Night Weaning 101: A Guide to How and When to Night Wean

We understand that being a new parent involves numerous sleepless nights. Despite being warned about it, nothing can truly prepare you for the exhaustion that accompanies round-the-clock feedings, diaper changes, and midnight “parties” in the crib. Trust us, we’ve experienced it too!

Fortunately, babies won’t require overnight feedings forever, and eventually, they will undergo night weaning. In this article, we will discuss when babies typically undergo night weaning and provide you with some expert tips on how to encourage fewer night feedings. We will even offer advice on how to continue feeding your baby after they stop waking up to eat at night.

What is night weaning?

Night weaning can have different interpretations depending on the individual. Some consider their baby to have night weaned when the baby meets the technical definition of sleeping through the night, which is defined as sleeping for 6 to 8 hours straight [1], although babies may need a total of 10 to 12 hours of nighttime sleep.

Others consider their baby to have night weaned if the baby no longer wakes up for breast or bottle feedings on their own but still receives a dream feeding. And many don’t consider their child to be truly night-weaned until all feedings between bedtime and the first feeding of the day are eliminated.

For our purposes, we will consider a child to be night weaned when they have eliminated all feedings between bedtime and the first feeding of the day.

Night feeding patterns by age

Feeding requirements vary for each child. During visits to the pediatrician, you will notice the doctor monitoring your child’s progress in achieving age-appropriate milestones such as rolling over, sitting up, or crawling. Similar to these milestones, the ability to go longer without feedings overnight varies from baby to baby.

It is essential to have realistic expectations regarding what is considered normal in terms of night feedings. Attempting to eliminate night feedings too quickly or before your baby is ready can be frustrating and lead to other issues, including early waking.


Parents of newborns should anticipate frequent feedings overnight. Most babies between 0 and 2 months require regular feedings, including during the night, and may need to eat every 2 to 4 hours overnight. If your baby has a 10:00 PM bedtime and wakes up around 7:00 AM, they will likely need to be fed at least 2 to 3 times overnight. Therefore, don’t worry if your nights are filled with feedings during this stage—it’s encouraged!

3 and 4-month-olds:

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics [2], most formula-fed babies no longer require night feedings between 2 and 4 months of age. However, we have observed that as babies approach 4 months old, some are ready to consolidate their sleep but are not yet prepared to give up night feedings without sacrificing sleep. Many 4-month-old babies still require 2 to 3 night feedings to sleep comfortably for 10 to 12 hours at night.

One reason why many babies continue to need night feedings at this stage is that nights are now “longer” than when they were newborns. Since newborns nap frequently, their overall nighttime sleep is not as long as that of older babies. By 4 months, babies have earlier bedtimes and, consequently, longer overnight sleep. Another reason why babies at this age still benefit from night feedings is their increased mobility and activity.

Although a small percentage of babies under 5 months may be ready for night weaning, it is uncommon for babies younger than 6 months to sleep through the night without a feeding [3]. Babies gradually give up night feedings as they start consuming solids, consume more milk during the day, and achieve developmental milestones that promote adult-like sleep.

5 months and older:

After 5 months, many babies can go for a 5 to 6-hour stretch without a night feed if they haven’t already undergone night weaning. Once the “seal is broken,” so to speak, you can expect a shorter stretch (around 2 to 3 hours) before your baby is ready for another overnight feeding. Between 7 and 8 months, the majority of babies require just one feeding overnight, if any. By 9 months, many babies have completely stopped night feedings. Remember, every baby is unique, so embrace their individual sleep journey.

When to start night weaning

Around 6 to 7 months of age, as your baby begins eating solid foods and their growth rate slows down, you can start transitioning towards night weaning if it hasn’t already occurred. This might involve consolidating to 1-2 feedings first before completely night weaning. It’s important to remember that every baby is different, and they will be physically ready to night wean at their own pace. If you’re unsure whether your baby is ready, please consult with your healthcare provider.

5 tips and tricks to night wean your child

Once your little one has shown consistent patterns of age-appropriate weight gain and is past the newborn stage, here are some tips you can use to help your baby consolidate night feedings.

Tip #1: Keep your baby well-fed throughout the day!

Spacing out daytime feedings won’t automatically make your baby sleep longer at night. So go ahead and feed them regularly throughout the day to ensure they’re receiving the nourishment they need. Cluster feeding in the hours leading up to bedtime may also help satisfy your little one’s hunger.

Tip #2: Explore soothing alternatives.

Just because your baby wakes up at night doesn’t necessarily mean they are hungry. Try out other soothing techniques such as gentle rocking, singing lullabies, or offering a pacifier. Sometimes, they may need extra comfort to drift back to sleep.

Tip #3: Gradually reduce nighttime feedings.

Aim to gradually reduce the number of night feedings. This can help your baby consume less at night and shift those calories to the daytime. If bottle feeding, slowly decrease the number of ounces your baby drinks during the first overnight feeding. If breastfeeding, try shortening the duration of nighttime feedings by 1-2 minutes each night until it becomes more of a snack than a full meal.

Tip #4: Delay night feedings.

Increasing the time between feedings can help decrease the overall number of night feeds. If you’re feeding multiple times during the night, work on extending the time between feedings until the last feeding merges with the morning feeding. For example, if your baby usually wakes up every 2 hours to eat, start by stretching the interval to 2.5 hours the first night, then 3 hours the next night, and so on.

If your baby wakes up before it’s time to feed them, try soothing them in other ways until the designated feeding time or until they fall back asleep. This will help their body adjust to longer intervals between feedings. If you’re unable to settle your baby, go ahead and feed them after 30 minutes. You can try again the following night to increase the time between feedings.

Tip #5: Encourage independent sleep.

While feeding your baby to sleep is not a problem, it can create an association between feeding and falling asleep, which may disrupt their sleep at night. This means that when your baby wakes up during the night, they are more likely to seek a feeding to fall back asleep [4] instead of settling on their own. Helping your baby learn to fall asleep at bedtime without assistance can reduce night wakings and feedings caused by sleep associations. Note that we would not expect hunger-related awakenings to be reduced.

Bonus tip for breastfeeding parents: As you gradually consolidate night feedings, allow your body time to adjust and continue offering plenty of daytime feedings to meet your baby’s needs. If you’re breastfeeding, you might find it helpful to pump or express milk before bedtime, during the night, or after the first feeding of the day to help regulate your milk supply.

How long does night weaning take?

What works for one baby may not work for another. Likewise, what works for one mother may not work for another. You might prefer and find more success with a gradual approach, while another mother could achieve the same success with a cold turkey technique. If your baby is truly ready to night wean, a gradual approach could take a few weeks, while stopping altogether at once may take a few days. However, night weaning is a highly individualized process for babies, so your little one may reach that point at a slower or faster pace.

If your child doesn’t seem to be responding well to night weaning, they may not be ready yet. In that case, you might want to ease up or revisit the process in a few weeks. You can always seek advice from your baby’s pediatrician on recognizing your child’s readiness and obtaining effective tips for transitioning from their regular routine to night weaning.


Night weaning is a gradual process, and it’s about finding what works best for you and your baby. Every child is different, and they will reach their milestones at their own pace. So take it slow, observe your baby’s cues, and let them guide you on this journey to better sleep.

Remember, you’re doing an amazing job as a parent, and soon those sleepless nights will become a distant memory. Cherish these precious moments with your little one, and be assured that better sleep is on the horizon.

Night Weaning FAQ

Q: What is the appropriate age for night weaning?

The appropriate age for night weaning varies depending on your child’s individual needs. Partial night weaning commonly begins after the newborn period or around 4 months. The average age for night weaning is between 6 to 8 months [3]. Very few babies continue to require night feedings after 12 months.

Q: Is night weaning a gradual process or done cold turkey?

Night weaning can be approached gradually by spacing out or reducing night feedings. Dropping night feedings abruptly (cold turkey) is more challenging and may result in extended periods of crying.

Q: Does weaning a baby help them sleep through the night?

When night feedings are excessive or more frequent than what is appropriate for their age, night weaning can help babies sleep through the night. Often, babies need support in shifting their calorie intake from nighttime to daytime and benefit from more frequent feedings during the day.

Q: How does night weaning work?

Night weaning involves parents encouraging fewer nighttime feedings. It’s important to maintain any nighttime feedings that are necessary for a baby’s growth and set realistic expectations for how long they can go without eating during the night.

Q: Is it okay to breastfeed a 1-year-old at night?

While most breastfed babies are physically ready to be night weaned by 1 year old, breastfeeding mothers may choose to continue nursing at night to support their personal breastfeeding goals.

Q: Can I give my baby water instead of milk at night?

Babies should not be given anything other than breast milk or formula until they are at least 6 months old [5], unless advised by a healthcare provider. After 6 months, babies can start having sips of water during the day and with meals. Water is not a suitable replacement for breast milk or formula.

Q: What is the core night method?

The core night refers to the period of sleep in which your baby tends to sleep the longest without waking. For many babies, their core sleep occurs during the first few hours after falling asleep at bedtime. The core night method focuses on consolidating feedings during the first half of the night (or during the baby’s core night sleep) before addressing early morning feedings.

Q: Does comfort nursing count as feeding?

Whether your baby wakes up for comfort nursing or a full feeding overnight, both are considered true night feedings in the context of night weaning. Even with their eyes closed, babies can consume a significant amount of milk. Only when there is no visible or audible swallowing is it considered comfort nursing.

Q: What is the easiest age to night wean?

The easiest age to night wean varies from baby to baby. However, many parents find that around 6 to 9 months of age is a relatively smooth period for night weaning, as babies have started eating solid foods and their nighttime feeding needs may decrease.

Q: How do I start weaning my night feedings?

To start weaning night feedings, you can gradually reduce the number of nighttime feedings or gradually decrease the amount of time spent feeding during those sessions. For example, if your baby wakes up twice to feed, you can try reducing it to once a night, then gradually eliminate that feeding as well. Alternatively, you can try extending the time between nighttime feedings to gradually reduce their frequency.

Q: When should I stop breastfeeding at night?

The decision of when to stop breastfeeding at night is personal and depends on your and your baby’s needs. Some parents choose to continue breastfeeding at night beyond the first year, while others may decide to gradually reduce and eliminate nighttime breastfeeding earlier. It’s important to consider your baby’s developmental stage, overall health, and individual feeding habits when making this decision. Consulting with a lactation consultant or healthcare provider can provide personalized guidance.

Q: How do I stop breastfeeding at night cold turkey?

Stopping breastfeeding at night cold turkey means abruptly ceasing all nighttime breastfeeding sessions. This approach may be more challenging for both you and your baby, as it can disrupt established routines and may result in increased resistance or crying. It’s generally recommended to gradually reduce nighttime feedings rather than stopping abruptly. However, if you choose to stop cold turkey, be prepared for potential difficulties and seek support from your healthcare provider or a lactation consultant to manage any engorgement or discomfort.


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