how many times should 6 months old breastfeed at night?

Amanda - posted on 04/23/2012 ( 30 moms have responded )

26

0

2

Hi! I'm new to this community and I'm a new mom. I have a very happy social 6 month old baby who is exclusively breastfed. I just started feeding him sweet potato each day and about 1 T of oatmeal cereal around noon or so.

He used to sleep really well at night and only wake up once to eat. Now, after midnight, he wakes up just about every three hours or so. I was doing a shush pat sort of thing until his 3 AM waking and that was working for a couple of nights, but then I went to his six month old Dr. visit and we see a P.A. who is more into the "natural" way of doing things and she said he is waking up b/c he is hungry and I should be feeding him. I think this works if you cosleep but I can't sleep with him as it keeps me awake, so he's in his nursery across the hall from me.

What do you all think? I've read the books by Ferber and Weissbluth and they seem to indicate that babies should be able to sleep all night without eating? I just want to be sure he is getting enough sleep and wondering if I am just keeping him from learning how to sleep better?

Last question...as most "attachment" parenting theories indicate, do you think he will just grow out of it and start sleeping through the night on his own?

Thanks!

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

Dove - posted on 04/23/2012

11,760

0

1349

Amanda, every single poster on here can give you all the advice in the world on what they believe, what they've read, and/or what they've done with their own kids. Listen to it all (well, most.. some people give really lousy and dangerous advice) and then try what you think might work best for YOUR child and YOUR family.



My last child and my experiences with him were very different than my previous experiences because he is a different kid. Weigh the advice and your own opinions and then parent to the kid. :)



If either of you are miserable then whatever you are doing isn't working. If you are both doing ok, then what you're doing is ok too. Hang in there! Parenting can be quite tough to figure out sometimes.

Becky - posted on 04/24/2012

3

29

0

when the baby's hungry, feed her/him. I just went with what my baby told me.... I took my breastfeeding time as "our time" and lavished it.... I got a book or found a tv show, got comfy with pillows and just relaxed.... enjoy your time; it goes by SOOooo fast!

Gwen - posted on 04/23/2012

1,345

7

220

My daughter hit a growth spurt around that time and wanted to eat 2-3 times a night. Every baby is different, just like every adult is different. Some sleep well, some don't, some wake up for no apparent reason, some have to pee every two hours.... No book can tell you what your baby is capable of. Respond to your baby's cues and trust your own instincts.

Dove - posted on 04/23/2012

11,760

0

1349

It depends on the baby. I had a baby who was sleeping 12 hours at 6 months, but only for a month. Then she was up once or twice a night until over a year. She slept through the night on her own without me doing anything.



Then I had a baby who didn't sleep through the night until after he was a year and a half, but not consistently until after he turned two. We were co-sleeping, so I gently night weaned him.

Pamela - posted on 04/26/2012

711

9

6

When my children were infants at that age I fed them on demand. Your son's eating habits could have changed as he is growing rapidly at this age. I would be giving him more to eat during the day. By now he should be getting a variety of fruits and vegetables as well as cereal and not just one tablespoon. At this age children can eat an entire jar of baby food which is 3 to 4 tablespoons.

I used a baby food grinder and gave my children table foods that were prepared for the whole family. You can also use a regular blender and puree the foods....the baby grinder was just the right size so you don't have to dig small amounts of food out of a blender container.

If you start to feed him more during the day, perhaps he will sleep better at night.

This conversation has been closed to further comments

30 Comments

View replies by

Sara - posted on 05/13/2012

6

0

0

Babies go through a major growth spurt around 6 months old and eat much more than normal. You don't have to sleep with him to feed him, you can get up, feed him, put him back down and go back to bed.

Carolyn - posted on 04/25/2012

26

29

0

Hi! I am the mother of 5 (now grown up), all of whom I breastfed.

3 of my babies didn't through the night consistently until they were about 2 years old., so some are just wakeful even if not hungry.

After 6 months, he may be waking for hunger, so I would suggest you give him a bit more solid food, probably at dinner time. You can try a number of different vegetables and stewed apple or yoghurt, too. (introduced one-at-a-time, of course)

When a baby starts moving -rolling sitting crawling, it uses more energy. Oh, and about 6 months is when they can start teething, which nearly always means a number of disturbed nights for each tooth. Extra breast feeding is the most comforting at this time.

You cannot 'spoil' a baby with love and attention. They grow up so soon!

Makayla - posted on 04/24/2012

9

20

1

Both of my boys (2yrs) & (3yrs) were very different. But they were both sleeping through the night by 4 months. I breast fed my oldest for 3 months and then got pregnant so milk dried up. I nursed my second for 7 months. Every child needs something different. My oldest is a sleeper.....he's three now and still takes 3 hour naps. My youngest (2) wakes after 1 1/2 hours. We had to do some training to get them to sleep through the night. But it was so worth it. It might be hard to do, but something I've learned is that good parenting isn't easy. It takes work and a lot of it.

Trust yourself and go with your gut. You'll do great I'm sure.

Ann - posted on 04/24/2012

12

23

1

Hey Amanda another food for thought is to try to incorporate diaper changing done after baby goes to bed for a bit before you go to bed. Our girl is 2.5 and we can change her diaper w/o her waking her up and it's great! Sometimes we even change her clothes per say if we were somewhere else and get home late and she is use to it. This way you aren't waking you at 2am to interupt your sleep to change a super wet kid. Didn't orginally plan it this way just kind of happened!!!

Good luck.

Haniyyah - posted on 04/24/2012

9

21

0

I have 3 children one don't let any one tell you what makes you or your baby comfortable your baby is six months give him/her more food a full meal sweet potatoes and cereal, fruit and warm milk and a bath that should buy you maybe 5 or 6 hours of sleep time

Amanda - posted on 04/24/2012

26

0

2

Well, I did start some of the sleep training last night...I am following the Good Night, Sleep Tighet books...and it worked and he slept from 7:30 PM to 2 AM! I fed him then and put him back in his crib before he was completely asleep and then he woke again at 4:30 and I fed him a second time and did the same thing. Then, thankfully he slept until 6 AM, which is huge as he has not slept until 6 AM in weeks!

I've also been doing the same thing for his naps today and they've gone well. i will say that I am grieving the loss of all that time of getting to rock him to sleep. yes, some times it would go on and on, but other times it was so sweet. I also feel like he is grieving some today? He just did not seem himself. I thought he would wake up happier than normal b/c he got such great sleep compared to the previous nights. But, he was less energetic and didn't seem as happy. Is this normal or have any of you noticed your baby being different after sleep training? Maybe he was just more lethargic and tired b/c he is finally catching up on the sleep he's needed?

I will say that if I could have been able to fall asleep with my baby next to me in bed then I totally would have been a cosleeping parent as I do believe in it. I do believe God made babies to be dependent on their moms and that it's only in the American society and other affluent societies that we push our babies to independence at such an early age. Maybe I should have just trusted that one day he would just naturally give up the rocking and continued until he weaned himself...I don't know. What I do know though is I hated seeing his tired eyes every day b/c every time he woke up throughout the night, he would want me to put him back to sleep, so it was happening every 2 to 3 hours from 6 PM to 5 AM. I just hope I've done the right thing.

Thanks for everyone's advice and encouragement. It helped greatly yesterday...

User - posted on 04/24/2012

4

0

0

I know there are a lot of people out there who will not agree with me. With that said. You should start feeding him more cereal during the day and before bed. I am a mom of five, with three of them breastfed.



I agree he is waking up because he is hungry. Think about it this way. When he was little you only need about 3 ounces to satisfy him right? Well he is getting bigger so the same 3 ounces just isn't enough anymore. If you give him something solid like the cereal, it is long lasting and harder to digest so he will be fuller longer. All of my kids were eating soft mashed up food by six months.



A lot of people are afraid to give there kids food allergies, but this does not mean you cannot give him solid food. If you are concerned about allergies try one kind of stage one baby food three times a day for a week then move onto another food if there is no reaction. My opinion is he should be able to complete one bottle of baby food in the course of one day sometimes even. two.

Teresa - posted on 04/24/2012

10

0

0

He might be teething, I know I have a six month old granddaughter and my daughter breast feeds so I know it is wearing. I wasn't able to breast feed mine so this is coming from what I have witness with my daughter. He maybe just needs to know your around and what you are doing sounds right if he goes back to sleep with you rubbing his back. I know my daughter is giving her daughter a pacifier in the night when she wakes up and then will fee around 4:30 or 5am. You have to figure out what is best for your baby the pa means well but, children don't come with a book of instructions and you will decide what is best for your baby and you.

Mandy - posted on 04/24/2012

18

0

0

Hi Amanda. I have 2 kids. One is just over 3 and my little girl is 5 months old. I started sleep training at about 6 weeks old and my eldest started sleeping through at 4 months and my youngest at 10 weeks. (And by the way - I never let them "cry it out"!) I read that is takes a baby one night to get into a bad habit and 3 nights to get them back into a good habit. I live in SA and here the general consensus is that you can start feeding them solids anywhere between 4 - 6 months. (Depending on weight, holding head up, etc). My little one is already on 3 small meals a day and four bottles. (She has severe reflux so dr recommended it) (and no she is not overweight) but I do think that your little bundle of joy is probably just in a habit. Try increase his meals. In saying that - I have always told new mom's - listen to all the advice and YOU decide which advice to keep and which to discard! He is your baby and go with what your gut tells you! Good luck!

Alexandra - posted on 04/23/2012

581

24

1

all babies are different, of course. It seems that your baby is in a growth spur. Sometimes we all need to eat a little more, right?
Don't worry, he will sleep thorugh the night eventually. Some babies take more time than others.

Amanda - posted on 04/23/2012

26

0

2

Thanks for everyone's advice! It strengthened me and educated me...I was able to start some very gentle sleep training tonight. Basically combining The Sleep Whisperer's advice and another book's advice...It took one hour but there was just a little bit of crying and I didn't have to leave his side and eventually he fell asleep in his cosleeper. (which he's in in our nursery). Soon I have to transition him to the crib. I tried it one night and he did not like it as there was so much room and it wasn't all cozy. Any advice on transitioning beds for six months old like this?

Ashley - posted on 04/23/2012

14

6

2

My first two kids slept 10 hours a night with no waking by the time they were 5 months. My 8 month old twins still wake up once a night to eat (one at 2 and one at 5). So even my twins are different! And yes they are/were all breastfed. My experience has been if I could easily soothe them back to sleep and they stayed asleep for at least 2 more hours, it wasn't hunger. If they woke up again before two more hours had passed, I fed them. That's what worked for us :) Good job being a concerned and loving parent, thinking about both now and his future habits!

Jackie - posted on 04/23/2012

1

2

0

Follow your instincts and your babies cues, they are more likely correct than some advice in a book, every mother has to make the choice on whether to nurse or feed her baby every time it wakes up or not, your baby may be going through a growth spurt and needs the extra nursing, or could be wanting the comfort. Just go with what feels right to you!

Katy - posted on 04/23/2012

67

0

0

All babies are different. My 20 month old will still cry occasionally at night, just for a few mInutes and go right back to sleep. It's always around the same time every night. She is also teething. When she was 4 months old she was waking up constantly because she was always hungry and my milk couldn't keep up. I started giving her a bowl of cereal around dinner time and it worked wonders. She would only wake up once to feed instead of 3 or 4 times. Bottom line is that you know your baby the best and can decide what is best.

Kaitlin - posted on 04/23/2012

1,107

21

451

"If either of you are miserable then whatever you are doing isn't working. If you are both doing ok, then what you're doing is ok too. Hang in there! Parenting can be quite tough to figure out sometimes."

SO well said! :D

Amanda - posted on 04/23/2012

26

0

2

Heather, you have a very strong opinion, as most moms do and so do doctors. My PA/Pediatrician doesn't even think babies need real food until they are one year old as long as they are being breastfed and this is what she recommends...Are you in the medical profession? Just curious as you are speaking so strongly about what should or shouldn't be done. I am well aware that I am a mom now...I waited 40 years to become one. However, there are many books, advice and opinions out there and just want to be sure I am choosing the right ones. I care mostly that HE is getting enough sleep, not me. So, I don't want to teach him bad sleeping habits which make him tired all day. I can deal with lack of sleep - it's why I quit running a company to be a stay at home mom. But give me some grace please as I figure out this new wonderful honor and privilege of being a mom...one I waited a whole lifetime for.

With all that said, I very much appreciate your advice and personal story.

Elfrieda - posted on 04/23/2012

2,620

0

462

Wow, Heather, that's a depressing thought to give a new mom. If I thought I wasn't going to sleep through the night for 18+ years I would probably have given in to PPD. My son started sleeping 12-hour nights consistently from 9 months old, and he's 2 now and still has a 3-hour nap every afternoon and a 12-13 hour night. Not all kids are as night-owly as yours seemed to be.



Of course, we had to do some sleep training to make that happen. Was it worth it? YES.

Heather - posted on 04/23/2012

534

65

0

Your son IS waking up because he IS hungry and you should be nursing him still, in the middle of the night, every 2, 3, or 4 hours. He should still be nursing a few times at night. Leave him in his room, go to his room, sit in a chair or on the floor, yes, on the floor, and nurse your HUNGRY son.



He will NOT grow out of it, and letting him cry it out until he goes back to sleep in NOT ok!!!



You need to nurse him when he is hungry in the middle of the night or give him a bottle of formula. Your son is also ready for WAY more than just a tablespoon of cereal at noon. Try giving him a few tablespoons of cereal with baby food fruits and/or veggies, separate or mixed in.



He is also ready to be eating 2 to 3 meals a day, just like you do. Then he might actually start sleeping more at night. Like he might only wake up around midnight, 2, or 3am to nurse, and go back to sleep till 6 or 7am.



That is really great that he is sleeping across the hall from you! That is awesome! He doesn't need to sleep in your bed to nurse. You can get up and nurse him in his room, take him to the living room, or take him back to your bed, sit and nurse him, burp him, then put him back in his bed. Make sure every time he wakes up that you are checking his diaper also. He could wake up a few hours after going to sleep because his diaper is wet. BUT, most likely, it's also because he is hungry too.



I nursed both my kids 1 to 3 times a night until they were at least one year old. Then it tampered off some to only around once a night, then when they hit around 16 to 18 months old, they started sleeping through the night, mostly. My daughter is 2 years old and she still wakes up in the middle of the night sometimes because of gas or to have her diaper changed. Every so often, you will get to sleep through the night too, but he will probably be 18 years old or so before that happens.



You are a Mom now. Breastfeeding or bottle feeding, ALL babies wake up in the middle of the night because they are hungry and wet.

Amanda - posted on 04/23/2012

26

0

2

Elfrieda, that's funny as I've been giving him sweet potatoes about 1.5 hours before his bed time too...and last night when he woke up at 12:45 and then 2ish, I noticed he really wasn't that hungry...so I do think it's just habit. In fact he just woke up from his nap and I nursed and rocked him back to sleep. It's all so frustrating as this is a new thing. We had made it where we didn't pick him up during the night except around 3 AM to eat and it was going well, but then we went on a trip and I over compensated b/c we couldn't "hide" from him in the room we were in and ever since and moving him into his nursery it's been harder...I've just got to get consistent again...

Thank you!

Elfrieda - posted on 04/23/2012

2,620

0

462

I had a very social baby, too, and I had to be very careful to make nighttime awakenings boring-boring-boring for him. He was sleeping through the night (10 hours) at 6 months, but of course waking up during growth spurts, sickness, or teething. I think 6 months is a common growth-spurt time, so he might actually be hungry.



The way I did it was to put him to bed at 7 after a nice filling meal of sweet potatoes and then before I went to bed at 10 or 11 I would sneak into his room and give him a bottle (people say this works with breastfeeding, too, except you wouldn't be able to hide behind the door while he eats!). He'd drink it while still being half-asleep, and then he'd chuck it out of the crib, turn over, and go back to sleep. (I was hiding behind the door for this, because if Mr. Social sees me, he'll want to play) That way if he woke up I knew it wasn't because he was hungry.



I don't think he'll just "grow out of waking up" if you let it become a habit, just my opinion.

Kaitlin - posted on 04/23/2012

1,107

21

451

Yes, I did breastfeed (first until about 7 months, then got pregnant and milk dried up, second until about a year). I have found that my kids really thrive on a schedule- not too strict, mind you, but pretty darn consistent. The better they napped during the day, the better they would sleep at night (sleep begets sleep). When changing their nap schedules (or putting them on one initially) it was always a tough two or three days, and then BAM amazing. Of course, I didn't pinch them to keep them awake and engaged until nap time, hahaha, but we did a lot of moving around, lots of 'games', changing things up, going outside, until they couldn't wait anymore. I also found that especially during periods of transition, doing a little baby massage right before nap/bed helped us all calm down and sleep better.

Amanda - posted on 04/23/2012

26

0

2

Thanks Kaitlin. I've been thinking about changing his nap schedule so that he has 3 hours of awake time as right now his naps are all over the place. Last week we had 4 days of 2 hour naps, but now it's a 30 minute here and there. Today he's had a 40 min, 30 min and is sleeping now, but again, he went to bed at 8 PM and still got up by 5 AM, so I'm trying to make up for the little sleep he got last night. He has pretty good room darkening curtains, but maybe some that are even better would be good? And yes, I am now in bed by 9 PM at the very latest...Thanks so much for your encouragement. Did you breastfeed and did your babies wake up like that at six months?

Kaitlin - posted on 04/23/2012

1,107

21

451

I hear you! I think you're right- I think it's his cycle. My boys both still go to bed around 6:30 every night. They wake up between 6 and 7. When they were that young they woke up earlier too- they are 2 1/2 and 1 1/2 now. Room darkening curtains? ;) I wouldn't worry too much. Maybe just go to bed a little earlier yourself (sorry, lol) so you don't get too tired. Sounds like you're a great, well read, involved mom. Plus, you can articulate exactly what you're thinking. Snaps to you!

Edited to add: try changing his nap schedule- if he has one. My boys had two naps a day around 6 or 7 months- woke up at around 6, one at 9:15 until about 11:30, and then from 2:30 until 4, and then bed at 6:15(ish).

Amanda - posted on 04/23/2012

26

0

2

I guess I just worry it's for more social reasons as he also never sleeps past 5 AM even if he just woke and I nursed him at 4 AM.... I do still rock him asleep which I am trying to work out a plan to stop, but I've seen him put himself to sleep on numerous occasions. So anyway, after reading all the books and such I'm not sure whether he's just waking from his natural circadian rhythms or if it's his glucose level dropping from not nursing as the PA suggested? I think it's the former though especially b/c he's eating sweet potatoes at 4:30 PM and goes to bed around 6:30. I've tried putting him to be later, but he still wakes up just as early READY to go...no matter how little sleep he's actually had. Hurts my heart when he wakes up tired and not rested..

Kaitlin - posted on 04/23/2012

1,107

21

451

In my opinion and in my experience, a baby at 6 months can (and should be able to if you work him out of the habit) to go at least one 6 hour stretch at night (not 'through the night' as in 8-9 hours, but hey, I did know one mom who said her kid did this- lucky duck). Now, the occasional growth spurt and teething episode doesn't count- and you learn to tell when that happens. For my breastfed boys I was feeding them every 4 hours during the day at around 5 months, and then once I started to introduce solids, they would have a snack in between 4 hour feedings. During the night, my first slept a lot better than my second- he did 6 hour stretches starting around 3 months, and then a feed and then another 3(ish) hour stretch. My second started 6ish hour stretches around 5 months- but he wasn't always looking to eat- he had gas, he wet his diaper a lot more, he needed his pacifier, or an extra layer.

Once I introduced solids, I also worked on getting them to sleep through the night by offering a sip of water from a sip cup (not a bottle), not picking them up and then rubbing their backs a little before leaving. After three or four nights, it worked great. They just seemed to need a little something, but certainly not a feeding.

This is in my experience and my opinion. I know a lot of attachment parenting moms and some very opinionated moms that say I'm wrong and should feed on demand until after their first birthday. I heartily disagree. Just be warned that you may get some, er, enthusiastic posts on a topic like this- don't take it personal! You know when your child is hungry and when he just needs comfort, no one can tell you that through a computer. :D

Join Circle of Moms

Sign up for Circle of Moms and be a part of this community! Membership is just one click away.

Join Circle of Moms