Ask SIFTW: 7 month old feeding at 3am

Lauren writes:

I have a 7 month old who is habitual waking at 3/3.30am for a breastfeed.  I know at this age he should be sleeping through.  We put him down at 7.00pm.  He has solids at about 4pm and then a bottle at 6.30pm.  I always (now) try and put him down awake so he is learning to fall asleep by himself.  (I previously breastfed him to sleep which I know is a big no no).  Anyway for the last 2 weeks we have tried to get him to stop feeding at 3am, however I am finding this extremely difficult and am getting very tired.  I basically go in to him to check that he is dry etc and then try and shush / pat / kiss him back to sleep.  Doesn’t really seem to be working – should I just leave the room and let him cry it out????????

Hi Lauren, we’re not very conventional here at SIFTW and what I would say is that 7 months is very little and you are not alone in having a baby who doesn’t sleep through the night. Actually I won’t tell you how old mine was when he started to sleep through MOST nights, as it could be taken to be a little bit depressing. It’s little solace when you feel like crap every morning because your sleep is broken, but I think your bubba is doing quite well for his age. Do you have a partner who could get up with baby in the morning and allow you a little bit of a lie in to catch up once in a while. Even a sleep in once a week can do wonders, I find.

It sounds like the shush/pat/kiss is not working too well at the moment. I would probably take the route of least resistance, the one that gets him back to sleep ASAP, and yes, that probably means feeding him. There’s plenty of time to drop this habit later as their diet moves more towards having a proper dinner and their tummies can go longer.

There are those crazy babies who sleep through from a few months old, but I really feel that they are the exception.

Best of luck.



16 Responses to Ask SIFTW: 7 month old feeding at 3am

  1. Kirsty says:

    Props to you Lauren for actively trying to get your baby to fall asleep on his own. He is still pretty young and if you dont think the shh/pat is working you could try the Gentle Removal Method (ie. nurse until he’s drowsy put him down awake)… Or since you say its habitual you could try the Wake 2 Sleep – it doesn’t make sense, but it works for some people – maybe 30 minutes before his normal night waking go in and pick up and place him back down. i dont think you have to actually wake him up, just enough that his sleep cycle is bumped a bit… just some ideas. I personally used the Baby Whisperer’s pick up/put down method to get rid of the last night feed (with DH’s help of course) but that wasn’t until my son was 10 months old.

  2. finngarianmama says:

    The 7 month old wakes up ONCE to nurse at 3 am and she is COMPLAINING??? WTF is that??? My 16 month old HAS NEVER ONCE SLEPT THROUGH, NOT EVER! At 7 months, she was still waking every 2 hours and there was NOTHING we could do, NOTHING that helped.

    I don’t mean to be snarky, but I wouldn’t complain for one second about a 7 month old waking up once!

  3. amberjee says:

    You’ve certainly been dealt a difficult road Finngarian. Hats off to you.

  4. I think a lot of 7 month old babies have trouble making it through more than 5 or 6 hours without food. I had good luck with dream feeding my son at that age around 10, and then he wouldn’t wake hungry in the middle of the night, and I got more sleep. I kept up the dream feed until he was about 14 months old. He would still wake once a night for awhile, but would go right back to sleep with a few words and reassurance.

  5. Bianca Bean says:

    Mine didn’t sleep through until 10 months, and even then it was sporadic. Don’t listen to any “should be”s, esp at 7 months. Most of those guidelines are crap. Sleep will come, I promise. Until then, I suggest nursing whenever the baby wants to. It will make your life easier and that is healthy for you both. Take care.

  6. Libera Vita says:

    I second my opinion to finngarianmama. My 12 mo. old little man is still waking up more than once. I work, too, so my exhaustion level is way off my scale.

    I am aware that Lauren is frustrated. But consider yourself lucky. By all means, try the cry-it-out method, if you believe that would do the trick. Just remember, every baby is unique. They are just as individuals as we are, the adults. So, whatever recommendations there are about ‘making parenting’ easy, don’t always buy into it. Because at the end, these so-called recommendations do strip away the individuality, if we all adhere to them.

  7. Nadia says:

    Zach is 18 months old and on a good night wakes three or four time. On bad nights he can wake every hour or so. He only goes back to sleep if he gets the boob. I would love to wean him but he just doesn’t seem ready. I’ve tried sleep training ‘ala’ Super Nanny but he’s so stubborn he’ll literally cry for hours (even though I sit in the room (no eye contact), put him back into bed with a hug etc). I gave that up and tend to take the path of least resistance. I’m so shattered it’s effecting work and family life. Sleep training worked for my oldest son who is now 31/2 but it didn’t work for me – I found it very harsh. I’m not sure where to go from here. Any advice on weaning him off night feeds would be appreciated!

    • Rachee says:

      Hi Nadia, my little girl is 15 months and has been a terrible sleeper since birth. On a good night she sleeps 4 hours between wakings but on a bad one its every hour for us too! Waking once a night at 7 months would be a dream!!! We co-sleep part time out of necessity, she starts in her own cot bed, (4th side of cot off and spare mattress next to it on the floor for me!) then comes in to us when she wakes after we go to bed. I’ve been breastfeeding to sleep since birth, but decided we all need to get more sleep now and night ween. I’ve started back at work and doing 2-4 night shifts a month, plus would like to get pregnant and will need the extra sleep, as I remember feeling so rough in early pregnancy! Anyway, we are on night two of the dr.Jay Gordon night weaning plan. It is going better than I expected.
      She got quite cross when I removed the boob, but miraculously after cuddling and calming, i told her to lie down, put her head on the pillow, then close her eyes and go to sleep. Then to my surprise she rolled over and went to sleep on her own each time! Still woke 3-4 hourly, but she seems to be getting the falling asleep on her own thang.
      Worth giving a try! We tried night weaning a few times, but neither of us were ‘ready’, but now we need to.

  8. amberjee says:

    Hi Nadia, that sounds really tough. 18 months is meant to be a typically tough time. Sleep regression type stuff. The Imp is still mostly sleeping at night, but it can take an hour to get him to sleep in the evenings now, which for us is rough as he used to go to bed so easily. My feeling is that you might want to wait a few months (if you can) until about 21/22 months old, then hopefully you might have a slightly easier time of it. The best advice I have to offer is to recruit your partner if possible to take over the night wakings. It would be difficult for you to do it, as you are so associated with milk. But dads can often be a blessing when it comes to weaning, particularly at night. Best of luck, and wishing you sleep filled nights soon. xx

  9. delilah says:

    with you all the way, finngarianmama. i read websites like this to feel better about my beautiful 7 month-old baby waking four or five times a night, not worse – not to mention incredulous at some people’s apparent ingratitude for what would seem to be a miracle to me!

  10. Lam says:

    WOW! My 14 month old son wakes up 2 times a night and at 7 months he was awake every 1-2 hours. Consider yourself lucky! 7 months isn’t very old, and for him to only be getting up ONCE is no major issue. I work full time and have not had a full night’s sleep in 14 months!

    But besides the point of you complaining that your 7 month old gets up only once per night. It seems like you are on the road to a full nights sleep in a month or two.

    So please, for the sake of everyone who has it so much worse than you, shut up now and thank God you have such a cooperative son.

  11. rachel says:

    I would feel like I was in sleeping heaven if my baby only woke up once in the night…consider yourself blessed!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. jessica pitre says:

    My 7 month old is doing the same thing I put her to bed between 8 and 9 and she wakws up at between 11 and 12 every night. So is she hungry? Or is it just the comfort of me. Im so tired I just feded her in bed and go back to sleep. She wakes up multipule times in the middle of the night sometimes tossing and turning like she can’t get comfortable. Help…. I try feeding her later to try to fill her tummy. I try to let her cry but its so hard. And thre crys just get louder. She doent really nap to much during the day 20 min here 20 min there so she should be tired… help help help is this normal for breast fed babies still wanting to eat all through the night. The doc says she should be sleeping. I need some advice.. Please. And my husband is working up in canada and im in the US. So its just me right now. Please please help me. Im so tired jessica

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