Night weaning is an important factor to consider if your child is over 9 months of age and they still aren’t sleeping through the night. Waking up to eat after 9 months of age is not necessary unless they are under weight or failure to thrive. So let’s explore why and how to night wean so parents can get more sleep.
Before 9 months a child’s liver is not fully developed so it is harder to store calories for longer periods of time, like all night. That is why most babies need a dream feed sometime during the night before they are 9 months old. After they are 9 months old you can be confident that no more food is needed at night. For breastfeeding and bottle-feeding children night feeding is usually more of a habit than a necessity for mother and baby.
Before you start night weaning make sure your baby is getting enough to eat during the day by keeping track of the amount of milk and food they are eating between wake up and bed time for a few days. If you are breastfeeding, make sure you are giving her full feeds and not snacking all day. If she doesn’t get enough to eat during the day she will want to eat at night. If in doubt I suggest breastfeeding mothers to give a bottle before bedtime so you know she has taken in a good amount before she goes to sleep.
Night weaning should be done slowly so baby can get use to not eating at night. If mom is breastfeeding this will help her too so she doesn’t get engorged during the process. Start by reducing the number of ounces per night by 1 oz. every night if bottle-feeding and 2 minutes every night if breastfeeding. Reduce the amount or time or ounces till you are down to 1 oz. or 2 minutes. Then you are done night weaning. No more milk! If they want something give them water in a sippy cup.
Please keep in mind a few things when night weaning. This recommendation above is for children 9 months or older (adjusted age if preemie). Children should be healthy with no weight loss issues or illnesses. Check with your doctor if in doubt. When children are sick they often don’t eat well during the day and may need fluids at night so feed them if it is a special situation such as an illness. I often find parents think their child is getting enough to eat and drink during the day but are not. This happens a lot when children are in day care all day and not keeping track themselves.
Children don’t like change so when weaning is done don’t expect them to like it. It is a habit but doing this slowly allows them to get use to eating less and less every night so they won’t be hungry. After night weaning they should start eating more during the day. Any calories they gave up during the night should be consumed during the day so you and child can get a good night sleep.