Night Weaning: Everything You Need to Know

May 6, 2021
Rested Team

Welcome to the Rested Guide on Night Weaning! This Guide will help you understand when to night wean your baby, and how to do it safely and gently.

When is my baby ready for Night Weaning?

Bottle-fed babies can be night weaned at 6 months old. Breast-fed babies may take up to a year to be weaned from night feedings. This is because breast milk is absorbed faster than formula, so breast fed babies get hungrier a bit faster!

It's important to remember that you don't need to night wean if you don't want to. Some moms enjoy the shared time and closeness of night nursing. If you enjoy night nursing, you don't need to stop. But make sure you are getting enough rest!

The Golden Rule of Night Weaning - Gradual, Not Sudden

There is one golden rule of night weaning: don't go cold turkey. Skipping feeds altogether is like asking your baby to skip dinner. They will get hungry, and they will be unable to fall asleep. Just like me when I haven't had my dinner!

How to Night Wean: Breast-Fed Babies

The easiest, safest way to night wean is to steadily reduce the amount of milk your baby eats each feed. On night 1, time the length of your baby's feeds. Then reduce one feed by 2 minutes, every night. Once your baby is feeding for under 5 minutes in a given feed, you can drop the feed entirely.

For example, if your baby is feeding for 10 minutes, twice a night, follow this pattern:

  • Night 1: 10 mins, 10 mins (time feeds)
  • Night 2: 10 mins, 8 mins
  • Night 3: 8 mins, 8 mins
  • Night 4: 8 mins, 6 mins
  • Night 5: 6 mins, 6 mins
  • Night 6: 4 mins, drop
  • Night 7: drop both feeds

When you drop a feed altogether, your baby may take a little longer to fall asleep. That's OK - it's because they are used to feeding before falling back asleep. Comfort them, and they will fall back to sleep. After a couple of days, they will be completely used to sleeping without feeding!

How to Night Wean: Bottle-Fed Babies

There are 3 night weaning methods. Each method transfers night calories to the day for bottle-fed babies. Our favorite is the One Ounce Drop.

Method 1 (preferred!) - The One Ounce Drop (Simple and Safe)

On night 1, measure how much formula Baby is eating. Each night, reduce the amount of formula in the bottle by 1 oz during one feed. E.g.: if your baby is feeding twice per night, 4 oz each time, reduce like so:

  • Night 1: 4 oz, 4 oz (measure feeds)
  • Night 2: 4 oz, 3 oz
  • Night 3: 3 oz, 3 oz
  • Night 4: 3 oz, 2 oz
  • Night 5: 2 oz, 2oz
  • Night 6: 2 oz, water only
  • Night 7: water only

Method 2 - Dilution (Great for Stubborn Babies and Babies who Don't Like Change!)

The Dilution Method follows the same pattern as the One Ounce Drop, but you replace the 1 oz of formula you drop each night with water. This keeps the amount of fluid the baby drinks the same each night, so the change feels more gradual for them.

For example, in the same circumstances as above, on Night 4. You would give your baby:

First feed: 3 oz formula mixed with 1 oz water

Second feed: 2 oz formula mixed with 2 oz water

We don't recommend... Spacing Feeds (at least at first)

You might have heard that some moms have success by stretching the time between feeds at night. This can work - and if you had success with this yourself, that's awesome.

However, we generally recommend trying a different approach first. This is because some babies cry more with this approach. This is because your baby will be awake, expecting food, for longer. Methods 1 and 2 prevent this by giving your baby some food when they are expecting it.

So there you have it! The one-stop shop guide to night weaning. If you have any questions, book a free chat with the team. We’d be delighted to help.