My toddler is 1 year and two months old; he's no longer breastfeeding, and the only time he drinks formula is when he wakes up in the middle of the night (usually, he wakes up once a night, takes a small bottle, and goes right back to sleep).

Over the past several weeks, he's been suffering diarrhea, which seems a direct response to the formula. (It started when we once gave him an off-brand formula, but then continued with our regular brand and we also tried a non-dairy variety. Whenever we managed to get him through a night or two without, the diarrhea would stop. Besides the diarrhea he's been absolutely fine and cheerful.)

The problem is, we don't know what to do when he wakes up in the middle of the night. He's used to getting a bottle, and cries hysterically until he gets it. He doesn't want water or sweetened herbal tea; as soon as he sees it isn't white, he bats it away.

So I'd like to know:

  • Is there some other drink I could be giving him?
  • Alternatively, should I try to wean him off midnight snacks entirely, and if so, how?
  • Just one quick question: why don't you simply give him the milk/formula he claims?
    – mgm
    Commented Jan 17, 2014 at 16:36
  • @mag The OP indicated the formula may be causing diarrhea.
    – Joe
    Commented Jan 17, 2014 at 16:56
  • Oh, ops, I missed that. Sorry for the noise.
    – mgm
    Commented Jan 17, 2014 at 17:16

1 Answer 1


For us, the only way we could wean our first son (and will soon with our second!) is to stop doing middle of the night feedings. Our 10 month old is mostly weaned off of them, but still sometimes will wake up and ask for some; how we got even this far was simply to stop feeding and rock him to bed. That led to a couple of rough nights, but it doesn't take that long really; after a few nights of no food, he goes back to sleep and doesn't expect it any more. If he's just doing it for comfort, this will work fairly well; if he's actually hungry, that needs to be addressed separately.

The main limitation on this is that if he's sick, it's probably a bad time to do this, as he may need the extra food and/or comfort.

Some strategies to help make this easier:

  • Feed him solid food that lasts (ie, meats, cheeses, fatty/proteiny things, fibrous green vegetables, etc.), in as large a quantity as he'll take. The more solid food he eats that stays in the tummy, the longer he'll sleep. Starchy or sugary foods, formula, etc. won't help here as they go away too fast. He may be hungry, so address this need.
  • Work on getting him to sleep without feeding immediately before bed. You don't say if you're doing this right now, but it's easier to get them back to sleep without feeding if they know how to fall asleep without feeding.
  • Consider changing the sleep schedule. Maybe he's waking up at 3am for food because it's 8 hours after he went to bed, and he's a shorter sleeper. If he goes to bed at 7pm and wakes at 3am, consider moving him to a 9pm-5am schedule, or removing/adjusting his naps.
  • Also consider his meal schedule. Perhaps he should be eating closer to bedtime, or further from it (more likely closer, but every baby is different).
  • Consider whether there are other potential issues, such as night noise that is waking him up. Perhaps a white noise machine (ie, play sounds of the rain forest etc.) would help him stay asleep (nothing with words).

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