Sleeping FAQ: 4-6 months – Lunchtime Nap

What else can I do to get my son of almost 5 mths to sleep better at lunchtime?

My son who is almost 5 months, always wakes up after 30-45mins of his lunchtime nap. I find this really frustrating as I also have a 3.5yr old, and just as we sit down to lunch I have to go to attend to my baby. I have been giving him a top up feed before going down for at least 3 months. I have tried not picking him up but going in to reassure him every 10 minutes. I have tried patting him back to sleep which does work at times but sometimes only for another 20 minutes. I have tried taking him out in the buggy instead, although this is not easy to do on a regular basis with my older child in tow, and didn’t seem to work really.

Could this all be due to poor feeding? I feel he doesn’t take enough milk or solids for his age and weight, which is presently about 14lbs. I have been reluctant to increase his one good feed of the day which is rice and fruit at 5pm because of his low intake.

After a good start with vegetables he has lost interest in them at 11am.

He also often wakes around 4am looking for a feed, though in the last few days has settled back after muttering and groaning for a while. He will then wake around 5.30-6.30am and get really cross until I feed him. He naps well in the morning and almost always settles well at 6.45pm. I am waking him at 11pm for a feed but he will only take about 4ozs. , with all his feeds when he has decided he has had enough, despite patience and trying hard, he refuses to take any more.

He takes a 45 minute breast feed at 6am. 10.45am; 5ozs formula followed by 3-4 baby spoons vegetables: sweet potato, butternut squash, carrot, parsnip etc mixed with about 1oz formula.12 midday; 10 minute top up breast feed, 2.30pm 3-4ozs, 5pm 2 cubes apple or pear mixed with 1oz formula and 3 teaspoons baby rice, 6.30pm 6oz formula, 11m 4ozs formula.

My son naps at 9.15-10am, 12.15-1pm, 1.20-1.45pm and 3.30-4pm.

Getting the right proportion of solids and milk can be tricky if your baby seems to cut back on both and then appears hungry at the wrong times.

It would be a good idea to separate his milk and solids at 11am, to see if he will begin to take more vegetables. At his age and weight it would be usual to expect him to take 3-4cubes at this time. Two of these cubes should be carbohydrate based mixed with one or more cubes of a different vegetable. Sweet potato can be used as the carbohydrate and then add another taste such as parsnip, courgette or bean. For a change at lunchtime you could offer baby rice mixed with carrot or swede puree. To encourage him to take enough, begin to offer him his milk at 10.30am then give him a break of at least 40 minutes before offering him his solids at 11.20/11.30am. This should help him begin to increase the amount of solid food he takes at this time without him cutting back further on his milk intake yet. Continue to offer him the top up breast feed before he goes down for his nap. If he begins to sleep better at lunchtime you can very gradually cut back on this feed and drop it when he has been sleeping longer during his lunchtime nap for at least a week.

Check he is well tucked in and the room is very dark. The Moro reflex can still be strong enough at this age to wake a baby in a light sleep.

In order for your son to have a good feed at bedtime you could try splitting this feed too. The solids he is receiving at 5pm are obviously causing him to cut back on his milk at 6.30pm. Gina deals with this problem in a question and answer on page 33 of the Weaning Book. By giving your son two thirds of his milk at 5.30/5.45pm followed by his rice and fruit, then a later bath at 6.30pm, he should be happy to have the final part of his milk feed before settling for the night. Increase the amount of rice to 4 teaspoons if this way of feeding means your son increases his milk intake. See Gina’s last point in the answer about a baby waking early when they are not having a split feed at 6pm.

The 11pm feed should not need to be any bigger than 4ozs. This feed usually begins to lessen as a baby starts to have more solids by day. By splitting his feed at 6pm you should ensure that your son has a good milk feed at this time but is also taking in enough solid food to help him through the night.