1 Year-old Crying Until Getting 2 Ounces of Milk at 4AM

Updated on June 30, 2010
R.S. asks from Raymond, ME
12 answers

My boy will be 1 year-old this week. He got stomach flu a week ago and has just recently switched to whole milk. He had never been a big drinker until now. He seems to loooove whole milk. My problem is he has been waking up for the passed 5 days around 3:45-4AM crying histarically. I always go in to check on him and try to calm him down. Nothing seems to work until I bring him a little milk (2 ounce bottle). He goes nuts when he sees the bottle, opening his mouth and moving his arms as if he was starving.

He usually fusses when the 2 ounces of done... but I can calm him easily then. I put him back down and he goes right back to sleep. I am a bit concerned about getting him back into the habit of nightfeedings... don't really want to be up every night at 4AM - as he was sleeping through the night (7PM to 6AM) for the passed months.

Could it be a growth spurt?
I have read many places that kids don't need feedings at night passed 9 months of age...
Don't reaslly want to let him cry it out either as his 3.5 year old sister sleeps in the room next door.

Any suggestions? comment?

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answers from Gainesville on

It is very, very common for them to start waking up around the 12 month mark. My son was a power sleeper and right at 1 he started waking for no apparent reason. I learned it was because they become more aware of the outside world at that age and don't want to miss out!

He's got a lot going on if he just got over being sick and now hitting that 1 year milestone. He probably is very hungry.

You can't ever have absolutes with kids (ex don't need night feedings past 9 months-haha tell that to my breastfed babies lol). Their growth and development is constantly changing and you will see many changes and blips in their schedules as they grow.

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answers from Seattle on

There is always a reason, and if he does it around the same time likely it is a growth spurt and a need for some food. I have one who is right about one and he wakes ( not all the way) several times a night to nurse, I just roll over a nurse him and barely wake up. Since you are using a bottle, figure out a way to get up and take care of him with the least waking the both of you up, maybe put him in your bed and have the milk in a bottle in a cooler nearby, then you could help him with out even turning on the light.

I will tell you that from my experience with my 4 kids that many children really need night feedings clear through 5 or even 6. My 4.5 year old usually wakes around 3:30 each morning being very thirsty. I keep water next to where she sleeps so I can help her quickly and she goes right back to sleep.

Your baby knows his body and is only asking out of need. Up until about 2 they only have needs not really wants.

You might try reading the book night time parenting to get a better idea of options as well as norms.

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answers from Providence on

I don't see anything wrong with night time feedings. My son fed at night until he was 2.5

It takes much more work for you to attempt to soothe your son by NOT feeding him then to simply let him eat when he's hungry.

He's barely one...his tummy is still tiny and a one year old wanting to eat in the middle of the night is nothing strange or out of the ordinary.

It may be frustrating for you because you want to sleep, but if your son is crying and the only way to soothe him is to give him a couple ounces of milk...then I don't see the problem. He's hungry...so feed him. Doing so will NOT spoil him nor make a habit of anything. He's still very young at a year old and yes, quiet possibly going through a growth spurt, hence the need for eat more frequently.

He will let you know when he's ready to sleep through the night...and nothing you attempt to do now will make that come faster.

Good luck with everything...but again...a one year old eating in the middle of the night is NOT unordinary or unheard of. Plenty of babies wake to eat at all times of the night. Feed him...and you both will be happier and more well rested.

If you're interested, check out the book "THE VITAL TOUCH" BY SHARON HELLER....your local library should have it or you can find it on Amazon.com or any other bookstore. It will help answer a lot of your questions.

D. B.
PenPoint Editorial Services

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answers from Washington DC on

sounds like a hungry baby to me!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I had the EXACT same problem and what I discovered was that my son wasn't actually hungry, but thirsty! I solved the issue by giving him a sippy cup with water to take to bed. The first few nights he'd wake up and I'd go to his crib and show him his sippy cup and then go back to bed. After that, he started getting up and looking for it on his own in bed. Now, occasionally I hear him get up, take a few sips and then pass back out but I'm not involved so that's fine with me! Some mornings I see that the water is half gone and other mornings he hasn't touched it. He's now 16 months. Good luck!

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answers from Boston on

I'd feed him. If he had the stomach flu, he's probably trying to make up the calories he lost. If he was sleeping before, he'll start sleeping again. If he does this for more than 2 weeks I'd reevaluate, but for now, give him the milk - its also probably the least-painful course of action for you.

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answers from New York on

I agree that as long as you go in quietly, feed him and return him to bed, this phase should pass. Maybe he needs to eat more for dinner?

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answers from Madison on

I would definitely give him some milk. It is not fun and not even possible to go back to sleep when your stomach is empty! He may be going through a growth spurt or making up for his lost weight from the stomach flu.

My son is over 2 and there has been (rare) nights even recently when he wakes up in the middle of the night and asks for milk. (Even though I feed him 8-10 oz milk and sometimes crackers before bed time). This happens when he is going through a growth spurt or during/after a sickness and does not last more than a few nights.

If he goes right back to sleep after drinking his milk, he must be hungry!

If it lasts more than a week or so though, I would think there is something else going on. In that case, if it becomes a habit, I would decrease the amount of milk and/or replace it with water and eventually encourage him to go back to sleep when he wakes up without offering anything to drink.

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answers from Atlanta on

Give him a bunch of milk and a snack like melba toast or soemthing right before bed and then let him cry it out at 4am.


answers from Boston on

He really shouldn't be having milk before or during sleep - really bad for the teeth. Is it the bottle he loves? Can you give him water in it? No, he doesn't need night feedings and you could be setting yourself up for some bad habits. It's hard to juggle the sleep needs of 2 kids (not to mention Mom!) and I know you don't really want him to cry it out BUT this is a new habit and you need to break it. I don't know why he is hysterical - if he is having night terrors, he wouldn't be responding to anything, including the bottle. So it sounds like he needs to learn to self-soothe and get himself back to sleep without your intervention or the milk. If he is old enough and wakes up enough, you could try leaving a bottle of water in the crib - show him the first couple of times, and then stop going in at all.



answers from Los Angeles on

if he just got over the stomach flu, his body could be trying to compensate for the weight that he must have lost b/c he couldn't eat too much. plus, 1 year is a growth spurt phase plus formula is more filling than milk b/c formula is an actual meal whereas milk is just a drink. so bottom line, yes he could be genuinely hungry. try feeding him not too long before bedtime and giving him a 6 oz cup of milk right before bed. this might help hold him over until morning. good luck!



answers from Burlington on

Can you leave a bottle of water in the crib where he can find it and satisfy himself?

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