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Night weaning: How to phase out night feeds for your baby

If your baby's feed takes longer than five minutes, you can slowly reduce the amount of time you spend feeding him over the course of 5-7 nights.

By: Parenting Desk | New Delhi |
September 20, 2021 6:57:17 pm
Night weaning, night feeds, night feeds for your baby, breastfeeding baby, feeding baby at night, night feeding habit, parenting, indian express newsThe main key to success is making sure your child gets enough to eat during the day so that they are less interested in snacking at night. (Photo: Getty/Thinkstock)

By Dr Suresh Gowda

Night weaning is for your baby to wake up in the middle of the night to eat. You will have the first feed or bottle after waking up in the morning, feed or drink a few bottles during the day, and the last feed or bottle shortly before bedtime. It is normal for babies to gradually stay away from feeding at night, as their stomachs may hold more food with the growing age.

From a developmental perspective, babies can sleep all night when they are four to six months old, which is defined as six to eight hours without eating. At this age, most babies weigh 12 to 13 pounds, and they no longer need to metabolise their weight during the night. When your baby reaches the right age and weight, you can decide exactly when to stop feeding at night. Some parents start when they think it’s time to get back to sleep, while other parents watch their babies for signs, such as shorter feeding time every night or less frequent waking up. No matter what happens, you should get the approval of your paediatrician before you start night weaning. also know that there is no need for night weaning between four and six months. If you prefer to wait longer, or just reduce one or two shots per night, that’s okay.

Night weaning of breastfed babies

It takes time for both breastfed and bottle-fed babies to adjust to not eating at night. But if you are breastfeeding, night weaning can also adjust your body and milk supply. Few tips to help to breastfeed babies to make the transition smooth:

Make sure the child is fed enough during the day to avoid feeding at night

The more calories your child gets during the day, the fewer calories she will need at night. Breastfed babies younger than six months who have not started solid foods should eat every two to three hours during the day for a total of eight to 12 meals in a 24-hour period. After that, five to six feedings a day became the norm.

Slow down

Cutting multiple feedings overnight at one time can cause uncomfortable engorgement and increase the risk of mastitis. It can also decrease the breast milk supply. Instead, focus on feeding just once at a time: extend the time between meals or shorten the feeding time by a few minutes each night.

The pump is comfortable

If your breasts begin to feel full before bed or in the middle of the night, pumping at night can relieve some of the stress.

Night weaning bottle-fed babies

Likewise, the main key to success is making sure your child gets enough to eat during the day so that they are less interested in snacking at night. Once your baby is old enough and weighs enough to be weaned, he will typically drink 24 to 32 ounces in 24 hours. Once you start solid foods, your baby may adjust his milk intake slightly. The more ounces the child consumes while waking up, the less milk they will need to drink in the early hours of the morning.

If your baby’s feed takes longer than five minutes, you can slowly reduce the amount of time you spend feeding him over the course of 5-7 nights. This will assist your infant in acclimating to the shift.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Calculate the length of your baby’s night feed.

  • Every other night, reduce the amount of time your infant spends nursing by 2-5 minutes.

  • After each abbreviated feed, re-settle your baby using the settling techniques of your choosing.

  • Stop feeding your infant if he or she has been feeding for five minutes or less.

(The writer is Consultant Paediatrician & Neonatologist, Motherhood Hospitals, Bangalore.)

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