Does My Baby Need to Eat During the Night?

“My daughter is five months old, and wakes to eat every two hours. Is it OK to not feed her?” Well, the short answer is yes. It is OK not to feed her. When we look at this, eating every two hours is similar to what a newborn would need.

With her being five-months-old, there’s really no reason why, unless she’s having some serious health issues. But apart from that, there’s really no reason why she is needing to wake up every two hours for a feed. What I really want you to look at is how she gets to sleep at bedtime.

I always tell people, the first place to look is bedtime. What’s going on there? My guess is that she’s bottle feeding or nursing herself to sleep at bedtime, and then you transfer her to the crib.

What happens then is that a baby believes that a bottle or breast is the fastest and best way to get into sleep. It’s not a matter of hunger. It’s more a strategy for getting to sleep, as they do not know any other way. When she has a wake up in the night, her response is to cry, mostly like, have you come, and recreate the sequence of events that happen to get her to sleep in the first place.

This is a strategy issue. She’s using that bottle or breast through the night to get herself back to sleep. The good news around all of this, is that this is a fairly easy fix. If we get her falling asleep independently at bedtime, not allowing her to fall asleep on the bottle or breast, that’s going to solve a lot of these night wakings because she’s going to learn how to get to sleep.

If she has any kind of wake up in the night, she should be able to start handling this more herself, and relying less and less on the bottle or breast. I would encourage you to start there. Let’s get this baby sleeping through the night, because really, given her age, there’s no reason why she can’t be sleeping a solid 10 to 12 hours a night. That’s the good news there.

Sounds like a great idea, but many parents are unsure of how to get their baby falling asleep on their own. First ensure that baby is not getting sleepy during the bedtime feed, the easiest way to do this is to move the feed to the beginning of the bedtime routine, yes even before bath. At about 3 months, I always move the feed to the beginning of the routine.

Babies become metabolically capable of beginning to sleep through the night at approximately around 13 pounds and 3 months. When I work with a baby, I always take it case by case for babies between 3-6 months if we are going to cut out all night feeds.

With every single child I  work with our goal is always to get them falling asleep independently at bedtime. This is where all the magic happens!

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