Q&A: baby too distracted to eat

Sarika writes:

"My 5.5 month old baby boy is very naughty. It is very difficult to bottle feed him when he is awaken.

He started playing with bottle or me or the things nearby.So, most of the time we offer feed to him when he is in sleep.

Even he takes very less quantity of formula hardly 2-2.5 ounce in the interwal of 3to4 hours.

I am a working lady and always worried about his diet.

Recently, I have heard that it is not good to feed baby in sleep. Please suggest.

His weight is 6 k.g. Otherwise he is active and normal. We haven't started solids yet."

Oh, no! Your baby is NOT naughty. No baby that young is bad or naughty or doing anything wrong at all. He's just doing what he's supposed to be doing developmentally at that age. Yes, it's a huge pain for you, but there's nothing wrong with him.

This is actually really, really common, and I'm betting everyone's reading this and thinking about how frustrating that stage was. You finally feel like you're getting the hang of the eating thing, and suddenly the baby just won't do it because the world is just too! exciting! It can make you feel enraged with frustration and scared that you're doing something very wrong that's making him not eat like he was.

The solution is, of course, to try to stuff enough food into him in a dark room with no stimulation, or at night. Yes, this is extra trouble for you. Yes, you're going to lose a little sleep. But the good news is that in a few months it'll flip back around and your baby will be eating during the day again. There are no adults who are so distracted by the world that they don't eat during daylight, so your son will get there, too. The tough task is to maintain your sanity until he stops his nocturnal feasting.

As long as he's not sick (mood is fine, is engaged with you, normal diapers), he won't let himself dehydrate or starve. The only bad thing about feeding at night is that it makes you tired, but it's fine for him.

Please, I beg of you (and this is everyone, not just Sarika), don't start ascribing negative characteristics to your baby. Your baby is only doing what he needs to to get his needs met. Right now his need for stimulation is greater than his need for food. That shifts all the time. But if you start to think of your child as "naughty" or "a troublemaker," you're going to turn him into one. All he wants is to be loved and cared for. Your only job is to be steady and consistent and loving, and realize that sometimes babies do things that annoy us (or make us think we're going to lose it completely) but it's not a big plot to get us. It's just their normal process of development. You and your baby are partners together in helping him grow up healthy and trusting and bonded.