When Can Babies Sleep Through the Night Without Eating?

Just as parents have different opinions regarding night feeding for their babies, child experts also have various recommendations. Mothers usually wonder when can babies sleep through the night without eating and pediatricians seem to disagree when it comes to giving an expert answer to this question. Some authors like Ferber believe babies do not need to be fed at night after they are three months old while others, such as Weissbluth, recommend allowing babies to feed at night up to the age of nine months.

Here are some guidelines on night feeding for infants at different ages and how you can help your baby to sleep through the night without eating.

When Can Babies Sleep Through the Night Without Eating?

Recommended Time and Symptoms of Readiness

Most healthy, full-term, newborn babies can sleep through the whole night without feeding by the time they turn six months old. Most of these babies sleep for more than six hours at night without needing to eat at all. This is the age when mothers can start weaning their babies from night feedings, even when they do not mind waking up to feed their babies.

You will notice some signs that your baby is ready to give up night feedings. These include nursing for short periods, falling back to sleep while feeding, and not being able to finish a bottle.

Train Your Baby to Sleep Through the Night Without Eating 

The pediatrician also advises mothers to train their babies to learn how to be able to sleep by themselves without feeding in the middle of the night. By the age of two months, mothers may put down their babies when they are sleepy so they can learn to put themselves to sleep. Although at this age they still need their night feedings, you do not need to offer a bottle or your breast every time she wakes up.

It is best to discuss with your pediatrician about changing the feeding schedule of your baby before making any changes, especially if some issues like being born premature, failing to gain weight, and having other health problems are to be considered.

Every Baby Is Different

All babies need hours of sleep especially at night, but each baby has different needs when it comes to feeding, depending on their growth rate. Some babies are fast growers and mother notice that they need to feed more often at night. In comparison, some babies seem to need less feeding and more sleep during the night. They do not grow in size as the frequent feeders but that does not mean that they are not as healthy. They just have different needs, depending on their bodies' growth process.

How to Make Babies Sleep Through the Night Without Eating

1. Help Your Baby Differentiate Night and Day

To help your baby learn the difference between night and day, make their daytime feeding lively while keeping their night-time feeding calm and quiet. Except for newborns who sleep most of the day, you can keep older babies awake at daytime by using colorful toys, reading out loud, and playing in well-lit spaces.

2. Avoid Stimulating the Baby at Night

Keep your room dark at night. Use a night lamp for changing diapers or night feedings. Change diapers only when the baby is fussing. When the baby wakes up to feed, keep your room dark, trying to avoid stimulation.

3. Keep a Bedtime Routine

Make bedtime rituals simple by giving her a bath, changing nappies, putting on pajamas, massaging, reading a story or singing a song. This bedtime routine should be short, not more than about 45 minutes.

4. Encourage Your Baby to Eat More During the Day

Some parents start night-weaning when their babies reach the eighth or ninth month. But you will observe that when children eat more during the day, they feed less at night, and when they eat more at night they may eat less during daytime. Make sure they get enough to eat by taking scheduled breaks at daytime for nursing without distractions.

Sometimes they may feel hungry and wake up at night but that does not mean they have to feed all the time. It is best for parents to encourage their children at this age to eat more during the day so they will feel less hungry and can go on sleeping without waking up at night. However, every baby is different, and some still need to feed at night up to 12 months.

5. Allow Your Baby to Fall Asleep by Herself

By the time she is 4 to 5 months old, try putting her down when she is sleepy but awake. If she cries, gently pat her and tell her it is time to sleep. Leave when she calms down and check after a few minutes. Encourage her to develop the skill of putting herself to sleep without feeding. It is best to feed her about an hour before bedtime so she will not associate feeding with sleeping.

6. Make Her Feel Secure

Giving your baby a security object at the age of 6 months can help in the transition process. A soft toy or blanket covered with mom's shirt will make her feel she is close by and help her to fall back to sleep at night. Just be sure that the baby is old enough to roll over by herself to prevent accidents.