Younger babies with small stomachs need smaller feeds more often, which means night feeds are essential for their development. As they grow, the need to feed during the night should naturally decrease.
However, some babies continue to wake during the night whether they need to feed or not. This can be down to actual hunger, minor ailments, such as a cold, or it might be simply because they’re used to waking. Read on to find out more about the reasons why and how you can break the habit.
For the first three months of your baby’s life their stomach is so tiny that they need to feed during the day and night in order to take in enough milk. But even after three months, there are many other reasons why your baby still wakes for feeds during the night, such as:
- Thirst or hunger
- The pain of teething
- Your baby may be cold; check the temperature of the room
- If they’re feeling unwell, or have a temperature, it can disturb them
- They may just miss the warmth of your body, cuddles and company at night
Breaking the pattern
Newborn babies only have small stomachs, so they need to wake during the night because they can only take a small amount of milk at a time. They need to feed at regular intervals throughout the day and night to ensure their nutritional requirements are met.
However, some older babies and toddlers get into a habit of waking for unnecessary feeds during the night. To break the pattern, try reducing the number and length of daytime naps. This will ensure they’re more tired come bedtime and need to sleep for longer through the night. Because they’ll be awake for longer during the day, they’ll have more time to make up for any feeds they missed during the night as a result of sleeping through. You could also try comforting them with something other than a feed when they wake, such as a cuddle.