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My son is 14 months old and I have been giving him a bottle at bedtime now since he was 10 months old. Prior to that, I was breastfeeding him. I have been reluctant to give up the bedtime bottle of milk because I feared that he would not sleep through the night or he would wake up super early. Well, it has been three nights with no nighttime bottle, and he has slept his normal 11 hours of sleep.

Reasons I decided to drop the bedtime bottle:
1. He was not eating a good breakfast anymore. I think that his bedtime bottle was filling him up to much and he was not hungry enough to eat breakfast.
2. His diapers were becoming soaked over night and leaking through his clothing. I was even using a larger diaper at night and he still leaked.
3. According to Kim West in the book Good Night, Sleep Tight, at one year old they no longer need the milk to help them sleep through the night.

How to drop the bedtime bottle or breastfeeding:

Option #1: Try reducing the amount of ounces that goes in the bottle every night or the amount of time you breastfeed.

  • With my son I was giving him 8 ounce of milk at night. He would happily drink this. I slowly reduced the amount of ounces every few nights until we were down to almost 2-3 ounce of milk. Then I decided to go cold turkey, and just not offer him milk. I made sure he was drinking at least 16-24 ounce of milk during the day before I did this.
  • If you are breastfeeding, you can reduce the duration/ length you breastfeed at night. So if your child normally breastfeeds for 15 minutes, than try reducing it by 2-3 minutes every few nights until you are down to only nursing for 2-3 minutes. I did this when I was weaning my son of his early morning feeding (4am) when he was 4 months old. It helped my body adjust to not feeding him during that time and it helped my son to adjust to not needing that feeding.

Option #2: Try moving the bedtime bottle/ breastfeeding further away from bedtime.

Let’s say you feed your child dinner at 5:30pm and bedtime is at 7:30pm. You would try to move the bedtime bottle/ nursing further away from bedtime. So the first night you might give the bottle/ nurse at 7:15pm. Then 3 days later, you would give the bottle/ nurse at 7:05. Then 3 days later you would give the bottle/ nurse at 6:55… and so on and so on….until you reach dinner time.

Important things to keep in mind:
1. Always check with your child’s pediatrician to make sure they are getting enough formula, milk, or breast milk before you drop the nighttime bottle.
2. If you child is dependent on a bottle/ nursing to go to sleep at night, you will need to work on replacing that bottle/ nursing with a bedtime routine that will help sooth your child to sleep. A good replacement for bottle/ nursing is reading books, cuddling, rocking, and signing to your child. Your child will probably still desire closeness with you so go ahead an offer an alternative.
3. If your child still needs something to drink, try offering a sippy cup of water. That way water will not fill them up, but possibly satisfy their need to suck. Just a warning if you use water, it will still lead to a very heavy and wet diaper in the morning. If you are potty training, try to limited liquids at least an hour before bedtime.
4. If you are breastfeeding, you might need to leave the bedtime feeding to maintain your milk supply. If you decide to stop the bedtime feeding and see a dip in your milk supply, please add back the bedtime feeding.


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According to the Book The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems a “child who wakes habitually doesn’t need more food unless she’s going through a growth spurt (p.191).” I know that when my son was between 6-8 weeks old he was waking at up around 1am every night. I knew that between 6-8 weeks old he could sleep for at least 6-8 hours a stretch at this age (see my post on sleep requirements). My husband I decided to do the Cry-It-Out method with my son. It took about a week, but at the end of a week, my son was no longer waking around 1am. I was practical and decided to only eliminate the first middle of the night feeding because I knew he was physically ready to go a longer stretch at night between feedings.

NEVER eliminate a feeding before your child is ready. If you child is 8 weeks old, he should be able to go 6-8 hours at night without a feeding. It would be unrealistic to expect an 8 week old to sleep longer than 9 hours without a feeding and for some babies at that age 8 hours is unrealistic too. Go with your maternal instincts and only eliminate the nighttime feeding if they are physically ready!

Please note: If you child is waking up at different times every night, that is most likely due to hunger and not habit. It is best when they are under two months old or in a growth spurt, to feed them when this occurs.

Here is what my son’s nighttime sleep looked like prior to sleep training (CIO) to eliminate the 1pm feeding (6-8 weeks old):

  • 10pm Nurse & Right Back to Bed for the Night
  • 1am Wakes & Nurses & Right Back to Bed
  • 4-5 am Wakes & Nurse & Right Back to Bed
  • 7am Wakes & Nurse- this is the official start to our day and I make sure to keep him up after this feeding

Here is what my son’s nighttime sleep looked like after sleep training (CIO) to eliminate the 1pm feeding (6-8 weeks old):

  • 10pm Nurse & Right Back to Bed for the Night
  • 4-5 am Wakes & Nurse & Right Back to Bed
  • 7am Wakes &  Nurse- this is the official start to our day and I make sure to keep him up after this feeding

Other Methods to Eliminate a nighttime feeding

  • Lengthen the time between night feedings: So if your baby has been waking at 1am, you could try to hold her out until 1:15am. You can do this by rocking her, giving her a pacifier, patting her on the back or tummy while in her crib, holding her in a the rocking chair. Sometimes the baby will fall asleep on her own and not even need the feeding, but if she is still awake and it is 1:15am feed her. Do this for several days until she starts to wake at 1:15am instead of 1:00am. Then try to increase the time by 15 minute again so that you try to hold her out until 1:30am and so on. This process takes a lot longer, but I have heard from other moms that this method has worked from them.
  • Gradually reduce food at the night feeding: if you are breastfeeding, you will reduce the length of your nursing session. So if you are nursing for 20 minutes, only nurse for 18 minutes the next night. Then try reducing the length the third night down to 16 or 15 minutes. I would decrease the length of nursing by 2-5 minutes each night until you are down to nothing. If you bottle feed, try reducing the amount in the bottle by 1/2 ounce each night until you are done to nothing. At this point, I would try to let your child cry. You can be in the room while your child cries if you don’t want to leave them alone, but don’t pick them up. Remember, your child is just waking out of habit at this point. It may take several days after you have eliminated the feeding, but they should eventually sleep through that feeding time. This worked for me when I was trying to stop the 4/5am feeding with my son when he was between 17-20 weeks old. I first reduced the length of the nursing session and then I let him cry-it-out. He finally stopped waking for that feeding at 20 weeks old. (This idea comes from The Baby Sleep Solution)
  • Wake-To-Sleep Technique: "Instead of lying there waiting for her to wake up, set your clock an hour earlier than her habitual waking time and wake her. She probably won’t wake up completely, but her little eyes may dart back and forth under her lids, she’ll murmur and move a bit, just as an adult would if you interrupted his deep sleep. Do this for three nights in a row….but I recommend that you keep it up for three nights nonetheless. If it doesn’t work, you have to reevaluated whether her habitual waking is due to another cause. If you’ve ruled everything else out, do this wake-to-sleep technique another three days. "(The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems p. 191-192).
  • Shush-Pat: go to your child and "you simultaneously whisper, ‘shh, shh, shh….’ into your baby’s ear and pat his back." If that does not work to settle him, hold him over your shoulder: Pat him on his back in a steady rhythmic motion- like the tick-tock, tick-tock, of a clock. The patting need to quite firm, and you want to be in the center of the back, not on one side or the other, and certainly not as far down as their little bottom…While you are patting him, put your mouth to his ear, and whisper a slow, fairly loud, "shh…shh…shh." Elongate the shh sound so that it slows to a chug-chug of a train…When you sense his breathing is getting a little deap and his body is starting to relax, gently lay him down, slightly on his side, so that you can have access to his back [ to continue patting if needed].” This works for babies under the age of 3 months. (The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems p.184-185).
  • Offer Pacifier: This seems to work if your baby is truly waking up out of habit. If you child is hungry, then the pacifier will not work. Try not to offer the pacifier after you baby is 3 months old. The pacifier can become habit forming at that point.
  • Cry-It-Out: Allow your child to cry when they wake. If you want to go in and check on them when they first wake to make sure they don’t need a diaper change or are ill, then go to them. But if you can, stay out of the room. With my son, the moment he saw me, it was all down hill. He would refuse to go to sleep unless I nursed him or held him. His crying would become ten times worse if he saw me. I had to learn to let him cry-it-out on his own. It was really hard to hear him cry, but in a few nights there was no more crying.
  • Cry-It-Out Variations: Some parents just cannot stand to hear their child cry alone in their room, and that is okay. You can try sitting near the crib as they cry or setting a timer and only going in the room every few minutes while they are crying to check on them and let them know you love them until they fall asleep.
  • P.U./P.D. (Pick Up/ Put Down): This method is intended for a baby 4 month or older. Prior to this try the shush-pat method. You pick your child up while he is crying and the minute he stops crying you put him back in his crib. If he starts crying, pick him up again. Then if he stops crying, place him in the crib again. You will repeat the pick up/ put down until he stops crying and will fall asleep in his crib on his own. "On average, P.U./ P.D. takes 20 minutes, but it can go on for an hour or more. If while you are hold your baby and he is crying and arching his back or trying to wiggle free, don’t fight your baby just place him back into his crib. He is just trying to settle himself and may not want to be held. You may still need to pick him up again after he has arched his back, but that’s okay. Just keep repeating the PU/ PD until he quietly lays in his crib without crying. (The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems p.221-224) I have a friend who used this method with her son with great success. I have never personally used it, but it worked for her and her son!  For more on this method read this: https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/05/11/pupd-pick-up-put-down-baby-whisperers-sleep-training-method/

Ultimately, we have to do what is best for our family. There is no right or wrong way to do sleep training. Just remember to be consistent with what ever method you choose to do and don’t set unrealistic expectations. Remember, your baby is young and will still need some nighttime feedings for a while. Please read the posts below before starting sleep training!

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