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Night Weaning

Updated: Sep 4, 2019

IS YOUR BABY STILL WAKING IN THE NIGHT FOR FEEDS OVER THE AGE OF ONE?

This is one of the toughest ones for parents as we get so used to feeding them in the night when they are newborn, that we sometimes carry on without questioning. The feeds then become so engrained that we assume that the wake ups are a *need* for milk, and it becomes difficult to know if the hunger is genuine.


No parent wants to say no to a hungry baby.


However, if your child is older than one then it is quite likely that the feed is actually a habit rather than a need. Just because they have always been fed when they wake up , it does not mean that that there is a genuine hunger. It may not even have been what baby was actually waking up for….. the feed was just a nice bonus that few sleepy babies will say no to if offered.


Under a year its less clear cut.. there may be a need, though some babies will happily go through the night without needing a feed by 4 months old.


Between 6 months and a year most typical healthy babies who are developing well and following their growth curves will be able to drop their night feeds.


There will be some babies, maybe premature, of lower birth weight or just generally on the lower growth centiles who may need feeding for longer through the night as they are catching up.


So why the wake ups if milk is no longer needed in the night?


The first place to look is bedtime… is your baby being fed to sleep, or just nodding off over his last feed and then being transferred into his cot?


If so, then this is how baby has learnt to go to sleep. So when he wakes in the night, he looks for a feed to re-settle himself as that is how he thinks it is done.


If baby is not actually feeding all the way to sleep, but going into the cot still awake, how quickly do they settle? If the transition to sleep is super quick, then potentially they are not ‘falling’ asleep but crashing out, so they are still not leaning the self-settling process, and the feed is still effectively the thing that puts them to sleep.


If a baby cannot put themselves back to sleep, then we need to gently teach them how to do it so that they no longer need, or rely on, the feed to make them drift back off.


So, if your child is over one and waking on the night for feeds, then have a look at those last few steps of the bedtime routine and you may find that a few simple changes will earn everyone a few extra hours sleep.


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