5 and half month old waking every 3 hrs at night for a feed.

Queston: Hi, My 5.5 month old son is waking up every 2-3 hrs at night. I started him on "solids" about 3 weeks ago in the hope that it may help with sleeping at night, also knowing that it probably wouldn't!! I think he does get a bit of 'wind' pain, which may be disturbing his sleep also, he has recently had a cold, but things just seem to be getting worse. He has 3 day time sleeps each varying from 1.5 to 2.5 hrs Usually (with the odd 40 minute one), and goes to bed at 7 pm each night -easily. I just have to put him in his cot and give him a little pat and leave the room and he is off to sleep. The night time is just getting worse- last night he woke almost every 1.5 hrs. He woke at 10pm, I settled him- he then woke at 11pm, so I breastfed him. Then awake again at 1am- settled him, the awake at 2am, so I fed him again. Awake again at 4am- so I fed him as I was exhausted. Then finally up for the morning at 6am! I must add he is in a cot in our bedroom.
He is a big boy- probably about 8kg now, so do you think he needs his nightly feeds and is actually hungry, or is he waking out of habit?
He is my third child. Any ideas would be helpful!


Heidi's Answer: Dear Melisa, Starting solids has an important impact on baby's system. 6 months is the safest age, before that many if not most babies still have an immature digestive system. This often results in stomach discomfort and gas and yes very often also troubled sleep.

On top of that, your son is now also developing important motor skills as well as going through new mental developments. This will require an increase in his food intake, which can also explain his new night awakenings.

I think you are experiencing a combination of digestive discomfort and hunger. It's great that he takes good naps, goes down so easily at 7pm, and is easily settled when he wakes, that's a great start. And you've been doing well with settling most of the time, and feeding only every other awakening.

I advise you the following:

- Stick to the good habits you have now: keep putting him down with a pat, settle him briefly with a minimum of interaction at night (no lights, stay in his room, ...).

- If his solid portions have not become very important yet, reduce them again or even better leave them out completely for another 2-3 weeks. Then start reintroducing slowly, things will probably look quite differently already then.

- Do as you have been doing at night with alternating settling and feeding. However, with what you described as what happened "last night" it may have been better to feed at 10pm. Then you might have gotten into the right rhythm (avoiding he wakes after an hour because he was actually hungry the first time). Feed if he's slept for 3 hours or more, settle if less.

- At the same time, try to increase his milk intake during the day, spread throughout the day. At each feeding, insist that he empties the first breast well, and always offer the second side after that. If possible, add an extra session here or there. This to help avoid the night awakenings and feedings.

With these steps together, you should see a good improvement within a week or 2. One or two night awakenings may still remain for another while but later on you can wean from those by gradually reducing the amount of milk you offer (shorter one-breast feedings) at night feedings.

Have a look at the baby cold page for ideas if the cold is still bothering him.

Good luck,

Comments for 5 and half month old waking every 3 hrs at night for a feed.

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by: Eleanor

Reading both the post and the answer has been so helpful as this is EXACTLy what my 5.5 month old boy is doing!
Before this he used to sleep 6 hours so the 3 hour waking is killing me. I shall take on board the advice and hope it works!

Thank you and good luck to you melisa

We're in the same boat
by: Anonymous

Wow! This is exactly our story too!! That tells me it must be delevopmental, or at least partly! We will try feeding more during the day and see how that goes. Otherwise we're riding it out :)

Same problem
by: Anonymous

Hi. I have a 5 month old having same problem. Its very tiring. He has been on rusks at night as i have did this with other 2 im a believer in old fashioned way as my eldest is 14 and there was none of this dont feed them this or that until late on. And i think if solids were so bad early how are we healthy/parents etc :) my son hardly tales feeds through the day,its a fight,so started giving him baby yougurt ans tiny bit of baby porridge. Hes also still in our room as need a bigger house and i think they sleep better once there in own room. Hope your baby settles soon.

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