How Do I Get My 6 Month Old to Sleep Through the Night?

Updated on May 15, 2008
T.J. asks from Greensboro, NC
17 answers

Our daughter will be 6 months old next Tuesday and she still wakes up every 3 hours or less! I've gotten into the habit of starting her out in her crib and then bringing her into bed with us because she sleeps longer. I'm still breastfeeding but supplementing some formula as well. She gets about a 5 ounce bottle of formula before bed and then breastmilk through the night. She sometimes does not finish the entire 5 ounces. It ranges anywhere from 2 to 5 ounces. She is still a teeny tiny little thing. She probably weighs between 13 and 14 pounds. We introduced some baby foods when she was a little over 3 months. I try to give her some fruits around breakfast time (usually she will eat up to half a jar) and some veggies around dinner time (she eats about half a jar). We tried rice cereal but she hates it. I've mixed it in her bottle a few times and she refused to drink it once and then the other times she drank it but she woke up even sooner. Maybe it was just a coincidence. What should I try next?

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So What Happened?

I just want to thank everyone for all of their advice and I apologize for not replying sooner. It is rare that I get much time to actually sit down at my computer…but I’m sure you all know how that goes! It is great hearing advice from all sides. I see that every baby is different and every family decides to deal with it in a way that is comfortable for them. I think I have decided that I am going to conitinue what I've been doing...I'll start her in her crib and then bring her in with me at some point during the night (when I can't get her back to sleep in her crib again).

Just a few notes...I'm supplementing formula because for more than 2 months straight I struggled with producing enough breast milk. I tried everything under the sun to increase my supply but had no luck. I stressed myself out beyond belief (which could also be part of why I didn't produce as much) and eventually introduced the formula (when she was 3 months old) as a supplement and to ease my worries about her getting enough food. I'm no longer stressed and I decided not to give up breastfeeding...I just feed her what I have and then give her formula if needed. She eats more often because of this but I'd rather her get the "good stuff".

The reason I give her a bottle at night is because by the time she goes to bed (even if I try to plan adequately) I will only have about 3 ounces or less of milk (what I normally get when I pump - i know she gets more). What I've been doing since my original post (5/15/08) is making only a 3 ounce bottle or less and give her breast milk for the rest of it. This hasn’t changed her sleeping patterns any and she honestly doesn’t prefer one over the other. She just wants to eat and go to sleep. She goes down great at night. She eats and usually either pulls herself off or shakes her head to get the bottle out of her mouth and then goes right to sleep.

Her bed time is between 9 and 10 but sometimes earlier or later. We give her a bath every other day around 9:00 so that she is in bed by 9:30-10. I have tried putting her down later and she still has the same sleep pattern…sleeping 3 hours or less.

Lindsey S: Funny you should ask about the sewing…I purchased a new babylock embroidery machine a few months ago and have only been able to use it a handful of times! Every time I walk by my sewing room I think about how I’d love to be sewing something right then. I’m usually so tired when she goes to bed that I’d rather go to bed too. Or I’ve got too much around the house that I need to get done. But…pending her first waking tonight I’m getting ready to sew right now!

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answers from Huntington on

I would try the mixed cereal. I gave it to my 2 boys instead of the rice and they began sleeping all night. I gave it to them right before it was time for bed. Good luck.

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answers from Charlotte on

Hi T.,

My son is getting ready to turn 13 months old in a few days, and he just started sleeping through the night in the last 2 to 3 weeks, and he still doesn't do it every night...more like 4 times a week now. So he was definately a year old before he started sleeping soundly.

Also, as a working mother with a baby that got up numerous times a night, I often brought my baby in the bed with me. Its so easy for people to say to let them cry it out or don't pick the baby up or don't feed them at night or put the baby down awake and let them fall asleep or any of the other hundreds of advice I got.

The thing about it is, babies are all individual and will do things when they are ready. I have heard from pediatricians that babies need to be fed at night until they are between 12 to 14 lbs. And, putting cereal in the bottle has been proven not to make a difference. It never worked with my son in helping him to sleep longer. And the other thing is, if you are breastfeeding, co-sleeping may actually work better for you so you don't have to get up, just roll over.

After saying all of that, the things that did help was a sound machine beside of the crib (or a fan), giving my baby a bath before bed, but the main thing was letting my husband getting up with him a few nights. Once my husband started getting up with him, he started sleeping longer. He knew that he wasn't going to get what he wanted. He loves his daddy, but knows hes not quite the comforter that mamma is. The only other thing I can think of is that we put our sons crib back in our bedroom. And I know that this isn't for everyone! But it seems that he knows we are right there and has no reason to be scared or lonely, therefore has no reason to wake up.

I hope you find something that works for you. Try many, many things. Even things that most parents wouldn't do. I just had to stop listening to everyone and just start getting creative and trying things. Every family finds something that works for them eventually. Just know that you are not alone in this. I would get SOOO frustrated that my son wouldn't sleep. Just know that at some point she will sleep soundly.



answers from Raleigh on

First, breastmilk and formula have more calories than baby food, even rice cereal has as far as keeping babies full. So keep that in mind when feeding her.

My daughter, between 7 and 8 months, was up 6-7 times a night. It got old real fast. I stuck with her for about 3 weeks, nursing her every time she woke up, hoping that it would go away on its own. But after 3 weeks I needed sleep and she needed sleep too.

We ended up having to teach her to get back to sleep on her own. I am not a fan of cry-it-out and I knew I couldn't do the ferber method. I would nurse her to sleep like I always did and lay her down. When she woke up at night I would let her cry for 5 minutes in her bed to see if she would get herself to sleep. After 5 minutes I would go sit on the floor next to her crib and rub her back through the bars until she fell asleep. The first night was rough. But every night it got a little better, she would cry a little less, wake up one time less. Within a week she was only waking up once a night and I would nurse her that one time.

Good luck! I know how frustrating sleep issues are!



answers from Nashville on

Oh, T., you sound like such a great, loving mom! Kudos to you for still nursing (even part-time has a lot of benefits for mom and baby)! Let me just reassure you that your little Isabelle has a perfectly normal sleeping pattern. Breastmilk digests quickly and if she's needing a lot she may be in a growth spurt or something (and that maybe something you'd like to see!). And even if it's not for sustinence, if it's just for comfort and reassurance that you're nearby - well, what's wrong with that? Your desciption - starting her in her own bed and having her join you with her first night-waking - is exactly what we ending up doing with my first born. If that's how baby and mom sleep longer and better, than that's how you should do it!

I know that once I was over my guilt at not having a textbook perfect baby (by other people's standards, not my own) I really kinda liked the nightwakings. It was a chance to cuddle and love uninterrupted by any other demands. She'll grow out of the nightwakings in her own time, the same way she'll talk when she's ready and walk when she's ready. It's a developmental thing; no need to rush it. Just love the baby she is while she is a baby. 'Cause she'll be huge and snoring through the night in a blink and you'll miss not getting to tuck that little bundle in next to you at one in the morning.

If anyone gives you any grief about having her in your bed, here's another article in your defense:

It occurs to me that all the food in all the varieties might be upsetting her stomach and making her wake more than she would otherwise. Her digestive system is still pretty immature.

ps - How do you manage to sew and quilt with a little one? I've resigned myself to put away my quilting stuff until my little guys are older. I'm afraid they'll prick themselves exloring and/or trying to imitate me. (The two-year-old is already way too curious about the sewing machine...)



answers from Huntington on

Why be in a hurry to get your fertility back? Treasure these special moments with your baby while they last. When some guy breaks her heart someday, you will yearn for those days when you could solve all her problems by simply plugging her in!
Bringing her to bed with you is the only way to meet both her need for security & your need to sleep, so you are on the right track there, but why the bottle at bedtime? As the other poster said, she may be holding out for the good stuff! I disagree with the poster who said your need to stop "getting up every three hours", If you are co sleeping, why would you have to get up to nurse her? After a while, you can even nurse in your sleep, babies are born with the rooting reflex so strong, if they are sleeping next to you, they will find it all by themselves!
Once she is on formula & or pacifiers or sleeping through the night, and you get your cycles back, you'll wish you had a few more months of not worrying about getting pregnant again so soon.



answers from Nashville on

We found a white noise machine to work wonders and so have my friends. I have a 15 mo. old who is a great sleeper. Buy the Homedics brand at Target or Walmart for 19.99-25.00. I set it to the rain setting. When my son hears it he knows is it time to sleep even if he wakes in the night he knows it is still sleepy time. We have used it since he was tiny .
I wonder if putting the food in the bottle that first time just got her digestive system in gear so she woke up. I would expect her to get used to it. We used Earth's Best organic oatmeal as it mixes well. We had to cut a hole in the nipple but that worked for months.
One other things we do is used a sleep sac-kind of like a sleeping bag with arm holes. It is very sleggly and he knows when he is in that it is time to sleep also. Sometimes he goes in in jammies sometime just a shirt depending on the temp. in the house.
At four months he went into a crib at night and for naps and he has never been brought into our bed. Doing the above we have never had to remove him due to him being upset or not sleeping. He loves his crib. We have used zip ties to safetly attach toys to the bars for entertainment. I have a 15 min. rule-If he cries for more than 15 min. I will go in. I have never had to. If he cries he stops before I get downstairs.

Best of luck,



answers from Memphis on

There are other types of cereal besides rice, even though that is what I used with great success. Maybe try a little mixed cereal, if your doctor agrees. My son would drink milk until he got sick and was still hungry so we had to supplement with cereal at a very early age. Many doctors disapprove, but I wasn't going to let him starve, and my doctor agreed it was ok.
Have you consulted your doctor? If you are worried about her weight as well, it wouldn't hurt to see what the pediatrician says.

Good luck,



answers from Louisville on

I would try brestfeeding before bed. I know you said she gets a bottle then but she probably prefers breastmilk. She may be not eating all of the bottle because she is holding off for breastmilk. If you don't think you can give him enough milk then give him some of the bottle and then breastfeed him. This may comfort him as well as get him fuller so he sleeps longer.



answers from Chattanooga on


Try putting a tablespoon of rice cereal along with alittle dark Karo syrup in the bottom of the bottle before you put the formula and water in. I did this for my grandson when he was a few weeks old because he was waking up just like your daughter is. She is waking up because she needs alittle food in her. The cereal will fill her up and she will sleep better. Hope this helps!



answers from Charlotte on

Sounds like your daughter is getting a lot of loving in the night... who wouldn't want to wake up to that??? :-) If you want it to stop, you will likely need to do something other than breastfeeding at night... NOT that I am against nursing, God knows!!! Can you nurse as much as possible except night? Also, think twice about bringing her to bed unless you want a VERY hard habit to break later on- see posts about getting toddlers out of your bed!

I went back to work after my third child and I LOVED waking up at night because it was the only time we had one-on-one with no siblings, no phone, etc. I could have cared less about the sleep and adored her in the quiet hours of the early a.m. so I actually encouraged it (I did the opposite of my advice in the first paragraph!) When reality hit months later and I couldn't function properly in the morning, I did ween down the feedings and made her wakings a silent and less-adoring routine (although I've never been one to let my kids cry it out) and eventually she slept longer.

Good luck and just LOVE that baby no matter what time it is, but don't feel bad about taking steps to get her to sleep longer... she won't love you any less!!!

(By the way, I wouldn't worry too much about her weight! Babies come in many different sizes and if she is soaking diapers and having regular bowel movements, she's likely getting what she needs! Check with your doctor if you are concerned. Also, mix some of the fruit she does like with the rice cereal and add breastmilk or formula... up the amount over time until she's used to the taste. Good luck!)



answers from Nashville on

I have 4 children and none of them slept through the night at 6 months. I was happy if they were sleeping through the night at one year old.

I nursed all 4 when they were babies. Take care of yourself. Get enough rest. Eat healthy. Drink plenty of fluids. Then your body will produce plenty of milk. Pump after the baby nurses. That will increase your milk production. If you have plenty of milk the baby will get more full at each nursing and may sleep longer.

I would nurse the baby and put him/her in the baby bed at bedtime. Then I would bring the baby in bed with me and nurse the baby in the middle of the night. I would fall back asleep. The baby would make little sounds and I would switch him/her to the other side and go back to sleep.

Nursing them in bed with me was the only way that I survived the first year of all of their lives. We never rolled over on the baby. We never smothered the baby. If I woke up after the baby nursed I would quietly tap my husband and he would put the baby back in his/her baby bed.



answers from Raleigh on

try putting her to bed later like 10, my grandson is 3 months old and it worked for him, he has been sleeping thru the nite since he was 6 weeks old



answers from Lexington on

she will sleep through the night when she is ready. my daughter woke up every four hours until she weened completely, and there was nothing to wake up for. she was almost one. my son slept through the night at two weeks, then started waking up for a midnight feeding around three months. at six months it moved to a 4am feeding and now at about 11 months he was sleeping through again. they are all different, and it is just one of the struggles of parenting. hang in there, it will happen.



answers from Memphis on

My son is now 1yr old and he did not sleep through the night until 7 months old. We tried everything and nothing would work. Finally our doctor recommended that we let him cry it out. It was the hardest thing in the world but fortunately I was sick and my husband was getting up when we first started. After the third night he was sleeping through the night. It is
very hard but after 20 minutes or so he was asleep. We also purchased a soothing sound machine with many sounds. He still uses it and it helps to block the noise of everyone else. Best of luck to you.



answers from Raleigh on

My eldest child was on the small side of the curve, and he woke up to nurse until he was a year old. By the time he was nine months old he woke twice a night. My doctor said to keep nursing him at night since he could certainly use the calories, but at his one-year check-up she said he was fine with his weight and eating a good diet of solid food, so I could cut out the night nursing. By that time he only woke once a night, and two days after his first birthday (before I had a chance to officially cut him off at night), he just stopped waking up on his own.

You can try leaving your daughter in her crib and letting her cry for a few minutes or soothing her without picking her up if she wakes up before three hours are up. And you can do the same thing to try to stretch those three-hour periods to three and a half and four hours.

It's tricky when your child is small because she may very well need to be nursed at night to get enough total fat and calories for the day, but she's also at the age where she may just be waking up because you tend to her and/or she likes sleeping with you. If it's truly a hunger thing for her, you can train her little tummy to wait by holding off her feedings by five minutes each night (just as kids adjust to certain lunch times at school and adults to certain lunch hours at work). Bringing her in to sleep with you could be causing her problems with soothing herself back to sleep. She sleeps better/longer with you because she's comforted by your presence, but when she rouses from sleep alone in her crib, she could be crying not because she's hungry, but because she hasn't learned how to get back to sleep on her own. You should read Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth--it was a lifesaver for me with my first child and helped me start out on the right foot with my second. Good luck!



answers from Charlotte on

Hi T.,

I'm sure it's hard to deal with getting up every three hours or less every night. I would normally think that it's time to wean her from night time feeding, since she's six months old. But her weight concerns me a little. Was she a preemie or did she have low birth weight? My own doctor told me that my baby needed to be at least 12 pounds before stopping night time feedings, which he blew through at 5 weeks old, something like that. I kind of like the idea of rocking the baby without nursing to take the place of one of those feedings, in hopes that she'll start sleeping longer. You could put her back in the crib after that. Then nurse her for the later time she wakes, back in your bed, if you like. That way she might actually nurse better, and get that hind milk that will hold her so much better than that fore milk will.

I don't think I'd push her sleeping through the night until you get her weight up.

Good luck with your little one!



answers from Charlotte on

I was looking through my baby book (my daughter is now 2 1/2) to see when my daughter started sleeping through the nite. She started sleeping through the nite at 5 mths. I have a note that I was told by my pediatrician not to give milk during the nite after about 6 mths due to cavities that the milk sitting on their new teeth buds all nite can cause.

So, at 3 1/2 mths I started just picking my daughter up & holding/singing to her till she was calm instead of breast feeding her (I pumped my milk at nite instead). I realized that's what she needed more was my smell/warmth versus my breast every time she cried.

After a few nites of singing/holding her, I tried rubbing her back & singing to her for another few nites with her still in the crib. She cried/wailed, but eventually went back to sleep. I then did the cry it out method cause I was starting back to work. It broke my heart & I finally had to go to my neighbor's house for an hour and a half while she cried cause I wanted to pick her up soooooo badly (my hubby was able to go in & rub her back every 20 mins or so while I was gone). After we got through that hard part, I started playing a CD on repeat of soothing songs like they play in spas all nite. Then when she would wake up in the nite her crying only lasted 5 mins cause the songs would put her back to sleep.

As others have said, each child is different & use what works for you. Also, talk to your doctor cause she's 2 lbs below where my daughter was when I tried this, so she may need the extra feeding at nite? I have bad teeth in my family so the cavity part forced me to get her to not breastfeed during the nite anymore. It took about a month for the rewards to show for my efforts. Good luck & just know it won't last forever although it seems like it at the time. ;o)

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