How to Wean from Night Feedings

Want your baby to sleep through the night but aren’t sure how to wean night feedings? In this article, I’ll share the step-by-step process to help your little one stop waking up at night and take in all his milk during the day instead.

How to Wean from Night Feedings

One of the reasons babies wake up at night is to eat. When they’re used to taking in all their milk throughout the day and night, they’re bound to wake up because of an empty belly.

Other times, they rely on feeding to fall asleep. The sucking motion feels comforting, they don’t know any other way to sleep, and they’ve simply grown accustomed to this habit.

When your baby was a newborn, he needed to wake up throughout the night because his stomach was still tiny—frequent feedings made sure he wasn’t going hungry. But now that he’s older, he may be ready to wean from night feedings and take in his calories during the day, reserving the night exclusively for sleep.

Before you start, check with your pediatrician to see if he can wean from night feedings. Each baby is different, and your pediatrician knows his unique circumstances and is the best person to recommend whether he’s ready to wean. While age recommendations can provide guidance, they’re no substitute for getting the go-ahead from your pediatrician.

If all checks out, let’s take a look at how to wean from night feedings as well as break the association between waking up and eating:

Gradually reduce milk intake at night

Imagine eating your normal breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You’ve eaten the same three meals for five months now. Then one day, you’re told to skip dinner. You’d be pretty hungry, right?

That’s how your baby would feel if you removed night feedings all at once. He’s grown used to eating at night—probably more than once! Cutting milk in one night would make him hungry.

Instead, decrease the milk a little at a time every night. Below are the steps to follow, depending on whether he’s breastfeeding or bottle-feeding:


A few days before weaning, determine the usual length of time your baby breastfeeds and use that as your starting point. If the time varies, use the longest time as your starting point. For instance, if he nurses anywhere from four minutes to 35, use 35 minutes as your starting point.

On the first night of weaning, feed him for however long you normally do. Then on the next night, reduce the amount of time for each session by two minutes. Continue to decrease the time he breastfeeds by two minutes every night until you reach zero or you feel like you no longer need to breastfeed.

Let’s say you usually breastfeed for 20 minutes twice a night, and you plan to wean on Friday night. Your schedule would look like this:

  • Friday: 20 minutes at the first wake-up, 20 minutes at the second wake-up
  • Saturday: 18 minutes at the first wake-up, 18 minutes at the second wake-up
  • Sunday: 16 minutes at the first wake-up, 16 minutes at the second wake-up
  • And so on…


The same applies to bottle-feeding, but rather than length of time, you’ll reduce by ounces. First, determine the typical amount your baby drinks. If the amount varies, use the largest amount as your starting point. For instance, if he drinks anywhere from two to six ounces, use six ounces as the starting point.

Then, on the next night, reduce the milk by half an ounce for each session. Let’s say he drinks six ounces twice a night, and you plan to wean on Friday night. Your schedule would look like this:

  • Friday: 6 ounces at the first wake-up, 6 ounces at the second wake-up
  • Saturday: 5.5 ounces at the first wake-up, 5.5 ounces at the second wake-up
  • Sunday: 5 ounces at the first wake-up, 5 ounces at the second wake-up
  • And so on…

Gradually increase milk intake during the day

Just as you reduce your baby’s milk every night, increase it by the same amount the following day. You want him to stop eating at night and eat throughout the day instead. If he drinks 32 ounces of milk within 24 hours, he should still get all 32 ounces, just more so during the day.

Do this by adding whatever number of ounces or minutes of breastfeeding during the day that you reduced in the evenings. Using our examples above, increase his milk by one ounce or four minutes on Sunday since you had reduced it by one ounce or four minutes on Saturday night.

Free resource: Join my newsletter and discover the 5 mistakes that are keeping him from self-soothing! Whether you’ve tried sleep training in the past or are just now considering it, take a look at the 5 key mistakes to avoid. Grab your PDF below—at no cost to you: As one parent said:

“I just want to say thank you. You have given us our sleep back!! I followed your guide exactly and I’m so delighted to tell you that he now self settles and even more delighted to say that he sleeps through the night until 7am. He has done it the last 5 nights! Your guide gave me the tools and confidence, and I can’t thank you enough. My husband is extremely grateful too!!”
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5 Mistakes That Keep Your Baby from Self Soothing

Break the association between waking up and feeding

Even if you’ve reduced your baby’s nighttime milk, there’s still one problem: he’s used to crying at night and expecting milk. It’s not enough to reduce his milk at night and increase it during the day. You also need to break the association between waking up and eating. After all, you want him to put himself to sleep when he wakes at night, not cry for milk.

So, how do you teach him not to cry and expect milk each time he wakes up? By beating him to the punch. You’ll feed him before he wakes up crying for it. Here’s how it works:

First, determine the typical times he wakes up at night. If the times vary, go with the earliest times for each session. For instance, if he wakes up anywhere between 10:30pm and 12am for the first session, go with 10:30pm.

Then, and here’s the important part, wake him up 30 minutes before each of these times for a feeding.

Seems unbelievable to wake him up after all the effort it took to get him to fall asleep, but you’re waking him up before he cries, making sure he’s fed while not relying on wake-ups and crying to determine when that happens.

If he tends to wake up at 11pm and 2am, wake him to eat at 10:30pm and 1:30am. Use your alarm to wake yourself up. Based on our example above, your gradual weaning combined with waking him up would look like this:


  • Friday: 20 minutes at 10:30pm, 20 minutes at 1:30am
  • Saturday: 18 minutes at 10:30pm, 18 minutes at 1:30am
  • Sunday: 16 minutes at 10:30pm, 16 minutes at 1:30am
  • And so on…


  • Friday: 6 ounces at 10:30pm, 6 ounces at 1:30am
  • Saturday: 5.5 ounces at 10:30pm, 5.5 ounces at 1:30am
  • Sunday: 5 ounces at 10:30pm, 5 ounces at 1:30am
  • And so on…

Frequently asked questions

What if my baby wakes up at different times than the designated wake-up times?

Let’s say you figured your baby wakes up at 10:30pm and 2:30am, but for the last several days, his wake-up times are all over the place. If it seems like he doesn’t have a clear pattern of when he wakes up, take an average of the times he does wake up and stick to one.

If he does seem to have a new routine that doesn’t line up with your old designated times, adjust your alarm to accommodate that new time. Let’s say he’s now waking up at 10pm the last several days instead of 10:30pm. Adjust your weaning so that you wake him up at 9:30pm moving forward.

What if my baby wakes up before the designated times? I was planning on waking him up at 10:30pm but he woke up at 10pm.

You may not always be able to beat him to the punch, so the next best thing is to stick to the plan and check in at set intervals until the designated time.

But if, after a few days, he continues to wake up before your scheduled feeding times, wake him up 10 minutes earlier than the time he’d been waking up on his own. Using our example above, if you’d planned to wake him up at 10:30pm but he’s been waking up at 10pm, reschedule your feeding time to 9:50pm.

And if he wakes up at any point in the evening, whether it’s only been an hour after eating or a few minutes before the official wake-up time, do check-ins. Your check-ins will regulate him to your new schedule, reassure him you’re still here, and remind him it’s still time to sleep.

Do I keep reducing the same amount for each session, or is it okay to combine the sessions into one?

Your baby might hardly eat anything for each session, so you’re considering combining the two (or however many sessions you have) into one. Let’s say you’re down to feeding him for 6 minutes two times a night, and now you want to feed him for 12 minutes once a night.

If he doesn’t cry at those designated times, wake him up once instead of twice. But if he’s still crying at those times, stick to the same number of sessions instead of combining them.

What if my baby isn’t interested in extra milk the next day?

Even with the reduced amount at night, you may notice your baby isn’t interested in drinking extra milk the next day.

If that’s the case, don’t force it. He might not even have been hungry when he was waking in the middle of the night and was only feeding as a habit. Maybe he doesn’t need as many calories now that his body isn’t growing as it once did as a newborn. Or he could be in that stage where he’s more interested in exploring and practicing his skills than he is in eating.

Feed him in a “boring” room with little distraction or in a new environment where he doesn’t notice he’s finishing his bottle. And the best way to make sure all is fine is to check with your pediatrician about his weight gain. She’ll let you know whether there is an issue at hand.

Can I be flexible with how much I reduce each night?

Yes! Two minutes and half an ounce each night is a guideline, not a rule. If you feel like your baby could use more or fewer calories, or you don’t want to wean so soon, feel free to reduce even less.

Can I stick to the same number of minutes (or ounces) for a few nights in a row?

Yes, you can stick to the same number of minutes or ounces for a few nights before reducing. In other words, you don’t have to reduce the milk each night.

If you reduce nursing from 20 minutes to 18 on Monday, you can stick to 18 minutes on Tuesday night. Stick with 18 for however long you feel your baby needs the milk before decreasing the time to 16 minutes. You know him best and can decide how quickly or slowly you want to wean.

The bottom line

Weaning from night feedings involves several ingredients for a successful process. You’re gradually decreasing the milk your baby drinks at night and feeding him before he wakes up so he won’t associate waking up with drinking milk. He’ll wean from night feedings soon enough, giving him a chance to sleep a solid 11-12 hours each night!

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  1. My 17 month old doesn’t sleep through the night. He still breast feeds all night. During the day, he doesn’t have that much. Mainly when he wakes in the morning and for some nap times.

    1. Nina Garcia says:

      It sounds like your little guy is feeding in the middle of the night more out of habit than actual hunger. You can definitely help ease him out of waking up and expecting to nurse at night (or even in the morning). That way, he can sleep through the night and take in his calories during the day, like you and I do.

  2. I am a mother to a 5 month old. I think my biggest struggle at the moment are the night feeds. My baby girl wakes up at 11pm, 2am, 5am and then finally at 8am, when she is wide awake. She goes to bed at 8pm. She is usually dream feeding during the night and she can self soothe but needs a pacifier each time.

    I am desperately trying to wean her off the night feeds I.e. 11pm, 2am and 5am, but failing at doing that. Also I’d love for her to put herself back to sleep without the pacifier.

    1. Nina Garcia says:

      It’s definitely rough when your baby is still waking up multiple times a night needing to feed. My eldest was six months before I finally decided to teach him how to self soothe, and from there, it was a game changer. Have you considered sleep training your little one? You can gradually wean night feedings when you sleep train so that she takes all her calories during the day and sleep all night. If her pediatrician gives you the a-okay, it might be an option to consider.