13 answers

Sleep Issues with 5 1/2 Month Old

My son is almost 6mos. old. He goes to bed about 7:30 each night, and has been waking up at 9pm, 1:30am, 4am, and 6am. We have been letting him cry for 20min. at 9pm, and sometimes at 1:30 I can just give him his binky and he goes back to sleep. The problem is, the other times he fusses he will not go back down without nursing. At this point, I know it is just a comfort thing. He has always done this (he has never slept thru the night!), so I am pretty sure it is not a growth spurt either. We cut the midnight bottle out about a month ago. He does get cereal and and fruit or veggie at 6pm, and his last bottle at 7:15 or so. I am deabting on whether or not to let him cry at the other times as well, only for 20min or so to see if he can sooth himself or at least start learning to. Anyone have any advice on this??

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I think that he is too little to let cry it out. I really feel that they are genuinely hungry in the middle of the night. Although you would hope by 6 mo. there would not be so many wake ups. Have you tried putting him down way later like 930 or so and giving him a bottle then. I bet he would only wake up once after that.... I don't think we put them down at 730 until they were almost one.

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I have 2 daughters (2 & 9 months). The 2 years old slept through the nite after about 2 months (this is NOT normal if you're breastfeeding). The 9 month old still wakes up at 9pm & 4am to nurse. She was doing the 1am feeding also until about a month ago. The La Leche League representative told me it was because you produce your most fatty milk at night so the baby naturally wants to nurse more at night because they're not getting enough fat in their diet during the day. She suggested either feeding the baby a couple of times right before they go to bed to fill them up longer or just deal with it. She confirmed that my first sleeping through the night was not the norm at all.

Hi M.,

Your baby's stomach is only as large as his little fist - so it really isn't possible for him to go 8-10 hours without eating at this young age. Some babies will sleep through the night - but many do not. I would say nurse him when he wakes up. Whether for comfort or for food, he needs it. At 5 months babies start to get more aware of their environments and when they wake up, they now realize that they are alone and need to be comforted. This is completely normal and you are not spoiling him by responding to his needs. Keep responding and comforting him (whether by nursing or by rubbing his back or rocking him) and he will be fine. He will start sleeping longer when he gets older. Many babies don't sleep through the night until they are 12 months or older. Some sleep sooner, but some just can't. Don't let him cry - he is too young for that. You can also read the "no cry sleep solution" by Elizabeth pantly.


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medically speaking sleeping through the night is only 5 hours. So at 1:30 he may actually be hungry. I would reinstitute that bottle or nursing, he may still need it. Especially since he wakes up 2 more times afterward. I would start putting him down while he is partially awake at 7:30, don't rock or nurse him completely to sleep. At the 9pm wake up let him cry it out (make sure you repeatedly go in & check on him). Do the bottle/ nursing at next wake up & cry out the others (if he still wakes up). I tried crying it out with my son at 5 1/2 months. He eventually went to sleep. It took us 3 nights of crying (very tough). But once he learned to put himself to sleep the first time, things got easier. He still woke up 1 to 2 times a night for a few months (b/c he was hungry) so I fed him at those times. I think by 8 months he was sleeping for 8 hours w/o interruption. Now he sleeps for 12 hours. Have patience. Its normal for babies to wake up during the night. Don't rush it. It will happen eventually. Oh & all my friends who had "wonderful" babies who slept 8 hours a night as soon as they came home...they all wake up multiple times during the night now & cry for mommy! It happens to everyone, be glad you're getting yours over sooner.

I used a great book to help me sleep train my son. It is called "Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems" by Richard Ferber, M.D. I had great success with this and my son slept through the night and napped regulary at 4 months old. Todya at 6 years he's still great about going to bed, etc. It uses a staggered time method of soothing a crying baby/child. For instance, you don't respond to the crying right away. You let 5 minutes pass and then go to the child to soothe(without picking up or giving a pacifier or bottle) and then leave the room. If the crying continues you wait 10 minutes the next time and use the same comforting method. I highly recommend this!

Hi M.,
The only thing I can think of is to get him as relaxed and as FULL as possible before you lay him to sleep. Try this:
Give him a nice warm bath/massage about an hour before bed time and then give him a bottle or even a 1/2 a bottle with a Tablespoon of cereal right before you lay him down to sleep and see if that works.. good luck...

I know everyone has a differnt opinion about this and I see you have already received a number of responses. My son is 5 1/2 months old and doing the EXACT same thing. We have actually been talking to a sleep specialist at CHOP. Both her and my pediatrician (Kids First) feel as though he should be sleeping through the night (although many children do not sleep through the night at this age, many do) and does not need the night feedings. But, this is your child and you need to do what you feel is best. I didn't want to cut out our midnight feed--(I work and pump during the day).
Sleep specialist said -if we are read, and I was ready...getting very sleep deprived---cry it out.

They are not too young...at least according to her. Before 4 months, yes, but after that no. But again, you will get different opinions.
We let him cry it out...just went to him to check to see he was okay. If you always go in after 20 mintues, they learn that if they cry for 20 minutes, mom will come in. It took us 2 nights, and after the 2nd night, he was sleeping through.

So to not give up the midnight feed, we did a "dream feed" at 11:30. Picked him up out of sleep, nursed, and put him right back down. No wake up. That is so he doesn't wake, cry, and then eat and associate cry with feed.

Just 1 opinion. Good luck.

When my twins were 5 months old I let them cry it out but it was kind of partial because I would get up to breastfeed them once during the night if they woke but not until after midnight. I've heard that babies heavier than 13 lb are fine through the night without needing to eat anything but I just wasn't comfortable until they were around 9 months old. That's when I put my foot down and no more night time feedings.

I think that he is too little to let cry it out. I really feel that they are genuinely hungry in the middle of the night. Although you would hope by 6 mo. there would not be so many wake ups. Have you tried putting him down way later like 930 or so and giving him a bottle then. I bet he would only wake up once after that.... I don't think we put them down at 730 until they were almost one.

At 6 mos old, he may just be too little to comfort himself back to sleep. Is he eating any cereal yet? Maybe feed some before his bedtime to stretch the sleep a little longer? Maybe bedtime at 8 with cereal & milk then he might sleep about 5-4 hours then he can nurse again to get him to early morning?

Please feeed that baby if he is waking up he is probably still hungry especially if he is only five months. My son is eleven months and eats everything and sight but still wakes up once or twice a night to nurse. You probably should feed him more towards 9:00pm rather than 7:15 pm.

If there is any possible way you can feed him more during the day, that is almost always the solution. All day long, feed him as much as he'll possibly take, even if he doesn't seem hungry. Just thickening the bottle before bed is not enough, even though it can help with the addition of more feedings all day long. Kids won't overeat, but they will sometimes not eat enough without seeming hungry, and then they wake up at night. Feed him more-it will take a few days for his body to feel the change, and you should see a difference.
I wish I knew this for my first-who woke up until she was a year old-but then my step sister taught me this trick, and my son's been sleeping like a log all night since 3 months.
Once you are sure he's eaten tons all day, you can ease off the comforting at night. It may take him a while to adjust to that too, but yes, let him cry, he will adjust. Just be sure he's full, and it won't be so hard. Good luck!

My son is almost 20 months old and has been sleeping thru the night since he was just about 6 months. We tried everything and then decided to try the cry it out method. By that age they are basically waking up out of habit. Of course, making sure they are not sick, have a dirty diaper, teething, had enough to eat before bed...etc... We gave my son oatmeal as his last meal and a fruit such as applesauce, bananas, pears etc... any kind of easy #1 food and a final bottle when lights were out in the rocker. It took maybe 3 nights and he was asleep all night after that. Now, it was hard and my husband and I were really heartbroken doing it but it really did work. I know my son sleeps more in a growth spurt not less. Also, putting him to bed later does not mean he will sleep in longer believe me! We tried! Just the opposite worked for us. We have our son on a regular schedule every night and it works like a charm. He knows bath time then bed time and he is so good with it. Now, this is a child who when he was 6 weeks old had moderate acid reflux and gastrointestinal issues so for us to be able to use Ferber and it really work was wonderful. He is no longer suffering from acid reflux and is healthy as can be! Good luck and hang in there and he is not too young to let him cry it out! But many people have different opinions so good luck!

Hey M.,

Whew, you must be exhausted! I was having similar issues with my guy when he was about 5 months. A book was recommended to me that was extremely helpful. It's called "Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems" by Richard Ferber, MD.

Anyway, he has a very specific method of getting your child to sleep through the night by letting them cry it out for longer and longer intervals over the course of several nights. It's not easy at first, for you or for baby, but my guy was sleeping through the night in 3 nights flat and has been ever since (he's going on 9 mos now).

It goes without saying that every baby is different, but this really worked for us. He wasn't even eating solids yet at that point, just nursing, and it turns out, was completely capable of sleeping through the night. It was just a matter of disassociating the connection between nursing and falling asleep.

Maybe you can find the book at the library? I bought a copy at B&N because it talks about every sleep problem under the sun from sleeping through the night, to naps, bed wetting, nightmares, etc... so I figured it would come in handy for years to come. It's extremely helpful in explaining the scientific side of sleep, which helps make sense of the techniques.

I hope this helps! Good luck to you!

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