Author Topic: When can I stop feeding at night?  (Read 79199 times)

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Offline Colin Macs Mom

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When can I stop feeding at night?
« on: March 15, 2007, 20:52:26 pm »
When can I stop feeding at night?

A variety of factors impact a baby's readiness to drop nightfeeds.  Some of them include:

  • whether a baby is breast or bottle fed
  • when a baby was introduced to sleep training
  • a baby's temprament
  • a baby's ability to self-soothe
  • a baby's general health
  • a baby's daytime consumption of formula or breastmilk

Tracy guides parents towards dropping nightfeeds at 4 months.  Tracy recommended giving a dream feed around 10-11pm until around 7-8mo. Please remember this is a very general guideline.  While many babies are capable and are successful sleeping without a nightfeed, there are others who are not ready.  Keep in mind that “sleeping through the night” is a relative term with a definition that changes with your baby’s age.  You can read the Sleep Guidelines for general guidelines on sleep amounts according to age. 

Exclusively breastfeeding mothers need to be conscious of their milk supply when they eliminate nightfeeds.  Some mothers can experience a decrease in milk supply and in such cases, complete elimination of nightfeeds would not be appropriate for their situation.  If you feel this could be the case for you, visit our Breastfeeding Forum for more information before making your decision.  As a general rule of thumb, formula fed babies often sleep longer stretches than breastfed babies as breastmilk is digested more quickly than formula.

A baby's daytime consumption of breastmilk or formula plays a key role in dropping nightfeeds.  Any food that's eliminated from nighttime must be added to baby's daytime consumption.  A gradual approach to eliminating feeds often works well. Parents can decrease the number of formula ounces given, or number of minutes a baby breastfeeds slowly over time.  Then, the eliminated ounces or breastmilk is added to daytime feeds.  Pat/Shh, or PU/PD (as age-appropriate) would replace the actual feed towards the end until the baby learns to sleep through the feed.  Remember that this is a process and will not change overnight, unfortunately. A LO may even wake habitually at the former night feed time, in which case wake to sleep (W2S) is a good tool to correct that.

One member's story on stopping the night feed can be found here: How we stopped the night feeds with a 9 month old

Babies who were introduced to EASY and sleep training from birth are more likely to eliminate night feeds at Tracy's recommended 4 month mark.  Your baby's ability to sleep independently, self-soothe, and when you began EASY and sleep training, will affect how long you need to continue night feeding. If your LO is not ready yet at 4 months, it doesn't mean that you are doing anything wrong or that there's anything you need to "fix."  Many babies (especially breast feed babies) who are on EASY from very early on continue to need night feeds long past the 4 month mark.

A baby's temprament can play a role on sleeping through and eliminating nightfeeds.  Angel or textbook babies frequently adapt to sleeping independently more quickly and are less reliant on the comfort of nighttime feeds.  A grumpy, spirited, or touchy baby may have a greater dependence on a nightfeed and this will have to be taken into account when gradually eliminating them.  A refluxer or a preemie may also have greater dependence.

Tracy gives the following guidelines in determining if a feed has become a habit in an older baby. They include:

  • eating at the same time every night, like clockwork
  • eating slowly and not very enthusiastically
  • taking in far less food than a normal feed

If you pay attention for all these things, you will know right away when the night feed is no longer necessary.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2017, 17:57:57 pm by creations »
Mom to Colin Ronald, August 18, 2005
Spirited + Reflux =  :o