6 to 8 Months: Close the 24-Hour Diner
It's normal for most infants' bedtime routines to end with the breast or bottle. But when your baby wakes in the middle of the night, she'll come to expect those feedings, so you might have to nurse or prepare a bottle again whether she's hungry or not.
The truth is, by 6 to 8 months, most babies should be getting enough calories over the course of the day that they don't need a wee-hour snack. So why does your sweetie eat it if she's not actually hungry? "The bottle is merely a distraction from the real reason she's waking," says Anatoly Belilovsky, M.D., a pediatrician in Brooklyn, New York. For instance, it could be that she's overtired. If you suspect that's the cause, opt for an earlier bedtime.
Break the Habit If you haven't begun to already, set regular mealtimes. A baby who's fed sporadically will probably expect moonlight meals, West says. Take it slow: There's no need to go from nocturnal feast to famine overnight. As long as your baby is healthy and getting enough to nosh during the day, you can try one of West's approaches: a scheduled feeding. "For three nights, designate a time to feed her a small amount, and do it only at that predetermined hour, even if you have to wake her," she explains. Wait at least four hours after her bedtime feeding. "After three nights, she'll adjust to taking fewer calories at night. Then you can stop offering late-hour bottles altogether."
Yes! Weaning Success! "My daughter Zoe was perfectly content with bottles during the day, but bedtime meant breast time. I tried the cry-it-out method, but I'm a real softy. Finally, I sent her to Grandma's house for the week. She protested at first, waking up in crying fits that lasted a few minutes, but by the second night, she was sleeping through! I happily tucked my boobs into a sports bra and waited for my milk to dry up," says Nicole Harris Williams, of Atlanta.