Hi, I keep reading or hearing from new moms that by the time a baby is as little as a few months old, they don't need to feed through the night anymore. It's been a while since I had babies of my own but that's not what I remember life being like. When did this change and why? I'm hoping someone can point me in the direction of some reputable information either for or against curbing night-time feeds.
Physically then might be able to thrive still if you nightwean early, but what with growth spurts, teething, and comfort needs at least a year is the kindest thing. Personally I go as long as I can without getting fed up with it, 18 months to 2 years is when I put my foot down.
It depends on the baby. Some "sleep through the night" at 4 months old. Many go through a phase where they have a longer stretch of sleep around 4-5 months old, then a month or so later start waking up more often due to teething and/or growth spurts.
I always had my babies in bed with me. With my son, I started him in the crib in my bedroom, then took him into my bed the first time he woke up after I fell asleep. Some nights he'd be in there until morning; most nights he wasn't. Any "sleeping through the night" stopped when I returned to work and he nursed less in the daytime.
None of my kids are still nursing, so they all stopped nursing at night at some point. I do remember my son nursing only twice a day, then once a day, then once every day and a half or two days before he stopped completely, but I have absolutely no recollection of when the night nursing actually stopped for any of them.
I foolishly let my younger daughter wean when she was only 14mo, but she still woke up hungry/thirsty at night for a while. She had a bottle of milk at night until she was 2 or so, which damaged her baby teeth in front. (Her adult teeth are fine though.) I switched her to a sippy cup of water at night around age 2, and those sippy cups stayed next to the bed until they were 6 or so, long after they stopped using sippy cups the rest of the time.
My kids are now 19, 17, and 12. I can assure you that night nursing has NOT ruined their sleep habits in the long term, and the only one with dental problems was the one who weaned early.
Meanwhile, I know families who, after the baby "slept through the night" at 4 months old, were NOT open to night-nursing again when it started a few months later. One let her child "cry it out" and he got attached to his crib bumper- to the point when, at a family vacation when they didn't pack it, he cried for a week straight rather than sleeping at all. Most families I know who didn't use "attachment parenting" of their babies have teens they don't trust and who don't trust them. They're seriously worried about their teens getting involved with drunk driving, STDs, drug use, etc. I have none of these worries, because my kids actually TALK to me. On a couple of occasions, friends' kids have "run away from home" to my house.
Nothing has "changed" except "popular advice." Much of which is based on convenience. Some babies "sleep through the night" early. some need night feedings for months or years. There is NO "standard."
One only needs to listen to one's baby to know what is right.
I'm a grown woman and I rarely sleep through the night. I get thirsty, I have to go to the bathroom, I wake up scared or lonely. Babies are no different. Only they NEED more than I do.
I don't remember when my children stopped nursing in the night. I guess I really didn't care that much when they "slept through the night." It became less and less important with each child. I knew people who knew me who were very concerned and had to regularly ask me if my babies were "sleeping through the night" and I just shrugged. One woman even, while I was holding my 8 month old, pointed at my breasts and said, "Stop doing THAT and she'll sleep through the night." I just looked at her and said, "Neither Sage nor I care if Sage wakes up at night. Only you do. And seeing as you don't live in our house or sleep with us, I see your concern as a non-issue." This woman claimed "couldn't" breastfeed her own children.... but never got any help to help her continue with her first or second baby, and didn't bother with the third. And she used CIO. Not someone I'm going to take breastfeeding or night parenting advice from.
Lots of great answers here. I think each child is different and who knows why a baby wakes, are they hungry, cold, scared..... ? Mine nurse at night till around 20-24 months. I feel that they 'need' me for comfort and do it in other ways after I night wean. It is such a wonderful thing to be able to comfort and be close to your baby..... and it passes so darn quick. They will grow up too fast on their own, it is nice being able to allow them to direct that path.