Is your 6 month old baby feeding more at night than day? Learn how to get baby to eat more during the day instead of at night!
Just when you thought you could finally sleep through the night, your baby has gone right back to waking up three to four times, wanting to eat. It started gradually at first, with one wake-up or so, but now she’s been waking up more often at night.
Neither of you is getting a good amount of sleep, and now that you also have to work the next day, sleep deprivation has come back with a vengeance. To make things worse, she’s also been eating less during the day, making her hungrier at night, and the cycle continues.
How can you get your 6 month old baby to eat more during the day instead of at night?
Is your 6 month old baby feeding more at night than during the day?
It’s never easy when your baby is easily distracted during the day. When feeding sessions are short and interrupted, only to mean hungry wake-ups at night. He might be eating only a few ounces during daytime feeds, which means he’s taking in most of his nourishment when he should be asleep instead.
For many older babies, frequent overnight feedings happen because they’re now more mobile. At this stage, they’re so interested in the world around them during the day that they don’t slow down to eat. To make up for the lost calories, they wake up with hunger at night.
For others, “reverse cycling,” or waking up to eat at night, is all part of a growth spurt. So much is happening with their development that they’re driven to eat more all day and night. They might be teething and rely on nighttime feedings for comfort.
Maybe you’ve returned to work and your baby’s sleep schedule is impacted by this big change in his life. Or perhaps he hasn’t learned how to put himself back to sleep yet when he wakes up and relies on feeding to do so.
No matter the reason, feeding more at night can be a challenge for the exhausted parent. While you can ride this stage out, you can also try a few tricks to help him get back on track. Take a look at these tips to encourage him to eat more during the day instead of at night:
1. Feed in a boring room
If you’re like most moms, you likely feed your baby in a usual spot, whether that’s the nursery or the living room couch. But are these places surrounded by so much stimulation that it’s hard for her to concentrate on eating? Maybe that’s the bright sunlight peeking through the window, or the chatter of older siblings.
To help her focus on eating, feed her in a “boring” room. That might mean closing the door and turning off the lights in the room. Perhaps you can sit in your bedroom, away from the rest of the family.
You can even feed her right after she wakes up when she’s still sleepy and likely in a dark room. She’s probably less inclined to observe or want to play when she’s in this state, and could even enjoy the comfort of feeding after waking up.
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2. Feed in a different position
If a boring room still doesn’t encourage your baby to eat, try a different feeding position that allows him to observe and still eat.
For instance, if you breastfeed, try sitting him upright so that he can still see off to the side (whereas he can only see you when he’s cradled in your arms). Or if you bottle feed, place him in an infant seat where he can see the rest of the room.
By letting him observe his surroundings while he eats, he has less FOMO, or “fear of missing out” on all the action.
3. Sing or read while feeding
Can’t get your baby to stay focused on feeding? Try singing or reading to her while she eats. You could sing familiar nursery songs while you breastfeed her in your arms. Or if you’re formula feeding, you could place her in an infant seat with a bottle in hand and read a book while she eats.
You’re helping her stay focused on her immediate surroundings, including eating. At the same time, you’re still offering entertainment to keep her attention.
4. Feed more frequently during the day
Do you wait for your baby to give you signals that he’s hungry? Instead of waiting for these cues, offer to feed more often during the day. Go by the clock, rather than his cues, to offer a bottle or breastfeeding session. Frequent feeding can help ensure that he’s satisfied by the time he heads to bed.
If you already go by the clock and not his cues, try increasing the frequency of how often you feed. If you feed him eight ounces every five hours, try offering a four-ounce bottle every two-and-a-half hours. Even though you’re feeding more often, each session is also shorter, which can help if he’s feeling antsy.
5. Offer a dream feed
Worried that your baby will wake up hungry soon after she goes to sleep? Offer a dream feed to help top her off.
Let’s say you put her down at 7:30pm, but you don’t head to bed until 10pm. Feed her around 9:45pm—that way, you’re giving her breastmilk or formula that she would otherwise wake up for at night. You’re also still awake and alert since you haven’t gone to bed yet.
6. Stretch night feedings
If your baby still wakes up at night, try stretching the time between night feedings. You can do this gradually to help him adjust to longer periods between eating.
Let’s say he woke up crying, but it had only been 2.5 hours since you had put him down. Try stretching it to 2.75 or 3 hours before you feed him.
Check in and comfort him, but don’t feed him for another several minutes. Or if you breastfeed and you have another adult at home, have that other person be the one to check in on him so that he’s less likely to expect milk. Long stretches between feedings can help him eat more but less frequently.
7. Wean night feedings
Many babies at this stage can sleep through the night without waking up to eat. Feeding in the middle of the night might be your baby’s way of putting herself back to sleep rather than a sign that she’s hungry.
Check with your pediatrician to see if she’s ready to sleep through the night and take in all her calories during the day. If so, you could try weaning night feedings altogether.
How do you start this transition? Nurse for however long or offer the number of ounces you usually do (let’s say 20 minutes of breastfeeding or a 4-ounce bottle). The next night, decrease the amount by either two minutes or half an ounce (in this example, 18 minutes or 3.5 ounces). Keep decreasing the amount each night.
To make up for less milk, increase the amount the following day. For instance, offer a 4.5-ounce bottle when she wakes up instead of the usual four. Similarly, encourage her to nurse two minutes longer at the first breastfeeding session.
Hopefully, after several days with this routine, you can get down to zero because she’s taking in all her calories during the day.
Waking up multiple times a night six months later is no easy task. But with a few tips and tricks, your baby can stop feeding in the middle of the night and eat more during the day instead.
Try feeding in a boring room to exclude extra stimulation that might be distracting him. Feed in a different position, especially one that allows him to still observe his environment while eating. Similarly, sing or read to him while he eats so that his focus is on you and his immediate surroundings.
Feed more frequently during the day, both to give him more chances to fill up and so that he has shorter periods of sitting in one place. Before your bedtime, offer a dream feed to top him off. If he still wakes up, stretch his feedings farther apart so that he gets used to longer periods between eating.
And lastly, consider weaning him off of night feedings altogether, tapering his feedings down, and offering more during the day.
No more exhausting middle-of-the-night feedings, friend! You can get your baby to eat more during the day and, best of all, sleep through the night.
Get more tips:
- How to Handle Your 6 Month Old Suddenly Waking at Night for a Feed
- 6 Month Old Waking Every 2 Hours? Here’s What to Do
- Why I Regret Rocking My Baby to Sleep
- 6 Month Old Sleep Regression Signs to Watch Out For
- How to Stop Comfort Nursing at Night
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