What to do if your 6-12 month baby keeps waking up hungry

If your baby is weaning but waking often in the night for feeds, 'Contented Baby' author Gina Ford explains how to drop the night feeds

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    Once your baby is between 6 months and 1 year of age, he may start to make it through the night without needing a night feed. Before 6 months of age, he needs to feed often, whether it’s day or night. But if your baby is at the weaning stage and waking often in the night, hungry for a night feed, what can you do?

    “If a baby doesn’t eat enough during the day he’ll wake at night because he’s genuinely hungry, so it’s vital to get a successful daytime feeding routine established,” says Gina Ford, baby expert, maternity nurse and author of The New Contented Little Baby Book.

    “A baby aged 6 months-plus who’s waking three times a night for feeds is generally feeding little and often, so the first thing is to establish a longer spell between two of his feeds. As he’s really hungry at night, in the first instance I would drop a day feed, as you don’t want him screaming all night.

    “If he’s had a feed at 5am, for example, you might consider this his ‘breakfast’ milk, then when he wakes up for the day go straight on to solids. Increasing your baby’s daytime solids should automatically reduce his need for milk at night.

    “Once you’re happy he’s having a decent amount of solids, you can look to cut out his first night feed – ask your partner to settle him however he can. But when your baby wakes the second time it’s important to give him as much milk as he wants. 

    “When you’re down to two night feeds, continue to encourage him to have more solids during the day.  As his daytime solids increase you can look to cut out the first of the two night feeds, just as you did before.

    “But only look to limit the amount of milk he has at night once you’re down to one night feed and he is sleeping through consistently until 7am. Then make sure you reduce it very gradually, either with 2-3 minutes less on the breast every few days or ½oz less in his bottle.

    “Once he’s getting the right balance of milk and solids, he should naturally give up this feed.”

    For more night feeding info, we have advice on how to make feeding your baby at night easier, whether it’s by breast or bottle.

    You can find expert weaning advice, tips and baby meal planners in our dedicated feeding section, including specific info on:

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