Young babies need their night time feedings because of nutritional necessity. This is important until the third month after which the baby should gradually wean off the bottle or the breast and should start sleeping through the night.
While it is ok to wake up for one or two feedings at night, waking up every two hours after the third month is not recommended for either you or the baby. Here are some steps to wean him/her off the milk at night.
Getting A Baby To Sleep Through The Night
Give More at Night
Before the baby sleeps off for the night, make sure his/her last feed is sufficient to keep him/her full. Many babies nod off while feeding. Burp or jiggle the baby and ensure that he/she has a full meal. Do not be tempted to add a bottle or cereal to his/her diet. Not only is the baby not developmentally ready for solids, but this not recommended until about 4-6 months.
Give him/her a Feed Before you Sleep
If you sleep later than the baby does sleeps, wake him/her up and give him/her one last feed before you turn in for the day. This will ensure that you get your 6-8 hours of shuteye. If the baby is too sleepy to take a full meal, give it enough to keep him/her full for at least an hour or two longer. Discontinue with this procedure if you notice the baby getting up on its own often in the night for a feed.
Give him/her Enough during The Day
Hungry babies complete their quota of milk at night. If he is not getting enough during the day, he/she will make up for the shortfall at night. So make sure you nurse the baby frequently during the day. This will also keep your milk supply up. Increase formula if your baby is on formula.
Wait Longer at Night
Make sure you stretch the gap between feedings at night. If the baby wakes up do not give it the breast at the first whimper. Let the baby self soothe itself back to sleep. Sing a lullaby so that he/she goes back to sleep.
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If the fussing or crying increases, pick him/her up and try to rock as sway him/her to go back to sleep. Use the father as a distraction. Babies sleep off with a change in the arms. The baby will also not be distracted from his food if he/she gets to smell and feel the source of the food, i.e. your breasts. Feed him/her if the crying gets severe. By now, you should have stretched the feeding gap by at least a half hour. Continue this for a few nights.
Do not Change the Baby at Night
Do not change the baby’s diaper at night unless necessary. This may cause him/her to wake up which is not good. Use larger size nappies at night, which will provide extra absorption of stools.
Put Some Distance
If your baby is troubled or too attached with your nearness, consider sleeping in another room for the time being. Let another adult sleep with the baby. This will prevent the baby from getting up often at night.