Should you stop nighttime feedings?

My baby is a little over three months old and is still not sleeping through the night. I feed her before I go to bed but she still wakes at night to nurse. Now I am wondering if I should try to cut out these middle of the night feedings. My pediatrician's office suggested I start her on cereal and that I shouldn't wake her before I go to bed. I don't agree with either suggestion. What do you think?

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

It is quite normal for three-month-old babies (and older!) to be waking for nighttime feeds. By a baby's first birthday, one third to one quarter are still waking during the night.

Babies can receive up to one third of their nutrition at nighttime feeds. This is especially important for babies of working moms who may take in less milk during the day, making up for it when their mom is at home. Nursing your baby before you go to bed is a great idea. Most babies drift peacefully back to sleep after nursing, and "topping her off" may give you a couple of extra hours of uninterrupted sleep.

There is no research to support claims that starting solid foods helps babies to sleep through the night. In fact, in some babies, especially those younger than four months of age, starting solids can cause digestive disturbances that may keep them awake.

Nighttime feeds are also beneficial to you. Your hormone levels remain at a more constant level, helping to insure a good milk supply. Exclusive breastfeeding, where your baby meets all his nutritional and sucking needs at the breast, coupled with nighttime feeds can help to delay the return of your menstrual period and fertility. The more frequently you breastfeed, and the longer the nursing sessions, the longer the period of infertility.

It sounds like you and your baby are doing wonderfully!!

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