June 7, 2023
“When do you think she’ll sleep through the night?” or “Do you think he still needs all his night feeds?” Questions along this theme are absolutely some of the most common ones I receive. Sleep deprived parents hoping to drop to just one waking, or no wakings at all. If you have a little one who is waking through the night, it’s common to wonder when is the right time to drop night wakings and more importantly, how to do it.
The answer to this set of questions is not black and white. Every baby is different and will drop off their night feeds at different times. It’s important to take into consideration how much your baby is eating during the day, how old they are, what is their temperament, if they have any health issues and how active they are.
If you are wondering if now is the right time to drop night feeds, you can check the following criteria and if you think your baby is in the window, check in with your pediatrician for the go ahead.
If you’ve answered yes to the questions above then you can begin to wean from night feeds, chasing that full night’s sleep.
When you first bring your little one home, it can seem like they are feeding non-stop. This is because your baby’s stomach is simply too small to be able to take in enough milk to sustain long periods between feedings. Often your baby will continue to eat in 2-3 hour stretches for the first several months.
Over time, as your little one grows, their stomach is able to take in enough milk to sustain longer stretches of nighttime sleep. During this time, we generally want to continue to feed frequently during the daylight hours. This not only helps baby get better daytime sleep, but begins to set the pattern that daytime is for play and eating, and nighttime is for sleeping. So rather than stretch day feeds, we focus on stretching night feeds (at this age, your sweet one is still too young to stretch both).
If you’re not sure if your baby is ready to drop those night feeds, you can always ask your pediatrician at one of your regular well-baby appointments. Book a 15 minute discovery call now if you’d like to see how I can help. For some babies who are efficient feeders, this can be as early as four or five months, and for others who are more active or distracted feeders, this can be several months after.
This is always a tricky one! Particularly for breastfeeding mamas. You can use a milk calculator (like this one here) to determine the approximate amount of milk your baby should be taking. Keep in mind though, I’ve seen huge variances in the amount of milk that babies actually take by age and weight. These calculators provide a generalizations only. If you’re worried about how much milk your baby is taking, you can always check that with your pediatrician as well.
For breastfed babies, you can get a good indication as to whether your baby is taking a full feeding by the fullness of your breasts. It can also be useful to do weighted feeds (weighing baby before and after – often done in a clinic or with an IBCLC), or a pumping session to get a better understanding of how much milk you are producing.
So how then, do you drop night feeds?
Below are my top strategies for dropping night feedings.
If your sleeping situation is working for you and your baby, there’s never a need to make changes. Provided everyone is healthy, happy and sleeping safely, you never need to drop a night feeding. If you know me, you’ll have heard me say that I kept feeding my son for his dawn feeding for as long as possible – the cool, cozy feeding was my favorite time of the day. If you and your little one are ready to drop a waking or two but need a hand, book a FREE discovery call and let’s chat about how I can help.