Question About Middle of the Night Feed

Updated on May 10, 2008
G.M. asks from Watertown, MA
6 answers

I have a little girl who is 25 weeks old. She was typically getting up around 5am to be fed, and then I'd put her back to sleep and we'd get up around 6:30-7 for the day.
She goes to bed pretty early - 6:30 or 7 pm as she often gets up from her last nap around 3:30 and I don't want her to be overtired for bedtime.

Lately though, over the past week, she has been getting up earlier and earlier to be fed. It was 4:30, then 4:00 and last night it was 3:00 am. She babbled and cooed for about 40 minutes! Then it turned into crying so I went and fed her.

Then she wakes at 5:30 for the day! I don't understand what is happening. Luckily this morning she went back to sleep after 5:30 without me, because otherwise I would have to pat her down, and that is so stressful!

I breastfeed her 5 or 6 times a day, plus 3 bowls of cereal mixed with breastmilk and applesauce. She is getting plenty of food during the day. Also, when we do get up for the day - today it was 6:45a - she is not very interested in eating. So I somehow need to move that middle of the night feed to the morning.

I am not sure why her requests for food are getting earlier and earlier. If I go to her and feed her right away, would she then have more or less of a tendency to wake up at 5:30a? Does anyone know?

Also, I was going to time her to see how long she breastfeeds for, and then each night feed her for 2 minutes less to hopefully wean her off this feed.
Has anyone done this and had any success?

OR, my husband could go in and soothe her til she falls back asleep. A battle, I know, but maybe this will work better. I would love to hear what others did. Will this method make her only wake up an hour later for food anyways?

(I am dying to get some sleep. I want my husband to help out in the middle of the night, but he feeds her expressed milk in a bottle before bed as I work at night. She gulps down 8-12 ounces, and it takes me 2 pumping sessions to get that much, so we don't have any leftover for the middle of the night. Working at night, getting up at 3am, and then 5:30a is killing me)!

I'd love some advice!

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So What Happened?

Thanks to those of you who responsed!!! I love Mamasource.

Well, I guess that it can be typical for a 6 month old to start needing feeds in the middle of the night - as they get more mobile and nap longer during the day. I actually backed off the solids as I think they were affecting her sleep (because of digestion) and have tried to nurse my LO more often and for longer periods of time, and this seems to help.
She'll get up one night, then will sleep through for 2 nights, get up one night, sleep through again, and so on. I am working with a lactation consultant as well to learn to help her get enough milk during the day.
She also seems to be an 11 hour a night sleeper and needs an early bedtime. So 6:30pm-5:30am it is - I guess until she can stay up later, or can get up and make her own breakfast!

More Answers



answers from Barnstable on

The frequent waking to nurse - sounds like a growth spurt.

I have to say though that having your husband soothe her might help you out. Its a good thign to try - I dont believe in the Cry It Out method but soothing her without nursing is a good thing to try. It cant hurt..... bnt until she gets used to it - be prepared for the possibility of more frequent wakings and not just for nursing.

As far as not having enough when you pumped - have you thought about mixing the breast milk with formula (I had to start giving my dd formula when she started daycare).

As far as timing her while she eats - breastfed babies can be very inconsistant with this b/c they eat what they need when they need it - so you cant really time it or measure it - I think you would just drive yourself crazy if you attempted to calculate this.

Also, it is really common with babies to wake at those times you listed - especially at her age. But if you want her to sleep later - try putting her to bed later. This can be difficult considering they sleep when they want to as well but its also worth a try.

Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

If you want her to sleep later you may want to try putting her to bed later. From what I've read babies only need between 12 and 15 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period. My little girl would sleep about ten hours a night and take a long afternoon nap at that age. I don't beleive in letting a baby cry themself to sleep, if she is waking she is either hungry, wet or needs your security. If it does seem like she's just ready to play then keep interaction with her to a minimum (a light back rub, but no talking, or smiles...), this may cause a struggle but in time will straighten itself out as she learns that nighttime is for sleeping only.



answers from Boston on

I don't know how you would feel about doing this, but I think she's ready for "sleep training". At 6 months, there is no physiological reason for a nighttime feeding. You can give it up entirely. She should be able to sleep 12 hours without feeding. But that means that when she does wake up, you may have to let her cry it out. I honestly don't remember how we did it with my daughter. I think that at first, when she woke up, I would go in to her, not speak a word, but let her know that I heard her and love her, but that I wasn't going to feed her. The first few nights might be hard. She'll probably cry for a while, but you've got to break her habit of waking for a feeding. And she's got to learn how to calm herself back asleep without you to calm her. It only took us a couple of nights until she stopped waking for a night feeding.

I used "Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child" as a guide on how to do this. Its not an earth-shattering book, so if you can find it used or in a library, I would recommend that. It was very helpful in understanding my daughter's sleep needs and it has chapters all the way up to school-aged children.



answers from Boston on

we would wake my daughter up before we went to bed at around 10 or 11:00 to feed her. Then she slept all night until we got up. This eliminated the 4am feeding which was great for our sleep! Once she was 7 months old we eliminated the 11:00 feeding and she slept through the night.



answers from Boston on

Hi. Your baby's schedule is a lot like my baby's (see my question about 4am feeding) only my girl is now 9 months. I do remember the early morning feeding moving back at about the same time (was 4am, then 3:30am, then 3am, etc). A few reasons: it could be a growth spurt, and she really is hungry. It could be that she is learning that she needs you there to fall back asleep. It could be that she just wants your company and has learned how to get it. I like the book "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child." One thing that it says is that if the baby falls right back to sleep after eating, she was probably hungry. If she stays up and wants to play or visit, then she just wants your company, and doesn't need to nurse (not a habit to reinforce!).
Good luck!



answers from Boston on

What hours do you work at night? A friend of mine used to sleep feed her baby at midnight or 1am, right before she went to bed and then the baby slept until 8:30 or 9 the next morning - maybe that would work? I had success having my husband soothe an older baby back to sleep, but at 25 weeks she could be going through a growth spurt and would therefore be legitimately hungry in the middle of the night. Good luck - sleep deprivation is no fun!

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