When to drop your little ones overnight feed?

Before I start, I would like to highlight that EVERY baby and EVERY family is different. What works for your little one, may not work for another.

When to drop the overnight feed is a question I get asked daily. You cannot purely go on age, size, and/or gender! I have little ones sleeping through the night without a feed from 8-to-12 weeks, and I also have 8-to-12-month old’s still requiring a feed overnight.

What is the definition of ‘sleeping through the night’?

Is it 6 hours, 8 hours, or 12 hours without a feed? Some say their little one sleeps through the night because they wake them to feed, dreamfeed, or they feed and go straight back to sleep – so in their parents eyes they have ‘slept through the night’.

Some say its 6 or 8 hours without a feed. Others believe sleeping through the night is 12 hours 6pm to 6am or 7pm to 7am.

Whatever your definition is – every baby, and every family is different.

Most little ones will organically get there without intervention!

For this blog we are going to go with ‘sleeping through the night’ is minimum 8 hours overnight without a feed AND your baby is older than 6 months of age.

If feeding your little one overnight is working for you then keep feeding them. If it isn’t a problem it does not need to be fixed!

If you are exhausted and feel like your little one is ready to drop those night feeds here are some indictors that your little way may be ready to sleep through the night without a feed.

Your little one is thriving!

There has been no concern with their weight gain or development.

Over 6 months of age

Your baby is self settling for all sleeps!

Poor feeds/appetite/food intake during the day. Feeding overnight can have a huge impact on your little one’s day intake because they are filling up overnight!. If this is happening, before you drop the overnight feeds, consider dropping one (or two) overnight feeds to encourage the majority of their calorie intake to be consumed during the day.

The cry is a big indicator. Waking screaming and distressed v’s starting off with a grumble and then building to a continual cry without settling. Waking distressed usually indicates waking and unable to link cycles caused by falling asleep somewhere very different to where they initially went to sleep or needing a feed/suck to go back to sleep/link cycles. Waking and grumbling then building to a cry usually indicates they are hungry and trying to arouse a human to come and feed them. A common mistake parents can make is jumping up to feed their little one as soon as they hear them! Babies do not have any social skills! They do not know that making noise at 2am, as they cycle through sleep cycles, is not socially acceptable. If you hear your little one and they are not distressed, hold tight. Give them a chance to go back to sleep – they probably don’t need that feed and will independently go back off to sleep themselves.

Waking due to hunger means your little one will actively feed, go back to sleep quickly and/or not waking quickly post feed.

Waking due to habit or the need to feed to go back to sleep results in a poor/difficult/part there of feed, falling asleep within minutes of the feed commencing, a difficult settle after the feed due to the stimulation given from the feed itself and/or waking under 2 hours looking for another feed (to go back to sleep).

Waking at the same time every night. This indicates there is probably a habit in play.

It is ESSENTIAL, if you have decided that your little one does not need a feed overnight then your settle is consistent.

Your settle during the day should be the same at night.

CONSISTENCY in your settle is the key for both you and your little one!

What should your settle look like? That would be based on your little ones age, temperament and personality AND parents comfort and parenting style on the settle. If you are not comfortable with the settle, then you are not going to be consistent and therefore will not follow through from beginning to end – confusing both you and your baby!

Your settle: do as much as needed but as little as possible ensuring that you only settle to calm not to sleep

* The information contained in this website is for general information purposes only. The information is provided by Parents2b and while we endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained on the website for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.