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NAN: Night Feeding Schedules

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During the first few months most full-term infants will wake and need to be fed at least once during the night.  According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, between two and four months of age, or when the baby weighs more than 12 pounds, most formula-fed babies no longer need a middle-of-the night feeding, because they’re consuming more during the day and their sleeping patterns have become more regular (although this varies considerably from baby to baby). 

While the American Academy of Pediatrics states that healthy, growing babies usually do not need to be awakened to breastfeed or take a bottle, if a nanny is responsible for night feedings and the infant requires one, the feedings should be brief and the environment should remain conducive to sleep.

Like adults, infants can wake briefly during the night. When an infant cries during the night, it can be helpful to wait a few minutes to see if he falls back to sleep on his own. Between six and nine months of age, infants can learn to self-soothe if given the opportunity. Infants learn to self-soothe by sucking on their hands or listening to their voices and the sounds that they make. When a baby is put into his crib drowsy, but still awake, he learns what it feels like to fall asleep on his own, which can help him learn to fall back to sleep when he wakes.

When comforting a baby who wakes during the night, before picking him up, try patting his belly or offering a pacifier. These strategies, rather than feeding or rocking, can help to foster an infant’s ability to self soothe and fall back to sleep.

Instead of rushing into the room right away when an infant cries, provide him with an opportunity to comfort himself and to fall back to sleep. If an infant’s cry indicates pain or genuine hunger, the caregiver should tend to the infant’s needs immediately. An infant who wakes in the middle of the night at the same time each night is likely waking out of habit rather than hunger.

Michelle LaRoweNAN: Night Feeding Schedules