Why does my baby always wake at night for feeds?
All babies are unique and all have their own individual feeding needs. It’s not unusual for a baby to want a night feed for the first three months at least because their tummies are so tiny that they need to feed during the day and night in order to take in enough milk.. Other than that, there are many possible reasons why your baby is still waking for feeds.
Possible reasons include:
- They could be thirsty or hungry.
- Are they teething?
- Check the temperature of the room – are they cold?
- If your baby is feeling unwell (for instance if they have a raised temperature), this could disturb them.
- Or maybe they just enjoy the warmth of your body and the comfort of your special cuddles at night.
How to survive night feeds
Are you dreaming of nights of uninterrupted sleep? It may feel like a thing of the past (especially now that your little one is 6months+ and still waking during the night) but it doesn’t last forever, and your little one WILL grow out of it. In the meantime, below are some things you can do to help you cope with it.
Nappy Change First
If your little one needs a nappy change, we recommend you do it before you feed them. Then they can doze off after their feed without having to be disturbed.
Be ready when they are
To minimise the amount of time you have to be awake, preparation is key. Try get ready for the night feeds before you even go to bed yourself. Have nappies, bibs and muslin cloths and other supplies all within arm’s reach. If breastfeeding, have some water and support pillow ready and if bottlefeeding, have bottles prepared and stored in the back of the fridge.
The sooner they get back to sleep, the sooner you get to too!
If your little one is 6months+ and is formula fed or you have moved on from breastfeeding, consider having some Cow & Gate Follow On Milk Ready to use milk beside the bed. The milk in the 200ml and 1 Litre bottles is sterile and you don’t have to store them in the fridge before they are opened. You can simply pour the liquid straight into your little one’s sterilised bottle and feed them. You won’t need to worry about going downstairs and trying to count the scoops while still half asleep (we’ve all lost count before).
Recharge your batteries
If you’re lucky enough to still be on mat leave, sleep when the baby sleeps during the day. We know this is easier said than done, especially when the house is a pigsty and you haven’t showered in four days, but even try get a 20min power nap. Depending on your baby, night feeds can last for 6, 9 or even 12 months so it may have to become part of your routine to keep your levels of exhaustion as low as possible.
Supplies at the ready
Just imagine, it’s an unholy hour of the morning and you’re up to feed your little darling, struggling to keep your eyes open and your mind concentrating on the task at hand. Have your phone to browse, a book/magazine or even some light music to keep you alert. And make sure you have these supplies before you sit down and start feeding!
Share the load
The Dads will hate us for this one, but share the burden of night time feeds with them. If they have to get up for work, focus on one night of uninterrupted sleep when they have days off- it’ll do wonders! When you return to work (or if you already have), you both can take turns! If he’s unsure, check out our Dad’s Guide to the Night Shift article.
Breaking the pattern
Whether your baby really needs to wake during the night for feeds really depends on their age.
A newborn baby needs to wake during the night because they only have a small stomach so can only take a small amount of milk at a time. To meet their nutritional requirements, they need to feed regularly through the day and night.
Older babies and toddlers sometimes get into a habit of waking for feeds in the night that they don’t really need. To break the pattern you can try reducing the number and length of daytime naps they have. This will mean they’re more tired and will need to sleep for longer at night-time. Being awake more in the day means they will feed more so you don’t need to worry about them being hungry when they start missing feeds during the night. Or you could try comforting them in other ways, for instance with a cuddle, or a drink of water when they do wake.
Cow & Gate follow-on milk is only for babies over 6 months as part of a mixed diet. It should not be used as a breastmilk substitute before 6 months, so if you wish to use this product before 6 months we advise that you consult your healthcare professional. Cow & Gate follow-on milk should be used on the advice of a doctor, midwife, health visitor, public health nurse, dietitian, pharmacist or other professional responsible for maternal and child care, based on baby’s individual needs.
Any more questions?
Our specialist baby advisors and experienced mums are here to talk and ready to help whenever you need them. You can call or live chat us, 8am - 8pm Monday to Friday.