My 6 month old grandson has no feeding / sleep schedule. He was born 3 weeks early, weighing 5 lbs. My daughter in law, Liz, is breastfeeding. The Dr. told her to feed as often as possible to get his weight up. He weighs now 14 lbs. Healthy, perfect, no problems.

I think the problem is that he only nurses for a couple of minutes each feeding, so eats whenever he whimpers. A tiny bit a time, every 30 minutes or so, so he never really gets full, never is really hungry enough to eat a whole meal. Even all night long he is up every hour. Mom is exhausted and gets up to feed him every time he stirs. She thinks he still needs to eat every few minutes. At 6 months old.

I am worried about my son and daughter in law. They are getting no rest. Still. She has the baby sleeping in her room so she can get to him easliy every hour! She has no idea how to get him to eat more each time, so less frequently. Her Dr. told them to look up ideas in books!?

How can they break this exhausting habit and get back to some kind of sane sleep pattern for them all?

  • What an irresponsible statement from the Dr... I hope he at least pointed them towards some material or something. Have the parents read about the Ferber method? Gradual extinction may be a method you could use.
    – user7678
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 0:58
  • 1
    @RachelC Why is it irresponsible? The Dr may have given a couple book suggestions, but Patty didn't mention it. Plus, some things may work for one baby but not for another. He cannot really give an exhaustive list. It is up to the parents to put in the effort to learn.
    – Jeff.Clark
    Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 23:13

3 Answers 3


Is Liz willing to take advice, read, and learn? If not, there is literally nothing you can do. My wife, myself, and some of our friends have all had our children (each couple having 2+ kiddos) sleeping through the night between 6 and 9 weeks old because we read and applied concepts from "Secrets of the Baby Whisperer" from Tracy Hogg. However, we are friends with one couple who refuse to take any advice from any book or anyone else, despite our success. They are in the same situation as Liz. Liz first has to be in a place where she will listen and is willing to learn.

If you have the time and are devoted enough, you can read the book and write down the main points. It could be that reading is too daunting for Liz right now. Our bodies/brains get realllllly weird when we are that sleep deprived, so she may be emotionally off base at the moment. I would really encourage one or more of you to read that book. It is quite incredible.

I would also mention that un-learnning the habits the child now has will be quite difficult, but sticking with it will have rewards. Children can be really stubborn, but the parents can win if they are consistent and firm. For example, with our first child my wife had extreme trouble breastfeeding. After trying many different things, we settled on a "breast shield" which our kiddo would actually accept. After about 4-5 months, we decided that it was long enough, and our kiddo should be able to feed without it. Our kiddo did not like that at all. he would freak out and scream etc... until my wife would use the shield again. After a couple days of trying and failing, my wife decided enough was enough, and if he wouldn't feed without the shield, he wouldn't eat. After about 7 hours of rejecting feeding without the shield, he finally gave in and ate without the shield. Perfectly. Like a pro. No problems what-so-ever. He knew what to do, he was just being stubborn.

  • I second the Baby whisperer recommandation!
    – aneder
    Commented Apr 27, 2018 at 16:57

I also agree with the Ferber method. Although you don't have to do it all night long. A child at that age who is breastfeeding most of the time will probably still need to eat at night. Especially at the age where she is exploring a lot more and isn't spending enough time during the day to eat a full feeding. It would be crazy to not feed during the night in such a case. However, feeding every few minutes at night is not very helpful and is exhausting to the mother!

First, check to see if baby is nursing properly. Maybe there is some issue that is causing the baby to tire quickly and not get in a full feeding (e.g. tongue-tie). The best way to tell is to do a weighted feed. Weigh baby before nursing with no diaper on, using a professional scale (they can be rented, or you can do this in the doctor's office). Then weigh again after feeding. You can see exactly how much she ate in that time. If she got at least 3 or so ounces, you know she won't be hungry if she's crying 10 minutes later. There are many, many reasons babies fuss and only one of them is hunger!

During the daytime, try to have baby feed every 2 hours instead of more frequently than that. If baby fusses in between feedings, maybe try a pacifier or some other soothing technique.

At night, aim for feeding every 3 hours at first. If baby wakes up sooner try with another technique, not feeding. If at least 3 hours have passed, feed.


In agreement with Rachel, a weight feed is a great idea. This is what helped doctors realize that my son was not getting enough breast milk at each feeding. Some babies do tire faster as breast feeding is a lot of work! And my little guy just couldn't do it.

I would also suggest that she pumps and prepares breast milk for the fridge for night time for dad to help feed as that is a great way to ease the stress off of mom and for her to get some well-deserved rest. We did this and it was extremely helpful. It made it easier for baby to feed, it gave me rest, and it helped dad and baby form a bond they otherwise wouldn't have.

At 6 months, our pediatrician told us that babies should be able to sleep mostly through the night. That their bodies are able to at that point. Because she breast feeds, it's such a comfort to them, the baby might just want mom at that point and not be hungry (since you said the baby was healthy). The mom may want to try sleep training for a week or so (we didn't do it for our son until he was 7 months because he was a 6 week preemie) and see if that helps the baby sleep.

A great book my husband and I both enjoy is "The Baby Owner's Manual" by Dr. Louis Borgenicht and Joe Borgenicht. It refers to the baby as a "model" which needs to be "trouble-shooted" and "maintained." It's a great book because it's simple and to the point. It discusses how to correctly sleep train (if that's something she wants to try) and many other helpful parenting tips. It even has a weight and height scale which shows where baby should be at per age.

My son was a 6 week preemie so he falls short in his weight percentage almost every doctor visit, and he didn't sleep through the night until 7 months, so don't give up hope!

Here is a link to Baby Center sleep training: http://www.babycenter.com/0_baby-sleep-training-the-basics_1505715.bc

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