4 month old wants to nurse every hour at night

Karen - posted on 08/04/2012 ( 9 moms have responded )

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My 4 month old baby sleeps a few hours the first stretch and then is up on the hour for the rest of the night.

He normally naps 4 times a day: one 1.5 hours and the rest 45 min. We have been trying to put him to sleep earlier around 8pm but he cries and fights for at least two hours and doesn't fall asleep until around 10:30 or 11:00. He must be too distracted to feed during the day and before bed time because feedings seem way shorter now (but I heard this is normal) and when if I try to feed him longer he freaks out. I feed him in his room day and night otherwise he is glancing all around and eats only for a few minutes. At bed time we use to feed him quiet a bit to make sure his tummy is full and play with him a little bit and change into pjs. Now he seems to know when it's bed time as he knows the routine and he isntantly starts screaming specially when the lights go out.

He is obviously overtired but we can't get him to sleep early enough and maybe he is hungry. Could that be why he wakes up all night? But I will make sure the first time he is up that I feed him well but he still gets up in an hour and then will only feed for a few minutes and lately does not fall back asleep right away.

I thought teething but I have given him orajel, tylenol and tablets and they don't make a difference.

What could be making him wake up so often?

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Amanda - posted on 08/04/2012

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An overtired baby can be from not getting enough sleep during the day. If he's tired, let him sleep. My 5 month old (6 months next week) still takes 3-5 hours of nap time throughout the day and sleeps 10-12 hours at night. Try a soothing bedtime routine, since babies skin is sensitive I wouldn't do a bath time routine yet, and I wouldn't play with him before bed. It's kind of like getting him riled up just before you intend to put him to sleep, you know? Maybe you could try a massage with some hypoallergenic lotion, even something as simple as a diaper change, pjs, turning out the lights and then feeding him one last time can be a successful routine.



As for waking every hour, I notice that my baby wakes every 2 hours, whether hungry or not after a sleep cycle (he's the only one that has ever done this). Since he sleeps next to my bed whenever he fusses I was almost instantly picking him up and giving him the breast. This only reinforced his need to be soothed back to sleep. Now I listen to him and am learning the difference between the sounds he makes when he is rustling after a sleep cycle and trying to fall back to sleep, and actually waking up and needing to feed. You could try giving him a few moments when he wakes to see if he is truly awake, or just rousing from a sleep cycle before going back to sleep (there may be some whimpering, but no real crying.) I've only been doing it for about a week or two and already I have seen an improvement.



The best way I can think of to change his bed time is to first establish the routine, which means you won't be able to change his bedtime just yet. Once he's comfortable with the routine, which doesn't take longer than a week or two, start moving the routine up by 15-30 minutes every few days. Eventually you will get to the bedtime you want with very little fussiness from your baby.

Karen - posted on 08/05/2012

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Beth,
He doesn't feed that way throughout the day, infact, he gets distracted easily so I have been feeding him in his room as soon as he wakes up from his nap and trying to give an extra feeding when he's willing.

I don't have the go-ahead from his doctor to give cereal but I have been giving him one spoon a day during the day for 3 days not just to start experimenting and he still just spits it all back out. I will keep giving him one spoon for a bit until he can swallow more and see if it helps.

Last night he fell asleep at 8:50 pm (much earlier than previous nights) and he slept way better, only waking twice! Finally at 7 am I got him up and ready but he seemed tired still and slept from 8:30 till, well still sleeping now and its 10:36.

Karen - posted on 08/04/2012

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I have been trying to feed him more during the day for a few weeks now and he usually is not interested. I know my supply is pretty good because I pumped for a long time to stablish it and when he skips a feeding I can really feel it.

He has doubled his birthweight because he only weighed 5.9 and now he is at 13 pounds. A few days ago I started giving him rice cereal but he just spits it back out and smiles the whole time, it's actually funny. I have to go back to work in January so I won's be bf as much so I wanted to start him getting use to eating from a spoon. The doctor said not to start solids so I feel guilty even with just giving him one spoon of rice cereal.

I think you're right about an earlier bed time. Tonight we managed to put him to bed at 8:30 rather than 10 and he did not cry or fuss. I think we could have even done 8.

Thanks so much for the advice!

Stephanie - posted on 08/04/2012

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It could be that he is not eating enough during the day. Try to gradually get him down to three naps. (cut out the latest nap and make bed time earlier?) Maybe some more exciting things to keep him awake? Feed him more during the day so he gets the idea that day time is for eating and night time is for sleeping. He will be more efficient at getting the milk out, so feedings will be shorter. Just try to feed him more often.
Has your baby doubled his birth weight? If so, or is close to it, you can try feeding him solid food. I started with my daughter at 4 1/2 months because I could just tell she was hungry (fussing a lot in the evening when my milk supply was lowest). If you get that feeling, it could be time to start him on solids.
I also found that adding bath time and a book to the bed time routine gave my baby girl a little more time to be with me and to wind down right before bed. The last thing before I put her down is nursing, so she falls asleep well that way (she seems to wake up if I change her right before bed). You may have to tweak your routine slightly, or it could just be that he's hungry.
One other thing that I very recently had to do was get darker curtains for her room. She was having trouble going to bed at her usual time (6:30) it was because her room was too bright. I also only turn on her night light when I go in to nurse her, because when she'd stir in the night and see the light, she'd wake up. The dark room helps her sleep better.
Good luck, I hope this helps somewhat. Hang in there! Being tired stinks, don't feel guilty about taking naps! :)

Tara - posted on 08/14/2012

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Sounds like a relatively normal 4 month old to me. My oldest was the same way at that age. I put him in a co-sleeper next to the bed. He would sleep there for an hour or two but slept better when he was right next to me. If he is having anxiety at the start of the bedtime routing and screaming, I'd say he's not feeling safe alone. 4 months is just little. Your baby is growing.....not to mention adjusting to life outside the womb:) ....nursing on demand, especially at this early stage is what works best in my experience. 4 month old babies feel safe when in contact with their mother. I feel it's always best to comfort a 4 month old. They know what they need. Its a strange and amazing thing how our babies can regulate our milk supply by nursing for short stints frequently or nursing for longer periods to get the hind milk depending on how they are growing. Have you tried laying down with him at night and nursing him to sleep? I'd say skip the cereal...his natural reflex will be to spit it out since his digestive system is just not ready for that. Same for the orajel and tylenol......he's too little for that as well. Try nursing on demand and keeping him next to you in bed. It won't be forever. I realize there are safety concerns with having an infant in bed, but as long as you and your partner are not impaired (drinking alcohol or medicated) or are overweight, I don't believe there would be an issue. The co-sleeper was great for me..........that way he felt safe and close but I could have the space I needed to get my rest as well. Hang in there!! This is the toughest time with nursing........the 3rd and 4th months are when the babies needs are really changing due to growth and development.....by the time your son is 6 or 7 months I imagine you'll be smooth sailing:)

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Sally - posted on 08/06/2012

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Are you willing to sleep with him? The idea that babies are supposed to sleep by themselves or for more than a couple hours at a time is fairly new and not biologically sound. Until fairly recently, a baby who was not in constant contact with it's mom was going to die and thousands of years of species survival traits don't roll over and shut up for 100 years of social conditioning.
While the modern western bed can be a smothering and falling hazard, it is NOT hard to make it safe. Studies have shown that when it's used to help nursing and moms take some simple safety precautions, co-sleeping lowers your SIDS risk AND moms who co-sleep get MUCH more rest. With a little practice you won't even need to wake up to nurse him.
Good luck

Brandy - posted on 08/05/2012

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Your baby is probably cluster feeding at night and may be going thought a growth spurt. There are foods that are said to increase your milk supply like popcorn, oatmeal, and orange Gatorade. Sounds like you're a dedicated mom! Keep up the good work!

Beth - posted on 08/05/2012

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If he feeds every time he wakes up, it's my guess that he's hungry. Does he feed every hour during the day as well? My son was a big eater, and my pediatrician gave me the go-ahead to start giving him rice cereal at 4 months, which helped a bit.

Karen - posted on 08/04/2012

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Amanda,
He is getting about 4 hours of sleep during the day which I think is not bad and he doesn't usually fuss at nap time. But sometimes he doesn't go to bed till 11 because he is overtired and crying for hours. We were trying to keep him up for 3 hours before bed because we thought this would help him sleep but I think that is what's been making him more tired. You're right we should not be playing with him before bed, we didn't tonight we just put him in the swing to calm him down and it really helped!

I try feeding him one last time before bed and he acts as if I'm trying to torture him:( You're so right about chaging the diaper right before bed...he totally lights up and starts to play.

I will tweak the routine a bit and slowly move bed time to earlier in the evening.

Thanks so much!

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