From one year of age, your child will usually no longer require a night time feed. However, some babies still demand a bottle in the middle of the night. If this is the case for you, there are some simple guidelines that will help you regulate your baby's feeding times and allow you to sleep.
Babies sleep for twice as long as adults. However, they do not sleep the whole night through, but in short bursts. These sleep periods get progressively shorter, and when they are awake a bottle will calm them. This is why from one year of age children may still want a bottle at night, even though they can usually do without it from five or six months when their stomachs allow them to consume more and they can go for six or seven hours without feeding.
If your baby still wants a bottle at night, try the following tips:
- Prolong his night-time sleep by delaying the last feed of the day or by preparing a larger feed. This will make your baby feel fuller. You should never add more cereal to the same amount of water to thicken it, because your child may not feel well due to the extra strain placed on the digestive and renal systems.
- Unless your child is overweight, you can also prepare a very small extra feed just before bed.
- If your child wakes up during the night and will only settle with a feed, make a bottle with a small amount of formula. The following night when he wakes up crying, prepare less formula. If your baby wants food to calm down, you don't need to give him large amounts.
- Try to make the hours before bed quiet. Avoid active games and go for relaxing activities, such as reading a story. Even if you are no longer preparing a bottle, go to your child's room if he wakes up, because in this process it will be more difficult for him to settle back to sleep alone.
Reviewed by: Roser de Castellar – Doctor