Can I do sleep training and wean night feedings at the same time?
Yes! Yes, you can. In fact, often when you go through sleep training to help your little one learn to fall asleep independently at bedtime, those night wakings and night feedings typically drop off on their own. That is because all babies wake naturally during the night and typically need what they had at bedtime in order to return to sleep during the night. So, if part of your sleep training process is moving your bedtime feeding to the beginning of (or before) the routine to break the association between feeding and falling asleep, then more than likely that skill will generalize overnight and you won’t need to do any work to wean feedings overnight.
If, however, you have completed sleep training at bedtime and your little one can go from being completely awake to being completely asleep at bedtime without even having an adult in the room (meaning your little one can fall asleep independently), and he STILL wakes during the night and needs to be fed to return to sleep, you may need to do some active weaning at those night wakings. To do this, reduce the amount you are feeding overnight either by a few minutes every few nights if you are nursing or a few ounces every few nights if you are giving a bottle. Once you have reduced the amount you are feeding him overnight, you may have to do some additional sleep training overnight by responding to your little one with less and less of a response.
All of that said, take your baby’s age into consideration when you work on overnight feedings. Almost all newborns (0-2 months) will need to be fed overnight – and that is completely normal. Babies between 3- and 5-months-old may still need to be fed overnight around one to three times, depending on age. Unless your baby has a significant growth issue or your pediatrician/health care provider tells you otherwise, most babies no longer need to be fed overnight once they are about 6-months-old.About Dr. Erin Leichman