Various parents have differing opinions regarding night feeding. Similar differences occur even in the opinions of the pediatricians and experts. Some experts suggest that babies do not require night feeding after they are 3-months old as opposed to others who suggest that babies must be fed at night till they are nine months.
So, let us now explore this query in depth and understand night feeding for infants at different ages.
When can babies sleep through the night without eating?
Most of the full-term and healthy newborn can sleep without a night feeding after they are six months old. In fact, most of these babies can continue sleeping for six hours at a stretch in night without needing any feeding. And most importantly, this is the best time for mothers to start weaning off babies night feeding, even if she is ok with waking up at night to feed the baby.
Moreover, the baby will start showing several signs of readiness for the weaning, like:
- Shorter nursing intervals required
- Falling to sleep during feeding only
- Not finishing his regular milk bottle, etc.
When can you stop waking your baby to feed at night?
The good news is that you will need to frequently feed your baby and wake him up for feeding at night only for 2-3 weeks or so. The active signs that show that the baby can wait even longer for night feedings are,
- He has exceeded his birth weight
- His weight is continuously climbing at a healthy speed.
If baby shows these signs then you can start feeding him on demand.
How long should I let my newborn sleep without eating?
This concern is posed by a lot of mothers. One should remember that it is the most vital age for the baby and food taken at this stage will build a strong foundation for the future. So make sure that you feed your baby in every 4-5 hours. And in some cases, babies tend to take longer naps of around 6-8 hours without eating. Even this is ok but remembers to nurse your baby well when he’s finally awake.
Do formula fed babies sleep better at night?
A lot of parents these days have become pro-formula milk and suggests others that it helps babies to sleep better at night. The answer would be different for every baby. Some babies find formula to be too heavy on stomach and others might get a longer sleep with formula. But, still breastfeed might be a more preferable choice because,
- Breast milk is easier on baby’s stomach
- Prolactin levels are higher at night and breastfeeding at night keeps the breast supply strong
- Formula may give longer sleep and it may increase the chances of SIDS.
- Unintentional weaning of babies might take place.
How to make babies sleep through night without eating
Pediatricians advice mothers to train their babies to sleep themselves without eating in middle of the night. And here is a list of certain important steps that mothers can follow to provide such training,
- Train the baby to eat more during the day: Try to encourage your baby to eat more during the daytime. Because more he eats in daytime, lesser hungry will he be at night. Also make sure that they eat enough in daytime by taking scheduled intervals of eating without any distractions.
- Make a bedtime routine: This may include giving bath, singing songs, changing nappies; massaging etc that can make it clear to child that night is for sleeping. Also remember that this bedtime routine must not be too long or else child would become active again.
- Teach your baby on how to differentiate between night and day: To teach this, you can make the daytime feeding little spirited and cheerful and night time can be quiet and peaceful.
- Extremely less stimulation at night: Make sure that you keep your room dark at night. Even if baby wakes up for feeding, do not switch on the lights and use the dim night lamps only to change the diapers if the baby is fussing too much.