Q: When can I drop my baby's middle-of-the-night feeding?
A: Most sleep-deprived moms are thrilled to phase out nighttime feedings -- good-bye, dark circles! Once your baby is 4 months old and weighs at least 14 pounds, his tummy is developed to get enough nourishment during the day so that he doesn't wake up famished at 3 a.m. At this point, your baby's physically able to sleep a solid six hours or so before waking up hungry (doesn't that sound blissful?) -- but that doesn't mean he won't get up and seek out you or his bottle anyway. But since this is more about comfort than nutrition, with a week of consistent sleep training -- which entails providing reassurance such as peeking in periodically to let baby know you're still there, or letting him cry it out -- he'll get the message that there's no more noshing in the middle of the night. By 6 months, most babies can go as long as 12 hours without getting hungry.
To prepare your baby for sleeping through the night, don't allow him to nod off while he's nursing or taking a bottle; otherwise he'll associate falling asleep with eating. Instead, cuddle him for a few minutes after he eats (make sure he burps) and then put him down in his crib awake. Sometimes offering a pacifier can help your baby settle himself and ease the transition off of nighttime feeding. Of course if your baby was born early or suffers from reflux, he may have to eat more often. In this case, talk to your pediatrician for specific advice on feeding your baby.
Copyright 2009 Meredith Corporation.