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5 Signs your baby’s ready to give up night time feeds

 
It’s not always easy to know when your baby’s sleep and feeding needs change, but once they reach 6 months old, chances are they’re ready to start sleeping through the night without any night time feeds. Age is one factor to consider when dropping night feeds, but here are a few other things to watch out for too.
It’s not always easy to know when your baby’s sleep and feeding needs change, but once they reach 6 months old, chances are they’re ready to start sleeping through the night without any night time feeds.

Age is one factor to consider when dropping night feeds, but here are a few other things to watch out for too.
 

5 Signs your baby’s ready to give up night time feeds
 

1. Eating solid foods


Breast milk metabolises quickly, and so does formula to a slightly lesser extent. So it stands to reason that the quick turnaround can leave your baby feeling hungry after a few hours. This can lead to night time waking and a rumbling belly.

On the other hand, solid foods digest more slowly, and generally leaves your baby feeling satisfied for longer. So if they’re eating well, chances are they can make it through the night without feeding.

Oh, and have you heard that formula-fed babies sleep better? That isn’t always the case, and you’ll generally only get an extra hour at the most if you switch. Formula alone will not help a baby sleep better!


2. Gaining weight


It’s important that your child is gaining weight, so I’d never recommend dropping a night feed if they’re not keeping up with what’s expected.

Having said that, if they’re growing well and putting on weight, it could be the perfect time for you to both start getting some serious night time sleep.


3. Eating less during the day


If your baby’s appetite has started waning during the day, or they have started mucking around during feeds (and is still putting on weight), it’s a good sign they’re getting the calories they need.

This is a good time to adjust the feeding schedule a little.

If you can encourage your little one to eat more during the day, you’ll have an easier time dropping the night feeds. However, sometimes you might need to drop the night feed first, to help them pick up more calories during the day.

Once the night time feed is gone, you’ll quickly notice an improvement in daytime appetite again.


4. Waking sporadically


You know those wake ups – the random unpredictable ones, like an hour after they've fallen asleep. This is in contrast to your baby waking up at predictable, evenly spaced times every night.

If the wakings are consistently predictable, chances are they're doing it because they're hungry. But if they're waking up erratically at unpredictable times, it’s probably because they want, or need, some help getting back to sleep.

If this is happening to you, it can be a great time to start teaching healthy sleep habits. Chances are your baby is receiving enough nourishment to get them through the night, but they're waking at the end of their sleep cycle looking for the familiar routine, which involves nursing and cuddles.

Teaching them how to fall asleep without needing to use YOU to fall asleep, will provide them, and you, with all the benefits of a solid night’s sleep.
 

5. Only snacking at night


By snacking, I mean not eating much. This is one of the most common signs I see, and it means that your baby really is ready to sleep through without a feed.

This is a confusing one for a lot of parents, who can’t understand why their baby makes a fuss, only to nurse a little and then get worked up.

The most likely explanation is that your baby wasn’t hungry in the first place, they're just used to the routine of feeding to sleep, and then can get frustrated when it doesn’t always work.

And if it use to work, but no longer is – it means they're ready to start finding another way to try sleeping through the night, which is a great sign. They just need some gentle guidance to learn how.
 

Are you ready?


Night weaning IS a big step. A lot of mums miss the experience, and that’s totally understandable.

During the night it’s often just the two of you, sharing an intimate moment. This can be a beautiful thing! But so is eight hours of uninterrupted sleep – and that goes for both of you.

There’s a whole lot of restorative, regenerative things happening during those sleep hours, and it comes with a bunch of emotional and physical benefits for you and your baby.

If you’re considering dropping the night feed, make sure you’re ready to go through with it. You don’t want to stop it, only to start again a week later, because that’s when it becomes confusing for your little one and will probably make the process tougher when you finally do decide to let them sleep through the night.

And if you’re still breastfeeding, you may want to take steps to lessen that full feeling and keep up your milk supply after you stop nursing at night.
 

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Source: This article was written by Kim Corley, a certified sleep sense consultant at Cherished Sleep www.cherishedsleep.co.nz.
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