Getting your baby to sleep through the night may seem like mission impossible, but parents will often do whatever it takes to get them there. You get that your baby wakes up when they need you, but are all those middle of the night feedings necessary? Some parents consider eliminating night feedings in hopes of getting a fuss-free night and some uninterrupted snoozing, but will night weaning help your baby sleep through the night?
The first step is figuring out whether or not your baby is even ready to wean off of those nighttime feedings. According to The Baby Sleep Site, because all babies are different, the age at which they are ready to night wean will differ, too. The website noted that generally newborns feed every two to three hours, and babies from 3 months to 6 months of age will feed two to three times per night, with fewer night feedings as they get older. There are a few signs that indicate your baby is ready, the website further explained, like if you notice your baby is not eating enough during the day, is waking at night out of habit instead of hunger, or has started eating solids. In these cases, they may be ready to give up that night feeding.
Now whether or not night weaning truly helps babies sleep through the night is up for debate. Some experts, like pediatrician Richard Ferber, explained Baby Center, believe that night feedings are disruptive to babies’ sleep habits, so weaning at night will help them sleep more peacefully. But experts like pediatrician William Sears, the article noted, believe that night feedings are beneficial as long as they aren’t too disruptive to the family, and he encourages co-sleeping in order to keep those night feedings easier. It’s important to remember that if your baby is teething, gassy, has a wet diaper, or is a high needs child, they may still get up during the night, whether you wean them or not.
International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) Katy Linda tells Romper that some babies will sleep through if you wean, but there are many that won't. "Night weaning does not necessarily mean more sleep," she says, so while it may be a solution for some, it may not be a comprehensive solution for all families.
If you decide that night weaning is the right choice for your baby, and are ready to get some much needed sleep, with a little time and patience, you should get there. To ease your baby off the night feedings, Kelly Mom suggested maximizing your feedings throughout the day, and avoid feeding your baby hard-to-digest solids in the late evening, which can cause digestive issues that may wake them up. If they do wake during the night, Kelly Mom suggested trying other soothing measures like humming, cuddling, rubbing their back, or getting them a drink of water in order to calm them back to sleep.
If you have any concerns or questions about night weaning, you should talk to your pediatrician. They can help you figure out whether or not your baby is ready and can help you come up with an individualized approach that’s best suited for your baby, based on their growth and development. If you are able to get your baby to sleep through the night, then enjoy. Babies are finicky creatures, and it may not last long.