Nighttime Feeding and Baby Sleep

Most parents have a difficult time listening to their baby cry at night. We all love our kids and want to jump immediately to their rescue. However, by the time your baby is six months old, she should be more or less sleeping through the night.

Now unfortunately, that doesn’t quite mean the eight hours of sleep that we were all accustomed to before the bundle of joy arrived, but it does mean a solid five to six hours of sleep. By the time babies are six months old, their stomachs have developed to the point where they can sleep for that long without becoming hungry.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that your baby won’t wake up and want to eat in the middle of the night. Different babies develop different patterns. Some babies grow accustomed to being fed in the middle of the night, and when they wake up they cry. In most cases, if you feed them before you lay them down for the night, though, this midnight snack is more about comfort and cuddling than it is about hunger.

If you’re OK with getting up in the middle of the night every night, go ahead and keep feeding your baby when she wakes up. You’re not doing her any harm, to be sure, and if the feeding comforts her without being too much of a drain on you, there’s nothing wrong with it.

With that being said, though, understand that you are not in the least hurting your six month old baby if you start training her to sleep through the night without a midnight feeding. Make sure that you feed her good before you lay her down, and she will be fine to wait until morning for the next feeding.

Of course, if you decide to stop the night feedings, your baby might not take to the idea right away. Prepare yourself for a fussy night or two. Your best bet when baby wakes up in the middle of the night is to let her cry for a few minutes before attending to her. Many babies will soothe themselves right back to sleep if you give them two or three minutes to cry without interrupting them.

We’re not saying that you should let your baby cry uncontrollably all night long. After a few minutes, go and comfort your baby if she’s still crying, but try to do it with something other than a bottle or breastfeeding session. Instead, try offering a pacifier, giving her a gentle massage, singing her a lullaby, or rocking her back to sleep.