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Night feedings by age

Waking up through the night to feed your baby is one of the main responsibilities of every new parent, but when does your baby stop needing milk in the middle of the night?

You may already know that the time between your baby's feeds gets longer and longer as they get older, with the nighttime feedings eventually stopping. However, you might not know the specifics of when your baby will need feeding according to their age and developmental stage.

That's why we're here to clarify, with schedules for nighttime feeding up to a year old and a downloadable chart for easy reference! Whether you're breast or bottle feeding, we have nighttime plans and night-weaning tips to suit your family.

Normal nighttime feeding schedule by age

night feeds by age

Your baby's nighttime feeding schedule is highly dependent on their age. Most babies sleep for short stretches at night in their first few months of life, regularly waking up for feeding, changing, and comfort.

Once their circadian rhythm starts to become more established, babies tend to sleep through the night with only one or two feeding-related wakeups - eventually, this is reduced until your baby is fully sleeping through the night!

But it's important to remember that every baby is unique, and if they run on a schedule that's a little different from what we've suggested, that's absolutely fine! Do whatever works best for your family - we're just here to provide these guides for new parents as a little extra support.

0-2 Months

do babies eat more at night

As a newborn up until 2 months of age, your baby will need to eat every two to three hours - unfortunately, at this stage, neither of you will be able to sleep through the night without waking up for feeding at some point!

This averages out to around nine to twelve feeds a day, so while your little one can snooze for a while longer at night, you'll still want to wake them up at least every couple of hours for a night feeding (and to change their diaper!)

Here's an example of what night feedings might look like for a baby at this early stage of life:

  • Put baby to bed at 9 pm

  • Wake baby for a night feeding at 11 pm, change diaper, and put back to sleep

  • Wake baby for a feed at 1 am, change diaper, and put back to sleep

  • Wake baby for a feed at 3 am, change diaper, and put back to sleep

  • Wake baby for a feed at 5 am, change diaper, and put back to sleep

  • Wake up for a new day at 7 am!

If you're anxious that your baby might not fall asleep again after you've woken them up, try putting them into one of our Zen Neo swaddles!

Snug and stretchy to help ease the womb-to-world transition, this swaddle pod has two-way zippers for easy changing and mimics your soothing touch to have your newborn sleeping soundly.

2-4 Months

how many night feeds for 4 month old

Once your baby is starting to exit the newborn stage, their need for feeding throughout the night will reduce, but not completely go away.

Their stomach will have grown substantially, leaving more room for a good milk supply, but at three months old their tummy can still only hold up to around 6 ounces, so night feedings are very much necessary!

Here's an example of what your schedule for feeding a two to four-month-old at night could look like:

  • Put baby to bed at 9 pm

  • Wake baby for a night feeding at 12 am, change diaper, and put back to sleep

  • Wake baby for a feed at 3am, change diaper, and put back to sleep

  • Wake baby for a feed at 6 am, change diaper, and put back to sleep

  • Wake up for a new day at 7 am!

By the 4-month mark - and before this point, if your little one is showing signs of rolling over - you should have phased out swaddling. But that doesn't necessarily mean you'll have to totally swap out their sleepwear!

Our adaptable Zen One swaddle comes with removable mesh sleeves, meaning that even with their arms out, your baby can still enjoy the light pressure and sense of security that a swaddle provides.

4-6 Months

By this point, your baby should be able to make it a little longer without being fed, sleeping for a stretch of four or five hours through the night before being woken up. Therefore, you should (hopefully!) be able to cut down to just a couple of feedings per night.

Here's what your new schedule might look like with fewer feedings:

  • Put baby to bed at 9 pm

  • Wake baby for a night feeding at 1 am, change diaper, and put back to sleep

  • Wake baby for a feed at 5 am, change diaper, and put back to sleep

  • Wake up for a new day at 7 am!

You may want to start introducing your baby to a sleep training technique of your choice at this age, too! Not only can it help your baby sleep through the night much more consistently, but it can also help to reinforce a sense of routine around which you can plan your feedings.

6-9 Months

how many night feeds for 6 month old

Six months is an exciting time for babies and parents alike. Not only will your little one start recognizing faces, crawling, and communicating their emotions with simple sounds, but you'll also be able to start weaning them from night feedings, meaning more sleep for both of you!

To start with, try bringing the number of feedings down to just one per night. Although some babies wake up wanting more milk, there's a good chance that they'll sleep through until morning!

Formula-fed babies are often easier to wean at this point than breastfed babies, so bear that in mind if you're looking to cut back on nighttime feeding. Here's what your new schedule might look like:

  • Put baby to bed at 9 pm

  • Give baby a night feeding at 1 am if needed, change diaper, and put back to sleep

  • Wake up for a new day at 7 am (hopefully without any more interruptions!)

If you find that your baby is hitting the dreaded 6 or 8-month sleep regression at this point, why not try out our cozy Zen Sack? This wearable blanket is gently weighted with our Cuddle Pad technology to mimic your soothing touch, helping your baby drift back to sleep after any pesky wakeups.

9-12 Months

If you didn't start night weaning at the six to nine-month mark, now is a good time to get on it! Your little one will be physically capable of going through the night without a feed at this point, so putting a sleep schedule into place that doesn't make room for feedings is perfectly fine.

If you still find that your baby needs a little extra milk at night, here's how your schedule could look:

  • Put baby to bed at 9 pm

  • Give baby a night feeding at 1 am if needed, change diaper, and put back to sleep

  • Wake up for a new day at 7 am (hopefully without any more interruptions!)

We hope that this brings you to the end of the night feeding days! If you go beyond a year and your baby is still needing to eat at night, you may want to consult a pediatrician to address any underlying issues.

Commonly asked questions about night feedings by age

Why do babies go longer between feeds at night?

There is a range of reasons why babies can go for longer stretches of sleep at night without a feed. For instance, once they've gained some weight after birth and are developing well, missing milk for a few more hours has less of an impact.

However, the main answer is down to the size of their tummy! Though most babies seem to have big tummies when they're born, their actual stomach can only hold a couple of teaspoons of milk! This increases exponentially as your little one grows, meaning that they have more in their tummy to tide them over through the night.

When do babies stop eating at night?

The age at which you can start to night wean your baby is different for every family. Though some sources say 6 months of age, others stretch much further to a year, and the answers can also vary depending on whether you breastfeed or formula-feed your baby!

We recommend waiting until your baby is at least six months old before you night wean, and you may still have to wait a while longer if they keep waking up crying for their night feedings!

At what age do you stop feeding your baby every 3 hours?

In their first few weeks of life, your baby will need to be fed every two to three hours due to the tiny capacity of their newborn stomach. This increases over time, and by the time your baby is two months of age, this gap can be increased to around four hours.

This means that the night weaning process isn't immediate - it's gradual and matches your baby's physiological needs.

How do I know if my baby still needs night feeds?

There are a few signs that may indicate your baby is finished with night feeds. For example, if your little one is:

  • Over six months of age

  • Weighs more than a minimum of around 14 pounds

  • Not eating much during their night feed

  • Struggling to wake up for the feed and to fall asleep again after

It may be time to wean them and reduce their night feedings down to one or none. Alternatively, if your baby is underweight, waking up hungry through the night, or still eating a lot during their night feed, you may want to hold off stopping them for a little while longer.

Do you wait until your baby cries at night to feed?

If you're feeding your little one at night, it's best to stick to a schedule rather than to wait for them to start crying. Not only will this likely be a better way to wake up for you, but it also saves you from the difficulty of having to soothe a crying baby in the middle of the night!

Your baby may not only be crying out of hunger, either. Babies cry at night for many of the same reasons that adults struggle to sleep - feeling too hot or too cold, needing the bathroom, feeling a little under the weather, and wanting some comfort are all reasons why your little one could be upset.

If your baby wakes a little before the schedule, feeding them makes sense - if not, try to stick to your plan and feed them on time.

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