EBF - Can anyone give me advice re night feeds? Thanks

(28 Posts)
jewelsandbinoculars Mon 28-Jan-13 10:11:02

DC1 is nine weeks old. We're not following any particular routine or parenting style (though if pushed I would identify most closely with the attachment lot). We're generally getting on fine – although she has a tendency to get overstimulated/overtired she tends to nap quite well in sling during the day. In the evening we normally put her down in her bednest (co-sleeper crib) at around 7.30-8.30. More times than not, she'll settle herself quite calmly – occasionally crying for us if her dummy's fallen out/ the white noise app has switched itself off. Then I go to bed (partner still on sofa) at around 11.00pm/midnight.

The Q is regarding night feeds. Baby is EBF. She wakes at (around) 2.30 am and again at 5.00 am pretty much like clockwork. I know she's little and TBH have no expectations about her “sleeping through” at any particular age.

The thing is that if we don't wake her she'll usually sleep from c8.00 pm to 2.30 am without a whimper (so we know all things being equal she is capable of doing six+ hours). I'd really like those six hours to be from (say) midnight to 6.00 am. Or if she needs it I'd totally settle for one feed between those hours at whatever time suited her best, but two seems excessive in the circs! I'd just like a bit more unbroken sleep.

The only thing I've tried is dreamfeeding her when I go to bed (11-12 ish) but it makes no difference! I don't understand it. Even if she has a decent feed then, she will still wake at 2.30 am. I've tried lots of times, but I assume she's just wired to wake when she does, or there's something in my night milk that she's keen on.

(If it's relevant, I normally put her back in the nest after the 2.30 feed, and let her stay in with me after the 5.00am feed – usually because the room is cold by then.)

Does anyone have any tips how I might gently push her to drop at least one of the feeds between 12-6 am? I'd be ever so grateful! Thank very much.

I think that also there are hormones playing a part. I can't remember the exact science of it, but a lactation consultant told me to ensure DS was getting a feed between 1am and 5am because hormone levels were highest and it would ensure enough milk for the next day? I think babies are programmed to wake at that point to ensure a good milk supply basically. Maybe have a look on a breastfeeding site like www.kellymom.com which i'm sure has a better explanation!

I'm afraid that it just doesn't work like that. It's not all about hunger - there are sleep rhythms playing a part in it too. I think that most babies will do one long stretch of sleep in a 24 hour period. Some people are lucky and find that that longer sleep period falls (or can be manipulated to fall) from 11pm ish after a 'dreamfeed' in which case they are lucky and get a decent night's sleep from early on. With my 3 that just never happened. With all three of them their longer sleep stretch was from 7 / 7.30pm ish and they soon started sleeping through from 7pm to 2am ish, but if I woke them at 10.30pm for a feed they reverted straight back to their day time pattern of wanting feeding every 2-3 hours or so and wouldn't do another long stretch of sleep. So I worked with it. I was very lucky that all my 3 (who were also EBF) slept through the night very early, but that happened by their sleep extending from 7pm ish to later and later into the early hours of the morning until they went through to morning. With DC3 (who was my worst sleeper) I encouraged that process by focusing on the first night wake and often trying to resettle without feeding him which for us worked v well and pushed him on through the night sooner than he might otherwise have got there.

KatAndKit Thu 31-Jan-13 11:10:16

I agree - go to bed earlier. I tried dreamfeeding at 10.30 but it made no difference to the middle of the night wakings so I gave it up in favour of an early night. Your partner also needs to go to bed earlier so he can get up with her early in the morning whilst you catch up on the sleep you have missed due to the night feeds/changes/resettling.

teacher123 Thu 31-Jan-13 07:47:28

My advice is to go to bed earlier! DS is 9mo now and I still go to bed at 9pm if I'm not out doing things. He sleeps generally much better now, but is going through a phase of waking up at 5.45am... Therefore I cram in as much sleep as I can by going to bed as early as possible!

Tailtwister Thu 31-Jan-13 07:19:48

Unfortunately, night feeding is completely normal at this age and far beyond ime. They are following the lead of your milk supply, in addition to their frequent feeding needs and there's very little you can do to make them fit into a routine.

My advice is try to go with it. I know it's exhausting and frustrating, but they don't do it forever. Both mine used to cluster feed between 5 and 7pm, so DH used to make dinner and I'd eat it whilst feeding. Then I would go to bed while he watched the (sleeping!) baby, who would then wake at around 10 for another feed. That's when he came in with me (co-slept) for the rest of the night and fed on demand.

Eventually a pattern starts to emerge and they become more predictable. Try not to stress yourself out with routines, it's like hitting a moving target before 6/7 months at the earliest.

Tolly81 Wed 30-Jan-13 22:16:38

Since you've already tried a dream feed and that didn't work then there's not much else really. EBF babies will feed at night to increase your milk supply, and night feeds have a comparatively bigger effect on your supply than daytime ones. 9 weeks is too young to shush her to sleep without feeding her. The only answer is to go to bed earlier yourself if you're tired - its hard when you're not used to going to sleep at that time but try moving it (your bedtime) gradually earlier. Good luck.

waterrat Wed 30-Jan-13 18:21:35

sorry OP it turned into a bit of a misery comparison fest here! you are doing what everyone should / does do in asking questions - sleep is so emotive, I think that is why every answer you get will be completely biased towards the personal experience of the person answering.

I'm sure there are lots of parents who would say the dream feed worked for them - I did find it helpful when I introduced it at about 6/7 months....but that was, as I said, part of really trying to sleep train my very very badly sleeping 7 month old...rather than shift a newborn pattern...

the key thing is that babies wake for many other reasons than hunger - so - you can't always shift it just with a feed

I think they go through a lot of sleep changes between 3-6 months....but its always worth trying to tinker if you want to...

curryeater Wed 30-Jan-13 16:21:47

I think the best thing for you to do would be to go to bed early and get some sleep then, at least sometimes. And / or, as others have said, express and get your dp to do some night feeds and sleep alone those nights. The only way to change a baby's sleep pattern is sleep training, which can be very gentle, but your baby is much too young.
Do you like reading? Get a tiny, narrow-beamed book light, or a kindle case with a light. Get a good solid patch of sleep between 9 and 2.30. Read when you do the night feeds, and treat it as cosy, quiet, down-time. It's a question of finding ways to enjoy / bear things at this age, as you can't really change them.

Congratulations and good luck!

BiscuitCrumbsInBed Wed 30-Jan-13 13:24:18

I'm sure no one wants you to feel abashed! I think the comments like mine were probably meant more lightheartedly than you realised - it's easy in the sleep-deprived, generally confused state of being a new mum to interpret comments as criticism, when they're really not meant that way. I know I was very sensitive about any advice I was given for the first few months (at least!) Hope you've managed to get some more sleep now. Good luck flowers

jewelsandbinoculars Tue 29-Jan-13 13:26:02

Thanks v much for all the constructive advice/input. I had no idea of the theory that the first stretch of sleep is often the longest – its very helpful to know about, as is the real likelihood of it all changing in the near future! I'll have a think about how I manage my competing priorities/desire for sleep in light of what has been said.

This is my first child, and I haven't been reading any of the books, so I really don't have a basis of comparison. But I am of course aware that some people will have it much tougher, sleep-wise, than I have, or perceive themselves to have fewer choices than I do. I am grateful that I don't have it worse, just as I sympathise wholeheatedly with those who do. But it's not a competition, surely. I don't want to feel abashed for seeking advice on whether it is possible to positively improve a situation that is challenging me, even if it is one that others would have found easy! :-)

Missingthemincepies Tue 29-Jan-13 10:51:39

I don't think you understand how very lucky you are to have a baby that sleeps so well!!
Just go to bed at 8.30 instead of 11. Why on earth would you stay up that late if you're tired? I'd have killed for even one night of that much sleep when DS was little. Don't mean to be harsh and understand you will want time with DP, but really, just go to bed.
It takes a long time, usually til well after 6months before they'll sleep past 5am. DS has recently been managing 6.30 fairly consistently - he's 2.5yrs old.

VariousBartimaeus Tue 29-Jan-13 10:29:32

Sympathies waterrat, we had that.

First three months DS was a dream at night - down at 9 or 10 with me, woke for a feed around 3am and again at 7am, sometimes going back to sleep allowing me to have a shower in peace. Bliss.

At 4 months it all went pear-shaped and only really improved around 13 months, and even now at 16 months its touch and go. He sleeps through if he's not teething, or ill or the neighbours are loud...so basically he sleeps through maybe 2 nights a week wink (although I do appreciate this compared to when he was waking hourly for several months)

waterrat Mon 28-Jan-13 21:02:16

oh - and as someone else says - this is not a pattern that you will have for long - it's easy with a little baby to think you have things set in stone - but your baby will change their sleep pattern randomly at some point soon!

My DS started sleeping through till 4am from bedtime at about 12/14 weeks - then at 16/18 weeks he started waking EVERY HOUR and this turned into shit sleep that lasted until...oh yes...its still going.

just to warn you - I wouldn't waste energy trying to create a sleep pattern now!

waterrat Mon 28-Jan-13 21:00:29

OP - you are getting a really amazing stretch of sleep - my 9 month old does not sleep that well.

I know it's tough, but you are not going to be able to guaruntee a 'push' forward in waking time - the only way that works is if you sleep train - ie. you feed at 1030 or midnight then refuse to feed at 2 - that's normally how the dream feed works I think - well, it's what I did when my DS was about 7 months. It involved crying/ patting etc...and still hasn't been 100 per cent effective..... But you can't do that to a tiny baby like yours.

The first stretch of sleep is normally the longest - I still - at 9 months - go to bed at 9pm quite often - I would highly recommend doing it a few nights a week.

BiscuitCrumbsInBed Mon 28-Jan-13 16:23:01

I should also add that if my 18 mo slept as well as your baby OP I would be thrilled... that may not be what you want to hear though! Hope your LO is a better sleeper than mine smile

If you went to bed at 8pm and got up at 5:30 with the first feed, you'd have 9.5 hours in which to get your 8 hours.

catkind Mon 28-Jan-13 15:28:38

Yeah, for mine too the first stint of sleep has always been the long one. When little they generally went to bed with me at 10pm-ish. Nothing to stop you going to bed at 8pm! I'd say she's doing really well.

VariousBartimaeus Mon 28-Jan-13 15:27:13

I don't mean to alarm you but DS is 16 months and I have never managed to change his sleep! (doesn't mean you won't but, it isn't always possible).

I've managed to influence it vaguely, but looking back with hindsight, his sleep patterns have changed so much, all by himself, that when I tried to go against the grain it just caused grief all round.

Maybe go to bed earlier? (you, not the baby)

BiscuitCrumbsInBed Mon 28-Jan-13 15:25:29

I had no luck whatsoever with my DD trying to tinker with her sleep patterns like that! I think it sounds like she's sleeping really well for rhat age. You're better off changing your own sleep patterns smile if I were you I'd just go to bed at 9pm.

I suspect she is probably waking frequently after midnight, because she is catching up from her long stint of sleeping and is extra hungry. A way to encourage those 6 hours from midnight until 6am, is to feed her in the evenings and put her to bed when you go at 11 say.

Having said that, any pattens that establish now are likely to change within a couple of weeks or so, and around about the 16week mark things often go back to feeding every couple of hours or so during the night, before settling down and gradually improving.

'In the evening we normally put her down in her bednest (co-sleeper crib) at around 7.30-8.30'

I don't want to frighten you, but this is against the SIDS guidelines. It is recommended that the baby is not put in a room alone to sleep.

MatriarchalDreams Mon 28-Jan-13 15:14:20

At this age my DD was sleeping from about 12-7 BUT she was cluster feeding all evening until we went to bed at 11/12. I reckon generally some people are lucky to get either the evening to themselves or a good stretch during the night but very, very few are lucky enough to get both, lots don't get either!

lyndie Mon 28-Jan-13 11:46:07

Mine all did this, they gradually extended the evening sleep from 7pm until later and later in the morning. I would leave well alone, any tinkering could make things worse! Make sure you go to bed early to take advantage of the period until 2.30am, getting 4 or 5 hours in a row can be very restorative.

DoNotDisturb Mon 28-Jan-13 11:41:43

There's a s school of thought that the first sleep (ie from 8pm) is the longest period you get and subsequent sleeps will be 2/3 hours apart. She's so little that managing 8-2.30 is amazing! I'd just do what you're doing and wait for her to drop the 2.30 feed. With mine, where they woke up like clockwork at a particular time, they naturally dropped the feeds themselves.

Sounds like you're both doing great though! Well done.

DoItToJulia Mon 28-Jan-13 11:34:36

Unfortunately the only way you are going to get more sleep and continue to be EBF s express a bottle that DP can give her.

My dc2 is 11 wo and nothing will change when he wants/needs to wake at night tbh. He has done one night of 10.30 till 6.45 which was amazing, but he also generally wakes at 2 and 5 or more recently just one of those times, but it is not at all predictable.

The only thing you could try is not feeding at the 5 am one. Just cuddling and soothing to sleep if she is amenable to it of course.

You will get more unbroken sleep....just when dd is ready for you to have it!

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