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Welcome To The Members Area! Forums Baby Sleep Help How many night feeds are age appropriate? Reply To: How many night feeds are age appropriate?

  • Emma H

    June 18, 2024 at 12:17 pm

    Hi Natalee,

    At nearly 7 months old, it’s common for babies to still need overnight feeds. As a rough guide, bottle-fed babies can generally start having their night feeds phased out from around 6 months of age. Breastfed babies may continue to wake for overnight feeds up until 12 months of age. If they are waking for feeds at this age, we would expect them to have a long stretch of sleep (around 5-8 hours) at the beginning of the night before waking for 1-2 feeds overnight.

    Is your little one currently falling asleep on his own at the beginning of the night? If not, and you’re currently feeding him to sleep or rocking him in your arms, the first step would be helping him learn how to fall asleep on his own. Once he masters this skill, he will likely start having longer stretches of sleep at the start of the night, and the night feeds will naturally decrease.

    If he is already falling asleep on his own and is waking consistently every 3 hours (which is the length of an overnight sleep cycle), I suggest continue to feed him when he wakes for hunger but gradually reduce any comfort feeding to encouraging longer stretches of sleep.

    Here’s how you can do it:

    Step 1: Record His Feeding Patterns for 2-3 Nights

    To differentiate between hunger-driven and comfort-driven wakings, start by documenting each overnight feed for a couple of days. For breastfeeding, note the duration of each feed; for bottle feeding, record how much he drinks.

    Step 2: Analyze the Feeding Data

    Review the information to see which feeds were likely due to genuine hunger — indicated by longer breastfeeding times or higher amounts of milk consumed — and which were likely for comfort, shown by shorter feeds or less milk consumed.

    Step 3: Gradually Reduce the Comfort Feeds

    Now that you’ve identified which feeds are for comfort rather than hunger, gently reduce these comfort feeds by decreasing the duration of breastfeeding or the volume of bottle-feeding slightly each night.

    • For Breastfeeding: Begin by shortening each comfort feed by about 1-2 minutes every night. Continue reducing the feeds until they last less than five minutes. Once they’re under 5 minutes, you can stop feeding and instead use the ‘Settling Pyramid’ to soothe him back to sleep.

    • For Bottle-Feeding: Reduce the volume given during comfort feeds by 1/2 to 1 ounce each night. Continue reducing the amount until it’s less than 2 ounces. At that point, switch from feeding to using strategies from the ‘Settling Pyramid’ to help him drift back to sleep.

    Does this make sense?

    Best regards,