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Waking in the middle of the night

Our 7 month old goes to bed around 7pm and sleeps pretty consistently until 2 or 3 am. She usually wakes up and I nurse her back to sleep. The rest of the night isn't quite as predictable but most nights she will then sleep until 6 or 7 am. I was under the impression that because she'd slept for a 7 or 8 hour stretch that she would be ready to eat again.  Would you recommend that I continue with this feeding or try to allow her to go back to sleep on her own?

If she is going to sleep for 8 hours, I would prefer the 10 PM to 6 AM stretch. One approach to resolving this issue is time. Given time, this could work itself out as she grows and eventually sleeps longer periods. I worry that by feeding her at 2AM, she will become dependent on this feeding and develop a habit of waking in the middle of the night. 7 month olds can sleep 10 to 12 hours. I recommend you actively encourage her to sleep through the night.

If she does not settle herself down to sleep this needs to be addressed first. When habitually rocked or nursed to sleep, children will often wake in the middle of the night. These children learn to cry in the night as they think they need to be rocked or fed to return to sleep. see Crying it out.

In general, when children wake in the night you want to do as little as possible to return them to sleep. Try not to feed her at night - offer her a pacifier or rub her back. Feeding a reduced amount or moving the feedings later is progress.

Try a later bedtime. Often this is made easier by putting her down later for her last nap of the day. Get her outside prior to sleep as this is very stimulating for children and helps them sleep better. If this does not work, try waking her at 10 PM, feeding her and returning her to bed.

This process is difficult and will probably result in a short term loss of sleep. With effort and persistence you should soon be sleeping all night.


Written March 2011 by
Dr. Gordon, Windermere Pediatrician






gregorygordonmd.com is intended to help parents understand the needs and behaviors of children. The information presented in the site is the opinion of Gregory Gordon, M.D.and does not reflect the opinion of his partners. This website is owned exclusively by Doctors insights LLC. The advice in this site does not apply to all children. Always consult your healthcare provider for your individual needs.

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