No one can properly prepare expectant parents for what it is like to wake every couple of hours throughout the night to feed their newborn.
We have all been there - all you crave is uninterrupted sleep that lasts more than just two or three hours. It’s very easy to think you will never sleep again because at the time, it truly feels that way.
I always say there is a reason sleep deprivation has been used as a form of torture throughout history.
But fear not, sleep will come again! By the time your little one is four months old, it is realistic for a parent to think their baby should be waking up to eat just one or two times a night.
However, if they are not independent sleepers (meaning they depend on parents to help them fall asleep by feeding or some other association), waking is likely happening more frequently.
If your little one is over 16-weeks adjusted age and is being fed to sleep, there is a much higher likelihood they are waking more often at night because they depend on that feeding to connect their sleep cycles.
The best way to break that habit is to teach your little one how to go to sleep independently.
This doesn’t mean you have to let them Cry It Out (CIO), all though that is one option. It means teaching your little one how to soothe themselves and connect sleep cycles on their own. And if you do choose to CIO, that doesn’t mean there is no room for night feeds.
My Sleep Training Guide to get Moore Sleep is a great resource to get your little one sleeping independently!
If your child is going to sleep independently, and no sleep association is present, it is realistic to think (as long as your pediatrician as given the ok) that night feeds should be minimal.
Following is a breakdown of the maximum number of night feeds I recommend by age.
If your little one is four to nine months and sleeping independently, but still waking more frequently than what is listed above, it is likely that their schedule may be off.
This means they might be on the wrong wake-times; not getting the correct amount of day sleep; and/or not getting the correct number of naps.
Day sleep and night sleep are so interconnected that day sleep can have a big impact on night sleep. If you are unsure of what daily sleep for your little one should look like, my Nap Guide to get Moore Sleep or my age appropriate guides will assist you with determining the best schedule.
By 10-months it is realistic to expect your little one to sleep 11 to 12 hours+ at night without a night feed, as long as solids are well established, and the pediatrician has given the ok.
If your child is waking once a night at this age and you have ruled out schedule and independent sleep as reasons why they are waking, it is time to cut the night feed!
There are several options for how to approach weaning your child from the last feed, and it all depends on your parenting style. You can stop cold turkey, or you can slowly reduce the amount you feed.
Next week, my guide to all things feeding and sleep launches! In it, I will dive deeper into night feeds, dream feeds, the feed to sleep association, and so much more!
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