gain and staying on their growth curve. However, some babies won’t be able to sleep through the night without any feedings until closer to 9 months. If you’re not sure if your baby needs night feedings, this is a great conversation to have with your pediatrician.
Whether you're looking to reduce night feedings or want to continue night feedings but establish great sleep, my classes can help. Each class will teach you gentle and developmentally appropriate methods to help you reduce or eliminate night feedings and reach your baby-sleep goals, no matter where you’re starting.
Will my baby naturally stop eating at night?anchor
It’s possible. Some babies do naturally stop eating at night, while others need a bit of help.
Important Note: For babies 3 months and younger (who are staying on their growth curve), you can typically allow one longer stretch of sleep in the night. That one stretch shouldn’t go longer than their age in weeks plus one. (ie. If your baby is 4 weeks old, we would allow them to sleep until 5 hours after the start of their last feeding before waking them.) After that long stretch, we are going to continue offering feedings every 2-3 hours, according to hunger cues.
How can I tell if my baby is waking from hunger or habit at night? anchor
I hear this question so often from parents as they try to determine how and when to wean night feedings. Here’s what I want you to know: whether your baby is waking from hunger or habit, you can still work towards more consolidated night sleep without ignoring your baby's hunger cues.
How? By using a gradual night weaning approach and working on independent sleep skills. You’ll be helping them gently transition all (or most) of their needed calories to the day while also teaching them the skills they need to fall asleep and back to sleep in the night without feeding.
Can I do night weaning and sleep training at the same time?anchor
Yes! You absolutely can. Most babies who are developmentally ready for sleep training are also ready to reduce or completely wean their night time feedings. Please know that in my 5-24 Month Collection, I will walk you through exactly how to do this in a way that supports your baby right where they are.
How long does night weaning take? anchor
This truly depends on your baby’s unique needs. For some babies, it can take just a few nights and for others, the process is more gradual. The 5-24 Month Collection will walk you through how to wean night feedings in a way that addresses your baby’s unique needs and feels comfortable for you and your baby.
Do you ever recommend night weaning cold turkey? anchor
There are some scenarios where night weaning cold turkey could be appropriate. You might consider a cold-turkey approach if your little one is over 12 months or isn’t eating much during those night feedings. My class will walk you through how to make that decision considering your specific situation.
Will my milk supply decrease when my baby sleeps through the night? anchor
Most likely: no. The gradual night weaning approaches I teach in my classes are designed to support both your baby and your milk supply in transitioning most feedings from nighttime to daytime. In many cases, your body will naturally regulate to meet your baby’s needs.
If your milk supply is causing you extra worry or you’re struggling to maintain your current supply, adding in a pumping session before you go to bed is one great option. If this isn't enough, you may consider adding in another pumping session between 3:00 and 5:00 am for a week or two to allow your body time to adjust. If you are using my classes to support your night weaning process, please know that I have lactation specialists (including IBCLCs) on my team.
How can I break a feeding to sleep association? anchor
I know this can feel challenging. In order to do this, we need to create space between feeding and sleep as much as possible. This is how we can do that:
Plan for the feeding to be the very first step in the bedtime routine, even before the bath if needed!
Move the feeding outside of your baby’s nursery.
Keep all the lights on, sound machine off, and add in stimulation during the feeding so there’s nothing telling your little one’s brain that it’s time for sleep.
Keep your baby fully awake during this feeding.
If feeding to sleep is the only way you are able to get your baby down for naps or bedtime, I can help!
For babies 4 months and younger, my First Five Months Bundle will help you with baby sleep strategies that will meet your baby exactly where they are developmentally to fall asleep on their own (without feeding) while getting longer stretches of night sleep.
For babies 5 months and older, my 5–24 Month Collection walks you step-by-step through a completely customizable and holistic sleep training plan to help your baby sleep fall asleep on their own and get 10-12 hours of consolidated sleep each night.
My 2 year old still wakes up at night for milk. How do I stop feeding a 2 year old at night?anchor
If your two year old is waking in the night for milk, here are some tips to stop feedings in the night:
Prioritize daytime calories. Some little ones are waking in the night because they’re simply not getting enough calories during the day. This can be so common with busy toddlers who would rather play than eat.
Offer bedtime milk and snack. Providing a small but filling bedtime snack can be an appropriate step right before your bedtime routine, helping to ensure your toddler is not hungry going into the night.
Replace milk with water when your toddler wakes in the night. Should your toddler wake up for a feeding, try offering them water instead. Talk to them about this during their bedtime routine so this is not a surprise.
Introduce a lovey. Some toddlers are seeking comfort from this night feeding. When we eliminate this comfort, we want to provide an appropriate replacement, such as a lovey.
Try sleep training. If you’re needing more support with dropping your toddler’s night feeding, my Toddler Sleep Training course is here to help.
How do I night wean?anchor
If you are ready to reduce or wean your baby’s night feedings, these are the three things that I want you to focus on:
Making sure it’s the right time. Get the go-ahead from your little one’s pediatrician! They will be able to help you decide if it’s appropriate to wean all of your baby’s night feedings or if maintaining a feeding is most appropriate for now.
Gradually shifting calories from the night to the day. When you’re ready to drop night feedings, prioritize full feedings every 2.5-3.5 hours during the day and reduce the amount you’re offering at night. Not sure how to do that? You’re not alone! My 5-24 Month Collection will teach you how to customize a step-by-step night weaning plan that’s right for your baby based on where they are right now.
Learning to fall asleep independently. Simply shifting calories to the day may not eliminate night wakings. Why? If your baby doesn’t have the skills to fall asleep independently, they’ll still need your help to fall back to sleep at night. No matter your baby’s age, my classes can help you teach your baby these sleeping skills in an emotionally-connected and developmentally-appropriate way!