25 answers

When to Stop Feeding Baby During Middle of the Night

I am wondering when I should stop nursing my son during the night time, he will be six months old in one week. He consistently goes to bed every night between 7:30-7:45, and can wake up anywhere from 0-3 times per night. On an average night he typically wakes only one time. I wake my son up at 6:30 to eat prior to leaving for work. My son eats approximately 25-30 ounces per day (he drinks 15 ounces at daycare and I nurse him anywhere from 2-4 times at home)He is becoming well established with food and eats vegetables and rice cereal around 12 noon and then 6:00 at home. I am beginning to wonder if he is waking only out of habit or if he truly is hungry. When he wakes up I usually only nurse for 5 minutes and he is back to sleep. Is 11 hours too long for his little tummy to go without feeding? If so how come some nights he doesn't wake at all? Am I his pacifier or should I continue feeding him if he wakes? Thanks!

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

If he is only eating for five minutes and then going back to sleep then he truly wasn't hungry. I have a 3 month old who sleeps through the night. If he has made it all night before then you know he can do it. I wouldn't rush in when he stirs at night I would give him a few minutes to see if he settles himself back to sleep. I would get a sleep book. It talks about that in there and how to gently wean him off the night feedings. We use the book Good Night, Sleep Tight by Kim West. And yes the time is short that they are young but the longer you let him eat at night the harder it will be to wean him. And he isn't going to starve to death. If he is truly hungry he will let you know. But by now he should be going through the night. good luck.

More Answers

Breastfed babies typically need to nurse during the night until they are 9 months to 12 months old. Formula fed babies can stop night feedings as soon as 3 months of age. That's one reason you will get a variety of responses to this question. At this age, he can get a significant quantity of milk in 5 minutes of nursing. If he already is sleeping through some nights, then he likely will be stopping night feedings soon. In the meantime, it is up to you what you want to do. You know your baby best.

BTW, As moms, we are our babies pacifiers, I don't see anything wrong with that.

1 mom found this helpful

My son had the same sleeping habit when he was that age...and then my milk supply started running out because of going back to work. He would ONLY nurse at night so I loved waking up to him...then my milk wasnt enough and I foolishly gave him bottles of formula at night. He would chug the bottles of 4 ounces so I thought he needed it, but then he was waking up 5-8 times a night! If he's only waking up 0-3 times a night, I'd keep nursing even though he could sleep through without eating. But that's just because my son stopped nursing right at six months and I would have loved to keep going!

If he is only eating for five minutes and then going back to sleep then he truly wasn't hungry. I have a 3 month old who sleeps through the night. If he has made it all night before then you know he can do it. I wouldn't rush in when he stirs at night I would give him a few minutes to see if he settles himself back to sleep. I would get a sleep book. It talks about that in there and how to gently wean him off the night feedings. We use the book Good Night, Sleep Tight by Kim West. And yes the time is short that they are young but the longer you let him eat at night the harder it will be to wean him. And he isn't going to starve to death. If he is truly hungry he will let you know. But by now he should be going through the night. good luck.

By now, if your son is eating very well during the day, he does not need to be eating at night. Specially if he is only eating for about 5 minutes at night. He is waking up out of habit and because he knows that you will come to him. My middle child was sleeping 12 hours at night by the time she was 5 months old. Now not all babies will sleep that long. My youngest on average only sleeps 10 1/2 hours at night and she is almost a year. You will know if your child is just waking up out of habit, or really really needing something. Let him cry a little while and you will understand what he is crying about.

This may be an unpopular answer, but we co-sleep with our baby. He wakes up a couple of times in the night, and often only needs a pat on the tummy to fall back asleep. If that doesn't work, then I nurse him (this usually only occurs during growth spurts or if he missed a regular feeding during the day for some reason).

This is what works for us, for a baby who has always had trouble sleeping alone (even as a newborn, he prefered to be help and woke up when he was laid down by himself, no matter how long we waited). It may not work for you, but it is a way to be there for your baby and to meet his needs without having to be awake for as long in the night:) We also give him a pacifier at night to see if he just needs the comfort rather than the milk.

Good luck! You've gotten a lot of different answers -- hopefully one works for you and your situation:)

oh honey, you should both be getting a full nights sleep by now. The longer you continue to feed him in the middle of the night when he wakes, the more dependent he will be on those nursings and the harder it is going to be to get him to stop. My suggestion is to stop now. Babies start producing more melatonin at around 3 months and their body actually needs the consecutive hours of sleep, as opposed to when they are first born, they don't produce as much melatonin and they don't need the consecutive hours of sleep becuase they need the more frequent feedings to thrive. He will be fine without food from 7:30 to 6:30....those are the eaxact hours that my 5 month old sleeps.

Hello J.,

I have an 11 month old so I just went through this same situation. When my baby got to the point where she would only get up once per night (or not at all some nights) I would wait for about 5 minutes to see if she would go back to sleep. If she quieted down within 5 minutes then I knew she was fine. If she persisted for longer then 5 minutes then I would go nurse her for just a few minutes. After a few nights she started sleeping through the night 7 nights a week. Yes, waiting for 5 minutes in the middle of the night can be agonizing when your baby is crying but if your baby can go back to sleep on his own it will be better for you both in the long run.

Hope that helps.

I too am in this position. I have still been getting up 1-2 times a nite, and wondwring if I should work harder and stopping. My son will nurse pretty good at these times, so I think he's truly hungry. I'm torn between wanting more uninterupted sleep,and not wanting to end my last baby's "baby" stages. I feel as long as I can continue to function ok on less sleep and he seems to need the nourishment I'll keep getting up,at least once and try to get him to go back to sleep if he wakes more. I feel God truly blessed me with this beautiful healthy child at age 43(just turned 44) and has given me the energy I need to make it thru my day even getting up at nite yet. So I take that as a confirmation that I'm doing the rite thing! You have to decide what's best for you!

We went through the same thing. At about 3.5 months, my son would wake 2-3 times, nurse for 5 minutes, and fall back to sleep. I know one mom noted that the baby can get a lot of milk in that 5 minutes, but it didn't feel like he was. I got the distinct impression he was just nursing for comfort and not for food. I started "testing" his hunger. I would see if I could find some other way to sooth him back to sleep. With him, it turned out that sticking his paci back in his mouth was enough. At about 5:30 a.m., the paci would no longer suffice and I took this to mean that was as long as he could go with out nursing. At 4 months, we started in with giving him a chance to sooth himself back to sleep (putting him to bed awake, etc) and those I-just-want-my-paci wakings stopped. He slept through the night and was as healthy as could be.

11 hours is too long for some babies and not for others. If he goes 11 hours and is happy and healthy, then try to enjoy it!

My son was sleeping through the night (10-12 hours) by 12-13 weeks of age. They definately can handle that long wothout food. It probably is for comfort only, but it's up to you if you want to continue.

I know you'll get a million different opinions on this one. But, here is mine. This time won't last very long at all. Pretty soon, you'll look back and miss those intimate moments. Don't rush them. Your baby needs you in the night either for food or for comfort. My daughter nursed in the night until she was partially weaned at around 10 months. Now at 14 months she sometimes has a bottle in the night and nurses and has bottles in the day. She decides if she needs a bottle, because sometimes she is in a growth spurt and needs the extra milk. Granted, she is on the smaller side so I am not worried about her getting too much. Some will tell you to let him cry it out. We did that with my son, but it wouln't work with my daughter because she would just get more upset. Every child is different. Let your son tell you when he is done nursing in the middle of the night. It will be sooner than you think.

At six months old, he is perfectly able to go the whole night without eating. If he is only nursing for five minutes, that is a really good indicator. 11 hours might be a stretch at first though, so you could try putting him to bed an hour later and see what happens. Also, when he wakes up, don't take him out of his crib. That will only make him want to wake up more. You can go in and comfort him, but that is it.

I fed both of my children at night until they were 8-9 months. They both woke up 2-4 times a night. After I quit nursing at night, they both slept through the night within a few weeks. I think it was more of a comfort/habit for them. I started by cutting out one of the feedings at a time. Ex: when he woke up at 10:30, I would just rock him, not feed him. He threw a fit and cried for 10-15 minutes, but figured out I wasn't going to feed him and eventually fell asleep. I slowly did this with all the feedings, until he slept through the night. A few times, I had my husband get up with him when he just wouldn't go back to sleep, but mostly it just took patience. Good luck.

I asked my pediatrician this same question when my daughter was 10 months old. He told me that even at 10 months of age, 7-8 hours is the largest stretch I can expect her to go without eating. Some babies obviously go longer, but if your baby wakes up chances are he is actually hungry.

it all depends on what you want to do and how it works to get him back to sleep without it. you can surly try to give him a sippy with water in it when he wakes up and see if that works.

its all about what works for you.
i never let my son cry it out and now he goes to sleep on his own, never fusses or whines about bedtime. he was waking up at night at least once to nurse until he was around 16 months old... and then he was waking up somewhere between 4-6 am and would sometimes nurse and sometimes not... now hes 19 1/2 months and he sleeps through the night without any trouble at all. he even prefers to sleep in his own bed now! so you have to find out how you want to deal with it and that will tell you if you should keep nursing him or not.

i was just in the attachment parenting mindset that i was going to always respond to the needs of my son. an unfulfilled need shows up as an undesireable habit later. (easy example, no nuk = thumb sucking) it just depends on what you can deal with.

My advice is to stop feeding your baby during the middle of the night when he tells you he doesn't need it anymore. 6 months is pretty young, and he will be entering the separation anxiety phase pretty soon so you probably won't get much sleep soon anyhow. I don't know whether the part about you waking up your baby at 6:30 each morning is causing a problem for him, you may want to consider that as you go along. I wish you luck.

If he is hungry, feed him. My one year old still nurses once a night, about 3 times a week, depending on her growth spurts, her level of separation anxiety, how much she's eaten during the day....

Also, breast milk is much easier than formula to digest, so their little tummies move through it faster.

If he has a paci, I would try using that to sooth him if you don't think that he is super hungry. I don't believe that 11 hours is too long, but every child is different.

Do you nurse him to sleep? He may be waking and figuring out you're not there anymore. I was told to nurse and put the baby down when still awake and that should establish good bedtime behavior. I'd let him cry for 5-10 minutes and see if he falls back asleep or change how you put him to bed if you are nursing him to sleep. He could be teething too.

Great question. I too am having this problem, it really bothers my boyfriend because he will sometimes sleep the night so he should do it every night. I think something is waking him up and he realizes he is hungry. I change his diaper and nurse him to sleep, and sometime I too am hungry, I ignore my hunger and go back to sleep. I don't think your son is able to ignore his hunger. I would continue to feed him if he is hungry, thats what I plan to do. It will also be great to know what other think.

A person only truly needs to eat in the middle of the night the first three months of their lives. After that it's purely a habit. Like others suggested you have to put your baby to bed awake. Also, it's good to teach your child independence. Let the baby play on the floor while you sit in the chair for a while. Let your baby blabber/talk in his crib for a while (like 10 minutes)before you go get him. If he is independent he will blabber no problem. If he is NOT independent he'll cry right when he wakes up or a minute after he wakes up. He's six months old, lean him up in the corner of the chair or couch next to you. So in other words don't hold him all the time. He needs to learn independence. I mean yes, it's good to hold and cuddle with the baby. But he has to get away from you and learn. Right now is a great age to introduce toys. Put a lovey in his crib a favorite stuffed animal or soft toy that will help him get back to sleep. A glow worm, a stuffed animal that has a cord that he pulls and it plays music, something like that. Good luck!

I think you do what you feel comfortable with. Every baby is different and every Dr. will give you slightly differet advice. Have you consulted with your Dr? They can be an excellent reference. That being said...If you want to cut out the midnight feedings try the pacifier....also, don't jump at his very first cry. Sometimes they work it out on their own. You may be happier mom with more sleep and more energy for your child during the day.

we went through something very similar with our daughter... at her 6 mon check up, she was in the 90% for weight and our Dr said 'she doesn't need to nurse 2-3 times a night. she's using you as a human pacificer to put herself back to sleep' i think i needed to hear it from the Dr to feel okay about stopping the night nursings. from then on, i used earplugs and my husband would go up and give her a paci... didn't last too long before he just used the paci (which is a whole different story... she's now 2 and off the paci, too)

J.,

Full term healthy babies can make it through the night (11-12 hours) from the time they are 2-3 months old. After that, it is just habit. He probably is hungry. If you got up at 2am and made yourself a sandwich, after about 2-3 weeks, you would wake up hungry at 2 am every morning. If he is only feeding for 5 minutes, he isn't truly needing nourishment, he is just in the habit of a "middle of the night snack." Let him cry it out, or if you don't approve of that method, just go in and rock him or nurse him for less time (4 min, then 3, then 2) and wean him off the habit.

Good luck,
S.

My son is 21mo, this is what I remember our Dr. telling us. At 6 months they have enough stored fat that they should be able to sleep through the night. He told us that it takes a baby 3 to 5 days to learn a pattern they are so easily schedulized that your baby will know that if he wakes up you will feed him. If you can, let him fuss and fall back asleep or you are in for a long haul of never getting to sleep through the night.

Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.