Opinions on night feeds for older babies (6m+)

(32 Posts)
IcouldstillbeJoseph Sun 20-Oct-13 13:46:25

DD is 8 1/2 months, ebf and still waking twice a night for a feed bloody exhausting.
I'm sort of of the opinion that eventually it will get better and she will sleep through when she's ready
However, it seems that most of my friends and health visitors etc seem to be of the opinion that these night feeds need to be 'managed out' as they are no longer 'truly necessary' . She eats during the day. Weight gain is good.
DH is also of this opinion and thinks I should refuse to feed her overnight and that she will quickly stop waking up and I'll be less tired blah, blah.
I must say it's tempting as I'm so tired and it's hard to also look after a 2yr old but I can't bear her crying in the night when I have the 'tools' to soothe her right at hand.

minipie Sun 20-Oct-13 13:56:45

honestly I don't have an opinion, there is no right or wrong just what works best for you.

I don't think the feeds are necessary (assuming she eats well in the day) but I also don't think that means you "ought" to manage them out. It's really up to you whether the unbroken sleep in the end is worth the difficulty of getting there.

I believe there are non crying ways to drop the feeds (eg No Cry Sleep Solution) but haven't tried them myself, I gather they take a lot of time and patience. We used CC to drop night feeds at about 8 months, once dd had slept through on her own a couple of times and we were sure she wasn't hungry. it only took a couple of nights and dd didn't actually cry that much. but that may be because she already knew how to self settle - does your dd?

(of course dd is now up twice a night with teething but that's a different story!)

IcouldstillbeJoseph Sun 20-Oct-13 14:00:57

Thank you - she definitely knows how to self-settle. I can put her down in the day wide awake and she will nod off quite nicely.
I just lack resolve in the night - she goes absolutely spare if she doesn't get fed in the night and so I just end up 'caving i and feeding her for some peace and some sleep.
She has slept for long stretches before when she was around 4/5 months so I know she can do it but she just seems hungry a lot in night night now
I've tried more bf in day but it makes no difference

IcouldstillbeJoseph Sun 20-Oct-13 14:02:20

So many typos in that I don't know where to start...

hettienne Sun 20-Oct-13 14:04:27

I think it's one of those things that is totally up to you. By 9 months I was ready to sleep at night, and DS didn't physically need to feed in the night by then. Others are happy to continue feeding at night for years. I do think that the older they get the more night feeds become a psychological rather than physical need.

AuntyEntropy Sun 20-Oct-13 14:08:43

You could try cuddles and a bottle of water (possibly administered by DH) for night wakings, and see whether that has any effect - there's a decent chance that she'll drop back to sleep, eat loads the next day and simply stop the night wakings within a few days. It does sound like the night feeds are probably habit rather than need - her body has learned to be hungry at that time, but could drip the habit pretty quickly.

You don't have to do this, but since the night wakings are exhausting you and DD is gaining weight well, then that's what I'd do.

BlackberrySeason Sun 20-Oct-13 14:08:54

Night waking is completely normal at this age and if you want independent university researched evidence to prove this, look at the Isis Sleep Project website.

There is a lot of evidence out there that night waking is developmental and it has been suggested that training babies to sleep through may not even be for the best - if their bodies think they need refuelling then maybe they do!

Have you got an LLL group near you? Mine is very reassuring on this and many other questions and I used to particularly like going when my DS was this age and also waking at night. I also stopped telling HV he wasn't sleeping through unless they specifically asked - not all HV are very knowledgeable about bf babies.

noblegiraffe Sun 20-Oct-13 14:11:11

My DS didn't stop waking in the night when I stopped feeding him in the night, it just meant he had to be settled by other, trickier means.

If DH wants you to stop feeding in the night then he will need to do the get ups. A baby that smells milk is unlikely to settle easily for less and when you're tired it's too easy to do.

GuernseyTeddy Sun 20-Oct-13 14:15:14

DS is 10 weeks old and is now sleeping through from his late night feed (10/10.30) until about 6/7 am. We're hoping to be able to drop the late feed by the time he's four months and for him to sleep from 6 - 6 daily.

Obv up-to-you but there's no way I'd be happy with two night feeds at 8 months!

minipie Sun 20-Oct-13 14:18:14

Could you try a middle ground - not leaving her to cry but not feeding her - eg cuddle her and/or offer water (prob best if DH does this so no boobs available)? I don't know if this would actually reduce the crying any but worth a shot.

IcouldstillbeJoseph Sun 20-Oct-13 14:19:34

I think the dilemma I have is that I want to be one of those mums that is completely available for bf as long as she needs it but I'm totally fucking exhausted at the same time,

Guersney - yes, DD slept the same as your DS at that age. Things change. And I'm not happy about it, hence the post.

IcouldstillbeJoseph Sun 20-Oct-13 14:21:32

Minipie - yeah, tried it but unfortunately she goes absolutely mental if not fed overnight. Despite cuddles galore and water etc. I'm just tired. I know I need to either man up or put up with some crying I guess

5madthings Sun 20-Oct-13 14:22:48

Normal to still have night feeds, they are not just about nutrition.

And as noble has said even if you stop feeding in the night it doesn't mean baby will sleep through, just that you have to settle them some other way!

Mine all grew out of night feeds at diff ages.

Ds1 9mths.

Ds2 18mths

Ds3 15mths

Ds4 5 mths

Dd 7/8mths.

Ds4 and dd still woke in the night they just didn't want milk!

rubyslippers Sun 20-Oct-13 14:25:33

You don't have to man up and put up with terrible sleep deprivation

It's not all or nothing

I fed my DD until she was 3 years old but weaned her at night when she wS 6.5 months

It was very gentle and no crying involved

I was going insane through lack of sleep and was going back to work FT and DD was waking every 3 hours for a feed at night so 10, 1, 4 and then up at 7

I was broken by 6.5 months and needed to sleep for longer than 2.5 hours at a time

It is possible to gently night wean

minipie Sun 20-Oct-13 14:26:39

Guernsey yes DD slept through (bar late feed) at that sort of age too. Then she grew a bit and got ill and wanted night feeds again. Sleep isn't linear.

I know what you mean Joseph but I don't think you can have both complete on demand BF and great sleep ... I decided it was more important to be a better mum in the day, for which I needed reasonable sleep at night. DD really doesn't seem to miss night feeds so it was a question of a few days pain breaking the habit, rather than long term deprivation for her iyswim. I like to think she would agree that it's more important I have energy for fun during the day....

IcouldstillbeJoseph Sun 20-Oct-13 14:26:45

Rubyslippers - can I ask what you did please?

Mumof3xx Sun 20-Oct-13 14:28:41

My dd slept 11-12 hours from 3 to 5 months

She is now 6.5 months and wakes almost every night and finishes off a 7oz bottle so I think she is actually hungry and fobbing her off with water would not work!

bellablot Sun 20-Oct-13 14:35:35

Well my 10 month old still feeds at night, tbh, after your first , second and third you start to ignore people's opinions and just go with your child and their needs. If they are hungry, you need to feed them. Surely at 8 1/2 they aren't eating that much, they are still so tiny. Not all babies will sleep through 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep.

minipie Sun 20-Oct-13 14:39:30

I should probably mention that DD (11 months) has just started wanting night feeds again in the last week, after no night feeds since late June. she is going through some sort of mega growth spurt (I can almost see her getting taller) and is hungry all the time, I simply can't get enough food into her during the day. Hoping it's a short phase! but it demonstrates that these things aren't linear.

IcouldstillbeJoseph Sun 20-Oct-13 14:50:06

That's kind of the dilemma I feel - I don't want to deny her something that she needs....

rubyslippers Sun 20-Oct-13 15:01:03

abbreviated version for Icould

big feed before bed - split feed so some before a bath and big feed after bath

big dream feed at 10.00 pm ish

then, for each subsequent night feed after that it was reduced by 1 minute every other night

so if you start at 10 mins per feed it would look like:

night 1 - 10 mins
night 2 - 9 mins
night 3 - 9 mins
night 4 - 8 mins
night 5 - 8 mins
night 6 - 7 mins and so on

when i was getting to 3/2 mins (you will judge) i stopped feeding and DD slept through (it was when she was on 3 mins)

i literally had a stop watch in the room with me

rubyslippers Sun 20-Oct-13 15:03:15

after this, i kept the dream feed until she was 11 months

if she was ill after this point i did offer a night feed

i just needed that block of sleep at night

she went through stages of needing to be fed to sleep (but would then seep through the night) so it wasn't a magic bullet but she always slept at night

jimijack Sun 20-Oct-13 15:19:21

Hi Joseph
I am in the same boat & I feel the same as you with providing milk for as long as they need it. It's so quick & easy to sooth instantly by bf.

Mine is 10 months and I am hoping he will self wean. Every now & again he will sleep a 5 hour block.

I'm trying to give him a high carb supper before bath at 6.30ish. He had feed at 11.30 and didn't wake then till 5am. That's only the 2nd time ever.

Have to admit that I woke up with a soaking wet t shirt, full to bursting boobs feeling more tired than ever.

Like the idea of reducing the time by a minute each feed but as you say, mine goes mad, screaming twisting out of my arms, hysterical.

Sigh.

IcouldstillbeJoseph Sun 20-Oct-13 15:30:20

Jimijack - it's so effing hard isn't it

sleepyhead Sun 20-Oct-13 15:31:04

Ds2 slept 13hrs at night until 5 months. Now he's waking between 3 and 6 times a night (6.5 months) .

He's also been cutting 4 teeth in that period and the last one is just about to cut through the gum so I am hoping so much that this is the reason for the frequent waking. Having said that, he still naps fine during the day and calpol doesn't help much at night, so it could be developmental.

Anyway, bf when he wakes and we're both asleep within 15mins, anything else just prolongs the wakefulness by half an hour. I'm all for more sleep for me so am sticking to feeding for now. I'll probably feel differently if it continues for months though <weary>

rundontwalk Mon 21-Oct-13 22:22:10

You have just posted what I was about to OP <waves blearily>. Hard isn't it!

My DD is 6months & awake every 2-3hrs. She sleeps well in the day & can self settle but at night? Nope. Screams & screams until I bf her. I've tried reducing her feed times but that didn't go down well. I'm thinking the 1min reduction is worth a try though.

She has cut 2teeth & Im torn between not wanting her to be in pain/hungry/scared and wondering if its a habit. I have a ds aged 4 who I don't want waking up so I think she's used to me responding quickly!

Sorry,a slight hijack but it's nice to see I'm not alone (iyswim!). I'm getting bored of being told it's because I'm bf still or that I'm spoiling her.

Here's to more sleep!

IcouldstillbeJoseph Tue 22-Oct-13 19:28:10

Yes yes yes - I know exactly how you feel. I think I actually got more sleep when she was a v young baby. And yep, I think she is also used to me responding v quickly....

Moan moan moan

Trying to keep in mind that she is well, thriving blah blah but it's sooooooooo tiring

Brugmansia Tue 22-Oct-13 19:57:10

Another one in the same boat here. DS is also 8.5 months and wakes several times a night. Sometimes it feels like it's getting better and then we'll have a night when he's waking hourly. There's no real pattern. Some wakes he'll eat loads so clearly needs the feed but other times he'll be back asleep within a minute or so of feeding.

I've been half heartedly planning on doing something for a couple of months but for now it's just seemed easier to continue feeding. I go back to work though in the new year and need to be sleeping better by then. My current thought is cutting night feeds may be the best first step.

Because his night feed lengths vary so much I don't think systematically shortening the length of feeds will work for us. I'm planning on limiting night feeds by time, eg no milk before 3am initially, and then gradually push the time later. I'm anticipating some difficult nights though.

Good luck to the rest of you going through the same thing.

RoadToTuapeka Tue 22-Oct-13 20:09:06

Hi OP, I am in the same position. My DS2 is 9 months and wakes anywhere between 1 to 3 times between 7pm and 7am. During the day I swear black and blue that DH and I will somehow try to settle him without feeding... But when it comes to night I just want the sleep so breastfeed him and hey presto he goes off to sleep.

Partly I keep on with the night feeds because the waking times vary, and as sometimes he sleeps all the way throught til 4ish, so I think he is actually hungry. Sometimes we have a few days of waking at exactly sane time so I think 'ah ha, habitual waking' but then he surprises the next night with a longer sleep.

If he's still waking at 12 months I will do something else but for now keep going. It is hard though isn't it, I have a nearly 3 year old who's dropped naps so I have no down time during the day, and altho toddler sleeps well he's sometimes up at 530 or has disrupted sleep and those nights/following day can seem like a parallel hellish universe.

HandragsAndGladbags Tue 22-Oct-13 20:26:37

DD2 is 2.3 and still wakes up for an hour every night. She always has done, it used to be for milk - everyone was telling me she didn't need feeding. She did so I fed her. That stopped about 18 months old.

Now she likes chatting, singing, laughing anything to wake us all up but no drink.

DD1 by the way slept through 7 - 7 from 11 weeks. I did nothing differently...

I guess I'm saying I agree with the PP who said they will often wake and still need settling if that way inclined. If you try a couple of nights of water no milk and see how you get on. But it may be you have a night owl for a while.

IcouldstillbeJoseph Tue 22-Oct-13 21:00:30

I can just empathize completely! I too think everyday that tonight I'll do it differently and them 'wollop' out come the boobs as I'm so tired and lack resolve.
And I too thought I'd 'get tough' at 6 months
Then 8 months
And now I think maybe a year???....

Panzee Tue 22-Oct-13 21:05:28

My son is 8 months and still wakes. I don't want him waking up,his brother so I take him downstairs and feed him. It's probably habit but I think it's for the greater good of the rest of the house getting sleep.

Ignoring return to work looming...

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