Hi Everyone!

I've just come off a call from the mother of a 11 month old baby who keeps waking up at night wanting milk. She wanted to know what she should do.

The first thing I did was to reassure her that this is quite a common problem and she's not alone. Babies often wake up a number of times throughout the night. Their crying might make you think they are hungry and needing a feed, but most babies don't need night time feeds after the age of about 6-8 months from a nutritional point of view. They should be getting enough energy and nutrition from their milk and foods during their day to meet their requirements.

The aim is to get them to fall back to sleep again without needing the cue of being fed first. Although it may seem much easier to feed them than trying to work out another way of settling them (especially if they are breastfed), feeding your baby during the night won't help them sleep better; in fact, it may prolong the problem and make it worse.

When they wake during the night, you should make sure they are comfortable and then try to settle them in a way that suits you and your baby. There are various things you might want to try –

  • Make sure you have a consistent bedtime routine and stick to it whenever possible. If your baby wakes at night, try to be consistent at these times too
  • If your baby wakes up at night, give them a few minutes to settle themselves before going to them. If they keep crying, talk to and comfort them, but don't pick them up, take them to your bed, or feed them. If absolutely necessary, offer a drink of water, not milk.
  • Let them find their own way back to sleep using self-comforting techniques such as thumb sucking, cuddling a soft toy or comfort blanket.

I know it probably sounds easier said than done, but it usually works if you stick with it. You can find more advice and tips on helping your baby get a good night's sleep on the HiPP Baby Club.

Until next time...

Helen