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Should I nurse baby back to sleep?
Q: My 4-month-old baby sleeps from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. Should I feed him when he wakes up, or should I try to soothe him back to sleep without nursing?
Beth Durham, N.C.
A: The solution is easier than you think, but it may take a few days to change your baby to a better sleep schedule. A 4-month-old baby who is not taking solid food is “programmed” to nurse eight to 10 times every 24 hours. Since your baby is already sleeping for that long stretch, you know he’s capable of doing it, although this is likely to change occasionally throughout the next two years, especially during times of growth.

I would recommend waking your baby for a feeding before you go to bed, say at 11 p.m. Hopefully, that should readjust his waking time from 2 a.m. to 7 a.m., if he continues to follow this pattern.

Meanwhile, if you choose to continue as is, feed him when he wakes. After that long period of sleep, he needs to eat but should return back to sleep after feeding. By the way, we don’t recommend giving cereal before 6 months to help a baby sleep. It may appear that it works, but the reality is that cereal provides fewer calories than breast milk but does not digest easily and may even cause discomfort for your baby. Nursing provides him with food and comfort, which will put him back to sleep much sooner.
Susan M. Leisner RD, IBCLC, RLC Nutritionist & Lactation Consultant