When to Drop a Feeding. How to know when to drop one of your baby’s feedings and how to go about doing it.
As your baby grows, she will take fewer feedings in a 24 hour period. A one month old might eat ten times a day, but a 12 month old eats 3-4 times a day.
That means feeding will be dropped along the way. This is referred to as a merge in newer versions of On Becoming Babywise.
When you drop a feeding, or merge feedings, you don’t decrease the amount of food your baby eats. You rearrange it. More gets taken in during fewer feedings.
You might start to drop ounces (or baby will take less during breastfeeding sessions) as more solids are eaten.
There are three ways described in On Becoming Babywise (affiliate) to drop a feeding:
- Dropping the middle of the night feeding. This usually happens between weeks seven and nine–though it is perfectly normal to be later! Some babies drop it altogether, while others gradually stretch it out. By this I mean your baby was eating at 2 AM. Then moves toward 3 AM, etc. If you have a “stretcher,” see this post: 5-6 AM Night Wakings. There are some who don’t go by the book. Don’t worry if your child is one of these. It doesn’t mean you are doing anything wrong or that you are a bad mom or that your baby is difficult. It just means your baby is one of those babies described in Babywise: “not all babies go by the book” (page 124). See How to Drop a Night Feed for more strategies.
- Dropping the “Dreamfeed” or “late evening feeding.” Babywise says this typically happens around three months old. My daughter didn’t drop it until six months old. For more on dropping the dreamfeed, see: Dropping the “Dream Feed.”
- Extending your routine. This is moving to a 3.5 or 4 hour routine. In this case, a daytime feeding will usually be dropped. Baby is usually ready to move to a 3-4 hour routine between three and four months, but there is no rush to get there. For more on this, see: When to Move to a 4 hour Schedule. You can also read Baby Whisperer: Four Hour Schedule.
I have listed these in the order they should be dropped.
First, the middle of the night. Then the “dreamfeed.” You want to make sure to drop the feedings in the night before dropping any daytime feedings.
You want baby to consume needed calories during the day and not night, and if you drop night feeds before day feeds, baby will still need to wake at night.
Finally, you drop daytime feeds as you extend the schedule.
If baby was eating every three hours a day and is now eating every four hours a day, then there will be fewer feedings each day.
Be sure your baby is ready to do these things–don’t force it. If you wonder what ages your child should be doing things, be sure to see: Babywise Milestones or Your Babywise Baby: First Year Overview.
- Emily said…
Hi,Question for you (long, sorry!)I have been weaning my daugher off of night feedings. She was not eating well during the day, so my pediatrician recommended diluting her bottle each night slowly over the course of a few weeks (ie putting less formula in the same amount of water) until she was just on water, and then when she was making it through the night on that, cutting out the water and letting her CIO.I’ve been doing this for 2 weeks, and was down to 1 ounce of formula in a diluted bottle. Well, my helpful husband got up just now at 2 am when she was crying and gave her a full strength 8 ounce bottle. I won’t even get into how irritated I am, but I’m wondering what your advice would be on what to do next. Should I start all over from 8 ounces and work my way down to 1 AGAIN? Or since I KNOW she’ll make it through the night on just 1, should I just go back to the 1? The other issue is that since she had that full bottle tonight she probably won’t eat well tomorrow and will need a night feeding again tomorrow night….ugggIt’s 3 am, sorry if I’m rambling. Thanks for your help 🙂
October 10, 2008 12:44 AM
Emily, I would just go back to 1 unless she eats so terribly today that you need to offer her a bit more. That is good advice for dropping the night feeding.
October 10, 2008 2:44 PM
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