How to Drop Middle of the Night Feeding

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How to Drop Middle of the Night Feeding. Different methods of night weaning to use to help baby drop that night feeding and sleep through the night.

How to Drop Middle of the Night Feeding. Different methods to use to help baby drop that night feeding and sleep through the night. 

When it is time for baby to drop the middle of the night feeding, you might be confused as to how to go about it. Here are a few options for you to choose among to drop that night feeding. You might try one method and if that doesn’t work after a few days to a week, you can try another one.

—–>>>If your baby’s night feeding is really a very early morning feeding, see my post on 5-6 AM Night Wakings.

Methods to Drop Middle of the Night Feeding

If baby is eating in the night and then not eating well for the first feeding of the day, there is a good chance baby is ready to drop that night feeding. Here are some methods of night weaning you can try.

Wait for Baby to Drop Middle of the Night Feeding

One method is to wait for baby to just drop it without any help from you. Most people start with this method, which I think is the right call. You follow your eat, wake, sleep pattern in the day. You make sure baby is taking good naps and getting enough food in the day. Get your day worked out and your night will follow.

Know that sometimes babies will sleep through the night for a night or two, then wake up for a night or two, then sleep through the night, etc. This is fairly common and not a cause for alarm. I would not worry about this until it has been going on for a week or two.

Waiting for baby to drop the middle of the night feeding on her own is the easiest method. Not all babies will just drop the feeding without any extra help, however.

Slowly Wean the Middle of the Night Feeding

If you are quite confident baby does not need to eat in the night but isn’t dropping it on her own, a gentle method to try is to slowly wean from the middle of the night feed. This is a slower method than the ones below, but it can be a nice way if you are not fully confident baby does not need to eat. Your baby might not need a full feeding at night, but isn’t quite ready to make it the whole night without a feeding.

The idea in the slow wean is that each night, you feed baby a little less in the night feeding. If you bottle feed, you can do 1-2 ounces less every 1-2 nights. If you breastfeed, you can decrease the amount of time baby eats. If baby typically takes 15 minutes to eat, you can do 10-13 minutes night one. A couple of nights later, cut a few more minutes off of that. Continue cutting time off until you get to no time. A great benefit with this method if you are breastfeeding is you won’t wake up fully engorged in the morning. Your body will slowly adjust.

Redo Bedtime Routine

Once you are fully confident baby does not need to eat in the night, you do not want to feed baby in the night. When baby wakes, a great method to get baby back to sleep without a feeding is to do an abbreviated bedtime routine.

You go into the bedroom, get baby out of the crib, and do your sleep routine. Maybe you reswaddle baby or change the diaper. Maybe you do the Four S’s. You sing a lullaby. Whatever your typical routine is, do as short of a version as makes sense. This signals to baby that it is still time for sleep.

—–>>>Read my sample sleep routines here

Your hope would be that baby will then just go back to sleep at this point, but you may have to move on to the next phase.

How to Drop Middle of the Night Feeding. Different methods to use to help baby drop that night feeding and sleep through the night. 

Cry It Out

You might go straight to cry it out or you might try the methods above first. Either way, you are now at cry it out.

Cry it out is the fastest way to get baby sleeping. Exactly how you go about cry it out will need to depend on your baby and you. What is best for each of you? Here are some posts to help you:

One of the hardest things about cry it out in the night is you don’t know how long the process will take. Because it is the middle of the night, you worry about everyone in the house waking up. It is usually a good idea to start on a weekend so you are less concerned about other family members waking up in the night. You can also have people sleep in different places if the sleep training is disturbing their sleep.

Moms who have used this method typically report it takes 2-3 nights before baby is sleeping through the night without waking.

—–>>>Join the Chronicles of a Babywise Mom Facebook Group to connect with other moms who have been there and get advice on how long their baby did cry it out before sleeping through the night.

Conclusion

Not all babies will just sleep through the night. Others will need some help getting there. If your baby needs help, try the methods above. If you still need help, see my post What to Do When Your Baby is Not Sleeping Through the Night.

—–>>>Find all of my posts on sleep here.

Reader Questions

  • Brett and Gisela asked…
    Someone recommended your blog to me…I have “skimmed” over the baby wise book and liked the principles that I read. I have a two year old and a new born (10 days old). My question is about the new born. I am nursing as I did with my two year old and we are having a lot of trouble at night. She seems to want to nurse very often (every two hours) and has trouble falling back to sleep. She twists and turns with stomach cramps I think until she can have a bowel movement. Any suggestions would really be appreciated…techniques…anything. Thanks so much for such a interesting blog.Gisela
    February 21, 2009 3:55 PM
    Babywise Mom said…
    Gisela,What do her days look like? I would have her eat every 2.5-3 hours in the day. Then at night, she should be able to sleep longer. Beyond that, really the entire BW book is going to lead you to your answer 🙂
    February 26, 2009 11:48 AM
  • Lindsey and Nick’s mommy said…
    I need help! Your blog has been so helpful in my quest for a good sleeper. My Nick is 10 weeks today. He is on a great 3 hour schedule during the day taking 6 ounces per feeding. I set my alarm and feed him at 11:00pm then let him wake up on his own for the next feeding. For a while he was stretching that all the way to 5.5 hours at one point. My problem is that in the last week he has slid backwards and is now back to waking at 3 am which is only a 4 hour stretch. Then he goes 4 more hours until his 7 am wake/feed. He is a big boy in the 90th percentile on height and weight. Very healthy and does go right back to sleep after his 11 pm and his 3am feedings.Why has he went backwards? I just recently (last week) went to the 6 ounces for 7 feedings/day as he was on 5 ounces for 7 feedings/day. PS: I feel confident he is hungry at the 3am feeding as he does take in the majority of his 6 ounces. However his 11pm feeding is a little more challenging taking only about 4 ounces. Also, I did go back to work last week but I am positive my babysitter is following the plan to the “T” as she documents everything for me including wake and nap times.
    August 11, 2008 9:17 AM 
    Babywise Mom said…
    He could be waking earlier for a growth spurt. He could be waking earlier for more mommy time. He could be waking earlier since you said he isn’t taking as much at 11. He could be having teething pains. There are so many possibilities, you will have to troubleshoot to figure it out. See this post for help: Is Baby’s Waking from Night Hunger and Nighttime Sleep Issues
    August 12, 2008 2:27 PM 
    Lindsey and Nick’s mommy said…
    Thanks for your help. I guess I did post it right. I am technology impaired. Anyway, I have noticed that the past few nights he is trying to stretch out the time from his middle of the night feed until morning now. Before he was stretching the time from his dreamfeed to his middle of the night feed before he regressed. However, because I am waking him at 7 am each morning hopefully he will get it. Also, I thought I would go ahead and try to move his dreamfeed to 11:30 instead of 11:00 and see if he will eat a bit more. If that does not work then I will try to feed him 30 minutes earlier 7pm vs 7:30pm and see if he will take a better feeding at 11pm. Does that sound like a good plan? I know everything is trial and error. However, it always helps to have someone tell you if you are on the right path or if you are driving off the cliff! Thanks again.
    August 12, 2008 2:43 PM 
    Babywise Mom said…
    You can always try it, however if it were me, I wouldn’t move back to 11:30. Anything past 11 is really a night time feeding and if you wake him to eat for it, it could disrupt nighttime sleep. But if you want to try it and see how it goes, do it! 🙂
    August 13, 2008 8:21 PM 
    Lindsey and Nick’s mommy said…
    I never thought of that. I fed him at 7 pm two nights ago because he was hungry early. By the 11 pm dreamfeed he was a lot more willing to eat a full feeding and thenwent 5.5 hours! YEAH! So moving his bedtime and feeding up 30 minutes proved to be the resolution. Two nights in a row he has done much better. Thanks again.
    August 14, 2008 7:14 AM 
    Babywise Mom said…
    You are welcome! I am glad you have seen improvement.
    August 15, 2008 2:42 PM
  • Army Wife in the Making said…
    My baby is waking at night with gas & then about an hour later wanting to eat. He is 19wks (14wks adjusted) & sleeping an average of 9-10hrs per night.
    August 25, 2008 8:18 PM 
    Army Wife in the Making said…
    I forgot to ask…how can I get him to go back to sleeping through the night. Most of the time he doesn’t wake with gas…
    August 25, 2008 8:19 PM 
    Babywise Mom said…
    Army Wife, does he know how to self-soothe? If you are positive he is not hungry and everything is fine, you can do CIO. But I wouldn’t do that if he has gas. See this post: Nighttime Sleep Issues.
    August 28, 2008 9:22 PM
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4 thoughts on “How to Drop Middle of the Night Feeding”

  1. you mentioned above that if your baby sleeps through the night a few times then regresses then sleeps through again and it lasts for more than a week you may have a problem…Im wondering what that problem is and how to address it? thanks in advance!!

    Reply
  2. Hi! This is my 3rd baby and 3rd time using baby wise. With my other two kids they took on babywise night drops exactly when the book said, but of course my 3rd baby won’t. She is now 8 weeks and still wakes up around 3:30/4am every night like clock work to eat. I breast feed her, and then put her back to bed. Would you recommend trying to keep her up more during the day? And with slowly weaning the night feed at night? How many days do I do each regress?

    Thanks!

    Nicole

    Reply
    • Hey! I would say one feeding in the night at 8 weeks is very normal, so I wouldn’t be super intense with methods to drop it yet. I like the idea of slowly weaning because you can better tell if she doesn’t need it or not. I would wait at least 2-3 days between each shift of decreasing what she eats at night. If she starts waking more in the day, I would stop the slow weaning at night. You could also try “wake to sleep” to see if it is just a habit: https://www.babywisemom.com/baby-whisperer-waking-early-from-naps/

      Reply

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