Well this is the million dollar question right?!
The truth is that you’re going to get a tonne of different answers from loads of sleep experts and well-meaning friends and family which will drive you crazy insane and frozen in fear of doing the wrong thing and potentially starving your baby.
Do you know what? I can’t actually think of a single family that I’ve worked with over the last 7 years (nearly 1500 one to one clients) that haven’t been feeding their child enough! It’s your maternal or paternal instinct to look after your child and meet their needs and feeding is the first thing you do from when they’re born so it’s highly unlikely, you’re going to leave them hungry!
Please understand that I never ask a family to night wean, it is always their choice. I create an age-appropriate feeding strategy, help support their baby to fall asleep more independently and then we let that baby show us what they’re capable of. They either maintain the appropriate feeds or drop them as they no longer rely on it to get to sleep.
But here’s what I’ve seen repeatedly with the all the babies that I’ve worked over the year and the clever (often subtle) signs they give us, to indicate they’re ready to go through the night without a feed.
- Baby wakes in the night and is breastfed. Baby falls back to sleep very quickly (within 5 mins) after latching and does appear to drink very much. This may not happen as much with bottle feeding as the connection isn’t the same as the breast and, they can chug a bottle!
- Baby is waking in the night to feed but the feed time has got later and later, heading towards the 5am mark consistently.
- Baby is feeding in the night, perhaps between 3 – 5am and just isn’t interested in their morning feed or breakfast for a while after they’ve woken up.
I use these indicators as well as age, health and family input to decide whether that baby might be ready to go through.
I hope this helps and if you have a question you want to submit? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the title PARENT QUESTION and the question in the body.
See you next time