22 answers

Stopping Overnight Feeding

I am looking for advice on how to phase out my 6 month old sons overnight feeding. He is now 20 pounds 11 ounces and sleeps in his crib with music on all night. He naps about 2-4 hours during the day. I can get him to sleep just fine. Usually he wakes once a night after 4-5 hours of sleeping but this past week he is getting up twice a night. Before bed I feed him a 7 ounce bottle. When he wakes I let him fuss for 3-5 minutes before getting him. Then I try to put his Nuk in and rub his tummy. When he still cries I pick him up and rock him. When he continues to cry I feel like I have no choice but to feed him. When I feed him he goes right back to bed and he will eat the entire bottle. So could this be a growth spurt? Will he sleep the night through on his own when he is ready? Or do I have to teach him to do this? I have tried to let him “cry it out” and after 30 minutes I couldn’t take it anymore. Any suggestions would be great. Thanks!

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When my son, who is now 9y old, was between 5-6 months he woke up and was always hungry. I asked my doc what to do and he said try a little baby cereal mixed into his before bed bottle. Worked like a charm. You may have to alter the nipple of the bottle make the opening alittle bigger or look for cereal nipples at a store. Most docs don't recomend this because most babies don't do or need this. My first two boys didn't but he is taller now than both of them were at his age by about 4-5 inches.

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Hi! There really may be no way to phase this out as he may be growing and actually REQUIRING an extra feeding. My 10-month-old niece is actually starting to wake up during the night again after sleeping through the night since she was about 3 months. Anyhow, the only thing you may try is turning off the music once he is asleep as ANY stimulation (music, light, TV, etc.) can bring a child (OR an adult) out of sleep very quickly when they enter lighter phases of sleep, which occur several times during an 8-10 hour sleeping session. In the lighter sleep phases, your body sleeps very lightly, and ANY stimulation of ANY kind will generally bring your brain right out of sleep and get it moving, waking your body up completely!!! Just a suggestion, but really it's not all that uncommon for a 6-month-old to wake up at night to eat!!!

~L.~ 26-year-old single mother of two girls, ages 6 and 7!

1 mom found this helpful

I completely understand your position. I never thought I would sleep again when my son was that age. The problem is that, although you can try cereal in the attempt to make him more full, I think that sleeping through the night at this age is not something that many mom's are lucky enough to have happen. Honestly, it will come...and the time will also come when you will have to teach your son to put himself back to sleep, but this may be too soon.

When I read the other responses to your request, I thought that the other moms were not very empathetic. Don't feel bad for wanting to have back some normalcy in your life...having a baby is truly a wonderful thing, but it was the hardest transition of my life and, honestly, I still don't think I'm fully adjusted and my son is 18 months old. Good luck...I hope that the cereal works.

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First let me say that sleepingt hrough the night is a develmental thing and while children may wake up more due to hunger or whatever feeding them more during the day really isn't going to make them sleep all night, and putting cereal in a bottle, which yes i know most of us have done it is a choking hazard so be careful. so yes he will get over it in time, the amount depends on the baby and not so much on you, and while studies may show that cry it out works, there is no reason a child that young should have to feel that alone and abandond and there have been studies done that say later on in life these signs show up so while it might be a fix right now it isn't the best thing for baby in the long run, good luck and remeber things will get better with time.

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There are several reasons why babies wake up in the middle of the night at this age - almost all are due to varying degrees of physical discomfort:

1) HUNGER. True hunger due to growth spurts - just because 6 month olds are "supposed to be able to sleep through the night" does NOT mean that's natural or normal. Think about every other mammal on the face of this earth - they sleep *with* their mothers and nurse/eat whenever they want. We're just mammals, too. Just because we're human mammals doesn't mean that our babies expect something different than being close to mom, nursing whenever they want. So I say go ahead and feed your baby - follow his hunger signs and feed him!

2) BLADDER PRESSURE. This is the reason for my baby's first night waking. Many babies at this age who are diapered full time are still aware of their need to eliminate (pee/poop). Many, many babies wake up 3-5 hours after going to sleep because they have a full bladder and the pressure wakes them. By simply holding them in a supported position over the toilet and making a "psss psss" sound, babies will gladly relieve themselves and literally fall back to sleep as the last drops come out! Instead of offering your baby a bottle, at his first noises (don't wait until he's full-blown crying!), simply take off his diaper and give him a chance to pee. For more information on this gentle, fun approach (used all around the world, is what all moms did before disposible diapers were invented!) - :
Part Time Infant Pottying
Potty Whisperer DVD

3) TEETHING. Usually involves more waking than what you're describing.

4) ILLNESS. Usually involves more waking than what you're describing.

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You should never try to withhold a feeding just because you want to continue sleeping. If baby wakes up hungry, you feed him, period. I don't mean to sound harsh, but baby's belly's aren't like ours. My 10 month old STILL wakes up anywhere from 2-5 times a night for feedings. Some babies just eat more frequently, and while it may be inconvenient for you, your baby needs to know that when he's hungry, mommy's gonna come take care of that need. And you'd spend less time awake, if you stopped trying all those 'tricks' to get him to go back to sleep, if you'd just feed him when he awakens. He's more likely to go back to sleep quickly that way. By letting him cry it out and rubbing his tummy, etc. etc., you're just drawing out the process, and he's just getting that more awake and agitated.
As for putting cereal in the bottle, some people frown on it. But I've had more than one pediatrician tell me it's fine to do. You don't give baby a bottle and leave him alone with it. So where the choking hazard comes in, I don't know. You hold baby and bottle until he is done. We had to start my 10 month old on cereal in the bottle age 2 1/2 months of age, due to his severe reflux. And he's never once choked, or faced any other problems from doing so. We also did this with our oldest son, who is now 6. And he never had anything happen to him, either.
If baby is hungry, feed him. You're a mom now, sleeping thru the night is a luxury now, LOL. Anyways, enjoy the nights with your baby. The quiet of the night, just the sound of him breathing, while you rock him and feed him. Those can be really peaceful times if you allow them to be. He's only going to be a baby for a year. So take advantage of those quiet mommy-baby times. Trust me, it goes by way too quickly.

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The increased waking may be from a growth spurt coming on. My baby is 9 months now and still wakes once in the early morning for a bottle but with my first son he was sleeping through the night by 7 months. Each child is different and they will sleep through the night in their own time. Some things to help you at least get a longer period of sleep if he is on solid foods, increase the amount you are giving him and give him some cereal later in the evening or adding cereal to his bedtime bottle. That will help put something more solid in his belly and sleep a little longer. Generally at this age they will ony sleep 5-6 hours before they wake for food because they process the formula so quickly. Don't count on a true full nights sleep for a few more months though.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi L.,

I too have a six month old son (he will be 6 mos on 23). I feed him ever two hours through out the day and at about 2 or 3 I give him fruit/veggie mixed with rice cereal. My son goes to bed at about 7 and will sleep until about 4 or 5 in the morning. Every few nights sometimes more sometimes less he will will wake up more than usual. I look at it like this, we as adults also wake up more during some nights than others. I also believe that if feeding makes him happy then go ahead and feed him. He is still very young and relies on you very much still.

I feel your pain sister! My son was 10 months old the FIRST time he didn't wake up to eat! Some people may suggest that he isn't hungry, it's just a habit he has. Whether that's true, only he knows and he can't talk yet! Just do what you think is best and have faith in yourself. Remember its temporary, you will sleep again someday!

My 5 month old has just begun sleeping through the night (going about 9-10 hours in between feedings with no waking) and I think it is because she is fuller since introducing baby food into her diet. I tried cereal in her bottle and that didn't seem to work, but giving her a generous helping of baby food and even some baby cereal too around dinner time (6pm) with a 6-7 oz. bottle right before bed (8-8:30) has seemed to do the trick for me. She has never been a big eater (only 13 lbs)until now- she gobbles up baby food! My pediatrician says that once a baby reaches 12 lbs they have the capability to sleep through the night and the rest is tempermant. My suggestion... load him up with baby food or baby cereal before bed!

I feel for you! my son is now 11 months and still wakes up for one feeding a night, but he went through times when he would wake up two or three times a night. I talked to my doctor he suggested that i feed him, do the bedtime routine(bath,story, and to try some lavendar lotion) then give him another bottle and that i could even add some cereal. My son eats about 10-12 ounces before bed now, and sleeps from 8 pm until 4 am then he will take a 6 ounce bottle then, and go back to sleep until about 8 am. I would say it is just a growth spurt as they do go through a big one at 6 months, so maybe he is just needing more to eat before bed. Good Luck!

Unless your dr is freaking over his weight, you need not be. Crying is their way of communicating. Obviously if he will take a bottle and go back to sleep, *gasp*, it must of been because he is hungry. Feed him so you can go back to bed.

This whole baby stage is temporary. People need to remember that. You also need to remember that everyone does things in their OWN time frame, NOT yours.

Ohhhh, L.! People are not being very empathetic to you :-( I would have thought in our moms' community here, that people would be more understanding of your feelings! I totally understand how rough it is to go through sleep deprivation, and it is a way of life for parents, but, it doesn't mean you should just accept it and not try to help you and your son get a full night of sleep. First, does he eat any baby food or cereal from a spoon? My kids' pediatrician recommended spoon feeding them from about 4 - 6 months, so maybe it's time for trying that. Second, sometimes babies need more during growth spurts and as they get older. Have you tried giving him an 8 or 9 ounce bottle at any point during the day? I don't want to suggest overfeeding him, but, he's obviously hungry in the night, or wouldn't drink the entire bottle. It sounds like you're trying everything else you can do. As for crying it out, I only did that once I knew my sons' needs were met (diaper changed, they were comfortably fed and burped) then I would eventually sometimes have to let them cry. Their doctor said that's ALRIGHT to do once you know they are okay. I'm glad he goes back to sleep for you as soon as he eats, though, so please just keep working at his feeding schedule and amounts during the day, and he might not need his bottle at night; if I don't eat enough throughout the day, I will also wake up w/my stomach growling around 3:00 AM, so I thinkg that's normal :-) Good luck, and please don't be disheartened by some of the harsh responses-you DO deserve a full night of sleep, or at least deserve to try to get it!

First I want to say you should never put cereal in a bottle and here is why. One it is a choking hazard but the reason that I didn't is because my son who is 3 now never had it in his bottle and around the time to start cereal he spoon feed really well but when my daughter now almost 2 was a baby she went to a sitter and the sitter keep insisting I put cereal in the bottle and I told her no that when she can spoon it I would give it to her. Well I showed up early one day and sure enough she had a bottle with cereal in it feeding it to her(needless to say I got ride of that sitter) when I tried to spoon feed her it took almost 3 months for her to learn and I believe its because it was feed to her in a bottle first and she couldn't understand why she couldn't have it that way. I would say at this age you should try introducing cereals to him before bed once I did that both my kids started sleeping through the night and have ever since. In my opinion if everytime a child went through a growth spirt and they stopped sleeping through the night because they were hungrey we would all have problems. Yes I would agree that he is hungrey but I would give him cereal and bottle before bed and see how it goes. This could be a sign that you should start introducing baby food as well. Good luck and believe me you will sleep again soon:)

My daughter was sleeping through the night at about 3 weeks old and when I took her to the pediatrician she said I need to wake her up every 2-3 hours at night and start feeding her. I was confused because she was growing well (she was 9 lbs.) but I would wake her up and feed her. well then the next time I went to the pediatricain she was like oh no you shouldn't be feeding her in the middle of the night. I was thinking well you told me too and I dont know any better. but for us it was fairly easy. when she would wake up i would just put her binky in her mouth and wrap her in a blankie and hold her really close and she would fall back to sleep. I know my duaghter is younger than your son but its a suggestion. Good luck with everything.

try fixing him a bottle with cereal in it

When my son, who is now 9y old, was between 5-6 months he woke up and was always hungry. I asked my doc what to do and he said try a little baby cereal mixed into his before bed bottle. Worked like a charm. You may have to alter the nipple of the bottle make the opening alittle bigger or look for cereal nipples at a store. Most docs don't recomend this because most babies don't do or need this. My first two boys didn't but he is taller now than both of them were at his age by about 4-5 inches.

I don't have advice but I have sympathy...I also have a 6 month old son who is doing EXACTLY what yours is...I've read a lot of books and after reading all the advice you've been getting I'm to the conclusion that you keep doing what you're doing and one day it will just happen!!
My son is also a 20 pounder and he eats 8 oz bottles during the day plus solids twice a day, plus up to 15 oz at night before bed!?! I can not win either on getting him to sleep (consistently) through the night. He goes to bed around 8:00 and wakes by 5, that's his sleeping through the night. OR he goes to bed at 8:00 and wakes up at 3:00 to eat before going back to sleep...pushing back his bed time does nothing for getting him to sleep longer?! He will just be crabby at 8:00 and fall asleep before I can even get him fed. I offer him as much food as he wishes and try to fill his belly but some nights the only thing that will get him back to sleep is food. SO, keep plugging along sister...no one knows how old this routine is for you better then me. GOOD LUCK!! :)

Hi L.! I just had the same problem w/my 11 month old. She did the exact same thing as your baby. I started out by giving her less in her bottle at night till I got down to about 2 oz. I also watered it down a bit. More water than forumula. I can't say that that's what did it but that's what I read to do somewhere. I honestly believe that they just grow out of it...HOPEFULLY! : ) She was getting up to eat till she was 10 months old then just all of a sudden on her own started sleeping through the night. She does get up occationally but does not want a bottle. I've tried giving her one from time to time is she's cranky or just won't sleep but she won't take it. All I can say is good luck and the watering down and going down in the amount your giving him is worth a try!


Have U tried feeding him baby cereal off a spoon before u lay him down @ night? I had to start feeding my daughter cereal when she was only a week old. I NEVER fed her cereal from a bottle. I used to put her in a highchair (which at the time was her baby carrier that sat in a base) and fed her cereal made with some extra formula so that it was thicker than formula, but not too thick that she had trouble swallowing it. I only gave her about a tablespoon's worth ( she was only a week old when I started) and she used to sleep for 8 hours. Since your son is older, you might wanna try that method and see how it works for you.....

Hi L.,

That is tough - I thought I had it bad when my daugther wasn't sleeping through the night at 3 months, but by 4 months she was. She's now 9 months and still sleeps through the night - the only difference is her bedtime used to be 7 pm to 7 am, now she sleeps 9-10 pm to 8-9 am. What I did was increase the amount of formula I gave her during the day, actually counting how many ounces. So if you have to feed him 6 oz in the middle of the night, try to get 6 more oz down him during the day. I read a book that talked about this technique - loading up on milk during the day. The same book also recommended feeding every 3-4 hours for babies at least 4 months old. At this point, my daugther eats three meals a day, and takes 3, 4-8 oz bottles before each sleeptime.

So I guess the biggest suggestion is try to increase his daily formula/breastmilk intake by at least the amount he's waking up to drink at night. If he wakes up hungry, he needs more to eat during the day, particularly right before bedtime.

Good luck!

Congratulations on having a baby! I have four children and I completly disagree with feeding your baby every time they wake up until the Baby decides not to get up during the night anymore. Children have to learn from us parents. I believe your baby will get up during the night to eat for as long as you continue to feed the baby during the night (and I mean s/he will still be getting up during the night to eat as a toddler if you continue to have a meal time during the night). Now I do know all babies are different and do things at different times. I would not worry about your babies weight as long as the baby is gaining weight. My youngest was 7.7 at birth and 18.9 at four and a half months. My youngest stopped eating during the night b/c l stopped feeding her during the night. One time I had to ignore her crying and it is very hard to do, but well worth it for her and myself in the end. With my four year old I gave her a bottle of water (my youngest is Breast fed and the 4 y/o was bottle) at three months old and that was the end of her eating during the night, but she did start getting up earlier in the morning (around 7) to eat. After that we just gave her her pacifier to fall back to sleep with. My aunt didn't want the baby "to go hungry during the night" and he is now 15 months old and she is still getting up during the night to feed him.
I am not an expert or anything like that, these are just my thoughts. I understand needing the sleep and there is absolutly nothing wrong with your baby not eating during the night and you having a full nights sleep Just another idea, he might be sleeping too much during the day and not tired enough at night.
Best of wishes to you and what you do out of love can't be wrong.

hi he might just be teething try giving him motrin before bed see that helps good luck

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