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Advice from those with experience in "extended" BFing please

(15 Posts)
IsItMeOr Thu 02-Dec-10 21:52:18

Apologies for the length, but I would appreciate comments from those of you with experience of BFing older children.

21mo DS is a bad sleeper. I'm still BFing him, usually four times a day:

1) First thing when he wakes (anything from 5am), which seems to be primarily to keep him company until we can face getting up for the day.

2) After breakfast

3) After nap

4) Bedtime (he generally feeds to sleep)

Recently, he's had a succession of colds and bad teething. Possibly associated with that, he has started waking earlier, and struggling to nap as long as he needs by himself. This means that he is falling asleep while feeding after his shorter-than-needed nap.

Is this normal?

The past week, most days he has fallen asleep while having his post-breakfast feed, and I haven't dared try to transfer him to his cot.

DH and I were talking about things we could possibly try to help everybody get more sleep, and we were just debating whether these feeding patterns are normal. Grateful for comments/advice please.

LeninGrad Thu 02-Dec-10 21:58:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

festivefriedawhingesagain Thu 02-Dec-10 22:04:10

DS is 23m, and we feed just at naptime and bedtime. Naptimes - if he is in the car or pushchair, or I am at work (DH looking after him) he gets to sleep ok without me.

I wouldn't say we co-sleep as such, he starts the night in a single bed, but when he wakes in the night I just bring him into bed with me, then he will generally stay asleep til a decent time, say 7ish, occasionally 630ish. He has slept through maybe a dozen timessad

He has a dummy just for sleeptimes, not allowed it when awake and 'up'.

I think if he's nodding off after breakfast he is just shattered, I might try not feeding him then, just giving a drink and snack, and not feeding until you are happy for him to go to sleep. Have you tried bringing him into bed in the morning and not feeding him? I night weaned very gradually by just not automatically offering and only giving in when he insisted, it gradually tailed off and he seems to just want to be with me rather than neccessarily nursing.

OTOH, if he is teething, off colour and shattered, the extra feeds will probably do him good. But if you are all having disrupted sleep if may be worth a try.

DS has started with some annoying habits lately, biting, playing with nipples, and a couple of times has slapped my faceshock I think there's a section on nursing manners on Kellymom that I am overdue a glance atsmile

What are his naps like?

AngelDog Thu 02-Dec-10 22:23:42

I don't know how long he's been on one nap, but it could be that he needs a period of 2 naps again. Falling asleep feeding at other points in the day and waking up early can both be signs of overtiredness, as can difficult staying asleep for a whole length lunchtime nap, and poor night time sleep.

I'd go back to 2 naps, one after breakfast, one around lunchtime. You may only need to do that while he recovers, or he may actually still need 2 naps as a regular thing for a while yet. Some children can take as long as 6 months to definitively make the transition from 2 naps to 1, so even if he's been on one nap for a while it's not unusual to go back to needing 2.

You may find that two daytime naps reduce the early waking and help him stay asleep longer at night.

(In the No-Cry Nap Solution, one of the tests of whether your child needs 2 naps in a day is whether they drop off in the morning in a sleep-inducing setting e.g. the car.)

I'm not an extended BFer, but my 11 m.o. generally can't stay asleep through a whole length nap without bf in the middle, and that gets more pronounced the more overtired he is.

WoTmania Fri 03-Dec-10 08:54:33

DD is 21 months and nurses, ummm, lots. Including at night.
DS2 at this age (DD was 1 month) was down to 2-3 nursings a day and had nightweaned.
Afraid that there is no 'normal'.
I've noticed that my lot all start sleeping more just before they grow.
No help really but just wanted to reassure you that your DS isn't abnormal.

AngelDog Fri 03-Dec-10 09:10:54

Yes, it's when they sleep that growth hormone is produced, apparently.

IsItMeOr Fri 03-Dec-10 10:59:15

Thanks for all your replies, although not sure how reassuring it is to find that this kind of thing is normal...grin

I don't think 2 naps is the way forward for DS, as he is already sleeping such a short time at night (8.5hours of broken sleep last night). Also, I think that would be quite unusual at his age, looking obsessively at all the sleep books we have.

I've been really careful this morning, and not fed him after breakfast (he woke at 4.30, so was looking tired by then). He has gone into his cot for his nap now.

I think I'll try to stop this sleep-feeding instead of a nap business first, and then we'll try DH's plan of not allowing him to nap/sleep-feed for longer than 1hr45mins (which would be the longest daytime nap our DS has really ever managed).

I think I'm reassured that DS probably needs the comfort right now, one way or another, but want to avoid this current pattern getting fixed as it is pretty hard on us all.

Any other tips/experience very gratefully received. Nobody I know in RL is still BFing, so it's a bit lonely. Thanks again ladies smile.

AngelDog Fri 03-Dec-10 22:02:13

When you say he's only asleep for 8.5 hours, is he awake for longish spells in the night? Obviously he's up early, but does he go to sleep relatively easily at bedtime? I ask because being awake for long periods in the night, frequent waking and an early wake-up can all be due to overtiredness.

So I still think that the short night time sleep could be due to insufficient daytime sleep. According to Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, 5% of children still have 2 naps at 24 months. So 2 naps is relatively unusual, but not unheard-of at that age.

HSSHC says "A common problem occurs when the [first] nap disappears but the child appears very tired during the day and really seems to need to nap. The closer the child is to his second birthday, the more likely you should try to reestablish the nap, because most probably it is biologically needed" (as opposed to 2 naps for a child nearer age 3).

If this is the problem, then a much earlier bedtime might help him sleep for longer at night ("it's not logical, it's biological" says HSSHC). You could always give it a whirl for a couple of days and see if it helps - if not, you could go back to what you're already doing.

But I could be wrong, of course! grin

AngelDog Sat 04-Dec-10 08:09:16

Popping back to update my figures above - according to HSSHC, 12% of 21 m.o. still have 2 naps. By 36 months no children still have 2 naps.

IsItMeOr Sat 04-Dec-10 08:50:44

Thanks AngelDog - we've got that book, but I do find it pretty poorly organised. It has made DH and I cry in despair because we can't make sense of it, before now. I'll try and look it out. Am I the only one who finds that hard when sleep-deprived?!

When he gets about 11 hours total sleep in a 24hour period, DS seems fine, no tiredness problems. This fits with Ferber's sleep ranges, at the very low end. But all DCs are different, right?

The 8.5hours was going to bed at 8ish and waking for day at 4.30ish. With a couple of brief wakes in between.

He slept longer last night - 8ish to sleep and awake for the day at 6am, with again, a couple of brief wakes in between. So I think we'll try to keep a limit on the daytime napping for now, and see if that helps him sleep longer at night.

AngelDog Sat 04-Dec-10 09:50:32

I agree with you on it being a badly organised book (and I dislike his patronising tone - and hate his approach to sleep training). I was in despair when I first read it, but after that I found it really useful in terms of nap scheduling.

It does sound like your DS needs less sleep than some though - as you say, they're all different.

Glad yesterday was better. Apparently it's the total amount of sleep which counts rather than whether it's in naps / nighttime (well, that's what Helen Ball from the Sleep Lab in Durham said at least).

IsItMeOr Sat 04-Dec-10 09:54:14

Thanks for your help AngelDog - it all gets so we don't know which way is up sometimes!

Ferber says the same as Helen Ball, so DH and I figured we should manage down daytime sleep so that we got enough at night to enable us to keep sane (well, just about wink).

StealthPolarBear Sat 04-Dec-10 09:57:32

I can't quite remember what DS was like at this age, but he was definitely being fed during the day at 2yo (gave him his last public feed the day after his second birthday!) Sleep was erratic and a bit of a nightmare I think.
Anyway, while I was pg with DD (so he was 19mo - 2y4m) things improved . I think he was getting older / more able to be reasoned with. The first thing was I stopped having to feed him to sleep. I'd feed until he was sleepy and then I'd say (quite truthfully) that I needed a wee and could he lie down uintil I came back. More often than not he'd be asleep by then. He a;lso started sleeping through the night about half the time, and was MUCH easier to settle when he did wake. At some point after DD was born I dropped his morning feed without too much of a struggle, and now at 3 1/2 he feeds at night, sleeps through almost every night (as do most children I think) and the early waking has stopped. I haven't done much / anything particularly drastic to get to this point, so what I'd say is go with it, make small adjustments where you can and trust that it will get better.
Oh and bribery - DS got a button for sleeping all night in his bed

Are you co sleeping all night or just at the dreaded 5am feed? Would that be an option?

StealthPolarBear Sat 04-Dec-10 09:59:09

sorry the "as do most children" sounds an odd thing to say. I just meant he wakes every now and again during the night (maybe once a fortnight) but it's bad dream / cold / whatever - I don't think he's any worse than any other 3yo at this stage.

IsItMeOr Sat 04-Dec-10 10:36:14

Thanks Stealth. I am hoping that it will get more settled once DS has all his teeth (think he's working on the last molars at the mo - low grade temp for two months shock). Sounds as if that would fit with your time frame.

No, not co-sleeping. The dreaded 5am feed is in a chair in his room. I get very grumpy when DS disturbs the blanket grin. We have tried feeding in bed, but I think we must be the wrong shapes, as it doesn't seem comfortable for either of us. At least this way DH gets a little longer in bed undisturbed, and he then gives DS breakfast while I go back to bed for a litle while.

Recently, have been surviving on DH going to comfort DS if he wakes before 5am. I do feed at 5am, hopefully until about 6am. Take DS to bed and hope he will play quietly for a bit. Sometimes he feeds a bit more. DH gets up with DS to give him breakfast when it's closer to 7am.

So far, so normal, it seems smile.

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