There is no specific age that night weaning is recommended except for a minimum of 5 months, and there are certain signs you should look out for to help you determine the right time for night weaning. Some babies at the age of 5 to 6 months are ready for night weaning and will have enough calories for 4 to 6 hours of sleep every night, but the starting age can vary quite a bit.
For instance younger babies can sometimes sleep for longer periods of time without needing to eat or waking up, and older babies may demand to be fed more often during a growth spurt. Even if your baby is less than 5 months old and sleeps throughout the night most of the time without a hitch, you should really only consider night weaning when he is no less than 5 months old or as advised by your pediatrician.
General guidelines for night feedings
Around the age of 5 to 6 months you might consider night weaning, but you should approach it gradually, and some experts even recommend waiting until your baby is 8 to 9 months old. As a general rule, babies from the age of 0 to 3 months will require feedings every 2 to 3 hours on demand, and that will continue well into the night for most. From the age of 3 to 4 months feedings will drop down to once every 3 to 6 hours, or usually two to three times per night. From the age of 4 to 6 months the number of night feedings that your baby will need will drop down to 1 to 2 times per night or less.
There are unique considerations that may arise during the time that you are considering night weaning such as illnesses, growth spurts and teething that may require you to increase night feedings. Your pediatrician will tell you whether or not you should increase night feedings during a particular period of time, and you should always discuss night weaning with your pediatrician before you actually start taking steps toward it.
Signs your baby is ready for night weaning
There are several signs you can look out for to help you determine when your baby is ready for night weaning. If your baby is not eating as much throughout the day, it may be a sign that you should reduce the number of nighttime feedings. Don’t ever reduce nighttime feedings to none all at once but gradually reduce them. Your baby should get most of his calories throughout the day ideally, and when that feeding pattern starts to become established you can start considering night weaning.
If your baby also has started to eat solid foods with the recommendation of your pediatrician, it will not be long before night weaning can begin. For a period of time after your baby starts eating solid foods he will need nighttime feedings in many cases, but after this period you can slowly reduce the number of feedings. Mothers who breastfeed should keep in mind that they will need to maintain their milk supply after night weaning.