Advanced search

Here are some suggested organisations that offer expert advice on adoption.

Sleep & night feeds

(28 Posts)
trying2keepcalm Tue 20-Sep-16 07:23:16

Hi, we brought out 9 month old son home a week and a half ago and he's doing very well apart from sleeping at night.

Foster carers got him to sleep by holding or rocking him and giving him a bottle then putting him in his cot asleep. If he woke, they would follow the same routine and pick him up and give him a bottle.

Since he has been with us we have followed the same routine as we didn't want to change too much this early on. However he has been waking at night every 4 - 5 hours. He will sometimes go through 3 bottles a night. He has been eating well however will always have a bottle before sleeps. We have started a more rigid routine of nap time but he quite often only sleeps for 30 mins at a time during the day.

There are a couple of things we would like to tackle.

Firstly.... We need sleep! Does anyone have any advice on stopping or reducing the night feeds? He won't go back to sleep without a bottle.

Secondly... We would like for him to go down to sleep and nap in his cot and nap for longer.

All advice welcome!

Jimbob1 Tue 20-Sep-16 07:57:58

Every 4-5 hours at this stage is amazing! If you want to wean him off the night feeds then don't let him fall asleep on the bottle. Let him have it but take it just as he falls asleep and earlier each time.
Just to point out - this is what I did with my birth son. Our adopted child has not yet arrived. You may need to keep to his routine a little longer. If it is any consolation, most new parents are up every 2-3 hours with their new borns!

I never managed to get DS to nap in his cot but to be honest we were out and about alot.

greenandblackssurvivalkit Tue 20-Sep-16 08:27:50

Haha. BDS didn't sleep longer than 3hrs between feeds at night until a year old. 9 months is still tiny. It's so early in placement. Time and settling may well sort this out.

gabsdot Tue 20-Sep-16 08:49:16

We adopted ds when he was 8 months. He used to wake for a bottle once during the night.
I actually loved spending that time with him during the night. It was so quiet and peaceful.
It only lasted a few months. By his first birthday he was sleeping through.
I wouldn't rush to get rid of the night feed just yet.
At that age my son would sleep for about an hour in the morning and another hour in the afternoon. A 30 min nap is ok, if he's tired he'll sleep longer.
I know you're tired it's a huge change for you. Try and sleep when he does, and go to bed early.
It won't last forever

RatherBeIndoors Tue 20-Sep-16 09:47:45

What PP said ^^. And also, drop your expectations of your own energy levels during the day - I mean this very kindly and gently. You will be tired. You will be tired for a long time, physically and emotionally. Just take things very slowly during the day, don't be too ambitious, and rest when you can in the acceptance that the nights may be broken for a long, long time. I wouldn't withdraw the milk in the night, not least because it's so hugely interconnected with reaching out for comfort. I doubt that your LO will stop waking just because there isn't milk - they're going to need reassurance and cuddles and physical contact through the night, whenever they are scared or lost or unsettled, and for that they need to know that when they cry out for you, you will come. <Disclaimer: I went so grumpy and horrid through lack of sleep that I put a particularly gorgeous pic of LO on the outside of their door, so it would make me stop and smile for a second every time I went into them at night.>
It is very tough, but it will change, and you will get through it brew

greenandblackssurvivalkit Tue 20-Sep-16 10:11:43

Honestly, sleep deprivation is awful.

But it's totally normal less than two weeks in to becoming a parent, by any means, and really quite common at nine months old, still. You have a confused, grieving baby. If you'd lost the most important person in the world to you, you would be sleeping poorly, too.

Could you co sleep to decrease the amount of time you're taking over each waking? Do whatever you need to do to meet your DS' needs. You may be tired, but you are the adults. He's a sad confused little baby.

Kr1stina Tue 20-Sep-16 10:36:25

I'm sorry but one waking is the night is really good , you are very lucky . I'm afraid as other have said you will be very tired for the first year or so. And I notice you say " we" so there are two of you to share the load , whereas many parenst have to do this alone .

And why do you think he might nap for longer in the day AND sleep more at night ? That's not very realistic.

Your child is very upset and has lost everything he's ever known. You will have to be patient with him . You are only 10 days in and already you are trying to get him to fit in with you . You need to be more focussed on what his needs are and trying to meet them.

Can you Imagine you have been abducted by aliens . How woudl you feel aftre 10 days ?

I'm sorry , this had obviously been a shock to you , I fear your expectations are a little unrealistic and you shoudl have been better prepared. Did your agency not provide any training for you. Or suggest that you speak to friends / family who have a newborn baby ?

trying2keepcalm Tue 20-Sep-16 11:21:18

Thanks for the advice.

We are new to this and all the advice we have been getting it that he should be sleeping through the night, so it's all very confusing. He wakes at least 3 times in the night and will only settle with a bottle, which as you can imagine is quite a lot of liquid!

I do understand that it is all new to him and perhaps we are putting too much pressure on ourselves and him.

Some reassurance at this time would be helpful!

Kr1stina Tue 20-Sep-16 11:37:41

Who told you that a baby who has been through the loss and trauma he has would sleep through the night 10 days into placement ???

How many mums of newborns have you met whose babies sleep through the night at 10 days ? It must be one ina hundred.

Who ever told you this is talking bollocks. Send me their name and phone number so I can give them a piece of my mind . Seriously. not. helpful .

It doesn't matter about the amount of milk he is having. If he has NOTHING but milk it will do him no harm . It's good that you are getting to hold him for a long time to give him a bottle , it builds attachment .

Nothing matters now except attachment . The only point of a routine ( if you have one ) is to lower stress levels so baby can bond with you.

Is anything gets in the way of attachment , it has to go, or at least be out on the back burner .

Kr1stina Tue 20-Sep-16 11:42:19

I'm sorry if I sound cross, I'm annoyed at whoever is telling you this nonsense and making you feel that you are not doing it right . It's undermining for you at a time that's already very stressful .

greenandblackssurvivalkit Tue 20-Sep-16 11:48:25

People do talk a lot of rubbish about sleeping. Some kids sleep through at 6 weeks. Some at 6 years. Too soon to think about anything your DS "should" be doing. He's doing what he's doing. Milk is comforting. Perhaps he's too busy to get enough food/liquid in the day, because everything is alien? Poor wee thing.

RatherBeIndoors Tue 20-Sep-16 12:40:21

I totally understand (I think we all understand) that you are exhausted, desperately worried about "getting it wrong" (you won't be) and in the very early days of your life with a tiny new person who can't tell you what they need. It is HARD.

There is a "time machine" thread on here at the moment about what people wish they'd known. I'm heading there in a moment to add "I wish I'd known to ignore everyone telling me what was normal, what babies or children should be doing at any age."

What is happening in your home, is what is normal for you and your baby. It is likely they are scared, unsettled, don't know if they are safe. It is well known that when children are scared, they regress, so your 9 month old is probably feeling and behaving like an even younger baby. As their security grows, and your confidence grows alongside getting to know them, this will level out and you will find what works for you. But for now - loads of looking after yourself and going gently, and absolutely tonnes of comfort, reassurance and touch for your baby. If they are too anxious to nap in a cot, could you consider seeing if they will sleep in a sling against your skin, or just on you skin to skin? Some babies will do this, and some won't, but it is worth trying. Hang in there!

MypocketsarelikeNarnia Tue 20-Sep-16 13:11:29

Kristina it might be the same la medical adviser who told me (in an angry letter) that I should be doing cc with ds.

Fucking tosser.

Ds is 3 and still doesn't sleep through. He is down from 10 waking a night to two or three.

I find it helps if you view it as a choice you are making - I could make him sleep through whenever I want. I choose not to because I choose to comfort him because he needs that from me right now. It won't last forever. I know it's hard but I know I can do it. You can too op flowers

arielmanto Tue 20-Sep-16 15:00:02

Our LO (foster to adopt) was 6 months when she moved in in July. FC did usually put her down for bed awake, but in the night it was always bottle til she fell asleep (10pm, 3am, 5am ish)
We followed the pattern religiously and she always fell asleep on the bottle. There are two of us and my amazing DP did most of the night shifts and I took over at 6.30am. I did 2 nights a week (still do). (I'm a very lucky woman).
LO dropped feeds on her own, when she was ready. She just stopped waking up for them. It took about 6 weeks, and I think was natural progression as she was eating so much more solids-wise during the day. We found a good portion of protein before bed - salmon, liver, whatever, at 6pm would knock her out until 2am. She has a bottle then, and then gets up 6.30am. She now refuses bottles during the day, and so we are deliberately keeping the middle of the night bottle because I'm scared to give up milk totally! We were told she needs 24oz a day and she only takes 8oz. But you know what, she's healthy, happy, thriving (weight wise) and she point blank refuses to take milk when she's "awake", so what can we do? We let her lead.
She was beginning to wean when she moved in, but mostly getting her nutrition from milk. She has just decided she loves solids.
Don't know how helpful that is or isn't, but they are all different, and 9 months is still teeny. She's definitely not really functioning at 9 months old yet, and if she kept waking for bottles we would keep giving them to her, I think. We are both FULL zombies though, the tiredness hasn't gone, but it has become familiar so we can work around it!

arielmanto Tue 20-Sep-16 15:04:15

PS. LO did not nap in cot when she arrived. Only in motion - so in pram, or rocking chair. We read somewhere that once they pass 6 months they need the deeper sleep that comes from being still, rather than moving, and DP decreed that we needed to try and get her to sleep in her cot. (There were also some issues with her physically that meant it would benefit her to lie flat.)
We had a music box that we put on when she was going down in the rocking chair, and a blanket she would hold onto. We transferred both to the cot and let her lie in it a nap time. She did refuse to go down a few times, but we gave it a good shot. The next time, out of the blue, she fell asleep in it. Since then we've not looked back! She still sleeps in the car on journeys but will always kip in cot when offered.
I can't tell how much of this is because of what we did, and how much is because it's what she wants! Once she started to roll over, we did sort of wedge her in the cot so she couldn't roll and wake up - is your LO mobile?

PoppyStellar Tue 20-Sep-16 15:18:20

My DD (6) still wakes up in the night most nights. I suffered from sleep deprivation for a very long time. It is really hard. It's also really hard not to beat yourself about doing a crap job (you're really not).

The sleep issue will get better. Attachment, reassurance and security are the most important things at the moment.

Fwiw even though DD still often wakes up in the night I am much less sleep deprived because over the years we have come to a solution that works for us.
In our case it's a mixture of lights on, sitting til she falls asleep, providing a space for her to sleep in my room if she wakes in the night and needs reassurance (but not my bed otherwise no one gets a decent night's sleep!), reward charts for good settling down and sleeping through and generally me getting to the realisation that it didn't really matter what other children did or didn't do re sleeping what mattered was me and DD getting some rest and both of us keeping our sanity. Basically, ignore whatever 'helpful' advice people give you about normal development or milestones and do what works for you and for LO.

Oh, and on the milk in a bottle at bedtime thing, don't worry about it, honestly. DD was nearly 4 before I was able to crack that one.

trying2keepcalm Tue 20-Sep-16 15:31:59

Great advice thank you.

Yes Poppysteller, he's just started to crawl :-)

ThreeLeggedCat Tue 20-Sep-16 16:17:16

Just ignore anyone who tells you what your child 'should' be doing. I only have bc not ac but I found about two weeks in was the worst time for sleep deprivation. Honestly you will get used to being this tired.

JustHappy3 Tue 20-Sep-16 16:59:14

You need to ignore whichever well meaning friend/relative is telling you what children do at what stage. They are talking bollocks because you have an adopted child and roght now their attachment is your absolute number 1 priority.
Your little one wakes and wants comfort and so you feed and comfort them. 10 out of 10 in the parenting stakes. Doing anything else at this stage would be a pretty poor idea.
Also there are children who sleep a lot and those who just don't. So it may be that you NEVER get an hour in the day. You need to put strategies in place now to ensure you can survive - to manage yourselves not little one.
Got tea to make will be back.

TearingDownTheWall Tue 20-Sep-16 17:14:35

Definitely ignore what he should be doing and think much younger. Try and see him as a new born and you will be closer to his emotional level.
Sleep deprivation is awful and just a couple of broken nights knocks me for 6. Try and just sit down, feet up whenever you can and when LO is sleeping. Forget housework, friends, wider family for now - just try to rest and eat as well as you can.

Does he have a dummy? My LO shows lots of stress/anxiety orally - he will suck his fingers for example when nervous and compulsively ate when he was first placed. I would assume he is comfort seeking and respond to the emotion by offering touch and gentle reassurance as well as milk.

Mooey89 Tue 20-Sep-16 17:26:25

I haven't adopted but my DS Didn't reliably sleep through until 18months!!

He's 3.5 now and still loves his milk, would drink if by the gallon if I let him.

At 9 months we were much the same as you, without all the trauma your DS has had.

It's bloody hard, but enjoy this time with him, he's so little still and just wants you, his mummy to comfort him.

Congratulations on your beautiful little boy. Just keeps cuddling.

Haffdonga Tue 20-Sep-16 18:05:21

You sound exhausted, you poor things.

We all (babies included) have periods of lighter and deeper sleep and waking through the night. Most of us eventually learn to go straight back to sleep but we don't/can't do that if we feel stressed, anxious or afraid thanks to adrenalin keeping us on the alert. You ds is waking up in a still strange new place and of course he doesn't yet know he is safe. His body will jolt him awake with adrenalin to be on the alert and check for risk. He needs to be absolutely certain that you are there and will be there every single time he wakes up and you will provide comfort and security (milk) every single time he cries before he can relax enough to be able to self settle perhaps in many months or years from now.

Babies who sleep through the night are either totally secure in their safety and that all is OK in their world and that takes time to learn or sadly they have learnt the hard way that there is no point crying because there is never a response to their needs.

A final query. You say your ds can sleep for 4 to 5 hours but is waking 3 times a night. If he's sleeping 5 hours a stretch surely that would only be a once or twice a night wake up unless he has a 15 hour night. Are you expecting his nights to be longer than he needs? Would adjusting his bedtime e.g. to a later time, with a night time bottle late in the evening help his body clock to synch with you and your dh's?

tldr Wed 21-Sep-16 09:37:04

Only pay a tiny bit of attention to non-adopters. Get all your other advice from us! grin

I'm kidding, but only just.

Other People (sadly including professionals) just don't get it. They'll tell you that babies are resilient/don't remember/blah blah but then wax lyrical about how hard it is for their kid to change from cot to cot bed or whatever. And they'll fail to see the irony.

If your LO needs you, just be there for them. It's what LO needs. (And from your perspective, the quicker they feel safe/secure, the quicker they are likely to actually sleep through.)

And remember other parents of 9mos have had 9mo to practice and another 9mos to prepare ahead of time. You've not had that, so be easy on yourself - the confidence will come.

flapjackfairy Wed 21-Sep-16 13:15:48

I have 3 birth children, a long term foster child and i am waiting for ao on a 2yr old. So as you can imagine i have been around the block a few times.! I have never had a problem getting any child to sleep through by a reasonable age(think 9 to 12 months ) until our latest lo arrived! He has been with us 18 months and we are just getting there and he sleeps through more often than not now.

I only tell you this so that you realise all children are different and adopted children have all sorts of extra issues on top. I felt a right failure when totally exhausted and unable to get a good routine going but as others have said it is all about your little ones needs. Let go of all expectations of yourself and give your child everything he needs. It is all building bonds and you will get there and one day you will suddenly realise you are totally in tune with your child and ot has all fallen into place. Good luck

GirlsWhoWearGlasses Wed 21-Sep-16 13:45:48

If it's reassurance you are looking for, I think it's great that your DS is crying out for you when he wakes and is taking comfort.

We were told that our DD slept right through, only to discover gradually that she was waking up through the night, but just not shouting out. I can only speculate on why sad. She still shouts out sometimes, and every time (ish) I'm glad that she knows we will come.

On the naps, DD didn't nap before she came home, but we found sleeping on one of us after lunch got her a good two hours. It was great for attachment too.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now