4.5-Month Old Eating at Night Question

Updated on December 12, 2011
E.K. asks from Kirkland, WA
8 answers

My baby girl is 4.5 months old. She was 8lb, 3oz, 20.5 in at birth. At her 4-month checkup, she was 16 lbs, 8 oz, and 27 in. Basically, she's in the 90th percentile everywhere; she's the height of a 7-month old and the weight of a 6-month old. During the day, she eats between 25 and 30 oz (of mostly breastmilk: she is working through some bad reflux and can't nurse, so I've been pumping and bottling, but can't quite keep up. She usually gets one bottle of formula a day, and I figured I'd give her as much breastmilk as I can).

I think she's ready to sleep through the night fully. She's been doing 8-hour stretches consistently for a while. I think that she's ready to go the full 11-12 hour stretch, so I experiemented a bit this week. Here's what happened:

She goes to bed between 7 and 8 with a last feed around 6:30/7. She usually wakes up around 1:30 to eat. She is a great burper during the day, but I can't seem to get her to burp at night no matter how long I try (I hold her upright, put some pressure on her tummy, and pat that back....she's just too sound asleep to burp). 2 nights this week, I tried giving her a few (2-3) oz of pedialyte instead of food. She slept straight through until about 6:30/7. I did this for 2 nights. The, night before last, she started waking up around 5:30, so I grabbed her and pulled her in bed with me where I heard 2 really loud belly growls. I felt horrible, so last night, I fed her milk when she woke up....and her night was HORRIBLE. As it usually happens when she eats at night, she woke up from 3-5 with gas pains. It took two hours to get the farts out and get her back to sleep. She was SO tired when she got up this morning (around 7:30).

So here's my question: do I stick with the pedialyte for a bit to wean her off of that late night feeding or do I feed her even though she's consumed enough calories during the day and seems big enough to sleep. Of course if I feed her, she will inevitably wake up with gas pains. Do I just deal with that as it comes or what?

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So What Happened?

Just to clarify: we are not having problems with her reflux. Her reflux is medicated and under control. The question is: if she is eating enough calories during the day, is it ok to wean her off the middle of the night feeding? Especially considering that the middle of the night feeding gives her a lot of gas pain (she wakes up screaming in pain and won't settle until I help her get all the farts out).

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answers from San Francisco on

I would stick with the pedialyte. Definitely would not give her something that is going to cause her to have gas while she's trying to sleep.

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answers from Portland on

First of all, count yourself *very* lucky that she sleeps for an 8 hour stretch at night. Many, many babies at this age wake up every 2-4 hours. I think the biggest misconception about sleep is that babies are waking up for food. They wake up for lots of different reasons (their sleep cycles are not the same as adults) and often food is accepted and comforting. Don't be surprised, either, if she begins to wake up more often as she starts to teeth or if she catches a cold. Make sure you're available for her, but don't think in terms of counting calories or how long she *should* be able to go without food. Her appetite will change as she hits growth spurts, etc. So be flexible and try to really appreciate what you have right now. :)

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answers from Seattle on

Wow. I agree. No pedialyte as a substitute for bf/formula.

At 4 months (approximately), little ones can sleep longer (aka, "through the night"). This doesn't mean 7 pm to 7 am, though. It might be midnight to 6 am or 10 to 5 am. Her tummy is probably still too small for 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep.

It was probably a good 6 months with my second one before I got rid of the 1 nighttime feeding. They are all different.



answers from Seattle on

Since you are pumping try cutting out all dairy in your diet and see if this helps with the gas. My pediatrician told me that gi dr's are recommending this as well for reflux. My daughter was having diarrhea and gas when I had any dairy and I quit it and she had no problems. I would not supplement with pedialyte. Did you pediatrician recommend this? I was only recommended to give this to my 8 month old when he was vomiting to keep his electrolyte balance in check and to prevent dehydration. My second is 8 months now and she wakes to eat 2-3 times a night, I breastfeed her and she sleeps with me, so it may be habit or she may need it, but I am not going cut out the night feeding because I feel she needs it.



answers from Oklahoma City on

No, Pedialyte is for older kids who are ill. It is not a formula substitute.

Here is what we did for reflux.

1. 99% of ALL reflux is due to over eating. Feed her smaller amounts but a lot more often.

2. She needs to be almost sitting up at night if she is having issues with the reflux laying down flat. We kept our grandson sleeping in a bouncy seat until he was nearly 6 months old.

3. Give the bottle in the evening and during the night. Add the proper amount of Mylicon Gas Drops to the bottle, add the water, add the powder. Swirl it around to mix it up. This way it won't make a lot of air in the milk. Then feed her slowly. She is not getting the signal she is full until it is too late. Then she has too much stuff in her belly and it has no where to go but up and out.

4. We also had a prescription for Reglan liquid that we gave him .09mg, I think, about 10 minutes before he ate each and every time. This allowed his stomach to be relaxed when food went in.

5. Do not add food at this time. It will aggravate the issue and make it much worse. The opening of the stomach can get even more stretched out if milk plus food is coming back up.

So, to make it short. Feed a lot less per sitting and just keep formula or breast ready. Distract the baby when it's time to stop the feeding by adding a pacifier and playing certain games that are only played at this special time. She will look forward to this time and be less mad. She will get used to it. If not she needs to see a gastro doc to look for other issues.

Good luck with everything. I know we had a hard time with this boy. He would eat and puke, eat and puke, I had to take a shower after each bottle. Once we got the meds before and the gas drops in the formula it was over. We just had to keep it all on schedule until he was about 10 months old.



answers from Seattle on

You know.... My son was a 'marathon burper'.

Meaning he'd get a little burp in the first 5 min or so (except at night, same thing, he had problems burping sometimes -but not always.). So one night, in pure exhaustion I'm patting and rocking and patting and rocking... and the book I'm reading gets reeeeeally good.

I look up at the clock nearly an hour later because someone decided to make my son's insides bigger than his outsides.


Seriously. Dinosaur burp. It was like the Trex in Jurassic Park.

I just looked at him for a minute in total shock.

How did that even FIT in there?

From that night onward... I read a LOT of books. He was a couple months old at that point (3?)... and 'marathon burping' was the way to go. Not just at night, but in the daytime. First "normal/ expected" burp in 5-10 minutes, followed by a dinosaur burp 30-60 minutes later.

My gassy baby?

No longer a gassy baby.

But if he was in someone else's care, and they skipped my "silly" thing I was doing? One unhappy baby come about 2am. And one super-tired mama!

Note: As a 9yo, this kid CAN burp the alphabet. He breathes while he eats. How he hasn't aspirated I'll never know, but he does. Breast, bottle, cheeseburger? He eats and breathes at the same time. Goofy kid.

Anyhow... not a lot of babies need marathon burping... but when I hear gassy, I always want to pass along this trick to try!!! I only wish I'd discovered it sooner!



It's a little counter intuitive... since one thinks LOW percentiles = needing to feed at night... but it's the FAST GROWERS (aka the Upper Percentiles) who usually need it the most... in order to support the rapid growth. The faster you're growing, the more food you need to support that growth.


answers from Eugene on

She is too young to wean at night. ALL BABIES wake after 6-8 hours even when well trained. Please go buy a book or three on infant and child development. You have not been around babies 24/7 unlike those of previous generations who had younger sibling to watch at 7-8 years of age or older siblings to babysit their young babies.
Reflux is a problem. Have you called LeLeche League? They help women world wide with nursing problems. They certainly have several branches in and around Kirkland.
Do not worry about a baby's weight until they are three. My middle grandson was a chubby boy. He needed all that weight to grow with as he is now a tall, lean, muscular player on his HS team.



answers from Minneapolis on

Do not supplement with Pedialyte. Do feed her breastmilk when she wakes up. If she's sleeping through, I wouldn't wake her for feedings unless your pediatrician advises it. Babies will let you know when they're hungry. If she's crying for it, she needs it. Do not worry about calories. If she's sleeping through, she's probably fine too and there is no need to wake her. IN short, only feed her when she lets you know that she needs it. You can not count calories with a growing baby.

But do not wait to feed her when she wakes in the morning. She will definitely need it and be hungry. I expect she'll eat what she needs then. If you're worrying about her size, don't. It's genetics... not what she's eating at this point. If the doctor isn't concerned, you shouldn't worry either. It seems giving her Pedialyte when she doesn't need it, may create a nutritional problem down the road. Until she's ready for solids, I'd stick to the breastmilk and formla for now unless she's sick and gets dehydrated and NEEDS the pedialyte.

Since it sounds like her well check was pretty recent, what did your pediatrician advise? Since he/she sees the baby regularly, I'm certain they'd tell you if you need to make dietary changes. If they didn't mention doing so, I wouldn't do anything out of the ordinary with her.

As for the gas...is she acting like she's uncomfortable? One of mine never burped or farted after eating. Perhaps because we strictly breastfed. The others I did have to use a bottle because of medical issues, and they needed to be burped because the bottle caused much gas. But the BF baby was always content, sleepy and peaceful.

Maybe your baby isn't gassy. I'd only worry about burping them if they are acting like they need it.

The suggestions for reflux below and are what we did. Great advice, and do follow it. If you want more information, Dr. Sear's book "The fussy baby" and "Nighttime parenting" are excellent resources on many of your concerns.

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