Replace night feed with water?

(5 Posts)
ParsleyCake Sat 02-Apr-16 23:58:30

DS is now 10 months old and wakes frequently through the night for the breast. Now I don't actually mind this at all - he sleeps in bed with me and we wake up, snuggle and breastfeed to sleep. However, I have come to realise that he is (mostly) not hungry, but has developed a sleep association which means that every time he naturally wakes (or gets close to waking) he needs a boob to fall asleep properly again. I would rather train him out of this before he is much older.

I have made a plan for this, and am not worried - that explanation was mainly for context. I'm going to gradually start getting him to fall asleep beside me but without the breast. What my question IS about is - what about the times he is genuinely hungry in the night, and will the 'water feeding' method work/is it okay to do.

So what I mean by this is that I have basically trained DS to be hungry at night by giving him long breast feeding sessions at night. As he is 10 months old now he technically does not NEED milk at night but he has developed a habit and a hunger for it the same way that I myself have for waking at 1am for marmite on toast (true story). Both of us wake instinctually with a need for it because we are used to it. (I have read this explanation elsewhere, I'm not just making it up). Of course for his first few months he did need a night feed but I think it has continued so long because he basically sleeps with a nipple in his mouth. Now it feels like he has adjusted his milk intake during the day to make space in his tummy for lengthy night time feeds.

RE feeding him water instead of milk: supposedly offering baby water at night means you are still giving him something but it gradually lessens their night time hunger as they grow used to not receiving nutrition at night and they instead increase day time feeds and they dont wake at night hungry any more. At least thats what my google adventures have revealed.

Has anyone tried this and had it work?

Also, I have been told that babies shouldnt be offered water except at meals under the age of 1 - so who is right?

ParsleyCake Sun 03-Apr-16 20:44:40

Well in case anyone is interested I'll be sharing my sleep training journey on here anyway.

We cosleep, and my goal is to have DS sleep through the night, and also to fall asleep without having to be breast fed to sleep.

DAY 1 - feeling optimistic. Have successfully put ds to sleep for both naps and to bed tonight without the breast. I don't know if singing to sleep is better, but it definitely seems better to me. My back doesn't hurt from lying in the same position for ages and I don't have to get my boob out in the cold in the wee hours of the morning. Also no waking up because baby is biting down on my nipple while having a nightmare. I still cuddle him while I sing, but as my boob is not in his mouth I can move away a bit and have more space.

Strategy
What I do is go through the usual sleep routing (read story, lights out, blinds and curtain closed, walk around the room cuddling and singing) then we lay down in bed together. I then begin singing '5 little ducks went swimming one day' (no idea why I picked that but it has a good rhythm!), accompanied by patting his bum or tummy to the rhythm only if he is not settling. If we start at 50 little ducks he seems to be asleep by 10 and I finish down to one to make sure.

He woke from his nap early, moaning for the breast. I sang for thirty seconds and he dropped off again!

Right now this seems like a whole lot of bother but hopefully this will work at night and cause him to drink less milk -> less appetite-> stop waking in anticipation of usual meal.

Oh and in case anyone is wondering, DH is away on a work trip as a precaution to avoid him strangling me for singing so badly in the middle of the night!

Diddlydokey Sun 03-Apr-16 20:51:38

I would just go cold turkey and not replace with water. So whenever the feeds start I'd push it back one hour every other night Until you get to morning. So no feeding before 2am, then 3...

Well done on settling without boob. I'd definitely do it now before they get more spirited

Palomb Sun 03-Apr-16 20:55:32

This is how we stopped ds waking 2 hourly for a breastfeed and we did it about at about the same age as I had to go back to working nights. I just sent dh in to his room with a beaker of room temp water to give him a cuddle. It worked pretty quickly and I carried on BF for another year or so.

Hope it goes smoothly for you smile you might find it easier for your dh to deal with night times for a few weeks otherwise your DS is going to see you and want boob!

tiredybear Sun 03-Apr-16 21:23:12

I did the same as Palomb...got my OH to cuddle and offer water. It was surprisingly quick and easy to drop the night feeds....3 nights or so. All except one. He has stubbornly stuck to wanting a really big feed at some point between 3-4.30am (he's just turned 1).

Hope the water works for you too. If not, you could also try reducing the length of feeds each night, as this will also gently get him used to needing less at night time. It also might work better for co sleeping...

Good luck x

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