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Sleeping Pattern: 5 Months

Goodness, my baby does not sleep at all! She still gets up odd hours of wee morning to nurse every 3 hours all day! She is 5 months going on six. I know it is not normal. Do u think it is a breastfeeding side effect :) One of my friends tell me her kid slept through only when she stopped breastfeeding ... 2 years later! Any advice on how to help her sleep well? I feed her really well the last feeding with solids, rice cereal, and milk and already do a great sleeping ritual. Should I quit nursing the mid am hours cold turkey? Poor thing will cry her eyes and our ears out....

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Hi! THANK YOU ALL So MUCH for the varied input. It is so interesting to see the many thoughts and the fact that I am not alone!

Well, I agree that babies do communicate with cries but i feel also they learn what they want and how to get it too and with my girl, I realize that when i get up to feed her the many times during mid morning hours, she really just wants to "smell" me. She does not eat voraciously like the other regular eating times. She just suckles on one side then cries to be put back to her crib. If i would do that for her, she would sleep a bit longer till the earlier morning hours. But I will have to do that sometime in the earliest am hours, like 2 or 3 am, in order for her to sleep till 8 or 9 am.

I am a big fan of breastfeeding...even up to year, but i cannot be feeding on demand like this for a year. I work odd hours and have to leave her to be cared for during the nights when I am not around. I therefore have to train her to not need to smell/eat on me during odd hours. The funny thing is when my husband or mom cares for her, she never does this! She will sleep through the night, or at least she would not wake up so frequently...and if she does, she always falls right back to sleep after crying/fussing for abit. But when I am around, she can go out for hours until I get to her. I think she knows how to manipulate already! :)

My ped is ok w/me starting solids just because she is demanding ALOT of milk and waking up earlier if i just rely on mikl w/o cereal. So far it has been good. We feed her twice a day (lunch and dinner) on some type of stage 1 food. She LOVES to eat!! Her feeds have stretched to 3 1/2 hours. SHe sleeps around midnight (we just CANNOT get her to sleep 8 or 9pm...) and wakes at 10 am. At times when she fusses when i am around, it will be 3 or 4 am after putting her down at midnight. So far it has been ok. When i cannot deal anymore, I sleep in another room with the monitor on.

IT has just been hard as I feel so compared when I talk to my other friends about their babies and how wonderful they are in routine and structure. Mine seems to have a mind of her own and her own time to do things. She is definitely not the baby who can fit into any one book and rule.

But thank you all for your help! I take in all the advice and tips!

Featured Answers

Hi L., I am a Sleep Consultant and Parenting Coach. No it is not because you are breastfeeding but it is because you are breastfeeding in the night. She is old enough and has enough fat reserves to be sleeping through the night and taking 2-3 long naps a day. There are things you can do to decrease the amount of crying involved in sleep training, and it should only last a day or two. If you would like help with this transition please visit my website at www.theindependentchild.com
Best wishes,
K. Smith

More Answers

I was reading the other posts and had to respond...

At 5-7 months old my son was breast/bottle fed because I needed to begin meds and the transition was emminent. But, it wasn't some kind of cure for night feedings or feeding on demand. My son didn't instantly become more independent...in fact, I don't think how you feed determines your child's independence.

Your daughter is totally normal. My son's feeding/sleep patterns were all over the place until he was about 9 mos. old and had been on a steady diet of solids for about two months.

I agree with all the other posters who said it's fine...and there really is no such thing as 'normal' when it comes to babies and sleep...it's just role with the punches and do the best you can.

Also, as a fan of attachment parenting and those theories, even Dr. Ferber discounts the claims that infants earlier than 9 mos. old should be taught to sleep independently. I would do more research before you continue down that road...she needs what she needs and that is what Mommy's are there for.

Good luck.

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your baby needs you- and you would be doing an injustice to you both for you to ignore it.

my son is almost 7 months, and wakes at varioius times of the night (ususally twice) to breastfeed. I enjoy the time i get to spend with him, and since we co-sleep part of the night, it isn't really that big of a deal. I know, that over time his need for me will lessen ( I have a 8 yr old son & a 5 yr old daugther- so i know it happens) and he will sleep longer, and need me less.

I say- for the time being, IF you feel the strong need to wean during the night, go ahead. but do it slowly and at least replace your nursings with breast milk in a bottle. They don't take too kindly to formula when they are used to breast milk.

Really through, during the night- is the easiset time to breastfeed. do you really want to get up, prepare a bottle, feed the bottle( upright and alert), burp, possibly change diaper (since you are awake and notice it), then try to put the baby back to sleep?

Or- bring the baby to bed (or already have her there), roll over, put the baby to breast, you both fall asleep....
to me the choice is obvious!

Good luck, she still is super small, and every 3 hrs is really good. Every child is different, and wouldn't it stink if you did wean and she STILL woke up during the night?? What works for your friend- may not work for you!

Take care!

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Susan says it perfectly!!

You said, "I know it is not normal" whose to say what is normal? For me, what you describe is perfectly normal. I breastfed both of mine on demand until they night weaned at age 2. They both nursed every 1.5 hours or so. I'm not going to add anything else as Susan covered everything already.

Enjoy your little baby - she'll be grown up before you know it!

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Go to www.3daysleep.com and your little girl will be sleeping through the night in NO TIME!! Davis has wonderful tips for healthy sleeping habits. My son was sleeping 12 hrs/night at 4months!! Her video is cheap and quick to watch!! GOOD LUCK!!

Baby needs what she needs. Good homeopathic constitutional remedy is a big help to you and your baby to get over this needs. It is costly and not possible to select one without the help of qualified homeopath. If you live in major city, there are CHC directories. The change you encounter with good remedy is staggering, not only in a sleep pattern, in overall health too.
Good Luck!

Listen to your baby, don't let her cry her eyes out :( Everything is normal, just because 'us' mom's don't know the reasons why our babies do somethings sometimes...in hindsight I'm usually saying to myself, "OH! That's why he was sucking on me all night and I didn't get any sleep!" Continue doing what you're doing-you're doing a great service to your baby by responding to her needs. It's good to have advice and some comparisons BUT every baby is different!! Is she healthy? Happy? At this age many variables affect baby sleep pattern; are you on a schedule/rutine? Stimulation to get baby tired? Teething? Growth spurt? So much is going on, listen to your baby....Lots of luck! : )

Hi L.,

I think everything you're describing is very NORMAL and I would not cut out any feedings. It is hard to deal with the sleep deprivation but it will get better as she gets older. Just hang in there.... the gift you are giving your baby of breast milk is the BEST you can give her. Enjoy this special time - you will look back one day and wish you could go back. Hang in there. You're doing a great job. And by the way - a baby is not supposed to be independent - hence the name baby!!

She's still young - don't let her cry for you. When a baby cries, they are trying to tell you something that they don't have the words for. Can you imagine asking someone for something that you needed and couldn't get yourself, and them just ignoring your repeated requests?

If you are tired and need to night wean, by all means do so - but do it in a compassionate manner. Try a La Leche League meeting for advice - there are lots of Mamas there with lots of breast feeding experience.

Breast feeding is a wonderful gift that you can give to your child that does not cost a thing, and only benefits them! Breast-fed babies are healthier on the whole, have higher IQs (it's a proven fact), and feel very secure and attached.

Babies are not meant to be "independent" - they are babies, for crying out loud! And it seems to me she is already somewhat independent, deciding when she needs to sleep and when she needs to eat. See, "independence" is not what some parents are looking for - they are really looking for convenience. I wish they would call it what it really is rather than trying to make moms who follow their childrens' cues feel badly.

Happy Thanksgiving L., I think breast feeding has it's pros and cons, I think breast feeding to long hinders independance in a baby, for example I have a 5 month old baby girl who will be6 months December 8th, she has been holding her own bottles sinse 3 months old, she also has been roling and picking up toys since trhen as well, she sits up, a 3 month old infant being nursed just lays there, she has been on rice cereal sinse 6 weeks old and has been sleeping through the night sinse then, during the day she does not sleep much, she takes a 45 minute nap in the morning then she is up playing all day untill the afternoon time, when she usually will take a good 2 hour nap, and then she is awake until her mom comes at 6:00, you asked if you should stop nursing, that's a personal choice, I will tell you this in the 11 years that I have been running a daycare, I have seen a big differewnce between babies who are breast feed, and baby's who are bottle fed. All 3 of my kids were bottled fed on formula, breast feed or bottle feed is an individual choice, from what I have read through mamasource, it appears that mom's who breast feen get less sleep than those who don't breast feed. Hope I didn't offend you in any way, some moms are very touchy about breast feeding. J. L.

L., We breastfeeding mothers all go through this at some point. I did both breast feeding (all day) and bottle fed at night for the very same reason. He wanted to be attached all night and would not let me sleep. What he wanted was a pacifier at night! Which he used me for. So go with what works for you and do not let anyone else make the decisions for you. Give yourself a break he is new to you and the world is new to him. :) Good Luck

When I tried to ween the night feedings, I would just go in the room and rock or soothe my DD back to sleep. It only took a couple days for her to realize she wasn't going to eat if she woke up and she started sleeping through the night. It may not work for all of your feedings...but at least you could maybe all get a few more hours of sleep this way? Have you tried the paci? A lovey in her crib?

I have two kids- the first slept through the night at 3 weeks, this 2nd is 3 months old now and not sleeping through yet, both only breastfed. Just because my baby is breastfed he doesn't mean he just lays there! We use the exersaucer, play mat, tummy time, bumbo... I am relieved he is not rolling over yet!!
During the day, he eats every 3 hours or so, then I feed him at 10pm and to sleep. Just in the last week, DH and I decided that getting up 3 times a night was ridiculous! So when he wakes up less than three hours from eating I let him "cry it out." I was very nervous at first, but it took 3 minutes! He went back to sleep!! He is now down to waking up just once at night (between 4 and 5am) then back to sleep till 7:30 or so.
You can tell your by your baby's cry if she is really awake or not, or just wants/needs a snuggle or pacifier.

Hi L., I am a Sleep Consultant and Parenting Coach. No it is not because you are breastfeeding but it is because you are breastfeeding in the night. She is old enough and has enough fat reserves to be sleeping through the night and taking 2-3 long naps a day. There are things you can do to decrease the amount of crying involved in sleep training, and it should only last a day or two. If you would like help with this transition please visit my website at www.theindependentchild.com
Best wishes,
K. Smith


Does she wake up almost exactly the same time every night, or is it random? If it's the same time, it could be a habit but if it's random, it might hunger (or a growth spurt, which happens around 6 months). You may want to try feeding her longer at the breast at each feeding throughout the day so she'll last longer at night. From personal experience, by the time my daughter was 6 months she was on a 4-hour schedule and I gave her "extra" feeding at night time before 11pm to get her sleeping longer.

Good luck.

I am in total shock at what one mom said in response ... that in essence bottle fed babies are more independent and some how superior to breastfed babies, well I personally find it quite sad that one would want their 3 month old to be independent. Babies are born not able to hold up their head, sit up, walk, etc... and we as their parents are there to hold them and nurture them through their growing experience. In my opinion a child has the rest of it's life to be independent; enjoy the first couple of years when they still really need you; especially the first 12 months a baby needs her parents to meet her basic needs it is not out of manipulation or dependence that baby needs its parents.
I have a four month old who wakes many many times a night, we co-sleep so I just roll over and pop her on the breast and fall back to sleep. When she wakes she may be hungery or just need comfort, either way I am there to meet her needs. She will not be doing this until she is 10 years old so i can trust that this is temporary and I am going to enjoy it for now.
By the way, nursing every 3 hours is great at 5 months; seems normal to me. She will become independent, I promise.

nothing abnormal about this at all,there lots of babies that do that.I mean does she fall asleep after you nurse her? then everything is fine.Cosleeping will make it easier on you untill she gets older.I highly reccommend DR Sears Baby Book.

Dear L.,
I am a mother of 2 now ages 5 & 7. My oldest was sleeping through the night at 7wks and the younger at just 3wks. My oldest was the one I had to train, and the other trained herself...I was lucky. However, you have already answered your own question. YES stop breastfeeding while everyone should be sleeping, including YOU. Pediatrition will tell you that crying babies is OK, infact most will agree that it helps with healthy lung development. That being said, as difficult as it is to hear your child cry (especially for 30 or more minutes in the middle of the night) you are doing her no favor by allowing her to control her sleeping habits and yours. Children learn by cause and effect - if I do this, I get that - she crys you come...understand?? so as long as you continue to answer her every cry she will continue to get exactly what she wants...your attention in the middle of the night. Don't kid yourself though, this is a big step and you have to stick to your guns!! in otherword, once you start down this road-you cannot go back. If you give in some of the time it teaches her to cry louder and longer. So do yourself and her a favor (this may take a week), EVERY night if she wakes up, let her cry herself back to sleep. Go check on her afterword if it will make you feel better. Once she is sleeping through the night on a regular basis, you will know that if she wakes up in the middle of the night it is not just for mommy comfort me.
Good luck, let me know how it goes

My little girl is about 11 months now, but she does what I read your baby is doing whenever she is having a growth spurt. We just went through 4 or 5 days (nights) of it!

If you think nursing should end, that is up to you, but I would recommend continuing nursing for your baby's health, your health, and your future healths... Being awakened a little now and then today to feed a growing baby is better than having to care for a sick baby any day, in my opinion.

You're the mom. Do what feels right to you, ultimately.

Hi L.,

Our pediatrician told us that at four months of age, most babies are capable of sleeping "through the night" (as in midnight-five a.m.), which means that they can go that whole time without eating. She also said that at four months of age, babies can actually alter their sleep patterns and learn to "manipulate" you--meaning, if they wake up and they haven't been asleep very long and you feed or play with them, they will learn to wake up to eat and play every few hours. She told us to quietly and briefly soothe and pat our baby if he woke up "during the night" (again, that means no more than a five-hour stretch) and he would learn to sleep through. I remember this being a pretty easy process--it worked like she said it would--with maybe only a couple of nights where he woke up (and he didn't really complain about being patted to sleep--he was just ready to sleep for five hours at a time).

I'd ask your pediatrician what he/she thinks. (By the way--not many babies are supposed to have solids or rice cereal at five months--did your doctor tell you to do this? Because the solid foods might actually be the problem--you can stretch out their stomachs before they are ready to have solid foods and that can lead to sleep problems if they can't digest the solids). I'd call your doc if you haven't already.

:-) D.

In addition to the other postings:
You cannot simply assume that breastfed and bottle fed are better or worse off.

2) Every baby is DIFFERENT in temperament and personality...thus, you cannot "assume" that once you stop breastfeeding "your" baby will suddenly sleep. EACH baby has their own spirit and personality...just with my own 2 kids, which I both breastfed, they BOTH have and had their own sleep patterns and abilities to soothe or sleep.
3) even if a baby is fed lots before bed, it does NOT guarantee that it will "make" the baby sleep ALL night. It is a myth that a "full" and fed INFANT given rice-cereal will sleep through the night.
4) this is the way it is with breastfeeding.
5) your baby may be going through a growth-spurt... and if so, they get hungrier...they are growing and need to feed more since their intake naturally increases due to their growing needs. Some babies even fed every hour! Yes! This is also normal. Breastfeeding IS VERY arduous...this is normal. It is not a cake walk.
6) Try and give a baby a pacifier, or lovey or a way to self-soothe. Not all babies know how to self-soothe.
7) If all breastfed Moms did the same thing, and there was a "template" of how to nurse/when to nurse/how to get them to sleep...then all babies would be the same. But they are not. 8) SOME babies wake a lot because they are not getting enough intake, or they are teething, or they are going through separation anxiety, or they have gas, or they simply do not know how to self-soothe. And mostly...it is because they are going through developmental changes....I can almost guarantee, that when your baby starts to get her gross motor skills such as crawling/pulling up/sitting up/and rolling over....that this will affect her sleep. This is common, this is normal. EVERY change they go through developmentally, WILL affect their slumber at night and during the night.
9) some babies "cluster feed" which means that they feed every hour even. You need to feed on demand.
10) If you want to "train" your baby NOT to wake at night...well that's up to you. Some simply do not feed their baby at night, they let them cry, they only give them water in a sippy cup, or give their baby a lovey or pacifier or bottle only at night, or they give the night-time duty to Daddy to handle thereby changing the bedtime/night time routine.

12) remember though, that a baby's feeding habits DO NATURALLY change all the time... just because she wakes a lot to feed does not mean she is "not" normal. She is probably going
through a growth spurt.

sorry I don't mean to sound blunt, but, it is frustrating that some think breastfed babies are more problematic & less developed and less independent than bottle fed babies, and less able to sleep. Also, you need to realize, that you cannot expect a baby to sleep ALL night... even a child at 6 years old or a Teenager or an Adult will wake during the night for whatever reason, whether to go pee, or because of a night mare or whatever. So... expecting a baby to sleep all darn night is going to be frustrating. It's a Parental expectation...not a baby's. And, sleep is not static or consistent either... it will fluctuate all their lives.
All the best,

if your baby is 5 months going on 6, i'd still get up in the middle of the night to nurse her. but i read somewhere that by the time baby is 9 moths old, they technically do not need the midnight feedings for food (calorie intake) anymore, and they are mostly just nursing for comfort. so what i did with my last child was that i gave midnight feedings all the way till 9 months, then after that we sleep-trained him so that he learned how to fall back asleep on his own in the middle of the night without nursing. my sister-in-law did the same thing. i am planning on doing the same with my current 4 month old as well.

it's funny your baby wakes up every 3 hours and i noticed you said she doesn't sleep at all. i guess things are always a certain way depending on what you compare them with. my first baby used to wake up in the middle of the night a lot, but my current one is only waking up every 3 hours. so waking up every 3 hours is a treat for me in comparison to my firstborn. but if you compare this to somebody else's kid who's been sleeping 6 solid hours since their 2nd week of birth, then this will seem like torture. is this your first baby? if so, i know this may seem like it's going on forever, but this too shall pass. give yourself a deadline of some sort, and if you really can't take it, then get some books on sleep training, and this would help your baby to sleep more at night and for you to feel better. whatever it takes, L., cuz a happy well-rested mother makes a happy baby. good luck!

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