Anyone succeeded in cutting down night feeds without going cold turkey?

(24 Posts)
manateeandcake Wed 06-Apr-16 20:03:30

To cut a long story short: DS is nearly 6 months and EBF. He's never been a brilliant sleeper but we've had periods that have been perfectly manageable e.g. feeds at 12 and 3, straight back to sleep afterwards. For the past few weeks, he's been doing a decent stretch at the start of the night and then waking every 1 - 2 hours for a feed, then often not settling easily around 4 or 5. The wakings seem to me like a mixture of hunger and needing comfort. Even when we co-sleep, this kind of night is killing me.
What I'm wondering is whether there's a halfway house between BF-ing on demand all night, and going cold turkey on night feeds? I'm quite happy to feed him once or twice a night as he's still little and I'm sure he does get hungry. But I can't go on as we are. I'm not up for any method that involves a significant amount of crying.

FreeButtonBee Wed 06-Apr-16 20:11:20

Yes. I managed to stretch ds2 to a min of 3hrs between feeds. Basically he was doing a bit of reverse cycling - feeding hardly during the day and making up for it at night - so I decided that if he woke less than 3 hrs after his last feed, I'd do anything to get him back to sleep without a feed. Rocking, patting, bouncing etc. Thet was some squealing and crying but fairly limited as you can cuddle them to calm. If they won't settle and you hit 3 hrs, then feed and put back in cot. Repeat throughout the night. First 2-3 nights are a bit rocky but you will probably notice an increase in day feeds and then a bit more ability to sleep for a bit longer. At almost 8mo he normally feeds at 10-11 (I try to resettle but not too hard) - I try to get two boobs into him. Then one more feed and then after 6am, whenever he likes. He sometimes wakes between but will settle with a cuddle/patting in the back fairly quickly.

Lilliana Wed 06-Apr-16 20:21:45

I did similar to Free. It had become habit for DD as it was so easy for me just to feed her back to sleep. If she slept until 2 one night I wouldn't feed her until 2 the next night. Instead I would rock, sing etc to get her back to sleep - no lights, playing etc. She then slept through until 3 so I didn't feed her until 3 the next night etc. It was a couple of killer nights but within a couple of nights she was waking once for a feed that she actually needed and we both got some much needed sleep! I think she was a bit older than 6 months though so you might want to do the 3 hour thing if you don't think he's ready for sleeping longer. Good luck.

manateeandcake Wed 06-Apr-16 20:53:03

Thanks both -- I'm ridiculously happy to hear that it is possible to break the cycle (I mean, I didn't think I'd still be feeding 5 times a night when he's 14, but you know how it feels ...). I'm inspired to try for a minimum of a three hour gap from tonight.

Lilliana Wed 06-Apr-16 21:49:46

Babies learn really quickly so hopefully shouldn't be too long to create a new routine. Hope tonight isn't too bad. Just remember it will get better and be worth it! (I did it when I had nothing planned for the next few days so I could stay in my pjs all day, do the minimum for us all to survive and nap with DD if needed)

manateeandcake Thu 07-Apr-16 08:28:18

Thanks, Lilliana!

A quick report back on last night: he went down at about 7pm and I made a point of getting him to fall asleep in the cot rather than feeding to sleep. Took about half an hour of singing, rocking and finally stroking him in the cot until he dropped off. No full on crying, just some protesting in my arms when he realised the boob was not coming back. He woke at 10.25 and I fed him as it had been more than 3 hours. Woke at 11.30 and I settled him without feeding (more rocking, singing and stroking in cot) -- took 10 minutes. Again, there were cries of protest but not of distress and he went off calmly. Woke at 2.20 and I fed him. Woke at 4.50 and I tried to settle him without feeding but quickly realised it wasn't working, so I fed him again and he went back to sleep till after 6. This might sound bad to some, but I was pleased that (a) I could settle him without feeding and (b) there was no 4-5am party time. I already sense that his patterns of waking might be changed in this way.

I think the 4.30/5am feed is going to have to stay for the time being as this is his most unsettled time, but I can aim first for something like 11pm and 2am feeds, then perhaps for just 12 and 5.

Lilliana Thu 07-Apr-16 08:50:59

That sounds pretty successful to me. At its worst DD was waking every 45mins to 1 1/2 hours! Glad he wasn't too bad to settle either. Well done.

KatyBeau Mon 11-Apr-16 22:42:44

So glad to hear others have the same issues and are making progress. I'm going to try the approach of limiting feed times. I tried last night and she went nuts, but I think I haven't yet hit on a way to hold her/sleep next to her that helps her settle without a feed (she has a dummy but often refuses and starts squealing when milk is withheld).

CityDweller Thu 14-Apr-16 21:42:58

I did much as others did - set limits on a) time of the first night feed (midnight to start with) and b) how frequently I'd feed after that (at least 3 hrs). At all other times DH was dispatched to get baby back to sleep. He definitely got the rougher deal as It involved pacing, rocking etc. But I didn't feel so bad as I'd had 6 months of hardly any sleep by that point.

manateeandcake Sat 16-Apr-16 08:52:50

Did it work, City? We've had a bit of a setback due to going away where we were all sharing a room (with older DD as well) so I ended up just feeding on demand all night again to avoid waking others up.

loosechange Sat 16-Apr-16 09:03:52

I did it by accident when I offered 8month old DD the wrong boob . She was very cross, in my sleep deprived state I had no idea why, and only realized when she woke up for the next feed and I noticed one boob was double the size of the other.

It cut her down from 2hrly to 4hrly though, very quickly.

It sounds like you are going in the right direction.

Mine all got hungrier at this stage in the run if to weaning. Although from what you describe it is a combination of both hunger and comfort as you say, and pragmatically keeping one night feed will work.

CityDweller Sat 16-Apr-16 19:44:23

Yes it worked. She had been feeding through the night almost constantly, from 13 weeks until we started setting limits at about 6 months. Quickly cut down to a couple of night feeds. Then she started sleeping through at 8.5 months (just did it one night, randomly, and then every night from then on!), something I would never have imagined possible a few months earlier.

fluffikins Sun 17-Apr-16 10:29:47

This is a very useful thread, thank you! Will try this with my 10 month old who wakes at 11, 2 and 4 religiously

Poppytime Sun 17-Apr-16 15:01:37

Seconded that this is a useful thread! Trying to do exactly this with the limits with 6 month old DS, currently some success, still feeding twice and would be more but trying to settle him back, it's hard work and I'm knackered but I hope it pays off soon! How is everyone else getting on?

Nottalotta Sun 17-Apr-16 15:13:55

I need to start doing this, ds feeds at 6.30, then 10ish, 12/1 then 3 then what seems like every 15 minutes til 5.30 then will sleep for an hour. That time 3am on is clearly not actual feeds but just comfort and easy as we Co sleep from the 12/1 feed.

I need to stop it but start back at work this week. Ugh.

manateeandcake Mon 18-Apr-16 09:20:15

OK, we are back on the case. Last night we agreed DH would do the settling until at least midnight. DS woke a couple of times but DH settled him easily until about 12.30 when he really wanted a feed and just wouldn't settle. I fed him around 1, then he woke at 4 and 6 again (and went back to sleep until DD woke him at 6.40 angry). I could handle feeds at 12/1 and 4 for the moment if we could get into that rhythm, so we're going to persevere with this method for a few nights.

I'm glad others are finding this thread useful. I just felt like there had to be a middle ground between the night-weaning faction and the "co-sleep and let them graze, you don't even really need to wake up" faction (so not true for me!).

fluffikins Mon 18-Apr-16 09:40:50

That sounds like great progress! I wish my hubby would try to settle her, he works long hours though and pretends she 'won't settle' with him so gives up about 2 mins in angry

manateeandcake Mon 18-Apr-16 13:59:18

It's taken us a while to get here, Fluffikins -- even though DH is very hands on during the day, and almost always does the early mornings with DD, somehow the fact that he has a day job with a salary has meant that nights have been mostly on me. And while I respect what he does and know it requires a lot of concentration and mental energy, it's not like he's an air traffic controller or a surgeon.

It's complicated, because he has offered to do nights or parts of them in the past and I've always ended up saying, "Oh, I'll do it, it's probably easier for me to settle him". Or: "I don't have anything to do tomorrow except look after the DC". Well: looking after DC is pretty much some of the most important work there is! And it may actually be easier for DH to settle him because he doesn't smell of milk. We'll see how far we get, though!

havalina1 Mon 18-Apr-16 14:16:57

Ooh very pertinent to us too!

6.5mo, ebf and cosleeping.

Sleeps at 7.30. Wakes about 3. Again about 4:30 and is a nightmare til 6 when elder sis gets up anyway so it's game over.

I'm moving him into the cot any night now ... except I've no idea how to do it confused

He is getting a good run of sleep in that first period though so I shouldn't complain! Watching here for how to do it all!

fluffikins Mon 18-Apr-16 14:22:52

Havalina, dd sleeps for the first part of the night in her cot. I just feed her to sleep in her room, hold her until she's definitely not going to wake and pop her in her cot. I then do the same whenever she wakes until j get bored with sitting on a dark room holding her and o bring her back in with me so I can just go to sleep!

havalina1 Mon 18-Apr-16 21:52:31

I did it. He's asleep now (who knows for how long) in the cot. Why does this make me sad!! I put him down awake and sat by his side. The little dote kept looking at me then turning his head (he loves rubbing his hair) and he just drifted off to sleep. That's about the third time is his life he's not fed to sleep.

I'm sure his night wakings will be feed-demanding! But it's a good start smile

manateeandcake Tue 19-Apr-16 09:12:45

Well done, havalina1! How did the rest of your night go? It is all very emotional, this sleep stuff. After all, we are teaching them how not to need us (so much), and on some level we all want to feel needed!

Last night similar to the one before. DH did a couple of resettles until we swapped and I fed DS at 12.30. Then 3.30 and I think 5.30, when he came into the bed with me and slept till 7. Who knows if this is going to change the sleep pattern ... At least I feel like I'm getting some support.

havalina1 Tue 19-Apr-16 12:42:49

You are doing well! It IS hard and you're exactly right, it's like weaning them off us!

I did thoroughly enjoy rolling about the bed though and lying splat in the middle.

The little fella woke at 12 so I fed him and kept him in the bed. I lost my resolve to put him back in the cot. I was too zombie-ed. I'll try again tonight.

He's in a sleep sack with a light blanket over his lower half but his hands were frozen when I picked him up. Should I blanket him up more?? (I'm so nervous of all the overheating stuff).

manateeandcake Tue 19-Apr-16 13:02:25

DS often has icy cold hands when he's been deeply asleep, but I don't think his core temperature is low - I think it's just a baby thing. He's in a 2.5 tog grobag at the moment with a short sleeved vest and long sleeved sleepsuit underneath and no blankets.

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