Q: My six-month-old son is now waking once a night (bedtime 7-8, have a routine). At first I could shush him and put his paci back in and he'd fall back asleep, but now he cries and cries for a bottle. I can hear his stomach growling so that is why I feed him, but want to make sure I'm not creating a bad habit. He started solids after his pediatrician okayed it at his four-month appointment (rice cereal), then we added fruits and vegetables at five months. At his six-month appointment.
A: It's perfectly normal for your son's feeding and sleeping patterns to change radically, especially during his first year of life when he grows by leaps and bounds and becomes increasingly aware of his environment. At the same time, it's important to help him get into a daily routine that enables him to meet his calorie and nutrient needs and help him get adequate sleep. Adding a feeding overnight can certainly set him up to get used to that routine and make sleeping through the night tough on both of you. As an alternative, you can make sure your son has a hearty dinner and a bottle before bedtime (make sure to wipe down his gums before you put him in his crib). When he cries in the night, you can resist the urge to go to him immediately and see if he stops within a few minutes. If the crying continues, you can go to him to make sure he's safe and to comfort him. Then, after a few minutes, you can leave his room without feeding him and see if he falls back asleep. If he doesn't, you can go to him again, waiting longer each time. If all else fails, you can check out the book, Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems by Richard Ferber, M.D. to learn about the Ferber Method.