Why Night Weaning Isn’t Working

November 30, 2012 |  by  |  1 YO, 2 YO, 6-9 Months, 9-12 Months
night weaning - why baby eats all night

Is your ongoing project to night-wean your baby a huge and utter failure? Does the idea of sleeping, without interruption, seem as unattainable as travel by jetpack? Starting to feel a little stabby?

Don’t feel bad, you’re in good company. Getting your baby to consume all their calories during civilized hours can be a tricky project beset by illness, teething, and a seemingly endless stream of growth spurts. But it can be done. And it helps to start by figuring out why things aren’t quite working out as planned.

Any night-weaning project needs to start with putting baby down awake. If you are still nursing/feeding/using the pacifier to get baby to sleep (and let’s face it, most of us are) you need to START with putting baby down awake AT bedtime. You cannot skip this step. No cheating. Put baby down awake.

But what if you ARE putting baby down awake and you’re still not having any success at night? Below I’ve listed the 8 most common reasons night weaning isn’t working in order from the MOST likely (#1) to the LEAST likely (#8).

Why Weaning Isn’t Working


They’re too young.

Some babies aren’t ready to fast for 12 hours until they are 6-8 months old. If your 10 month old is still eating all night long, you’ve probably got other issues. But when your baby is 4, 5, or even 6 months old, they may be simply not ready to go that long without a meal. So if your 6 month old still resolutely eats 1-2X a night, it may simply be a “wait it out” type of issue.


Eat = Sleep

Even if you are putting baby down awake, she could still have a STRONG eat=sleep association that will stymie your efforts to night wean. Night weaning STARTS at bedtime. If you’re nursing/feeding just PRIOR to bedtime, your baby can maintain a food=sleep association and insist on being fed throughout the night. You’re going to have to put your night-weaning project on hold and focus on separating the eat=sleep association AT bedtime. Try mixing up your bedtime routine so that there is minimally a 20 minute gap between food and sleep.


Not Enough Soothing

Sometimes babies are nursing all night because they need the soothing to help them navigate sleep cycles. So you rush in there, nurse for 3 seconds, and they happily fall back to sleep for another 2 hours, rinse, repeat. You look at your partner with frustration who responds calmly, “Well what do you want ME to do about it?” In 95% of cases the root issue here is the same as #2 – you are nursing/feeding to sleep and/or too close to bedtime. However 5% of the time the issue is simply that baby isn’t getting enough soothing and needs a little extra during the night. If your baby is under 6 months and needs more soothing, I would strongly suggest you consider swaddling and loud white noise. Even if you thought you were “done” with the swaddle, it’s a far preferable solution to the “needs more soothing” issue than serving a human pacifier, no?


Distracted Eater

As babies get older and more interested in the world they can’t be bothered to stop staring at the Christmas lights long enough to eat. So despite your best efforts baby may eat just enough to get by during the day, choosing instead to tank up at night when it’s dark and boring out. Or….


Preferred Source

Many working Moms find that their baby barely consumes 10oz a day at daycare, far less than they are pumping, but then is ravenous all night long. Often your baby previously had one small snack at night but now is clamoring for huge nursing sessions throughout the night. Why? Because they would much prefer to get their milk fresh from the breasturant and, given that the breasturant is only open at night, they wait to eat at night. The solution to distracted eaters and “only the boob will do” babies really deserves it’s own post. But clearly the answer is to get more calories in during the day and to make food less available/appealing at night. Because if baby is fasting during the day for whatever reason, night-weaning will continue to be an uphill slog.


Too Much Solid Food

Feeding babies solids is super fun and especially for nursing Moms, can be a well-earned reprieved from being the sole source for on-demand feedings. But baby food is calorically light. 4 oz of breastmilk = 80 calories. 4 oz of gerber carrots = 15 calories. It’s like high-fiber diet food. So don’t let your well-intentioned enthusiasm to offer solid meals interfere with liquid calories during the day.


Nursing Issues

PLEASE DON’T PANIC AS THIS IS VERY RARELY THE ISSUE. No…I can see you are panicking. Please stop. Really. In very RARE cases there might be a small nursing issue that is tripping you up. Sometimes baby is thriving, growing, and producing wet diapers but supply is just a tiny bit low so baby is constantly hungry and eats hourly all day long. Or maybe oversupply or fast letdown means that baby is filling up on watery foremilk but not getting enough of the fatty hindmilk, and thus need to eat constantly because each meal is really more of a snack. I’m not a nursing expert and there are probably 5 other small nursing challenges that might lead to an older baby who needs to eat constantly. But I DO know that they’re a) rare and b) fixable. If you suspect this is the root problem it’s time to find a reputable, local IBCLC to work with.


Self Sabotage

Maybe you’re a working mom who feels guilty about not having enough cuddle time during the day. Maybe you still see your hearty 25 lb baby as the 5 lb preemie he was 10 months ago. For many reasons sometimes parents aren’t quite ready to night wean and that tiny voice inside tells them to run into baby’s room every time they here a coo in the night. And that’s totally OK. Take some quiet time and ask yourself, “Am I really ready for this? Do I feel some inner conflict about it?” If you aren’t ready, take weaning off the table until you are. It’s OK. You’ll get there.

Anybody struggling with night weaning? Any success stories from the trenches? Anything else I should add to my list?


  1. Oh yeah I should mention he’s 6.5 months old, and breast fed. We’ve started solids but based on what I read here I’m only feeding him high calorie foods like potato and avocado now, and only once a day. The rest of the day, I’m trying to feed him as much as I can.

    Any help super appreciated! Thank you!

    • hi everyone my baby is 6 months old and from about 6-14 weeks she slept at least 8 hours at night then out of the blue she wakes every 3 hours at night and the only way i can settle her is boob. she naps well goes down with a dummy and comforter easy peasy. same for first going to bed. BUT when she wakes she refuses dummy and gets really cross till i feed her. feeds for about 5 mins and i pop her off shove the dummy in and she goes off on her own fine. i didnt think she could be that hungry but im always worried if i try not to feed her im depriving my hungry baby! she feeds every 3 -4 hours in the day and just started baby led weaning so shes not eating much solids yet. any tips??

    • Hi all. Am trying to wean my 9 month old. She use to be a good sleeper waking once at late at night (4.30 am) for a small feed. Then she turned 8 months and regressesed to waking up several times. She now wakes up twice and still requires a feed at least once.
      Her bedtime routine starts at 5.45 pm and she is in bed awake by 6.45 pm. From what read perhaps I feed her and don’t leave enough of a gap before putting her down.

  2. I have read all the info I can find on your wonderful sight about night weaning! My 7 month old has been going to sleep happy and independently for naps and bedtimes for almost 3 months. However, she continues to wake between 2-4 times a night for boob. I have been tracking them and they vary pretty widely…how do I know which feed to reduce/illimate first? And at the end of the reduction of nursing time, do I go in at all when she wakes crying or do I just leave her cry til she falls asleep? And if she wakes an hour later? Do I feed her then and then start reducing that amount? I am just so confused! I thought that once she learned to self sooth, it would be clear sailing as it was with my other limitless one, but no such luck!

    • Leigh,
      This is completely my situation too! Totally inconsistent wake ups but 3-5 of them. I also thought after he became an independent sleeper it would be smooth sailing and I’m very frustrated. I’m trying to go no less than 3 hours between feedings but finding that I cannot handle the crying at night. I’m just too tired, so I go in and feed him for 5 minutes and we’re all asleep…until an hour or 2 later. What to do!? I’m confused too!

      • Hi! I just wanted to chime in on this in case you get any advice because I am in a similar situation! CIO worked great for bedtime and naps, but the night wakings are still so random…. Usually 3 a night tho. I tried weaning off the first feeding, but my daughter just started waking up an hour later wanting more food. I feel so lost in the middle of the night, never knowing exactly what to do. Would love some advice on what to do during random night wakings after the baby has just been fed!

        • Hi- I am in this position too. 8 month old will fall asleep on her own for the most part for all naps and night sleep, however will wake about 2+ times per night to eat, and really eats (not just sucking and falling back asleep.) We have a 30 min bedtime routine and separate bed from feeding by 15+ minutes. Am trying to shorten the 2am feeding but she just wakes up again later hungry.

          Did you have any luck with your little one? Any words of advice?

          • Hi Ladies,

            I’m going through this exact thing with my almost 8-month-old son right now. Puts himself to sleep happily for all naps and bedtime, but wakes 3-4 times/night to nurse. We’ve been reducing the time of feedings for the last 10 days but I’m nervous about what happens when we get below 3 min each…if he will actually decide he doesn’t need to feed…if he will be upset…if I will need to send my husband in…if that will work…

            What wound up working for you?

            Grateful for any feedback!

            • This is exactly what’s going on with my 8 1/2 month old. She LOVES solid foods and almost refuses to nurse during the day- she’s also very distracted while nursing! CIO for naps and bedtime doesn’t last more than a minute or two, but wakes 2-5 at night sporadically. I try to let her CIO a while, but it’s so hard when I am so TIRED, plus she wails through 20+ minutes so I don’t know if I should let her go much longer than that. Help, I want to sleep again…

  3. I have been going through the same thing. We’ve been struggling with sleep for months now but I have finally gotten little Gannon to the point where he’ll fall asleep on his own for bedtime and naps. I’ve completely separated nursing from sleep and our bedtime routine is solid. So what’s with him waking, eating, then after I put him down not 30 minutes later he’s wailing! For the past week he’s been gradually getting up earlier and earlier to eat and more often. I’m not sure how to go about it. I used to be able to just wait it out and he’d conk out again after 10 minutes of fussing but now I don’t know what to do!

    • Well…it sounds like we are all in good company at least 🙂 I have tried leaving her in the night for 15-20 minutes…she doesn’t really cry…more just calling for me…at which point, I am tired and just go feed her quickly and then I can get back to bed. I guess one night maybe on the week-end I can try waiting longer…like an hour? it just sucks to lose the hour of sleep, when I know I can put her back to sleep in minutes!! LOL! But maybe short term pain for long term gain? Perhaps I will start with the early waking which is usually sometime between 10-12…and see if I can get her to sleep until the early morning hours…like 2 or 3 and then work on stretching it out until 5 or 6? I really wish a tailored baby sleep plan came out after the baby instead of the placenta! HA! Here’s hoping for some progress ladies…

      • In case this is helpful for waiting out any night wakings, I actually put in earplugs on several occasions or slept in another room. It felt weird but it helped me from instantly jumping up to nurse my son in the middle of the night and helped me get through the crying if I had decided not to nurse him.

    • Oh my! I have never met anyone else who had named their son Gannon! 🙂

  4. I am so glad to find I am in good company. I don’t know how to get my 10 month old to drink more during the day. He barely finishes about 10 oz a day at daycare and wants to nurse 1-3 times a night still. How do I get him to drink more during the day?? Should I back off on solids? He LOVES to eat his solids. He’s such a good eater, but his teacher pretty much has to force a bottle of breastmilk on him three times a day while I am at work. It’s so frustrating!

  5. I need some ideas, mamas! We have been putting DD down awake since 8 months old, and she barely fusses about it and goes right to sleep. DH does it most nights. I have also gotten her down to one feeding a night (around 3-4am). The problem is, she ALWAYS wakes up 2 hours after that feeding and won’t go back to sleep. That means she is ready to start the day at 5:30 most days. Is this normal? Is there anything I can try to get her to sleep longer after that feeding? Taking her to bed with me doesn’t work, since hubs wakes her up when he gets up if she’s in the bed.

    Also, since the time change happened (spring forward, aka “the devil”) we moved her bedtime from 7 to 8, because it’s not even close to dark out at 7pm and baby is still wired. My days feel so much longer now that she’s up so early and down so much later. Sunset is going to only get later, so what to you moms do about this? Do you keep pushing your baby’s bedtime back with the Sun, or do they just go to bed even when it’s still bright as day out there?

    • i should add that she’s 10 months old now.

    • Hey Janelle,
      I feel you with the long day thing. But also jealous that your little lady only wakes up once a night and consistently. Recently we purchased a very dark pair of curtains for the room that baby sleeps in. This means you can make it night time any time you want, and so you might be able to push her bed time to 7 again. Who knows, maybe this would help her sleep past 5:30 too! From everything I’ve read, I think it’s normal for babies to wake up this early, and mine, no matter when his bed time is, will wake up around the same time too.

      • Thanks Claudia. I know I should be more thankful that she only wakes up once (most nights.) It’s good to know that the early wake time is pretty normal and not a result of something I am doing wrong. We do have blackout curtains in her room already, but in my head I’m thinking since we aren’t in her bedroom hours before bedtime (we’re usually outside or in brighter parts of the house) her body isn’t getting the “it’s getting close to bedtime” cue that it used to get. I guess if we spent the last hour before bedtime in her room where it is darker I could get her back to sleep earlier, but thats not really practical for us most nights. I guess I will just start going to bed earlier myself and try to get used to the early mornings!

        • i think i jinxed myself yesterday. my little lady was up every 2 hours last night! lots of coffee was consumed today. fingers crossed for some good zzz’s tonight 🙂

    • I wouldn’t push bed time later and later. We live in sweden and as it gets closer to midsummer the days get incredibly long i.e. still day light at 10 p.m and morning at 4 a.m. my advice is to use blackout curtains

  6. Well, my little monkey is on more of a routine at night, but it’s pretty much back to how it was before sleep training. And I’m almost positive it’s that he still has a sleep-eat association. I have tried separating eating from sleeping but he is such a distracted eater, that he will only have a good feed when he’s tired and sleepy! So it’s a very strong association. Yesterday I put him down asleep for every nap and bedtime. Tried to keep him awake but it wouldn’t work. Any advice or suggestions?

    • Claudia – Could you try the EASY routine instead? So that the feeding is right when the baby wakes up instead of before naps and bed. E = East, A= Activity and S=Sleep…the Y is supposed to be ‘you’ but I have yet to master this part! For me, I nurse my dd right after she wakes up, then we play a while…then she has her solids, a bit more play then I put her down for a nap. That way there is no chance for her to fall asleep at the boob…because she just woke up. It might be an adjustment, but that might help break the eat/sleep association?

  7. Thanks Leigh! I have actually been trying to transition to this. It’s slow going because I have no other way to soothe him or help him get sleepy before a nap. I try rocking, walking, jiggling, shushing, singing, but he just won’t settle down until he has that boob in his mouth. Improvements have been made though. Since I’m also feeding him after the nap, I’m not afraid he won’t get enough to eat so I pull him off RIGHT when he is at a 7 of sleepiness and not asleep yet. He might make a few noises but goes right to sleep. My other thought is that I end up feeding him so often because of the before and after nap feeding (plus a few more in between to be honest.) Do you have any thoughts about how that might impact the night? Like he’s used to eating so often during the day, maybe he can’t go very long at night because of that?

  8. hi, my 4 mo. old self-soothes to sleep by sucking his thumb. he still wakes up a lot during night. do you think this can be reason for his wakings? should be able to fall to sleep without the thumb or is this ok?

  9. I can’t believe I didn’t see this post earlier. I’m desperate for advice! My 5 and a half month old goes to sleep on his own for naps and night and definitely doesn’t have an eat = sleep association, but he still wakes up 4 to 6 times every night, screaming. We started CIO nine days ago and let him cry through the first wake up, which could be anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes after he goes to bed, but now, nine days later, things haven’t really improved. He cries a bit less, but he’s still waking up all night and I don’t know when to feed him and when to let him cry. And his wake up times are totally inconsistent, which also makes it tough. I know I shouldn’t be feeding him all night long, but I’m super confused. Ideas?

    • Hi Jen,

      I could have written your post myself. My daughter just hit 6months and has exactly the same “schedule.” At first I thought it could be a sleep regression/growth spurt but honestly, she has been like this since birth. I don’t believe it’s a 6month long growth spurt. We have a bedtime routine and did CIO which worked beautifully for getting her to fall asleep on her own. Staying asleep is an entirely different story. After two weeks of trying CIO during the night (with one feed at 2-4ish) we kind of gave up and now I feed her whenever she wakes up. I’m not sure if that was the right thing or not, but we were desperate to end the crying all night. So, I basically want to commiserate and hope that we can get some advice on this.

      Just one thought that worked for extending her first wake-up. I nurse her and then give her a bottle for her last feed (which is 30 minutes before actual bedtime). It helps to tank her up a bit and she usually doesn’t wake up for about 4 hours. My supply seems to dip pretty low at night and I think she was genuinely hungry when she woke up an hour or so later. As for the 2-4 additional wake-ups…I have no idea. Do I feed her, let her cry? Hopefully we can both get some advice and some sleep!


      • Hi Emily,

        I don’t know if I’m happy or sad to hear that you’re in the same boat :). We’re on day two of no pacifier, which I’m hoping might help with the night waking. Last night he woke up for about a minute or two about 90 minutes after falling asleep and then slept until 12:30 – five and a half hours from bed time – before I fed him. He then fussed a bit at 3:30, but I had told myself I wouldn’t go in again before 4, and he put himself back to sleep without really crying too much. At 4 he woke up again and I fed him, and then again around 5:30 because I didn’t want him to wake up for the day. Sigh. Sad to say this is actually a bit of an improvement.

        I think I will try feeding him a bit extra in the last feeding. It’s so tough the the BF to know exactly how much he’s getting, right? I don’t think I have any supply issues, but who knows? And, like your daughter, he’s kind of been doing this all along, so I don’t think it’s a growth spurt or anything.

        Some ideas – Ferber suggests spacing feedings out by a half hour more each night as a way to night wean. But this only works if you can stand the crying in between… Weissbluth says it’s normal for babies to eat up to twice at night until they’re nine months old, but he seems to propose CIO for the feedings you’re eliminating. So you’re stuck with crying again. The tough part for me with all of this is that my son is so inconsistent with his wake up times, so it’s hard to have a consistent plan. I do know that I have to have a plan in mind before I go to bed or I will just keep getting up all night. I hate the crying, but I really want him to learn to sleep better so he gets some consolidated sleep (and I do too!).

        Good luck and let me know how it’s going!


        • Jen or Emily, I know y’all commented over a year ago… but did either of y’all ever figure out a solution? Or what finally worked? I’m in the same boat with my 6mo right now!!! Thanks ladies!

  10. Glad to know we’re not alone here…

    My exclusively breastfed 6.5 month old boy has started waking like clockwork at 9:30pm (bedtime = 7/7:30pm), then again around 11:30pm and at 4am.

    We are fine with the 11:30pm and 4am feedings, but are confused about how to drop the 9:30pm feeding. He also has a really hard time taking the bottle (i.e. refuses!), so we are unsure about leaving him with a babysitter to go out during that 9:30pm wake-up.

    He does know how to fall asleep on his own, sucks his thumb and uses a lovey, so I guess this waking is about a nursing/sleeping association? I nurse and sing to him just before I put him in the crib. I guess I should break that up…

    We don’t feel ready to completely night wean, but we wanted to know if there was a way to get him to stop waking up at the 9:30pm mark, or if we have to night wean in order to do that.

    Also, is night weaning best in the 6-9 month range?

    • Hey Darby, we are in the same situation with my daughter, I wondered what happened for you in the end? Was it a phase or did you have to do something to end it? X

      • Susie, that post was from when my son (first baby) was 6.5 months… Now he is 3.5 years! I also have a 7 month old girl and sleep has been much easier with her and more straightforward, as a result of both her temperament as well as me knowing what to do.

        Bottom line: I would definitely wean the 9:30 pm wake up, as she is really not hungry. So take a few nights to nurse incrementally less by 2 mins each. (First night, nurse 10 mins, then by the last night you nurse 2 mins, then the next night you would not go in, and if she cries, you could do quick check ins at 5, 10, 15 mins.) Check out the section on weaning in Sleepy Planet: The Sleep Easy Solution. You can also email the author of that book for a phone consultation which I did.

        Currently this is what I do with my 7.5 month old:

        Bedtime: 6:45-7pm
        Dream feed (nursing): 11pm
        Wake up: 6:30am

        Basically you want to do a dream feed in order to preempt a wake up at am. We have had next to no wake ups at that time.

        Let me know if this helps!

        • PS forgot to mention, definitely put down awake, she may cry but she goes to sleep after only a few mins. But that is partly because I started putting her down awake and letting her fuss when she was 3 months.

          Also, I finally night weaned my son (who I wrote about in the prior post) around 10 months, which is considered late by the hard core camp.

          If you want to go a completely different direction, then read Sweet Sleep and you would just basically nurse whenever.

  11. Our 10 month old girl is sleeping badly at the moment. She’s always been a bad sleeper, though she does at least put herself to sleep without a fuss since we did CIO at 6 months. Everything after the initial falling asleep is a disaster. She still has no teeth at all which confuses me very much because I swear she’s been teething since she was 3 months old…. recently she just stopped drooling completely after 7 months of completely soaking her dribble bibs. She is exclusively breastfed, and is still totally attached to the idea that all her food should come from my boobs. She hardly eats any solid food, most of it just ends up on the floor, and she is now lighter than she was at 6 months because she doesn’t eat much and is CONSTANTLY moving. She is very easily distracted, can’t sit still and whenever I start to feed her solid food she just points at my chest and gets upset. I don’t want to force feed her of course, but I’m concerned that the less she eats during the day, the more she wakes at night to make up for it. My breastmilk hasn’t been sustaining her for a about a month so I know she needs more, though I still nurse her on demand. She refuses a bottle and doesn’t take more than a few sips from a sippy cup per day so supplements will be difficult. I am worried I’m not doing enough to encourage her to eat, and not sure how to gradually transition her out of nighttime feeds if she doesn’t get enough during the day….. anyone have any suggestions/experience/reassurance??! 🙁

  12. Kirsten I am curious as to how things worked out with you. My situation is so similar! My baby is almost 9 months, and refuses most solids. i am pretty sure I don’t produce enough milk to be completely filling her needs, and she’s a very low-weight baby. So when she wakes up twice a night I still nurse her because 1) those are her best feedings, and 2) I don’t want to continue the milk supply decrease. I do know that a couple of months ago she only woke once a night so she used to go longer but she isn’t anymore.
    Anyway in case things haven’t yet resolved on the food front …. I think you don’t really need to “worry” about solids until 1 year old, at which point you can start giving cow or other milk in a sippy cup. Mine refuses all baby food but I’ve found I can get her to eat some finger foods if she’s in the mood (cheerios, bites of bread, bites of cheese, etc), and nut butters (sunflower seed or almond are fine at less than 1 year). Try high-calorie foods. (aside: babies stop drooling because at some age they can swallow their drool; yours is probably still/constantly teething!!)

  13. Hi Alexis.

    Firstly thanks for your awesome site. I’ve got a 9 month old boy who still wakes once a night for a breastfeed, and I think it’s really time for him to sleep through the night! I’m thinking that the reason night weaning isn’t working in our household is a combination of 2. Eat = Sleep, 4. Distracted Eater and 6. Too Much Solid Food.

    The reason I’m thinking Eat = Sleep is that at most *night feeds* bub will fall asleep at the breast, and now refuses to go back to sleep himself without it, even though he is happily settling himself at all nap and bedtimes. I’m finding it hard to control the amount of time bub is on the breast because if I take him off prematurely then he will cry and cry just as if I hadn’t fed him at all. In this case I’m not sure whether to rock/pat him back to sleep (which could take an hour) or let him CIO

    Distracted Eater and Too Much Solid Food kind of goes hand in hand because the less breast milk he has, the more solid food he has. I will aim to give him more milk during the day so hopefully he doesn’t need it at night.

    I know of course you are a very busy woman but if you have any advice I would love to hear it.

    Your faithful reader,

  14. Hi Alexis,

    So glad a friend told me about your website! Anyways, my son is 6 months old and he’s terrible napper (only down for 1 hour nap each time he naps) unless someone is holding him (he could nap for 2 hours if someone is holding him). He was sleeping trough the night (from 10-3) at around 3 months and woke up only once a night to eat. Around 5 months, he started waking up to eat a LOT more, we’re talking 3 to 4 times a night. Around this time, he also started to refuse taking bottle and my mom (who takes care of him during the day while I am at work) is lucky if she can get him to drink 8 oz of pumped breast milk. I still breast-feed him when I am home and at nights. He takes solid no problem during the day, he eats 2-3 solid every day, we just started the third solid recently after his pediatrician told me that. Anyways, I think the problem is that he preferred to drink from me (#5 here) and therefore he ‘fasts’ during the day while I am at work. I am so tired and exhausted … My husband tried to help out by taking him aside and feed bottle to him but my baby cried and screamed until I give him boobs. We wanted to do some sleep training too soon and this will not help if he is still hungry all the time at night. Any suggestion?

  15. HELP! My 8 month old eats 3 meals a day plus some snacks and a few bottles during the day and still wakes up 2-3 sometimes 4 times a night for a bottle.. Idk what To do anymore!! We are all miserable because none of us are getting the sleep we need.. Hubby helps but most of the time he wants mommy and I have insomnia as it is so it makes it harder for me!! Someone please help!!

    • This I exactly my situation only my boy is 9 and a half months…..he eats 3 large meals a day plus 3 to 4 bottles and still wakes 3 times during the night….the first wake which is usually between 11 & 12 he won’t settle without a bottle….the next wake is around 1.30 I can usually get him back to sleep with no bottle and the wake is around 4/4.30 he will another bottle…..he never leaves a drop in either of these bottles…..he was sleeping through from about 3 and a half months and that’s lasted for a couple of months

  16. Feel like I’m back I square one, we did the night weaning via cry it out, not wise I since read but we’d cracked it or so I thought! Then my 10month old gets a cold and I’m back to doing feeds twice a night. I’m so exhausted I have no idea how I used to get up 8 times a night! But I think it’s that I haven’t slept a full night in 10 months even the very rare nights when he has slept through I still wake up myself! It’s getting to the point that I’m so tearful in the day, I am supposed to be studying but trying to do that while he naps is killing me, I miss sleeping while h sleeps! When he wakes in he night it takes 5 mins to feed him or 3 hours of hysterics if I refuse the breast or send my other half in. I really wish my partner would try harder to comfort him but he just gets peed off by all the head throwing and just puts him back in his cot screaming, I find it unbearable to hear & I have forced myself to do it but ten no sooner have we ‘fixed’ his sleep its broken again. My partner works and I don’t so he gets annoyed about doing anything in the night, he does bath & bed after I’ve fed lo so it’s not an eat=sleep situation, I think it’s the needs more soothing thing but how do I soothe my 10 month old when only the boob will do day or night? 🙁 x

    • Oh my gosh, How are things now? I love this site and have used the advice successfully to get my 12 month to go to sleep on his own at bed-time and naps. I think the eat=sleep may be our problem, too. But things have gotten so bad, last night for the 1st time in 2 months, we totally gave up putting him back in the crib only for him to scream again in 2 hrs and put him in bed with us. I’ve gotten the length of feedings down tremendously. I actually don’t even think he’s hungry. I think its a comfort thing. Sometimes he’s only on my breast for a couple minutes then goes right back to sleep. Yet he still wakes up screaming and refuses to be comforted by dad. Well, the longest I can take hearing dad trying is 20 minutes at 2, 3, 4am.

  17. Suggestions, please! Night weaning is not working. Baby is 9.5 months. I gradually reduced the night feeding to 4 minutes (wonderful), but the 3-minute mark was a disaster. Bedtime is super easy, she doesn’t nurse to sleep or even within 30 minutes of bedtime, eliminated the comfort snuggles at bedtime as that was one waking issue, she eats plenty of milk at daycare & with me, is great with solids and even table foods, no binky at night. I’m confident she is not actually hungry, it’s just habit & comfort. Now she’s even started waking around midnight (which she hasn’t done in months) AND 2:30ish. Does this mean we have to CIO in the middle of the night to fix the problem?

  18. We have had a pretty horrendous month or so with a 3 week virus, followed by two top teeth & then he carried on waking out of habit, i also think it could be developmental and a growth spurt as he is taking his first steps & has suddenly got taller! This week on mon night I really had had enough so did a feed at 1:15 when he first woke up but he was still wide awake, he just seems to want me to hold him all night so I just but him in his cot & went in at increased intervals with no further boob offerings! He eventually let me rock him til he stopped crying and was drowsy (this is the first I have ever managed this without boob!!) I put him back in his cot awake & he slept til 7am (a kid who normally gets up 6:30 at the latest!) tues he slept from 8pm-4:40am 1 feed then another 7am get up, wed 7:30ish- 4am 1 feed & slept til nearly 7! Then last night 8-1:50 1 feed then up 6:40ish. I get the feeling already it’s slowly slipping back to more wakings. I just keep telling myself this will pass & at least it’s been a much better week. The last month he’s been waking up at least 4 times a night!! Good luck everyone xx

  19. My almost 11 month old is in the same boat. I made mistakes when he was younger and gave him milk when he was tired and fed him to sleep for months as I really didn’t know what I was doing (still don’t really.) As he is approaching 1, I am keen to give up breastfeeding. I have been giving him a bottle of formula as his bedtime feed for a few weeks, but he doesnt take much – about 3 ounces, and thats when I repeatedly offer it again and again. He wakes up on average 4 times a night. I’m not keen on letting him cry, and for my husband it is a complete no no, so we are not going to be able to use controlled crying to teach him to self sooth. I just cant see any other way at the moment? For the past 3 nights I have had baby in bed with me, and cuddled/sang each time he woke up instead of offering milk. I am thinking this is progress, but maybe I am being naive – I was hoping if he learned he wasnt going to get milk he wouldnt wake up so frequently, and that the cuddle would be a more sensitive way to manage it. Any advice?!!

    • The method you describe (cuddling and singing instead of feeding). This is a legitimate no cry method called trading down sleep associations. It takes much longer than CIO usually but you get to gently replace extremely strong associations like feeding with lighter ones like patting on he back. You can check out the Isis parenting sleep section for more info. They have webinars. Just Google Isis parenting. Good luck!

  20. hi everyone my baby is 6 months old and from about 6-14 weeks she slept at least 8 hours at night then out of the blue she wakes every 3 hours at night and the only way i can settle her is boob. she naps well goes down with a dummy and comforter easy peasy. same for first going to bed. BUT when she wakes she refuses dummy and gets really cross till i feed her. feeds for about 5 mins and i pop her off shove the dummy in and she goes off on her own fine. i didnt think she could be that hungry but im always worried if i try not to feed her im depriving my hungry baby! she feeds every 3 -4 hours in the day and just started baby led weaning so shes not eating much solids yet. any tips??

  21. My son is 9 months old and from 4 months on we have never recovered from the so called “sleep-regression”. He was wakin up between 5-10 times a night and in the past two weeks or so I have gotten him down to one night waking. However, this week he is back waking at least 4 times a night! Help! He doesn’t want to nurse everytime and I know he can go longer than 4 hours at night because he has gone up to 7 hours before. I have heard giving him a sippy full of water will deter him, but I am not wanting to emotionally scar him. Please help! Any advice? He does go down awake for naps and bedtime he is not fed to sleep. He is nursed, has a bath, a story and I sing him his favorite song and he will reach down for his crib, rollover and fall asleep. I had him over the hump of not waking for about 6 hours after falling asleep but now he is back to waking up 3-4 hours after falling asleep at 7. CIO has been a huge failure he will cry for hours.

  22. This post is a lifesaver! Thank you! Got 9 hrs of straight sleep last night thanks to separating the pre bedtime feeding a few more minutes from getting my 7 month old ready for bed. Thank you a thousand times. I was getting desperate!

  23. Alexis –

    My almost-7-month-old is finally going to bed on his own thanks to your advice. We moved nursing to the beginning of the bedtime routine and thus he goes down awake. We started w/ the Ferber method and eventually moved on to Weissbluth when we realized our checks only made things worse. So, goal accomplished, baby falls to sleep *usually w/in 20 minutes now. Naps are also getting longer and more predictable. Whoop!

    The problem is the night wakings. I asked his doc about it and she has given us the go-ahead to feed him just once a night, if that (he was a preemie). Lately he’s been waking every 2-3 hours to nurse but only nurses for a couple minutes and then falls back to sleep. I know he’s not hungry but instead just wants soothing, etc. I am part of the problem, however, because I know if I nurse him we’ll both be able to fall right back to sleep, whereas if I try to soothe instead of nurse we’ll both be up for a while trying to get him back to sleep. His crib is in our bedroom so CIO is a lot harder in the middle of the night than at bedtime!

    What would you do in this situation? Let him cry?Pat/reassure him first? Give him a hug and then put him back down? And if he gets hysterical?

    It doesn’t help that I feel like he’s growing up too fast and soon enough he won’t need me in the middle of the night, and that makes me a little sad. But I know getting up every 2-3 hours isn’t healthy for either of us, and I need to do something to help him get better sleep.

    THANKS for your blog. I’ve incorporated so much and you have been more helpful than you know!

  24. I just started night weaning my 10.5 month old daughter. It’s only been three nights, and so far it’s been wildly unsuccessful 🙂 She gets up about 3 times a night, and for two of those she’s been up for about an hour crying or playing or a combination. Last night I think we had other issues, possibly teething or gas. I agree that it’s important for the parents to be ready. It’s so easy to give in when you’re unsure if you really should be doing this. But this time I’m resolved, so it’s easier to deal with the crying in the middle of the night. I’m hoping she’ll be sleeping better by the time my parents come to visit us next week. Wish me luck!

  25. I have gotten great advice from this site, thank you!

    My almost 10 month old daughter is finally sleeping fairly well. Two good naps around 9am and 1pm and bedtime around 7 (last nursing around 6:30).

    She still cries pretty much every time we put her down. Usually just a few minutes, but sometimes (especially naps) it can last much longer. We don’t do checks because that was only making things worse and prolonging her falling asleep. Is this normal? Will she ever stop crying and go down peacefully?

    Also can’t seem to get over the 4:30am wake up. We have let her cry (up to an hour, yikes) and I’ve also snuck in and nursed her. At this age she shouldn’t need the feeding, right? Is letting her cry the best option? I feel bad since it has been a while since she last ate. I know consistency is so important (love that post) so I should probably either commit to nursing and pop her off earlier and earlier each time, or let her cry…. right?


  26. Hi, I was wondering, how close is too close when feeding your baby before sleep? I generally feed her before sleep because a) it is the only time she will eat b) it is relaxing and c) it works. I know it takes her 20/30 mins to fall asleep when I put her down after the feeding. Is this too close? She will be 6 months at the end of the month.

  27. I used this site to reduce the night feeds, and successfully went from 2 feeds, to 1, to water, but after the water she screamed and screamed… So I popped a paci in her mouth and it worked a treat…. Last night she woke at the same time (4.30am) so I just grabbed a paci (she doesn’t use one for bed) but i did introduce it for naps as they are hit and miss…

    So, my question is do I keep giving the paci and hope she stops waking, or not and hope she CIO… The screaming is screaming… Not fussing.

    I don’t mind giving her it, but don’t want to create a sleep problem as a result…. Ant answers much appreciated.


  28. My 8 month baby girl is very inconsistent with her night waking. Just when I decide that I don’t mind getting up twice a night to nurse her, we have a really bad night where she either wakes up multiple times, wakes up too early, or has trouble settling down in the middle of the night. We probably have one of the above issues about 3-4 times a week. She falls asleep at bedtime without nursing. I’m so confused about where to start with night weening. I just wish I could be prepared for what is going to happen. I don’t even care if she still wants to nurse around 4 or 5 am. She honestly hasn’t improved with the number of night waking a in months. We use white noise, we use the merlin, we sleep trained her at bedtime with about 20 minutes between feeding and sleeping. I’m willing to do anything sand and humane to get her to be a tad more predictable.

  29. Hi Alexis – I have a question that’s really for my husband. I work 2 nights/week so my husband is with our almost-8 month old daughter. I’m ready to start night-weaning her (!!) and suggested that he gradually decrease the oz. of milk he feeds her at night as well. But he reports that when she cries for him at night, she’ll drink 1-2 oz maximum, then wants to look at him and chew on the nipple, etc, while relaxing. When he puts her down, she starts screaming again and he repeats the cycle, giving her just a small amount of milk before she wants to interact with him. I know CIO isn’t ideal for post-bedtime sleep, but what else can he do to night-wean with the bottle? Thanks!

  30. My nearly 8 month old daughter ( Elizabeth ) wakes up faithfully at around 3 am every morning and I know she is used to being given a bottle from the routine of it and i really dont know how to wean her from this. I’ve tried a couple of nights and every night is an epic fail. I am worried that this will never change. I am currently pregnant again due two weeks after her birthday so this has grown into this huge stress of not know what it will be having two little one up tthroughout the night. Any suggestions are well appreciated!

  31. I think night weaning is causing early wakeup problems for me. My almost 8 month old usually goes 7-9 hours from 6pm without nursing at night (she falls asleep around 7 – a big gap I know, but bedtime routine takes 30 minutes and she always takes 30 minutes to fall asleep, no matter when we put her down). I’ve been trying to night wean her from her one feeding, successfully getting down to about 3 1/2 minutes, and she falls right back asleep, but then wakes up 2 or so hours later ready for a full feeding. I’m totally fine with feeding her then, but because it’s usually after 9 or 10 hours of sleep she has trouble falling back asleep and can end up rolling around for an hour trying. Sometimes she just gives up and cries to get up at 5am and it throws our day off. When she was having a fuller feeding in the night she sleeps 11 1/2 to 12 hours and wakes up happier.

    Thoughts? Should I just suck it up because one night waking is great, even at 8 months? She dropped all her other feedings right around the times when “the books” say it happens, so maybe I just keep my fingers crossed that she drops this one soon?

  32. Hi. My LO is 10mo old, I went back to work full time when he was 3mo old. He was strictly breastfed until he started on solids as 4 1/2 mo. He hated taking bottles and only drank a minimal amount to hold him over until I got home from work. He will not take a pacifier. He now eats 3 meals a day and occasionally will drink BM from a sippie once a day if I can’t make it home to feed him in the middle of the day. He also feeds around 6 or 7am and when I get home around 4 or 5pm. Then he feeds before bed and then is up every 2-3 hrs to feed at night. Sometimes only for a few minutes then it’s back to sleep. If I don’t breastfeed him to sleep he screams bloody murder, I can’t put him down drowsy bc he also cries out ear piercing screams. Every time he wakes in middle of night it is screaming at the top of his lungs. The only thing that calms him is breastfeeding. If we do get him down without breastfeeding he is up again in 15 min. My husband tried taking him in middle of the night for 2 nights in a row recently and was up and down with him for 2 hrs. I am so tired, I don’t know what to do. I wish I could put him down drowsy, I wish he could self soothe or find comfort in something other than my boob. I feel like this will never end! I need help, something new to try. Thanks!

    • It sounds like you need to teach your baby to fall asleep unassisted at the beginning of the night. This means shuffling the bedtime routine so that breastfeeding is not the final step (ex. boob, bath, book, bed), and putting baby in bed fully awake.

      Unfortunately, this will result in crying. It is up to you how you respond. You could stay quietly in the room with baby, avoiding interaction until he falls asleep. Or you could do timed checks, making the interval between checks longer each time (ex. 1 minute, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes) until he is asleep. Or you could (my personal choice), close the door and not return until baby is asleep.

      There are some great posts on here about what to expect when doing cry-it-out. I suggest you check them out. Leaving baby to cry is difficult, and you have to be 100% committed for it to work.

      Personally, I knew it was time for my baby after keeping track of his sleep for two weeks. I learned that although we were spending 12 hours in his room at night, with all the fighting sleep and ups and downs he was only getting 7ish hours of sleep a night (yikes!). I knew that this was not enough, and this convinced me that cry-it-out was the best thing for him.

      Cry-it-out was not a miracle solution or anything, but it did make things much better. It took him 10 days before falling asleep without any hard crying (typically this happens quicker!!!), but already by day 3 he was sleeping 10.5 hours per night, and only waking 3 times to eat. Also his wake-up times became consistent, making night-weaning a possibility. Now, at 8 months old (two months after CIO), he typically sleeps 11.5 hours a night, waking twice to eat.

      Anyways, I just wanted to share a little about my experience in hopes it helps you out. Whatever you decide, remember that you are doing great 🙂 Night time parenting is super difficult, and I can’t even image balancing the challenges of a not-sleeping baby with full time work!!!!!

  33. Hello Alexis,

    First off, thanks so much for writing such a great, comprehensive website. It’s been a huge help! I know this is an older post but I figured I’d try posting. I have some questions on my second son’s night time sleep schedules and getting him to sleep through the night. First some background, we do the eat, awake, sleep routine during the day and it works great. Finn is a bit over 7 months old and is a solid napper. He goes to sleep fully awake for all naps/bedtime and goes down with out any fussing. I sing him a song, lay him down and he goes to sleep. It’s great. He slept through the night (from 7 p.m.-5 am.) from 3 to 5 months old all on his own. It was glorious. From about 5 months until now, he’s been waking once at night (anywhere from 12:30-3:30 a.m.) to feed. He nurses fully each time and goes right back to sleep until about 6 or 7 a.m. I always have him up by 7:15 a.m. If he does wake up earlier (say 5:30 or 6), I try to do an early morning feed to get him to go back to sleep until 7 and most times it works.

    My questions is this: what are the right steps to take to get him to sleep through the night? I don’t think he’s waking from habit due to the fluctuation in times. I’m in the middle of trying to night wean from that one feeding and for the last 2 weeks I’ve been slowly decreasing the time. Tonight will be the last night I feed him at all (about 30 seconds per side) and then I’ll be done. But now he’s started waking up twice at night, and I don’t know if it’s because he’s not getting the normal milk amount and is therefore hungry. So now I’m confused if I should feed him at all for the second feeding or just let him CIO. Last night he nursed at 7 p.m. for bed, woke at 12:30 to eat (which I nursed him 1 min per side) and woke again at 3:30. I let him cry for about 20 minutes to see if he’d go back to sleep to no avail. I’m at my wit’s end and am willing to do cry it out (I’ve done it before with my first son) but I don’t know if that’s the best solution. Thoughts? Thank you!

  34. Hi,
    My son woke up 3x a night for 9 months straight. I tried every single thing, pacifier, no pacifier, i did cry it out, I always put him down awake without a pacifier, and he would fall asleep in minutes and he still woke up at least three times at night. At 7 months I started weaning him off of nursing by not pumping at work and giving him 3 formula bottles a day and he still woke up. At 9 months i stopped nursing completely and 3 days later he slept from 6 to 7 without waking up once. He has not woke up at night since then.

  35. Alexis,

    I love you and I tell all my friends about you. I used your site for my eldest and now my little one. She’s 6 months and goes to sleep alone, for naps and at bedtime. Bedtime milk is between 5 and 20 minutes from sleep time, it depends on when she starts screaming from exhaustion because her last nap is hit or miss, sometimes she wants to go down at 5:30pm! Obviously I have a 2.5 year old too so this isn’t always practical.

    Anyway. We use white noise, she came out of the swaddle two months ago. Out of the Co sleeper, into her own room two weeks ago. I was an evil witch and used cc to wean her off the comfort feeds. I had success doing this with my eldest too. It was great! She went from waking at 10pm, 1am, 3am, 3:30, 4, 5, 5:20, 5:40, 6 (you get the idea) to waking between 1 and 4 for a quick (but full) feed, and back down until 6. She slept 12 hours TWICE! I rejoiced the sleep Gods. I did a happy dance. Then it all went to crap.

    I swear I didn’t change a thing. No nursing to sleep. No rocking. White noise is still on. She is not teething. We haven’t started solids yet because she’s not ready. Suddenly she started waking between 10 and 11. I would do cc and she would go back to sleep until 1ish, when I would feed her. She then wakes at about 3 and will cry in and off until morning, I tried cc with her, last night it was 2 hours, for her to fall asleep for 5 minutes and wake again so I fed her because I thought I was going to die.

    Please please tell me what happened and how the heck do I fix it?! How did she go from sleeping 6-8 hours (or even 12!) and the next night start waking again after 3-4 hours?

    My rule is no milk before midnight then four hourly thereafter.

    Please help. Last night I got 4 hours broken sleep between the baby and the toddler. Thank you

  36. Is it important to break the eat-sleep connection if the baby is already night weaned?

    I have a 3 month old who sleeps 10-12 hours with no night feedings. But our routine is massage, swaddle, nurse, sleep. Could this be a problem later? Is he too young to lay down awake?

  37. Hello!!
    I’ve been following your site since my daughter was a baby 3.5 years ago and now I have a 5.5 month old son! Completely different baby.

    My question is about teething and sleep. My son is sleep trained, he falls asleep on his own and has had a few 12 hour nights. Right before I was going to start to night wean him he started teething something fierce! He’s acting like he’s cutting 10 teeth, so much pain! For the last 6 nights he’s been up at 12am then again at 4am crying. His naps have been crappy, too. I give him tylenol, offer him a bottle to soothe him a bit more while the tylenol kicks in, then put him in his crib awake. I’m worried that we’re going backwards now in his sleep. He was so close to great sleeps and now I worry that tending to him like this is going to create a bad habit. I also don’t want to let him cry so he won’t wake his sister who sleeps in the room right next to him. Any suggestions?

    Thank you!

  38. Has anyone had success moving a 10 month old towards drinking more breast milk/formula during the day? I think we have a combo of distraction and preferred source so night weaning has been stalling. Bedtime is a dream with no problems putting himself down. Just can’t get him full enough during the day to go through the night. Thanks!!

  39. All of the above sounds like good info that probably applies to most babies. However, I have the classic ‘high needs / high spirited baby’ – If I put my baby down awake he would scream for hours and hours until potentially causing damage. Advice for babies like mine would be great!

  40. HELP! I have 2 year old B/G twins. My son is addicted to the boob. And night time is the worst. I work full time and when I get home he makes a b-line for me and throws a fit until I succumb. And this happens all night long. He is a very restless sleeper. We had him trained for awhile but as he started talking, he screams for me…my husband can’t console him and we don’t want him to wake us his sister. I have broken down and at this point bring him into bed with us…mainly because I don’t tolerate him crying very well, and I want some peace and quiet in the house. 2 screaming toddlers at 3am is no sleep for anyone. My son nurses now more than when he was an infant. I would like to stop nursing all together, they are certainly old enough, but I would continue if I could control it..and not do it in the middle of the night. Trust me, he is not hungry. Thoughts, suggestions?

  41. I have a 12.5 month old who has a great nap & bedtime routine. I put her down awake in her crib without nursing before & pat her back as she holds her stuffier animals & goes to sleep. Yes I stay til she falls asleep but it doesn’t take long. She has been teething & night waking & gotten into a bad habit of waking 2-3 times a night & not always going back to sleep. She wants to nurse for a lot of that time too. So moving forward can I nurse her back to sleep once and then if she wakes after that what do I do? Is nursing back to sleep once confusing? Thank you!

  42. Help! My 10 month old wakes every hour to nurse/switch sides. He is refusing my pumped milk while at daycare. All he will eat is baby food while I’m away. Is it smart to try cry it out with him or is it a lost cause since he may really need those calories? He is currently 22lbs by the way so I am not concerned about him wasting away by any means but I really need to figure something out.


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