Night time feedings - on demand or scheduled? — The Bump
Babies: 3 - 6 Months

Night time feedings - on demand or scheduled?

Do you schedule night time feedings or let LO decide when to eat?

I usually put my LO to bed at 8, then he usually wakes up between 2 and 4 to eat. Some days he'll sleep till 5! 2 and 3 are fine times for a meal because both of us go back to sleep easily afterwards, but 4 gets hard, especially when its multiple days in a row. I work and have to get up at 6, so if he eats at 4, both LO and I have a tough time getting back to sleep. I've considered both giving him his last meal at 10pm, or waking him up by 3am, but I also worry about programming these waking times into his sleep schedule. 

I know, I should count my blessings that he sleeps such a long stretch to begin with. I wonder what will give us the best long term success at healthy sleep habits and though I know he often needs the nighttime meal now, he won't need it forever and I don't want him to be "programmed" to wake at a specific time for a meal.
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Re: Night time feedings - on demand or scheduled?

  • Babies will change their habits a lot.  Just when you think you've got it, bam......  they go a different way.  I believe it's best to try and keep to the same schedule as much as possible.  If they wake to eat, they need it.  I do try and console my LO first to see if he really is hungry.  9 times out of 10, it's what he needs right now.  I work as well.  Those 4 AM party times are rough.  Most of the time I just stay awake and start the day.  Hang in there.  They don't stay this way long, :)  
  • I wouldn't worry about 'programming' because as PP said your baby's needs and routine are just going to continue to fluctuate over the coming weeks.  I also agree that consoling first to gauge if they are really hungry is always my first move.  But the idea of getting my little one on a night feeding schedule is just about impossible.  He changes his night wake times all the time, and because he is a pretty good sleeper (goes right back down after a night feeding) I don't really mess with it.  I sympathize about not being able to get back to sleep though after that early morning feeding - but eventually your little one won't need it.  You might want to try giving him more at the feeding before this in the night.  I EBF at night and try to make sure he stays awake to empty both boobs during those sessions so that he'll sleep longer afterwards.  It doesn't always work but sometimes I think it changes his next bout of sleep from 1 to 3 hours.  Good luck!

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  • Our babies are on the same schedule, OP! Down at 8 PM, waking around 4 to eat and then back to bed in our case until 7.

    I would not start waking him to feed at 3 AM. That long stretch of sleep is going to keep getting longer until it goes to from 8-6 straight through. They're so close!

    If you're in bed by 10, you get 6 hours straight sleep... That's pretty awesome. It's hard for me to fall back asleep after the 4 AM too, but even if you just get one more hour that's 7 hours total which is great.

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  • Oh yeah, its great to get 6 straight hours if I sleep well. I have super mommy ears right now. I have the monitor on its lowest setting and still wake up if he makes a peep. 
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  • My LO is also on the same schedule.  She goes down at 8 and was waking around 4 to eat but recently she has been getting up at 2 or 230 and then goes right back to sleep.  a few times she would wake again around 5ish acting hungry again but then i noticed if I waited she goes right back to sleep until 6:30 ish.  Like the other PP said....they don't do this for that long so just hang in there and in a few months this will all be behind us!
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  • I feed him when he is hungry. I am off right now though so I don't "need" to be up by any certain time. That is rough. It sucks falling back asleep only to wake up so soon after. I would not try to change anything, it has been my experience that always backfires. Just try to hang in there. Hopefully your LO gets on a better schedule for you.

  • Adrd47 said:
    DS is 4.5 months and eats on demand day and night. Most nights he STTN but sometimes he still wakes up around 2-3am.
    This is us exactly.
  • We feed DD on demand during the night. We will change her diaper and try to get her back to sleep first..sometimes it works, sometimes not. If she is fussy or not going back to sleep, we make a bottle. She wakes up for at least 1 feeding every night. DS, on the other hand, (I have twins) sleeps about 10-12 hours without stirring.
  • On demand. Think about it-- are you hungry on a schedule?

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  • We feed on demand. Let your LO wake you if they are hungry.

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  • We feed on demand, but also feed him one last time before we go to bed around 11 and this helps him sleep longer. He will sleep until about 6 or 7. He goes down for bed around 9, but has that last "dream feed" and it seems to help.
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  • LindseyH033LindseyH033 member
    Fourth Anniversary 25 Love Its 10 Comments Photogenic
    edited January 2014
    DD2 goes down between 8-9pm and has been sleeping till about 515-545 lately. She usually wakes just to eat then goes back to sleep till about 8. Prior to this she was waking anywhere from 330-5 to eat, then back down till 7. Now that she's sleeping past 5 I usually just stay up because DD1 wakes up at 7. I always feed on demand.

    ETA: DD2 is 3.5 months old

  • I always feed on demand. Both kids have done a good job setting their own schedules
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  • There been a lot of answers already, but I'm just going to throw in another option. My ped always told me that babies eat what they're going to eat in one day regardless of time. Meaning if baby is drinking 30 oz of formula in a 24 hr period baby is only going to drink the 30 oz. regardless of time. So if you feed the baby all 30 oz. throughout the day baby does not need to feed at night. Baby has had calorie fill for the day. When my ped told me this with my first baby, I thought it was crazy talk and quickly disregarded it. Well here I am with baby #3 and I'll be damned if it's true. I feed my LO 7 oz every 3 hours during the day. The last bottle is at 9-10pm. LO does not get up for another bottle until 8am. Mind, you I nursed my first two. So I don't think I would've been able to do this with them. And when I started doing this with DS3, I offered a bottle and if he rejected I did NOT force feed him. It took about two weeks for him to want to eat every 3 hours. My LO is not underweight nor is he overweight. He is at 55% for weight and 68% for height. Anyhow, just another option I thought I'd share.
  • On demand. Think about it-- are you hungry on a schedule?
    Yes, I am. Because I eat my meals the same time every day.
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  • roo1oo said:
    On demand. Think about it-- are you hungry on a schedule?
    Yes, I am. Because I eat my meals the same time every day.

    True. I like to eat around the same times every day and my boys, even the baby, tend to do the same.

  • On demand in the MOTN and when he wakes up except I make LO eat at 6 am before I take him to daycare to get him on schedule for the day (then he eats at 8, 10, etc every 2 hours till he goes to bed at 8 pm).
  • juliane2004juliane2004 member
    10000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 250 Answers 500 Love Its
    edited January 2014
    On demand, except I would perhaps recommend waking him to eat around 10:30 pm. Treat it as a night feeding (dim lights, no talking), and put him back to bed asap. Hopefully that "top up" will get him through to 5/6 am (or whatever time is ideal).

    Just something to try! If it's backfiring, though, and he begins waking at 1/2 am for a few nights in a row, then go back to your original way.

    ETA: Do you BF or FF? If you FF, you might try a dreamfeed if you don't want to wake him up. I.e. don't move him from where he is sleeping, don't wake him, just put the bottle to his lips and his instinct should be to suck. And because he'll be so calm (sleeping), he shouldn't even need a burp. This worked for us for babies 1 and 2.
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  • MosyMama said:

    LO eats on demand. The MOTN feedings vary so much for us right now.

  • An update on this. I moved LO's bedtime an hour later (9pm) and he now sleeps most nights until 5-6am, sometimes as late as 7am. Whether he developmentally advanced to a later wake time or the later bedtime helped I don't know, but I'll take it either way!
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