April 10, 2024

How to Wean a Baby from Nighttime Feedings

Babies, Toddlers

My friend and I were sending Marco Polo messages back and forth several weeks ago and she mentioned that her almost one-year-old was still waking in the night to nurse, and she was wondering how to wean her from those night feedings.

I asked her if she’d be comfortable jumping on the podcast with me so we could chat through night weaning in real time and she was up for it! Because weaning a baby from overnight feedings isn’t usually just a one-step process.

So if you listen to the following recording, you’ll hear our entire conversation about weaning babies from nighttime feedings and all of the tips I shared with her when it comes to weaning her baby from nursing overnight. And you can listen here to learn how the night weaning process actually went for her family!

If, however, you’d rather read about night weaning, I’ve taken the tips I shared with her about night weaning and put them together as a blog post below.

In this blog post, I will share:

  • How to know if your baby is ready to wean from night feedings
  • What should be in place before considering weaning a baby from nighttime feedings
  • How to wean your baby from night feedings cold turkey
  • How to gradually wean your baby from night feedings
  • How to use your baby’s “personal best” when it comes to weaning their overnight feeds

And so much more!

Before I jump in, I also want you to know about our free guide, Four Steps to Say Goodbye to Night Wakings. If your baby is still waking multiple times a night, even if not to eat, and you’re looking for some advice to end those night wakings, this guide is a great place to start!

How to Know if Your Baby is Ready to Wean from Night Feedings

As a general rule of thumb, if your baby is at least six months old and they’re healthy and gaining weight well, there’s a good chance they’re physically capable of sleeping through the night without needing a feed!

Yes, there are absolutely babies who need a nighttime feed beyond six months old. And yes, there are absolutely babies who are able to sleep through the night before six months old.

But if your baby is around six months old and you think they might be ready to wean from nighttime feedings (or you’re hoping they’re ready!), asking your pediatrician is a great place to start.

Then, in an ideal situation, your baby will naturally wean from those night feeds! And that most often happens when we sleep train. Some babies, however, seem to hold on to that night feed out of habit rather than need, which brings the question of how to stop those night feedings.

While weaning your baby from overnight feeds is the goal, other “puzzle pieces” need to be in place to make sure the night weaning is successful!

Milk (and Solids) Intake

Make sure your baby is getting enough milk (and solids, once old enough) during the day! If they’re not eating well during the day, they will need those calories at night!

Sleeping Environment

Make sure your little one’s room is totally dark and they have white noise in the background so you know they’re not waking up due to environmental factors!

Age-Appropriate Schedule

Make sure your little one is the “just right” amount of tired. Being overtired and being undertired can both cause night wakings to happen!

If you’re not sure what schedule is best for your babe, snag our free guide to baby sleep schedules!

Bedtime Routine

Not only does having a consistent bedtime routine help your little one’s mind and body recognize that sleep is coming, but having the steps in the right order can make a big difference!

For example, if your little one nurses or has a bottle as the last step in their bedtime routine, there’s a good chance that the feed is either putting them to sleep or getting them drowsy before you lay them down.

Similarly, if you sing to or cuddle your baby for a few minutes before laying them down, that could also cause some drowsiness! And that can absolutely cause more wakings in the night where your baby needs help getting back to sleep.

Read this blog post to learn more about the ideal bedtime routine for your little one.

Sleep Training

Finally, if your goal is that your baby will be able to sleep through the night without needing a night feed, sleep training is going to help you get there! The goal of sleep training is to teach your baby to fall asleep independently for naps and bedtime so they can naturally connect their sleep cycles overnight (and during the day).

If, however, your baby can’t naturally connect those sleep cycles overnight, they’ll keep waking up!

Now, can you night wean a baby who isn’t sleep-trained? Sometimes! When they wake up, you’re essentially going to do anything and everything you can to get them back to sleep, except nursing or bottle feeding won’t be one of those “anythings”. So they could go without needing a feed in the night, but they will likely still wake up and need help getting back to sleep.

If you have sleep trained and for whatever reason your baby is still waking up overnight and you are ready to wean them from those overnight feeds, you have options!

The Three Best Ways to Wean from Night Feedings

1. Wean from Night Feedings Cold Turkey

If you’re looking for the quickest way to wean your baby from night feedings, pulling the night feeds cold turkey is the way to go! And when you choose to cut the night feedings cold turkey, we recommend you sleep train through those night feedings.

(You can learn about the different sleep training methods here.)

For example, if you’re baby wakes up in the night and you’re using a leave and check method, you would wait 10 minutes before responding, then check in for 1-2 minutes, leave for another 10 minutes, check in again, and repeat this process until your baby falls back asleep.

If, however, you’re using the chair method, you would still wait 10 minutes after hearing your baby wake up, but then sit in their room and comfort them until they’re back asleep.

You would not give them a feed in either of those scenarios.

If your baby is breastfed and you’re trying to wean them off night nursing, this is a good time to send dad or grandma in, so neither baby nor mom are tempted to nurse! If you are weaning your baby from nighttime bottles, take turns with your spouse so your baby knows that whether mom or dad responds, the response will be the same – no night feedings!

Like I said, cutting the night feeds cold turkey is usually the quickest way to night wean (leave and check is quicker than the chair method!), but for some families, it feels like too big of a change too soon and they want more of a gradual option to adjust to such a big change.

2. Gradually Wean from Night Feedings by Amount

Gradually weaning your baby from night feeds is a great option for families who want to night wean more slowly, both for the baby’s sake and also to feel more confident that their little one truly doesn’t need the night feed.

In this approach, when you’re baby wakes in the night, we still recommend you wait 10 minutes to give them a chance to fall back asleep first. If they’re still awake and you normally feed them at this time, then we recommend going to their room, turning on a low light, changing their diaper, and then feeding them.

If they normally nurse for 15 minutes, set the timer and only nurse them for 10 minutes for a few nights. Then nurse them for 8 minutes for a few nights, then 6, then 4, then 2 minutes…if they’re able to nurse for two minutes and go back to sleep, they certainly don’t need that night feed!

Similar with babies still bottle feeding in the night… If they usually drink 5 ounces, you will give them just 4 ounces for a few nights, then 3, then 2, and by the time they’re only taking 1-2 ounces, you know they don’t actually need it.

So if they’re still waking up after you’ve dropped down to about 2-4 minutes of nursing or 1-2 ounces in a bottle, you will then pull the feed cold turkey and sleep train through it.

Note that the goal with these night feeds is to keep your baby awake! We want them to know that they’re eating and know they’re back in their crib – this will help prevent the night feeds from being habitual.

Using a more gradual approach when weaning your baby from night feeds can take longer, however for some families it feels more gentle. It also helps give mom and dad more confidence that their baby really doesn’t need the night feed anymore.

3. Set a “Personal Best” with Night Feeds

The third approach to weaning your baby from night feeds is an in-between method – you set a “personal best” when it comes to your baby’s night feedings.

For example, if your baby sometimes wakes up around 2 am to nurse/get a bottle, and other nights they wake up around 11 and 3 for a feed, you might start with 2 am as their “personal best.” That means you feel confident that they really don’t need to eat until at least 2 am, so you start there.

For example, if they wake up at 11 pm, you sleep train through that night waking. If, however, the next time they wake up is 2 am or later, you can feed them! And then if they wake up after they’ve already had one night feed, you respond with your sleep training method of choice until they’re back asleep.

The goal with the “personal best” method is that the wakings keep getting later and later in the night, until you’ve pulled the night feed altogether.

The challenge of this personal best, or even the more gradual wean down, is that some babies will continue waking once or multiple times a night because they know they will get a feed eventually, they just don’t know when.

If that’s the case, there’s a good chance your baby doesn’t actually need a night feed anymore, and still getting some portion of a night feed is confusing them more than it’s helping, and it might be time to pull the feed cold turkey.

The “30-Minute Rule”

While the goal with these different night weaning methods is your baby is eventually fully weaned from these overnight feeds, we often give parents a “30-minute rule” as a “just in case” you really think they’re hungry.

We never want you to feel like your child is hungry and you “can’t” feed them.

So when you’re approaching weaning your baby from night feeds, if you’re ever doing check-ins, or you’re using the chair method because it’s not “time for a feed”, yet you really think your baby is hungry, we want you to feed them!

The 30-minute rule is to make sure your baby isn’t awake for more than 30 minutes before you do decide to feed them.

For example, if your plan is to pull the night feeds cold turkey, but as you’re doing leave and check you think they might be hungry, don’t go more than 30 minutes before making that call. If you get to the 30-minute mark and think they’re hungry, feed them!

If, however, you get to the 30-minute mark and are confident they don’t need a night feed, then continue responding with leave and check.


Whether you’re trying to wean your baby from night time breastfeeding or bottle feeding, it can be overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be!

With a plan and consistency in place, your baby can absolutely sleep through the night without needing those night feedings anymore!

If you find yourself ready to wean your baby from nighttime feedings but you’d like some help, that’s what we’re here for! Check out the different ways we can support your family so you don’t have to do this alone.

With Grace,