It can be a real challenge, especially with younger babies, to break the association of feeding to sleep. A lot of parents I speak to are fearful of not feeding or failing to meet the hunger needs of their babies. It can be hard to decipher between a ‘want’ and a ‘need’, but, trust me, they are very different! They may just be so used to being fed to sleep, that they simply don’t know how to fall asleep without it so will need it everytime they are trying to get to sleep (either at initial sleep onset or if they wake in the night).
But many typically developing babies who have a healthy appetite and steady weight gain will be able to go without night feeds from about 4-6 months.
Dream feeding works really well with sleep training as it means your baby can stay asleep while still getting their feed. There is then no risk of the child unlearning their self-settling skills or getting confused about when they get fed-to-sleep and when they do it themselves.
Growth spurts or developmental phases do not mean that night hunger returns, so don’t jump straight back into giving night feeds if you see they are growing or waking throughout the night. There is likely to be other things (e.g their total sleep needs and self-settling skills) that are the reason for increased night wakings.
I also recommend to parents to practice feeding upon waking during the day and allow their baby to finish their feed at bedtime, awake or drowsy but not fully asleep. This, again, helps them learnt the skill or self-settling themselves without solely relying on the feed to send them off to sleep.
As always, book a free call with me to find out more about how I can help with your child’s sleep and we can get you started on a plan to help you get the sleep you need!