5 Month Old Waking up in the Middle of the Night

Updated on February 17, 2007
L.K. asks from Pittsburgh, PA
14 answers

I have a 5 month old baby girl and she has been sleeping through the night anywhere from 8-10 hours since she was about 2 months old. Just this week she has started waking up very early or like last night, woke up at 1:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. because she wanted to eat. She only ate 3 o.z. each time. We feed her on demand (formula)and I started introducing solids once a day around 6 p.m. She is a really content and energetic baby but I'm wondering if she all of the sudden is on a growth spurt? Should I be feeding her solids more than once a day? Is this normal for a sudden change like this?

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So What Happened?

Thanks everyone for your helpful advice. She actually slept through the night last night but we'll see about tonight. It may be a growth spurt combined with teething. I also noticed her pulling on her ear this morning and she has been drooling and chewing on things for a month. Also last evening before dinner she cried for a half hour. I tried feeding her, massaging her gums, putting her down for a nap and nothing calmed her down. The only thing that got her to stop was holding her up against my chest and then putting her in her high chair to watch me cook dinner. I guess they change quickly and there are a lot of things their little bodies have to deal with.

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answers from Philadelphia on

My daughter is 5 months old and she has been doing the same exact thing! She has been waking up at 1:45 and 4:45 like clock work the last week and wanting to eat. I also feeds solids at night about 7-8 PM.

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answers from Erie on

Hi L.:

Please allow me to preface what I am about to say by stating that I am a medically retired (read disabled) Physician Assistant and Midwife Certified in both PA & AK.
As far as your daughters sleep habits changing, it truly sounds as if she is going through a growth spurt. At this stage of her life I would offer her a small amount of rice cereal right before bedtime...say 1/2 hour or so ahead of laying her down to go to sleep. Keep the mix thin and feed it to her from a spoon.
There are other things that could cause her to suddenly cause her to start waking in the night; the most obvious being teething, but this does not rule out other things. You do not mention if you are formula feeding or breast feeding, formula can be a nasty culprit when it comes to bedtime for some wee ones, the formula that has suited her fine for the past 5 months could be bothering her and she could be waking up "hungry" as a reaction to the formula. If you are nursing, then I would go with the rice cereal at night allow her to eat as much as she wants...but be prepared for the possibility of spitting up in the first few nights as she might eat too much if she is really hungry. Most infants will only eat until they feel full, they will also always pick the healthy foods over the foods lacking in nutrition once they get over aged 1-2.
When in doubt, call on your pediatrician. He/She will tell you what is best for your daughter...and you (because you are Mom) will know if it is accurate.
As a mother of a now 17 year beautiful young man, he was on demand feeding and I was feeding my son rice cereal when he was 10 days old, but then again he weighed in at 9.4 & 22 1/2in. So he was a big & hungry child. Now he is tall and fit...with no harm done.
I hope you found this of some help if you need to feel free to mail me and ask away.
Take care and the best of everything,
J. T



answers from Philadelphia on

You baby girl could either be going through a growth spurt or teething. You didn't mention how much formula she is taking in during the day. If the amount has increased, she could be hungry in which case I would add another meal at breakfast when babies are most hungry of rice cereal. I would not suggest feeding her in the middle of the night because it will become a continuing habit. Since she is only taking 3oz during these feedings it is unlikely she is hungry but taking it more as a comfort measure. Offer the last bedtime bottle BEFORE your daughter is falling asleep to make sure she takes in enough formula and is full. As always, check with your pediatrician first. If your daughter is teething, observe her behavior during the day. Is she cranky, eating less, pulling her ears? Take a look at her gums and look for any signs that a tooth is coming through. If you think she is indeed teething treat her accordingly and do not feed her when she wakes up. Most babies go through a phase of waking up at this age and fortunately it usually passes quickly. Don't be too quick to go to her when she wakes up but rather give her a few minutes to allow her to try and soothe herself. Hang in there!



answers from Pittsburgh on

Feeding is individual, but I never started my kids on solid foods until they were 6 months old. I nursed exclusively until that point. If she's acting hungry though, maybe she is hungry. They do go through periodic growth spurts and want to eat more than usual.

Is she working on any new skills right now? That was always the thing that woke my kids up. Anytime they were learning something new and almost about to figure it out, their sleep would be disrupted.



answers from Pittsburgh on

Dear L. K.
Try putting some cereal in her formula bottle before bed. That used to work for my son. and i would also give him a solid snack before bed (like a jar of fruit). It helped him sleep throught the entire night. She is just having a growth spert. You can feed her solids twice a day. My son has been on solids since he was 3 months and he is in perfect health. I hope this helps.



answers from Washington DC on

It sounds like she may be going threw a growth spurt. Also she may feel lonely in the middle of the night and want a cuddle.



answers from Allentown on

Hi L.!

Wow I feel your pain!! Welcome to my world! We have an almost 5 month old baby boy. He wakes up twice a night! And regardless of cereal, solids or a bottle of formula before bed he still wakes up either fussing or hungry!

I chalk it down to
a. he's a baby!
b. he's going thru a growth spurt
c. he's teething

I can only say it can't get worse!! Arrgggh!!!! :)
Feel free to email me! I'd love to chat to other moms of 4/5 month old babies! I'm a SAHM, married and live in Stroudsburg.
Take care and know that you aren't alone in the wee hours of the morning!




answers from Philadelphia on

Hi L.,

I read through your advice so far, and a lot of people seem to be giving you advice on what to feed your child. Please check with your pediatrician first before feeding solid foods (you will find out that cereal is not a waste and green veggies are NOT what to start with first since they are NOT the most easily digestable). As for my advice, I have a 7 1/2 month old son, and he was in the same exact situation at the same age as your daughter (he slept through the night great and then started started waking up twice a night at 5 1/2 months). Increasing solids will not actually help your daughter sleep better, but I would ensure that she's getting enough breast milk or formula before putting her down at night. As for night feedings, see if you can first calm her back to sleep without feeding her. If she's acting hungry though, then feed her. You won't get the best sleep for awhile, but it will pass. My son is now sleeping through the night again (mostly), and I would feed him in the middle of the night if he acted hungry (I breastfeed, so I knew that he was hungry when he would search for the nipple). If he wakes up now, I don't go to him right away, and mostly he's able to fall back asleep. Even though it's great to get advice from other people, you should really do what's right for you and your son. Each baby is different, so just follow his lead for now, and I'm sure you'll figure it. Also, just as an FYI...a cool mist humidifier at night might help during these dry winter months (the white noise helps the baby and the air won't be so dry).



answers from Harrisburg on

Good evening. I am almost certain she is going through many things at her age. One being that she is most likly going through a growth spurt. I love that you feed on demand. If she is hungry, feed her! What do you mean by solids? Do you mean cereal or baby food? If you have started something different like a day or two ago, she may be having a slight reaction. It is hard to tell sometimes. Cereal is just a filler, and really in my opinion is a waste.It is not really nutritional at all!!!
I would of waited till she was 6 months of age to be giving solids but,If you are giving solids, I would start with anything green(Peas and green beans) are always a great start, then sweet pot, carrots....ect...
Always give the same thing for 3 to 4 days, and wait for the sign that it is ok, and to go on to the next.
She also could be teething.It can be sometime though before she actually gets a tooth, it still hurts them. If you ask me, I would give a solid around 10 to 11 am. I would do this because if she does have a reaction, she will be awake for you too notice it, also it will most likly not interfer with her night time sleep. Best of luck to you.



answers from Washington DC on

Yes I do believe she is waken up due to her felling hungry. Have you tryed to put baby cereal in her formala??? I had to do that with both my sons when they was only 2 months old. They ate and ate. An, they never gained any wieght. Till this day... At the age of 10, 13 they have little 6pks. They are very energetic. I hope this helps you out alitle. Have a good day..



answers from Scranton on

If she is hungry, you should fill her up with the formula rather than solids. Solids should only be for practice with textures and tastes and the mechanisms of eating until 1 year of age. Their diets should still be at least 90% milk, whether human or otherwise.

Had you started the solids fairly recently before this started? Perhaps it's not sitting well with her. If so, maybe back off and try again after 6 months. I also wanted to add that rice cereal is one of the worst things to give for a first food. It used to be thought to be ideal because it's bland, but it's been shown to increase the risk of leaky gut and diabetes. Grains are one of the hardest things to digest; their bodies don't start making the enzyme to do so until close to the end of the first year of life.

Unless your baby has some kind of medical problem, I don't see why you should ask your ped before feeding, or not. She's your baby, not the ped's. ;) There is are a lot of recent studies showing that vegetables and fruits, started after 6 months of age, are the best introduction to solids. Unfortunately many peds don't read current research.

It could also be teething starting. Sometimes they're mildly uncomfortable from teething starting, not necessarily in terrible pain, just restless. Have you tried Hylands teething tablets?



answers from Pittsburgh on

My guess is that she is going into her growth spurt. This peaks at 6 months, and is probably why she is waking up more frequently.
As far as solids more often...
Does she seem interested in having them more often? We started my daughter on cereal at three months (she hated it) and then other things at 4 months. We realized that she was interested in more food when she'd scream at her bowl and until we gave her what was on our plate. All you can do is try. You may also want to try going up to stage two foods. They are thicker and have more consistency to them, and come in larger portions. This was about the time I started offering teething biscuits and baby cookies for snacks. Only do that if you are comfortable and watch her closely though, because they are still a choking hazard.
Hope this helps



answers from Pittsburgh on

I have a 8 months old son and he would do the same thing. I started to give him the following:

3 oz of rice cereal
4 oz of formula
mix these 2 things togehter in a 8oz bottle and give her this as her last bottle for the night. You also need a nipple that can handle cereal. Because the bottle will be so thick, you need a hole bigger than you normal hole on the nipple.

Because of the rice and formal you may need to add more water as the formula and rice starts to adsorb the water. Just keep adding water and shake until you get 8 oz of bottle.

Also, I feed my son this last bottle at 8:45-9:15 a night. I found out the longer you wait to give them their last bottle, the more they sleep. Aftering giving my son this last bottle, Devin sleeps until 7:00-8:00 AM which is when I get him up for daycare.

You may look at the bottle when you add these together and think "what the hell is this person doing"! Trust me it works.

You should notice the her sleeping through the night.

It work for me and all of my friends who had the some problem

Please let me know if this works for you.

Take Care,



answers from Philadelphia on

Are you sure she's truly hungry? She may be starting to teethe. Night waking is common with teething and also with colds. I would try some Tylenol and/or Orajel if you suspect some teeth might be coming through. Also make sure she is not running a fever--that could be a sign of an ear infection or something that is causing her pain at night.

If you think she is hungry, check with her doctor to make sure she is getting enough food/formula for her size. Good luck!

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