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  • Joanna Shtrosberg

A newborn baby has a tiny stomach and therefore requires regular, small feeds. But as your baby grows, they are able to take in larger feeds and the gap between those feeds begins to lengthen as the milk fills them up and satisfies them. Eventually, your baby will make it through the night with just one final feed before bed. Night weaning is something that many parents aim for. But how do you know when your baby is ready to stop feeding at night?


No parent wants their child to be hungry. It is very important to respond to your child’s nutritional needs during the night to ensure that they grow and thrive. Most babies will require night feeds until they are at least 6 months and some continue to need night feeds for longer. The weight of your child and the amount of milk they are taking in during the day are important factors in their ability to sleep through the night. Until a baby weans and becomes established on solid foods, it is unlikely that they will get through the whole night without at least one feed if not more. It is important to remember that every child is different, so don’t make the mistake of comparing your baby to your friends’ babies and how they are sleeping.


When babies start weaning they may start sleeping longer through the night

The World Health Organisation (WHO) advises that a baby should be introduced to solid foods from the age of 6 months. This process is called weaning. One of the benefits you might notice in your child, is that it often results in better and more prolonged sleep. This is because solid food will satisfy your child better compared to lighter milk feeds. Once your child is on 3 meals a day together with milk snacks, they are more likely to go through the night without needing a night feed. However, this is not the case for all babies and it is perfectly normal for children to continue to need a night feed even after they are established on solids.

How do I know that my child is ready to stop their night feeds?

A hungry child will need to be fed at night.  If you are bottle feeding it is relatively easy to monitor how much they drink at night. So, you will have an idea if they are hungry or not.  If they regularly wake up only to drink a minimal amount and then fall asleep in your arms, it’s likely that the feed was not necessary and that they were looking for a comfort cuddle instead.

Breastfeeding mothers can time how long their child is actively sucking on the breast, as this is a good indicator of hunger.  If you observe that your child’s sucking slows down quickly and they fall asleep on the breast, it’s likely they are using you as a comforting presence.

It may be that your child can reduce their night feeds without eliminating them completely.  For example, it’s possible that your 9-month-old baby may still need a single night feed, but waking you four times during the night to feed is probably unnecessary.  In this case, you may want to consider giving your child a dream feed at a time that suits you.  To dream feed, you simply choose a time to feed your sleeping baby rather than waiting for them to wake up to demand a feed. Many babies stay in a light sleep whilst dream feeding although some will wake up. Dream feeds don’t work for every baby, but when they do, they can be a great help.  It’s worth giving it a try for a few nights to see if it works for you. 


Don’t forget that it’s perfectly possible that your child is simply thirsty rather than hungry during the night.  If your baby is over 6 months, you might want to offer them a drink of water, particularly on warm nights.

How to stop feeding at night

Babies can night feed for comfort instead of hunger.

Once you are fully comfortable and ready to stop feeding at night, you’ll need to consider how to go about it. There are a few options available to you.  Firstly, you want to break the feed-to-sleep association.  That means, if your child is used to needing milk to get to sleep, then your first step is to start breaking that association.  At bedtime, when you offer your child their last milk feed before bed, don’t allow them to fall asleep on the breast or with the bottle.  If you notice they are getting sleepy, take them off the breast or take the bottle away.  Then, when they wake during the night, offer them support (if they need it) but don’t offer a feed. If you’re breastfeeding, it can help sending your partner in to comfort your child if they wake up at night as sometimes the scent of mum can make your child want to feed. 

Night waking

Of course, remember that your child may be waking at night for all kinds of reasons other than hunger. If you are struggling to achieve a good sleep routine for your child, then Sleep Superstars can help. We support parents by providing sleep welfare packages for babies aged from 6-36 months. Our packages are designed to include only the information that is relevant to your child. After choosing your package and completing our online questionnaire, your sleep package will be ready instantly. And for a fraction of the cost of a traditional baby sleep consultant. You will also get access to our unique resource – the Sleep Support Hub, which is full of tools, FAQs and problem-solvers. To find out how it works, see here or view our testimonials.

Joanna Shtrosberg
Joanna is a certified level 6 holistic sleep consultant and founder of Sleep Superstars. Her vision is to help parents navigate the challenges of parenthood by helping them and their children get the sleep they need. Before setting up Sleep Superstars, Joanna graduated from Cambridge University and the College of Law after which she practised in the legal profession for several years. She is also a mother to two young boys so fully understands the difficulties in balancing a career with family life.