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When can I wean Night Feeds?

I hear this question asked a lot, and I have two answers for you.

First, the medical one. If your child is over 6-months old, gaining weight as expected and your doctor gives you the go ahead to end night feeds, then go ahead and give it a shot!

However, you most likely already know that answer and the real question you are asking is “Why does my baby refuse to give up his night feeds?”

Because if it was as easy as pulling his night feeds when the doctor said it was okay to do so, you probably wouldn’t be reading this. You’d either be in bed getting eight hours of blissful sleep or at the playground telling all the Mum’s about how easily your little guy gave up his night feeds and how this whole parenting thing is a breeze!

(Don’t do that – Mum’s hate that!)

So, lets discuss the real question here. Why does your baby continue to wake up at night and demand food if they’re supposedly ready to give up nighttime feeds?

The answer is quite simple. That’s how they get themselves to sleep.

Feeding baby to sleep is just about the most common sleep prop I see as a consultant. People don’t usually think of it as a ‘sleep prop’ because of how natural and necessary feeding is. Sleep props are more commonly associated with pacifiers or cot mobiles.

However, a sleep prop is anything external that your baby relies on to get to sleep.

So, if you’re feeding your baby to sleep at bedtime, chances are, that’s where you need to make some changes.

A less common scenario, but one I sometimes see, is Mum is doing everything right at bedtime and baby is going down in their cot awake, but is still feeding baby back to sleep when they wake up during the night.

In this case, some babies are just habitual nighttime eaters. It’s not that they’re hungry, or in need of the calories.

The bad news is, the only way you are going to break this association is by giving up night feeds. This is going to mean some protesting, which won’t be fun for anyone.

HOWEVER, the good news is, in the case, since your baby has learned to sleep without props at bedtime, he’s already got some strong sleep skills! The protesting should be over within a couple of nights.

So, what’s the strategy for this?

The best approach is the same as it is for quitting anything.

Cold turkey.

Stop night feeds tonight and don’t start again.

The sooner your little one learns to go back to sleep without being fed to sleep, the sooner he will be sleeping through the night.

That’s great news for you and your partner, but it’s even better news for baby! More uninterrupted sleep means baby’s mind and body gets more of those glorious restorative effects that take place during the night, making for a happier, healthier tomorrow!

Contact our sleep consultant today to book your free introductory consultation.


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