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Is Baby’s Night Waking from Hunger? Or is baby just feeling hungry after waking up?
About two weeks ago, Brayden, age three, woke up at 4:45 AM. He was sick and had thrown up in his bed. Since he is a sun riser, and it is summer, I raced like a mad-woman to get this bed cleaned up and remade before the sun came up and signaled daytime to him. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it. He kept telling me he had already gone to bed and it was daytime. I gave him some books and told him to sit on the couch and read them. I then went to the other couch and tried to sleep. Brayden is a big talker, so of course this didn’t work 🙂
Around here, Sesame Street comes on at 6 AM. He never sees this show for obvious reasons, so I thought I’d turn it on and he would be enthralled and let me sleep. I turned it on and went to my bed. As I got in bed, I was suddenly starving. I was surprised at how hungry I was. I had eaten normally the day before. I am not pregnant and not nursing–no “growth spurt” for me. It was odd to me that I would be so hungry over an hour before my usual breakfast time. (By the way, in case you are wondering, my Sesame Street idea didn’t work too well. Brayden is not long distracted by the TV and was in my room within 15 minutes, at which time I just got up).
That experience helped me really understand how sometimes a baby could just wake up and be starving in the middle of the night when he usually can make it through without a problem. If an adult who isn’t growing or producing anything and has been eating normally can wake up and be hungry, then certainly a quickly growing baby can do the same.
So when your baby has times of waking in the night, be aware of that possibility, and while it isn’t necessarily “typical” it also isn’t necessarily “odd.” I didn’t wake up because of hunger, but once I was up, I got hungry. So when you are solving nighttime sleep issues, keep that in mind. Your baby will likely take a full feeding if he hasn’t eaten in 9 hours, but it doesn’t necessarily mean hunger is what woke him up.
I am always saying to feed a hungry baby, and I certainly am not saying to not feed your baby if he needs it in the night. There is a great method for testing hunger a friend of mine came up with. She will sooth her baby to sleep if she wakes and won’t go back to sleep. If her baby goes back to sleep and stays asleep until waketime, then she can safely assume it wasn’t a hunger issue. If the baby goes back to sleep but wakes again in the night, then there is a good chance it is because of hunger. Also, if the baby simply won’t go back to sleep even with help, then she assumes it is hunger. Take note that she doesn’t sooth over and over; just the first time the waking is random. This helps her more quickly asses the reason for waking.
See this post for more ideas on solving nighttime sleep issues: