Resettle or feed during the night???

Resettling Techniques for Babies 3-6 months  – from the Sleep Advice for babies 3-6 months section on our website.

When your baby is a newborn, a feed is usually offered for every night waking as the first option.  Our midwives tell us or we read about how babies tummies are tiny and they need regular feeds. So any time our precious newborn squeaks, our first option is to feed, day or night!

However as your baby moves beyond the newborn stage, its well worth knowing that not every night waking automatically means your baby is hungry. There are many reasons babies are awake or unsettled in the night, a hungry tummy is just one of those reasons.

Yes your baby will always be happy to take the breast or bottle and for many parents they are happy to use feeding as their go to resettling technique. Babies often settle most quickly with a feed and everyone is back to sleep pretty quickly.


Is a feed what is most needed?

There are lots of reasons babies wake in the night, including the physiological changes that happen around 4-5 months when babies start to wake fully between every sleep cycle.

Have a read of our article on Why is My Baby Waking for some of the other reasons your baby may be awake in the night.


What if my baby is hungry?

A hungry baby is highly unlikely to go back to sleep unless they are fed. So read your baby’s cues and see if they are showing hungry signs.

And if you try a cuddle or another settling technique and baby still won’t go back to sleep, it’s likely they do need a feed.

This article is not suggesting you don’t feed your baby if they are hungry! It’s more about awareness for new parents that there are many reasons that babies wake. And that other reasons for waking can often be settled with techniques other than feeding!


I’m happy feeding my baby every time she wakes

Awesome! Babies need feeds in the night and it’s a quick way to get everyone back to sleep.

If you are want to feed your baby in the night as your first option for settling, that is absolutely fine and the choice of many parents to feed immediately rather than look at whether other resettling techniques may work.


Resettling techniques

As your baby gets older, you may feel maybe a feed isn’t needed for every wake up and you want to try resettling. Or your baby is waking every hour or two and you are quite confident that a feed isn’t needed every time!

So you might want to try one or some of these techniques before offering a feed to help baby back to sleep  – These are to be used if you think your baby isn’t hungry.

  • Roll baby onto their side and pat their bum.
  • Cuddle or rock baby until drowsy and put down to fall asleep in bed.
  • Stroke baby’s forehead upwards from between the nose
  • Crank up white noise volume until they go back to sleep then leave quietly on repeat.
  • Sit by the cot holding your baby’s hand
  • Rub baby’s tummy
  • Offer a dummy to satisfy sucking.
  • Offer a comforter to cuddle – choose a breathable, age appropriate option, such as a Cuski.
  • Use the Pick Up, Put Down method – pick up and cuddle until calm, then put baby back down into bed and give them some opportunity to settle before repeating.
  • Use some spaced soothing or Verbal Reassurance, with short periods of time out of the bedroom and saying a reassuring phrase repeatedly rather than picking baby up.  We generally recommend this from 6 months old but if you are suffering post natal depression or severe sleep deprivation, you may want to have a read and consider it from 4-6 months.

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