Baby Sleep: When to Give Up Nighttime Feedings
Teach baby how to sleep through the night without any nighttime feedings.
At about 4 months of age, babies are physically able to give up their nighttime feedings. At this time, it actually becomes counterproductive to feed your baby in the middle of the night. This is often very hard to believe since up until now, the baby has needed this fuel to make it through the night. But babies change quickly in these first few months. Now long stretches of uninterrupted sleep are what your baby needs to grow best. During sleep, while the body is resting, the brain cycles through different levels of sleep. It needs this to process the information it is taking in during the day. Eating activates the body. Think of all the sucking, swallowing, digesting and eliminating that is required during and right after a feeding. The whole digestive system is turned on. This is quite a lot of work for a baby's body to do. What their bodies really need is to be in a state of restorative sleep. So feeding in the middle of the night can actually be disruptive to your baby's sleep. By not feeding your baby in the middle of the night, his metabolism is allowed to slow down and his important brain work can get done. Parents worry that they will be depriving their baby of food. But babies are so smart. They will naturally eat more during the daytime feedings to make up for any calories lost by not eating at night. Think of it this way, "I am helping my baby's body to get the fundamental rest it needs and I am helping my baby's brain to do its work and get its fundamental nutrients by letting my baby have a night of uninterrupted sleep."