By Centre for Community Child Health
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If you’re trying to get your baby to sleep longer during the night, an important step is phasing out night feeds.
Baby sleeping soundly on her back
 

When to phase out night feeds

From six months of age, babies who are developing well no longer need midnight snacks for their health or growth. This means it’s OK to think about phasing out your child’s night feeds.

But if you’re comfortable with continuing 24-hour room service, there’s no hurry to phase out night feeds.

When the time is right for you, here’s what you can do to help your baby make the transition away from night feeds. 

Breastfed babies

If your baby’s night-time feed is short (less than five minutes), consider stopping the feed altogether and re-settling your baby with the settling techniques of your choice. Note that it might take baby several nights to get used to the new routine.

If your baby’s feed is typically longer than five minutes, you can gradually cut down the time you spend feeding over 5-7 nights. This will help your baby get used to the change gradually.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Time the length of your baby’s usual night feed.
  2. Cut down on the time your baby spends feeding by 2-5 minutes every second night. For example, if your baby usually feeds for 15 minutes, you would feed for 13 minutes for two nights, then 11 minutes for the next two nights, then 9 minutes for the next two nights, and so on.
  3. Re-settle your baby after each shortened feed with the settling techniques of your choice.
  4. Once your baby is feeding for five minutes or less, stop the feed altogether.

If you choose, you can cut down the time faster – for example, by five minutes every two nights. 

Bottle-fed babies

If your baby is having 60 ml of milk or less during a night feed, you can stop the feed altogether and re-settle your baby with the settling techniques of your choice. 

If your baby’s feed is more than 60 ml each night, you can gradually cut down on the amount your baby drinks over 5-7 nights.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Reduce the volume of milk by 20-30 ml every second night. For example, if your baby usually drinks 180 ml, you would give 150 ml for two nights, then 120 ml for the next two nights, and so on.
  2. Re-settle your baby after each smaller feed with the settling techniques of your choice.
  3. Once you get down to 60 ml or less in the bottle, stop the feed altogether.

You might notice that your baby begins to feed more during the day after you stop the night feed. This improvement in daytime appetite could take another week to settle in.

For more information on settling techniques, see our article on changing your baby’s sleep pattern.
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