Today I want to touch briefly on when to keep night feeds.
Yes, you read that correctly. Not when to cut them out, but when to keep them.
As a sleep consultant, I talk a lot about night feeds with clients, and each client has a different idea as to how to manage when the night feeds occur, and how many.
So today, I wanted to share my criteria for why I would suggest to parents to keep a night feed, so here goes!
1) Your baby's age
Can a newborn sleep through the night? Yes, yes absolutely.
Do many newborns not sleep through the night? Umm, yes, yes absolutely.
Age is a factor when considering when to cut out a night feed. We don't intentionally cut out night feeds for newborns (0-12 weeks) though sometimes it happens on its own.
If your baby is six months and under, we will often keep a night feed.
For a few reasons:
They aren't ready yet to go 12 hours without a feed
Bedtime feed may not always be as full as expected
If they wake up in the early morning and feel hungry it's super difficult for them to go back to sleep at that time
They aren't getting all of their calories in the daytime (and that's normal)
So if your baby is six months and under, it's okay to keep a night feed.
I usually suggest to parents to consider cutting out night feeds at 6-months, and strongly encourage between 7-8 months.
As mentioned above, your baby may not be getting 100% of their calories in the daytime. Though of course, eventually, that's what we want.
In the meantime, to help your baby get more of their calories in the daytime, you want to see if you can fit in another feed or two throughout the day AND make sure their bedtime feed is stellar.
Does your baby take a bottle? Great! Pump (if pumping) in the morning to get a nighttime top-up bottle ready.
A top-up bottle after a bedtime feed is an awesome way to help your baby feel more full at night.
Baby doesn't take a bottle? That's okay!!
By allowing enough time between their evening and their bedtime feed, it will help them be ready to have a better bedtime feed.
How much time? Usually 2-3 hours:)
The general 'rule' with us consultants is 15 lbs.
If your baby is under 15 lbs, they probably still need a nighttime feed.
If they are over 15 lbs, they are more likely to be successful in sleeping for longer stretches and possibly sleep all night without a feed.
When it comes to keeping a night feed, we like to look at your baby's age, weight and how their daytime feeds are going. Some newborn babies do sleep for long stretches all on their own, as a consultant though, I don't push newborns to do that.
When a baby is under 15 lbs, and is struggling with some daytime feeds, keeping one night feed can be a relief for parents as they know their baby will get enough calories in 24 hours.
There are babies that aren't totally ready to go all night, and that's okay! My general recommendation is to cut out night feeds between 6-8 months. I always like to say that if your baby's nighttime sleep isn't great, and they are still having multiple feeds, working on their sleep skills is the way to go!
If your child has a medical condition or your doctor has suggested keeping a night feed for whatever reason, then please follow their direction! Having trouble managing your child's poor sleep? Don't worry, I'm here to help! Click here to get in touch!
Here for you, Melody Patton