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5 month old waking every hour! Help!

(11 Posts)
user1488884467 Tue 07-Mar-17 11:21:37

Hi all.

I'm in desperate need of any ideas to help with my 5 month old son. He's been a rubbish sleeper since day 1, but used to be able to go down and do 3.5 hours, then 2.5 hours, then 2 hours, which wasn't great but manageable.

The past 2 weeks have been awful and he is getting worse and worse. It started with him waking every 2.5 hours all night, then every 2hours, then every 1.5 hours, then last night every hour until he finally did a 2.5 hour stretch at 3am. I then ended up bringing him into bed with me at 5.30am as he was wide awake. He finally fell asleep for another 2 hours after faffing for 20mins.

He is breastfed but has been having 1 bottle of formula before bed for the past 2.5 months. Funnily enough when we first started the formula he slept brilliantly for 8 days in a row, then it all went back to rubbish. He has been having a bottle every day since the age of 3.5 weeks, originally it was expressed milk, and he took it fine did not care who fed him.

For the past couple of weeks he has also been hard work getting him to have his bottle. It has become a massive fight each evening with him. Last night he screamed the house down for 20minutes whilst my husband tried to give him the bottle and eventually fell asleep on him and went to bed with no milk!

My HV keeps telling me I need to feed him more during the day so he will wake less at night, he already feeds every 2.5 - 3hours. Yesterday I tried feeding him after 2 hours but he just wasn't interested. I want to try and introduce an extra bottle of formula during the day but with his bottle refusal this is not going well.

I am trying to do the EASY routine. I aim to get him to nap every 1.5 to 2 hours. The other issue is he does not nap long. He usually does 25 minutes and that's it. If I'm lucky he does the occasional hour.

Yesterday he was up for the day at 9am. had a grand total of 2.5hours nap time until he was asleep in bed at 9.45pm.

I do not think he is hungry every time he wakes. Last night I would say he was only hungry on 2 of the 6 wakings. I think he just wants comfort and I don't know how to break this habit. I try rocking him back to sleep which eventually works but then he will wake up 20 minutes later. He is still in our room in a crib. I don't really want to co sleep totally as I find it horribly uncomfortable and still don't get much sleep!

I am totally on edge and continually exhausted. I'm gutted about the bottle situation as I now feel I can't even go out for a break on an evening as he won't have the bottle for whoever is babysitting. I have not had a single nights break, as last time my husband had him for the night about 3 weeks ago, he wouldn't have his bottle in the night so I ended up getting up to feed him anyway.

I do try to leave him for a few minutes before going to him in the night but I can't for long as husband is working long hours and has a 2.5hour drive to the job he is currently on.

Sorry that was so long.

Any ideas?

Thank you.

FATEdestiny Tue 07-Mar-17 11:46:50

1.5h to 2h awake time is too long at this age, especially if in the short nap phase. 30 minute naps are also normal.

I would suggest awake time of no more than an hour, unless the previous nap was over an hour in which case awake time will extend.

I would recommend a bouncy chair for hands-off napping (ie not needs to rock or feed to sleep). A dummy will probably significantly help too.

Your HV is right about needing extra feeds. Giving formula isn't a problem, but it means you may need to work even harder than most to increase your supply as baby grows. Or just give more formula throyghoutcthe daytime, if you're not precious about breastfeeding.

Light sleeping, if related to hunger, is likely to be due to low level hunger (ie the total number of calories over 24/48h) rather than hunger at a specific time. So a single bottle, regardless of when that is given, probably won't make much of a difference to sleep since it has little effect on the overall calories over the whole day.

user1488884467 Tue 07-Mar-17 18:46:48

Hi fate

Thanks for replying.

I will definitely try the shorter awake times and keep trying extra feeds then.

He has had longer naps today. Had 25min this morning, 1.5hour on a walk at lunch, 40min around 5pm and has just gone down for another nap now.

He is still refusing a bottle though.

He naps in the pram as needs movement to get him off.

He used to like his dummy when he was a newborn but hates it now although i might have another go with it tonight.

Im pretty sure im in for another long night tonight but will see how we get on.


mamma2016 Tue 07-Mar-17 19:23:33

Same here!

My DS was sleeping brilliantly up until 4 months. He is now 5 months and wakes every hour, two if I'm lucky.

I think he wakes because he's hungry- too busy and distracted in the daytime to get enough calories. I'm not sure if I should be spacing out the daytime feeds to avoid snacking (currently feels like he only feeds enough to take the edge off his hunger in the day), or feeding more often (currently about every 3 hours).

I know lots of babies wake a lot and that these times will fly by, but I'd love even a slightly longer stretch at night! It makes no difference if we co sleep or he's in his cot.

Naps vary in the day but he's never awake longer than two hours, usually less if the nap was short. Just trying to introduce a dummy.....

gentlemama Wed 08-Mar-17 08:48:29


I really empathise with you, being sleep deprived and feeling like you can't leave your baby to do anything for yourself is so hard, for me it has definitely been the hardest part of being a parent.

My advice is quite different to the other things I've read here. I come from a gentle/attachment parenting background and it's not as alternative as it sounds! I tried schedules when my little one was born but it just wasn't working and so I looked into theee approaches which are all about being baby led. For naps this means that rather than looking at the time he's been awake watch your baby. You know your baby and will know when he's getting tired so let him guide you instead of a schedule. I found approaching it like this was liberating. Don't get caught up on guidelines for sleep.

Also at this age he might be hungry when he wakes up, or just a bit thirsty, or he wants comfort. There is nothing wrong with either of those and I would just feed him if that's what settles him.

I don't know why you are using a bottle at night so this advice may not be relevant or possible but have you considered breast feeding him for his last feed? Might help him settle and feel safe and if he is protesting the bottle this might be what he's telling you? My little one used to have one bottle expressed milk a day and at 3 months he just started refusing it so I stopped. If you are breastfeeding then sticking to this when possible would allow him to regulate your milk supply better too. Just a thought, apologies if this isn't possible for you.

I know this advice might not be what you want to hear because we all want a solution that is going to give us our sleep and free time back. (I definitely did!) I stopped searching for one and just went with it and it's still hard but so much easier!

There is plenty of good advice online about gentle parenting approaches if you want to have a look around (try gentleparenting, calmfamily, earthmama).

I hope it all gets better for you. Remember you're not the only one going through this. My main advice would be to stop listening to advice (contradicting myself slightly here) and listen to your baby. Good luck!

user1488884467 Wed 08-Mar-17 09:25:48


Well last night was awful again, awake every hour. He managed a 1.5 hour stretch but that was the longest all night.

Today I am going to try fates idea of less awake time and more frequent feeds. Mama2016 I am also worried that feeding every 2hours will mean he just snacks.

Gentlemama thanks for your reply. I want him to have a bottle so that he is used to it so we can go out occasionally and leave him with family who can give him the bottle. Also I am not concert feeding in public so I like to take the ready made formula if I'm out with him in that case. I do think he is waking for comfort more than anything.

He does have eczema and I think his head and neck are irritating him at the moment so I am taking him to the docs today to see if I can get some cream to relieve the itch. I'm not convinced this is why he is waking though.

Another thought is he does get windy at night and I don't know if it's that bothering him. He will wake and bring his legs up to his chest and last night did a couple of Sharp cries that sounded like pain cry rather than whinge cry. I'm going to ask the doc about this too.

If you breastfeed have you noticed if any foods you eat make your baby particularly windy?

Thanks all.

FATEdestiny Wed 08-Mar-17 09:55:21

I am also worried that feeding every 2hours will mean he just snacks.

This is an I derstandable concern when breastfeeding. Ultimately it comes down to dropping the need to know. You cannot know if baby is taking full feeds, more frequently. Or taking less milk at each feeds. You've got no way of knowing this when breastfeeding, so you will just tie yourself in knots wondering.

Suffice to say that when bottle feeding (I've had experience of both EBF, EFF and mix feeding at this age), it is perfectly possible to take a baby having 6oz every 3 hours (30oz between 7am-7pm) and instead give them 2h feeds still giving 6oz (so now 42oz between 7am-7pm).

What is less possible is bigger volumes of milk per feed, because of the limited size of the baby's stomach. So the way to get more calories in is to feed more frequently.

But as I say, you cannot know when breastfeeding. So I would just feeds more frequently and try not to consider the volumes of milk taken.

NutsForWalnuts Wed 08-Mar-17 10:08:39

Sleep deprivation is really pits, I went through that few months ago, it was a nightmare . This book helped me a lot to understand baby's sleep and help her to become a better sleeper. She wakes up once or twice a night but that is much better than waking up every two hours. And it's also very easy now to put her asleep, all I have to do is put her in the cot and go out of room and she will fell asleep herself.

Babywoo82 Sun 23-Apr-17 21:42:16

I am having literally the EXACT same situation as you, and it's awful. When it first started about 5 weeks ago, I thought it was a sleep regression, but now this last week he's started having what seem to be snacks. During the day he pulls himself off the boob to smile up at me or giggle (which is very cute but not helpful in the getting him fed situation!) And then when I've tried giving him bottles for extra calories, he plays with it and only drinks a bit before going nuts again. So I can only conclude that he is waking because he must really be hungry? I'm following this post now but am sad to say I have no useful advice but am in the same boat as you. Hope it improves soon!

Coopsmum Tue 05-Dec-17 20:19:53

Wondering if you have had any luck since posting this? I’m in exact same boat right now with my 5 mo old who was born on 3jul when you first posted this. I’m curious if it gets better. We hired a sleep consultant and got the naps from 30 min to go to 2hrs now (pick up put down method, very dark room, louder white noise, a 2oz snack bottle before all naps, and put down on side facing wall). However it hasn’t helped us at night yet. Tell me there’s light at end of tunnel?! We do a full feed when he wakes up. He’s up for 1.5hrs in am then snack bottle, the full feed at next waking and he’s up 2hrs, then snack bottle before nap, full feed then up 2hrs and snack befor catnap, then full feed up for 2-2.5 hrs then full feed before bed. This was suggested by sleep consultant. As well as feeding only between 1-2 and then 5-6 with hopes to drop 1-2am feed.

Figgypuddingandcustard Wed 06-Dec-17 07:45:59

My ds had really painful and smelly wind, it turns out he’s got cmpa. So I’ve had to stop eating all dairy products and he’s no longer in pain. The sleep has improved but we are co sleeping, he only wakes twice now

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