Around the time they reach six months old some babies feed less at night.
If your baby is showing signs of cutting down their feeds, we've got some tips to make the transition a happy one for you both.
At a glance
- When babies get to around six months, they don’t really need to be fed at night
- If you’re breastfeeding, give your baby a shorter time on the breast each night over a week or two
- Ask your health visitor for advice if you’re finding it hard going
All babies are different and some may continue to wake up for milk at night up until they hit the toddler stage - or beyond!
You may be quite happy with this, but you may also want to have a good night's sleep.
Experts also say it’s better for babies’ developing brains and bodies to get a decent stretch of sleep at night – so it’s not you being selfish wanting them to sleep through!
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When babies get to around six months, they'll be less likely to feed as much at night especially as they’re beginning to enjoy solids food in the day.
There is no right or wrong time to stop night feeds. It tends to happen gradually as your baby begins to eat more solid food but breastfeeding still protects them, provides the nutrients they need and there's some evidence that it helps babies to digest solid foods.
If your baby is showing signs of needing less feeds at night over a few days you may want to try these tips. But, don't worry if your little one isn't yet ready to sleep through - it's still very common to wake after the age of six months for a breast or formula feed.
- Take it gradually and gently... If you’re breastfeeding, give your baby a shorter time on the breast each night over a week or two until it is cut down to almost none; they may then feel there is no point waking up at night
- It’s time for Dad to step up. If you’re breastfeeding, your baby will associate you with food and will smell your milk when you try to settle them down. Try sending your partner in when your baby wakes as he may have more joy settling them
- If you’re bottle-feeding, try putting the milk in a smaller bottle and gradually cut it down until it’s not really worth waking up for.
- Give loads of reassurance and gentle ‘shushing’ when you or your partner go in to settle your baby, but don’t chat as it will wake them further. You may have to go in several times the first night or two, but after that they will probably adapt quite quickly and the third night is often the game-changer
- If your baby is a bit older, you or your partner can repeat quietly, ‘shhh, it’s time for sleep now’, and gently pat and comfort them. They may not understand your words, but your presence will reassure them
- Consistency is the key. Try not to go back to old habits as this will confuse your baby. But if they get a cold or are ill, you may have to go back to night-feeding for a while, as they may not be able to feed enough during the day
- If you’ve just gone back to work or there are other changes happening in your baby’s life, take it extra gently: you may want to wait until everything else has settled down.