- There are always exceptions to this, if you’re unsure then you should check with your doctor.
- Growth spurts are an exception and you should feed your baby as they need during these. Growth spurts can last up to a week.
How can I tell if my baby still needs night feeds?
If your baby is still feeding through the night, and you suspect they are feeding more than necessary for their age, ask yourself these questions to determine if it is a genuine need for food, for comfort, or a habitual waking.
Are they eating enough during the day? Often if they are taking too many feeds at night, this means they will take on less during the day. If you think this could be the case, you may need to look at transferring these nighttime calories into the day (therefore needing less during the night). Make sure you are feeding your baby every 3-4 hours during the day (wake them if you need to), so they get in all their calories during the day and therefore require less over night.
Are they using you as a dummy? What I mean by this is if your baby takes the breast or bottle during the night and will suck for only a couple of minutes before falling back asleep while feeding, then they probably weren’t hungry and they simply wanted the comfort of the breast/bottle in order to go back to sleep.
Are they waking out of true hunger or out of habit? If your baby takes a decent feed during the night, and then easily falls back asleep after their feeding, it is likely to be true hunger and they need this feed. However, if your baby takes a feed, but then takes a long time to fall back asleep afterwards, this is likely to be a habitual night waking and not due to hunger.
My baby doesn’t require food in the night so why aren’t they sleeping through the night?
There could be numerous reasons why your baby may not be sleeping through the night; however, here are 3 of the most common contributing factors.
1. Daytime schedule – quite often if your child’s daytime sleep and bedtime schedule is not appropriate for their age, this can lead to unnecessary night wakings and can leave you wondering why this is happening. Daytime sleep and nighttime sleep go hand-in-hand, so you need good daytime sleep in order to get consolidated sleep overnight.
2. Ability to self-settle – If your baby is unable to self-settle and fall asleep independently at bedtime, this will make it much harder for them to put themselves back to sleep when they transition through nighttime sleep cycles. Your baby may have a sleep association that is preventing them from self-settling. These can include things like rocking or feeding to sleep, or using a swing or stroller.
3. Your approach to night wakings – another big factor that can contribute to habitual night wakings, is how you approach the night wakings and respond to your baby. If you find you are changing your approach night after night, this can send a confused message to your baby, meaning they don’t know when and how they should be putting themselves back to sleep. Consistency in your approach is always key.
As you can see, there can be multiple reasons why your baby may still wake during the night. Here at Sweet Dreams we can help you get to the source of the problem and provide tailored advice and specific solutions for your situation. We can help you:
- Determine what could be contributing to your baby’s night wakings,
- Ensure your baby’s daytime routine is age appropriate and not contributing to night wakings
- Teach your baby how to self-settle
- Provide advice on the best way to cut out unnecessary night feeds
- Provide you with settling and sleep training methods which are suited to your baby and family
- Implement your sleep plan, supporting you every step of the way!
If you’d like specific advice regarding night feedings, wakings, or would like help getting your child sleeping through the night then just email Sweet Dreams by clicking here
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