If your child is three months old and still requires constant feeding throughout the night, then it can result in some sleep problems. The extra feeding can keep him awake in the middle of the night. This can reduce the quality of sleep, therefore negatively affecting his mood and energy throughout the day (plus remember that good sleep habits make your baby smarter).
You may want to help him sleep better by reducing the number of feeding. However, if your baby consumes a significant amount of food from the breast or bottle, especially over 8 ounces, then this means that he has associated night time with mealtime.
It’s best to eliminate this feeding process slowly and gradually. With that in mind, here are some information and solutions to consider.
Solving the problem
If you find that excessive feeding at night is interfering with your child’s sleep, then there are two solutions that can be extremely helpful.
The first thing is to reduce nighttime feeding to prevent him or her from waking up at night.
The second is to teach your child a new sleep association, so he or she can fall asleep without being fed, held, or sucking on the bottle or breast.
You can either do these things at the same time or one at a time.
Slow and steady
The best way to eliminate excessive feeding during sleep time is to start slowly and gradually. You want to decrease the number of nighttime feeding gradually. Don’t stop feeding suddenly, or else it can cause stress and anxiety within your child.
The main goal is to gradually transfer your child’s sense of hunger from nighttime to daytime. Once you have eliminated a significant amount of feeding to a single nighttime feeding, You can choose to stop feeding him or her right away or continue to reduce that number gradually.
Working on sleep association
If you are working on hunger patterns and association altogether, then put your child in bed immediately after each feeding is over. Even though he might wake up and cry constantly, but eventually, he will stop. If you nurse him while he sleeps next to you, then take him off when the feeding is done, so he can learn to fall asleep without your breast. After all, you just fed him, so he shouldn’t be hungry anymore. The idea is to change his expectation of what happens while he goes to sleep.
Take Home message
After a week, you should have finished cutting down or eliminating the nighttime feeding frenzy. Continue applying the technique until the nighttime feeding is completely over. The whole process should not take more than a few days. Make sure not to feel frustrated, but to remain positive, and to know that eventually, he or she will learn how to sleep without feeding through the night.
What to do if my baby continues to have sleep problems ?
Every baby is created differently; some may stop their feeding habits at night, while others will resist the change.
Babies may cry during the night not necessarily because they’re hungry but also because (excluding pain and diseases):
1) they may need to learn how to sleep (see more about nighttime cry and sleeping habits).
2) they’re transitioning from crib to bed (find out when a baby is ready to sleep in a kid bed)
3) they’re struggling to sleep alone (see more on our brief co-sleeping guide)
4) they suffer from nightmares so frightening they wakes up screaming. The “Night Terror Stopper” book by Mary-Ann Schuler, included in the Baby Sleep Miracle approach, may help you in this case and more generally teach you strategies and techniques to help eliminate your child’s need to feed at night. So he/she and you can get a better night’s sleep.