Nighttime Feedings and Your Baby’s Sleep


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Every baby is different, and that’s no more true in any area than it is to the area of feeding. Nighttime feedings, in particular, can be very different from one child to the next. One baby may want to be fed several times each night, while another may be able to sleep through a good portion of the night without a nighttime feeding after as little as two or three weeks.

By the age of six months or so, most babies will be sleeping at least six hours at a time at night. This gives you both time to recoup and rest. Some babies, however, won’t want to give up that nighttime feeding.

There are a number of possible reasons why your baby might not want to give up nighttime feedings. In some cases, his little tummy just isn’t big enough to hold enough food to get him through. That’s usually not the case when you’re talking about a child of six months of age or older, however.

For older babies, needing a nighttime feeding is more often about being comforted. Your baby needs reassurance at night, and while she may indeed eat during those nighttime waking hours, chances are she would be just fine without eating.

For many babies, it’s simply a matter of waiting until he’s ready to do away with those nighttime feedings. However, if he seems to be hanging on, there are some things you can do in order to start breaking him of the habit:

  • Start by encouraging your baby to self-soothe. When your baby wakes up crying, give her an extra minute or two to fall back asleep. Some nights she will, most nights she won’t. Give her the time to try, at the very least.
  • When you do get up with your baby, don’t immediately rush to feed. Even if he’s acting like he’s hungry, try rocking, holding, snuggling and soothing your baby first. If that doesn’t help, then you can consider feeding.
  • Make sure your baby doesn’t go to bed hungry. Feed her about an hour before bed. That will make sure her belly is full, but also give her time to start digesting and to have a bowel movement, if necessary, which can help keep her from waking up.


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