Friday, May 5, 2017

Night Feed Dilemmas

How to End Night Feeds


Your baby is over 6 months, growing well and you have received the go ahead from your child’s doctor that they do not need to eat during the night – great!  But now that you and your baby are ready, how do go about this daunting task?

It is helpful to create a nighttime weaning plan so that you know exactly what to do and you’re not trying to make decisions at 2:00 am when your not thinking clearly.

If your plan is to stop feeding altogether at night, you may want to consider these options below depending on if you are bottle or breast feeding.

“Cold turkey”

Which means that you do not feed at all during the night.  You may respond to your child’s night awakenings but not with feedings.  This is typically the hardest for baby’s as they still wake hungry until their body adapts.  So not my first choice unless we are talking about a toddler or pre-schooler.

“Reduction Bottles”

With this method you have two options. 

Option 1: Reduce the ounces of each bottle, at one time, until you get to 2 oz, then you stop that bottle until you end all feeds.  You have gradually reduced the total amount of calories your child takes in at night, so that hopefully they tolerate the change a bit easier.  This method is great for a child that wakes on a fairly regular night schedule and drinks a fairly consistent amount at each night feed.

Example: Sue takes 2 x 4 oz bottle at night.

Sue’s Reduction Plan
Bottle 1
Bottle 2
Baseline
4
4
Night 1
4
3
Night 2
3
3
Night 3
3
2
Night 4
2
2
Night 5
2
0
Night 6
0
0

Option 2: Reduce the total intake at night to just one feeding for 3 nights.  For three nights, feed one bottle (offer the typical amount of ounces that the child would take during the day) and then no feeding on the fourth night and beyond.  This method is great for a child that wakes sporadically at night and doesn’t eat a consistent amount each night.

Example: Joey takes 4 oz bottle during the day, but doesn’t take a consistent amount of bottles at night.

Joey Reduction Plan
Bottle 
Baseline
4
Night 1
3
Night 2
2
Night 3
2
Night 4
0


“Reduction Breast Feeding”

If breastfeeding you can use one of the options and schedules outlined above, but with breastfeeding you gradually shorten each feeding session.  You may find this difficult, as you must watch the clock and be disciplined in the middle of the night.  One alternative is to switch to bottle feeding at night and use the reduction method above.

Example: Maddie wakes at 1am for a feed.  She typically nurses for 10min at this one waking.  Mom would time the feed and unlatch Maddie on the schedule below.

Maddie Reduction Plan 
Breast Feeding Minutes
Baseline
10
Night 1
8
Night 2
6
Night 3
4
Night 4
3-2
Night 5
0

“Get the other parent involved”

This method can work well for breastfeeding Moms and also once you have stopped the feedings from any of the methods.  Your child will be comforted back to sleep but without feeding.

4 Things That Will Make You Successful


1) Ensure your child goes into their sleeping space at bedtime relaxed but awake, you must not feed to sleep at bedtime if you want your child to sleep through the night.

2) Consistency - You must respond the same way, to each night waking except when feeding (depending on the choice above). This consistency will help the baby adjust.

3) Patience - This is a learning process, not an event. We all know learning something new is hard and takes time so patience is key. Give your child at least two weeks to adjust to the new plan.

4) United Front - Mom and Dad have to be on the same page and respond the same way to each night waking or your baby will be confused by the different responses or inconsistency.

Sweet Dreams!

Written by: Michelle S. Donaghy