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To hope my baby will sleep better with formula?

(86 Posts)
vinocollapso Thu 06-Jan-11 08:32:47

I know this is an emotive issue, and an age old one, but after almost 6 months of EBF, I need some advice about moving over to formula. I need to be sure I'm doing it for the right reasons.

DS wakes at night, generally every two hours. He is almost 6 months old. I don't care about this - babies wake up, they need you, I'm happy to comfort him.

But I'm tired. And worse than that I'm worried I'm encouraging a bad habit, that he's waking up because he knows he'll get a feed. I try and leave him a few minutes each time to see if he'll self-settle (sometimes he does), but 95% of the time it's boob and back to bed for him.

In the day he'll go 3 - 4 hours without eating, so he doesn't 'need' to eat at night. But you know how it is, you're tired at 2am and just want the fastest solution.

Should I throw in a bottle of formula now, and start to wean him off the boob? Will formula help him sleep longer? Or is the issue just that he's not settling? I feel that at 6 months I've done my best by EBF.

Any help or experience warmly received.

teddies Thu 06-Jan-11 08:39:18

It might make no difference at all. It might make him worse, because of the different composition of formula he might get wind/colic/constipation.

Weaning may help, especially if he is refluxy - again, may not. Not many calories in what they start to eat anyway,

Iknow that anecdote does not equal data, but IME introducing a formula bottle at bedtime made no difference whatsoever. DS woke every 90 minutes for a loooooong time. You could read the No Cry Sleep Solution which gives good and gentle sleep advice. You could tank him up a bit with more bfs in the day and evening.

Continuing to BF as long as you and he wants confers health benefits on both of you.

Can you try to catnap a bit in the day, sleep when he sleeps, that old thing.

And remember, This Too Shall Pass.


TheProvincialLady Thu 06-Jan-11 08:39:34

Formula will almost certainly make no difference whatsoever with his sleep. If you are really desperate for sleep then swapping his milk source is not the answer - it's persuading him that he can fall asleep without the aid of sucking. There are various ways you can do this, some working faster than others (and generally the slower methods are kinder to the baby). You could try The No Cry Sleep Solutuion, or you could try pick up put down, or various other methods. By all means stop BF if that is what you want, but it seems a shame to stop it in the hope that it will solve your slee DS1 was bottle fed and a terrible sleeper, whereas DS2 is BF and has always been much better.

Go Thu 06-Jan-11 08:48:12

Sorry, but I disagree entirely. I really struggled with DD and moved (with HV's approval) to mixed feeding, by giving a bottle for the last feed at night.

DD had no problems with this and slept much better (about 4 hours) instead of the usual 1.5 hours which was so much better for all of us.

The other bonus was that I had lots of spare milk in the evenings, which I expressed, meaning that others could feed her to give me a break now and again.

I suggest talking to your health visitor so she can reassure you and talk you through any pros and cons.

cobbledtogether Thu 06-Jan-11 08:52:33

I've ff and bf and it really makes no difference. When I moved DS onto Formula, all that happened was that he still woke up in the night and still demanded a feed, but then I had to bugger around with formula instead of just lifting him onto the boob.

Have you tried either a) leaving him if he's not crying and seeing if he settles himself back down to sleep or b) giving him a cuddle, but not feeding him?

When DD was going through a phase of waking up, I took her into bed with me and sometimes just being snuggled up was enough to send her back to sleep.

I can really sympathise, but FF DS didn't sleep through till he was 18mos, where as BF DD slept through a lot earlier. Try it if you want to, but be prepared that it may not work.

MoonUnitAlpha Thu 06-Jan-11 08:52:35

I give my ds a bottle of formula for a dreamfeed at 10.30 (mainly so my DP can do it and I can go to bed early!) but it makes no difference to how long he sleeps unfortunately. I think sleep is often a developmental thing rather than hunger related.

What has made a difference is deciding that ds is fed at 10.30pm and 3.30am in the night - if he wakes other than these times DP goes and soothes him back to sleep without feeding. If you're feeding him to sleep at bedtime though you'll need to stop that too - DP puts him to bed instead of me now.

TheProvincialLady Thu 06-Jan-11 08:52:35

Personally I would avoid HV unless you want to hear "Give formula, do controlled crying" as that is all I have ever heard any of them say in response to almost any baby issue!

MonaPomona Thu 06-Jan-11 08:55:29

my ds was similar with frequent waking every night from 3 months to 9.5 months - it was awful. What made a difference was giving him a dummy at night - he started sleeping from 11pm to 7am, amazing. That only lasted 2 months when I lost all the dummies and took 2 days to get more by which time he refused to have one.

I also thought about a bottle of formula every night when he woke at 1am and 3 am and 5 am but did not go down that route.

he's finally sleeping through at 2.25 years after controlled crying (my dad did it as we were too knackered)! Please dont leave it that long to take action

SmethwickBelle Thu 06-Jan-11 08:57:04

As a crap breastfeeder and someone who used formula for both after the first three months I'd say it probably won't make him sleep any better (more's the pity, although it did make the night time burden one that was more shared with DH and THAT can be a sanity saver). Maybe as a first step see if you can convince him to sleep longer (at 6 months you could give controlled crying a try).

I don't know how you feel about expressing, it may be an option to share the feeds at night?

MsKLo Thu 06-Jan-11 09:00:46

You have done so so well to EBF it would be a shame to intoduce formula if you are happy to keep Bf as the benefits are still immense. I agree with teddies on this.

I speak as someone who has two kids who were awful sleepers so I can sympathise! It is normal for baby to still wake up and other factors are at play - teething, needing more food or learning new sleep methods. People are so desperate to get babies to sleep but it is normal! You need to get as much sleep as you can and maybe try the no cry sleep solution or whatever other sleep method you agree with.

To have exclusively Bf'd your child and still doing so is great, you have made such a difference an if you continue the it will be good for you both!

FellatioNelson Thu 06-Jan-11 09:00:59

My DC2 was the one who took by far the longest to sleep through the night, out of my three, and he was BF the longest. As soon as I swapped to formula he slept through. It was about 4-5 months I think.

The other two (child 1 and child 3) were exclusively formula fed from 3wks onwards and they both slept through from about 6-8wks (most of the time) if I remember correctly.

Not a judgement either way on BF or FF, just my experience that's all.

And unless people have had personal experience of the differences between FF v BF, it's pretty pointless them answering the question, as they will just have their own agenda to push, irrespective of whether they
have any actual experience or not.

Serendippy Thu 06-Jan-11 09:01:06

YANBU to hope, but it may not make any difference and if you hang all your hopes on this, you could be disappointed. My DD was switched from mixed feeding to FF at 3 months and was sleeping through soon after. However, she may have been ready to do this anyway. You could always try a bottle of expressed BM, just to see if he will take a bottle and go from there. I second the advice to talk to your HV but to reiterate that you need advice on encouraging sleep NOT switching feeding methods necessarily.

You do need to do something, as Mona pointed out you do not want to be in the same situation as her, but there are many other ways to fix broken sleep without FF. However, if this is the route you decide to take, remember that you have done a great job BF for 6 months and your baby will reap the benefits.

TattyDevine Thu 06-Jan-11 09:01:41

It might help if its an issue of supply. It might make you feel like you are doing everything you can. Or it might not. Breastmilk has more fat in it that formula, so its technically richer and more hearty a feast...depends a bit on foremilk/hindmilk etc but the average breastfeed compared to the average formula feed. So the only reason I can see this working is if he's not getting as much breastmilk as he'd like as his final feed.

That aside, you've made it this far without the formula feed thing and you are now at that weaning age which can, despite the fact its not supported by "evidence", make a difference in terms of how hungry a baby is, depending of course on what they are eating during the day. Whilst most first foods have less calories per 100g than breastmilk, they are bulkier and take more digesting, which takes energy and recuperation - we dont tend to realise this but it does. On a day when I've eaten plenty, I think I sleep heavier and deeper than a day where I have had very few calories - my body has to do more in terms of digesting and assimilating my food.
That's why we collapse in front of the TV after Christmas dinner! (its not just the champagne!)

I tend to agree that its a case of learning to settle without sucking, however at 6 months I would not be worried about the "bad habit" thing just yet. Can you give it another 2 months?

It depends also on when you planned to stop breastfeeding. If you didn't really plan to stop any time soon, it seems a shame to introduce something that might damage your supply and spell the end at a time earlier than you had hoped - but if you were planning to finish up around 8 or 9 months anyway, then this is less of an issue.

TragicallyHip Thu 06-Jan-11 09:04:50

Didn't work for me!

Ds had a bottle of formula at the 11pm feed from about 1 month old. He didn't sleep through till 8.5 months.

Although I did try and give him formula a few nights before he started sleeping through, he screamed the place down till I gave him the boob. Next night I didn't want to go through that again so I just breat fed him (he only fed for about 2 mins) and the 3rd night he didn't wake up!

Could be a coincidence mind you but the 11pm feed definitely didn't work and hasn't worked for a few friends that have tried that method.

TragicallyHip Thu 06-Jan-11 09:07:40

Actually the night that Ds slept through was the first day he ate really well at every meal. Wasn't too fused with food before then.

Also could be a coincidence!

Quenelle Thu 06-Jan-11 09:14:06

My DS used to wake every 90 mins or so throughout the night but went at least five hours when DH started putting him down to sleep. DS no longer depended on BF to get back to sleep.

izzybiz Thu 06-Jan-11 09:21:09

All three of my Dc have been FF, have had sleep issues with all of them!
I don't think how they are fed makes any difference to sleep unfortunately!

RueLaChesty Thu 06-Jan-11 09:21:16

i bf both my dds til 6mo and 5mo. DD1 is 2.4yo and has still never slept through!

Well done on bf for this long but please don't let the sleep be your reason for stopping as if the situation doesn't get better you'll regret stopping.

Have you weaned your ds yet? Perhaps after a few weeks of solids he'll be less hungry at night.

Try offering a bottle of water at night rather than breast?

Good luck, i'm having sleep issues too and it takes over your life!

fishie Thu 06-Jan-11 09:22:19

six months feels long but really it isn't, can't see the point in giving formula after all your efforts. ds was just the same, fed every two hours for nine months, then he stopped waking so much at night. it coincided with him becoming more mobile, so physically exhausted as well as eating food.

KirstyJC Thu 06-Jan-11 09:24:51

I have no experience of FF but I did find with DS1 night waking, that sending DH to settle him helped. I think he could smell the milk on me so held out for that, but of course there was no milk with DH so he settled better. It didn't take long before he stopped waking. All DH did was go in (he was in his own room by then as he struggled to sleep in same room as us as he was such a light sleeper), pick him up, kiss him then put him back down again.

With DS2 - he was a sucker! I initially tried to feed him when he woke up but I quickly realised he just wanted something to suck, so tried a dummy. It worked like a charm and from then on he only woke when he was actually hungry, which was only a couple of times in the night.

Have you tried a dummy? What about sending DH over to settle him again, is that possible?

Good luck smile

Bogeyface Thu 06-Jan-11 09:31:08

I think your best bet is to talk to your HV or similar, as posting on here you will get emotive responses which arent always very helpful. And do whatever you feel is best. You are his mother, you have decided that you want the sleeping issue dealt with and have decided on a certain course of action. Have confidence in your ability to mother him appropriately and dont worry what other people think

Also, posting on AIBU opens you up to allsorts so probably wasnt the best place to put it!

Bramshott Thu 06-Jan-11 09:31:19

I would try first of all getting more calories into him during the day. You say he can god 3-4 hours between feeds during the day, but that might actually not be a good thing IYSWIM, because then he needs to fill up a night (which some babies prefer, because it's quieter, calmer etc). I would be tempted to try feeding him every 2 hours or so during the day and see if that makes a difference.

Giddyup Thu 06-Jan-11 09:35:16

DD is only 8 weeks but doesn't sleep any longer when she is sometimes given formula. Does he self settle? If not I would say that is the issue. My DD's sleep has iimproved aslot since she started going down awake and my DS started sleeping through 12 hrs min)at 6 months after learning to self soothe. He actually dropped the last feed the night he moved into his own room.

Have you tried getting DH to offer a bottle of water at the feed you would most like to drop?

NinkyNonker Thu 06-Jan-11 09:41:05

MY HV has advised that neither formula or weaning necessarily make a difference, sorry. It is the habit, not the sustenance if you see what I mean. A friend mixed fed then went to sole FF and reports back sadly that it has made no difference. (I speak a sympathetic mother of an EBF 5 month old DD who won't even take a bottle of BM...sob...)

Mishy1234 Thu 06-Jan-11 09:50:43

I agree that formula probably won't make your DS sleep through. He's still very young at 6 months and it is likely he's waking for comfort and possibly hunger.

My feeling is that babies do wake for comfort and don't see an issue with that as it's perfectly natural. Personally I would try to go with the flow. However, if you are finding it unmanageable and you are exhausted I would look for other options. Have you tried co-sleeping?

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