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My 14-month old daughter is no longer breastfeeding, and sleeps happily in her bed, although it is still in our room. But she wakes up around three times at night, and as far as we can determine it's because she is hungry. A bottle of milk formula is a necessity to get her to sleep again.

We tried getting her used to not eating by making the formula slowly weaker, but that just means she wakes up quicker after each bottle. We do try as hard as we can to make her eat as much as possible during the daytime (especially just before going to bed), and she seems to eat a reasonable amount of food during the day, so now I'm at a loss at going forward.

Ideas? Anyone who has had similar experiences and was able to solve it?

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Status update: We are not all the way there yet, but what has worked is to make sure that you really stuff the kid with food during the day. For us this means that she doesn't want more of one thin, we switch to something else and she'll eat a bit more. She basically get three-course meals. :-) We give her more milk than she will drink when she goes to bed, less during the night, so she gets used to not stuffing herself in the night. With this we got her to sleep a through couple of nights (but visiting grandma over the weekend meant we had to start over). –  Lennart Regebro Oct 18 '11 at 12:12
    
What about snacks between meals, most toddlers eat three full meals AND a morning and afternoon snack. –  morah hochman Dec 14 '11 at 15:12
    
I'd love to know what you did??? We're in the same boat :s –  user4221 Apr 21 '13 at 15:58
    
@MrsPea: See above. Basically we made sure that she ate a lot during the day. –  Lennart Regebro Apr 21 '13 at 19:08

6 Answers 6

Move her into her own room.

At 8 months of age, our daughter was in our room and still breastfeeding. She would wake up 2-3 times a night, from what we could tell was hunger. (She'd eat and then go back to sleep.) We are fairly quiet sleepers and don't really move around our bed so much, so it wasn't like we were making noises which would wake her up.

I had to start work again, and a disturbed sleep wasn't going to be good. We solicited advice and were told that moving her into her own room would probably get her to sleep through the night. I didn't really want to do that because I don't believe in crying-it-out and was afraid that now I just have to go to another room to go feed her.

But alas, we moved her out. The first night, she slept 11 hours without waking up. Not even a squeak. Now two months later, she still sleeps in her own room, about 8-10 hours continously. She tosses and turns in her room sometimes, but keeps sleeping. She doesn't cry. She doesn't yearn for food. If she is in our room, she just tends to wake up more and gets distracted by us and wants to be snuggled.

So, based purely on experience, I'll highly recommend moving her into her own room. If she makes a sound or two, don't run to her. Wait about a minute before you let her see you / walk into her room.

Good Luck.

Edit: In terms of food, we feed her dinner about 30-40 minutes before bed. She wakes up quite hungry in the morning.

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Excellent answer .. it worked well for my daughter. –  tomjedrz May 31 '11 at 18:47
    
Because she will wake up even if we are not in the room (as she will often wake the first time before we go to bed) I can't imagine this to work, but it will on the other hand be easy to test. –  Lennart Regebro May 31 '11 at 19:20
    
I had my doubts too, but do give it a shot :) We always went to bed after her as well, and when she woke up for the first time...we just called it a night. We'd breastfeed her, and put her back on the bed. When she was in our room, she'd stand up in her crib, crying...looking towards our bed (even if we weren't in the room). In her own room, she'll sometimes lift her head up...and then put it back down <1 minute later. –  Swati May 31 '11 at 19:25
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Also, don't be like the couple who gave their baby the last meal at 6 PM and wondered why she woke up at 2:30am. Babies are people. They have trouble sleeping when they're starving. Our daughter goes 8-10 hours without food. And 10 hours is really pushing it, she wakes up starving. –  Swati May 31 '11 at 19:27
    
Well, we tried that, and it didn't work. –  Lennart Regebro Jul 29 '11 at 4:42

We had a similar situation with my 14 month old, and it was definately a sleep association rather than actual hunger (although it was with the breast, rather than a bottle). After figuring out it was a sleep assocaition, we just cut off 1 feed per few weeks or so (ie. first wake of the night we did not offer milk), and offered comfort instead (cuddles from Dad). Although she did not really like this (she cried, said 'no' asked for mom etc), eventually, she stopped waking for that first feed. When that happened for several nights/a few weeks, we would cut out the next feed, until she was eventually night weaned. This did take some time but it was less intrusive then other methods we've seen, and involved only minimal crying (and no crying alone).

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First you get her on a schedule, then you adjust the schedule to fit your needs. At bedtime you want to try to feed her a little bit more than she drinks during the day, so she can go longer between. In my experience, the easiest way for parents and baby to get on a schedule is to set your alarm clock to wake up a half hour or so before your daughter typically wakes up hungry. Just like we usually don't wait until we're ravenous to eat, babies are usually happier eating before they're hungry enough to cry about it. It's a lot less traumatic and she might not even wake up completely, which helps inculcate the idea that night time is for sleeping. That might also mean she eats less and might need to be fed a little more often at first, but then when she is accustomed to not having to wake up to demand being fed at night, you can slowly adjust the interval longer and longer.

FYI, you should never dilute baby formula.

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You could try a "hungry baby" formula. (You should never weaken (or strengthen) formula feeds, by the way.)

This page gives some information about common sleep problems:

http://www.nhs.uk/Planners/birthtofive/Pages/Commonsleepproblems.aspx

By the time your child is six months old, it’s reasonable to expect them to sleep through most nights. However, up to half of all children under five go through periods of night waking. Some will just go back to sleep on their own; others will cry or want company. If this happens, try to work out why your child is waking up. For example:

  • Is it hunger? If your child is a year or older, some cereal and milk last thing at night might help them to sleep through the night.
  • Are they afraid of the dark? You could use a nightlight or leave a landing light on.
  • Is your child waking up because of night fears or bad dreams? If so, try to find out if something is bothering them.
  • Is your child too hot or too cold? Adjust their bedclothes or the heating in the room and see if that helps.

It's important to keep night and day different; you might need to get some good blackout blinds.

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This isn't an answer, it is a comment. But we tried moving her into her own room, it made absolutely no difference. There is no "Hungry baby" formula here. –  Lennart Regebro Aug 12 '11 at 20:58
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@Lennart - you're right, I made a big edit to turn my poorly worded comments into a proper answer. –  DanBeale Aug 12 '11 at 21:10

I have two thoughts.

The first is well put by Swati .. get the kid into her own room.

The second is to adjust the feeding schedule, making the last feeding a big one shortly before bedtime.

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That's two thoughts ;), and she does eat a lot just before bedtime (and then she drinks a whole bottle of milk while falling asleeo). –  Lennart Regebro May 31 '11 at 20:46
    
Fixed the number of thoughts. I had a third but thought better of it. –  tomjedrz Jun 1 '11 at 4:16
    
So, we did that, no difference. –  Lennart Regebro Aug 12 '11 at 21:00

She should be sleeping through the night at this point. She needs to be in her own room and you MUST find something else to sooth her to sleep, she should not be hungry at night any longer and you are encouraging her to wake up by feeding her. I am a believer in crying it out, but it does not sound like you are ready for this. It could be night tremors, a bit early but possible. Maybe speak to your pediatrician about this possibility.

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Night tremors? What's that? –  Lennart Regebro Dec 15 '11 at 9:37
    
Night terrors, I'd imagine. –  jpatokal Jan 11 '13 at 4:58

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