Night weaning & phasing out night feeds: things to think about

If you’d like to help your baby sleep longer at night, you can think about night weaning for breastfed babies and phasing out night feeds for bottle-fed babies.

Night weaning and phasing out night feeds: when to do it

From six months of age, if your baby is developing well, it’s OK to think about night weaning for breastfed babies and phasing out night feeds for bottle-fed babies. At this age, most babies are getting enough food during the day for healthy growth and development.

On the other hand, if you’re comfortable with feeding your baby during the night, there’s no hurry to phase out night feeds. You can choose what works best for you and your baby.

Before you decide, it’s a good idea to talk with your child and family health nurse or GP. All babies and parents are different, so getting advice that suits your individual situation is a good idea.

When the time is right for you and your baby, our suggestions below can help you make the transition away from night feeds.

Night weaning breastfed babies

Some breastfeeding mothers decide to keep feeding at night to help maintain their milk supply. But if you decide to try night weaning, your baby can still get the benefits of breastmilk if you keep breastfeeding during the day.

If your baby’s night-time feed is short (less than five minutes), you can phase out night feeds by stopping the feed altogether and re-settling your baby with the settling techniques of your choice. Note that it might take several nights for you and your baby to get used to the new routine.

If your baby’s feed is usually longer than five minutes, you can gradually cut down the time you spend feeding over 5-7 nights. This will help your baby get used to the change.

Here’s how:

  1. Time the length of your baby’s usual night feed.
  2. Cut down on the time your baby spends feeding by 2-5 minutes every second night. For example, if your baby usually feeds for 15 minutes, you would feed for 13 minutes for two nights, then 11 minutes for the next two nights, then 9 minutes for the next two nights, and so on.
  3. Re-settle your baby after each shortened feed with the settling techniques of your choice.
  4. Once your baby is feeding for five minutes or less, stop the feed altogether.

If you choose, you can cut down the time faster – for example, by five minutes every two nights.

Phasing out night feeds for bottle-fed babies

If you decide to try phasing out night feeds and your baby is having 60 ml of milk or less during a night feed, you can stop the feed altogether and re-settle your baby with the settling techniques of your choice.

If your baby’s feed is more than 60 ml each night, you can gradually cut down the amount your baby drinks over 5-7 nights.

Here’s how:

  1. Reduce the volume of milk by 20-30 ml every second night. For example, if your baby usually drinks 180 ml, you would give 150 ml for two nights, then 120 ml for the next two nights, and so on.
  2. Re-settle your baby after each smaller feed with the settling techniques of your choice.
  3. Once you get down to 60 ml or less in the bottle, stop the feed altogether.

After you stop the night feed, you might notice that your baby begins to feed more during the day. This improvement in daytime appetite could take another week to settle in.

 From:http://m.raisingchildren.net.au/articles/phasing_out_night_feeds.html

 References

Centre for Community Child Health, Royal Children’s Hospital (2012-2016). The infant sleep elearning program. Melbourne: RCH.

Henderson, J.M.T., France, K.G., Owens, J.L., & Blampied, N.M. (2010). Sleeping through the night: The consolidation of self-regulated sleep across the first year of life. Pediatrics, 126(5), 1081-1087. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2010.08.003.

Hiscock, H., Cook, F., Bayer, J., Mensah, F., Cann, W., Symon, B., & St James-Roberts, I. (2014). Preventing early infant sleep and crying problems and postnatal depression: A randomised trial. Pediatrics, 133(2), 346-354.

Hiscock, H., & Wake, M. (2002). Randomised control trial of behavioural infant sleep intervention to improve infant sleep and maternal moods. British Medical Journal, 324(7345), 1062-1065. doi: 10.1136/bmj.324.7345.1062.

Lam, P., Hiscock, H., & Wake, M. (2003). Outcomes of infant sleep problems: A longitudinal study of sleep, behavior, and maternal well-being. Pediatrics, 111(3), e203-207. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1542/peds.111.3.e203.

National Health and Medical Research Council (2012). Infant feeding guidelines: Information for health workers (2012). Canberra: NHMRC. Retrieved 22 November 2017 from https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/guidelines-publications/n56.

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