Need some support, am pretty low(19 Posts)
Before I start, I know I'm throwing myself a bit of a pity party here but I feel kind of blue and you ladies are all so lovely and supportive I thought this might help.
DS is 11wo and EBF. We've had no real problems with feeding bar the odd worry caused by not knowing what I'm doing (thanks to everyone on MN who helped me with those!) I know I'm really lucky that's it has all been relatively plain sailing. Recently though, I've been wondering if BF was the right choice. He is in no sort of routine, he wakes up to 5/6 times a night, sleeps in our bed and really struggles to fall asleep day and night. All FF babies I know his age are sleeping much better. I have had comments from FIL and friends about giving him formula now to get him to sleep better. DH is supportive but last night panicked me by saying DS won't develop properly unless he gets more sleep. I don't know how to get him to sleep more, he can't settle himself and my mum says that's because I've always fed him off to sleep and I should let him cry himself off. The thought of leaving him to cry frightens me, I just won't be able to handle it. But she is right, he is always fed to sleep. This is by no means foolproof, I was trying to get him to sleep for 4hrs last night, but it does seem to work eventually. Oh and I've also had comments that I'm over feeding him as he has put on between 10-14 oz a week since birth. I wonder if this is because I feed him to sleep so much?
So, my questions are...
Is it normal that sleeping should be such a difficulty for him? Would FF help this? Will he fail to develop if I don't get him in some sort of sleeping routine? Have I been over feeding him?
TIA (apologies for typos and long ramble, am on my phone and can't see what I'm writing!)
I'm sorry I can't help with breast feeding but I have 3dds all formula fed, dd1 was a fab sleeper, dd2 was awful, barely slept seriously never seen anything like it, formula didn't help and I tried different ones, hungry baby ones etc made no difference. Dd3 is 6 months, still waking up once or twice. I feed to sleep as well. Although dd2 was a dreadful sleeper, she is the smartest, funniest 3 year old I've ever met, so the lack of sleep hasn't hindered her. I formula feed for a variety of reasons but sleeping has never been one of them.
I sympathise with the pressure, from yourself and others, about the sleep thing. If it feels like no one else's baby is bf non-stop and feeds to sleep rest assured you are not the only one!
Feeding to sleep is normal, it is natural, and something I have learnt from my experience with DS1: things are only a 'problem' if they are a problem to you. In other words, if you are cool with feeding to sleep and co-sleeping and it's working for your baby (and with that weight gain it obviously is!) then what others think isn't important.
And the sleep/development thing is a total non issue. he will be getting the sleep he needs, when he needs it. So, possibly not in a 10 hour stretch at night yet! They can actually feed and sleep at the same time, crafty things.
And you can't overfeed a bf baby.
Meant to say I really feel for you, lack of sleep is so debilitating, it clouds everything else you do. 11 weeks is still really young though, [whisper] I know a lot of parents that fib about how long their baby sleeps for (5 hours on the trot is seen as through the night).
11wo is still so tiny - I highly doubt there are many 11wos who are sleeping through or self settling whether they are bf or not!
Babies are not designed to sleep for long periods. They feed frequently and bm is easily digested. I know plenty of ff babies who are great sleepers, but others who are terrible, so if you were to give him a bottle there is no guarantee that he would sleep plus you would have all the hassle of sterilizing etc.
Feeding to sleep is not an issue, especially this early. You are doing a wonderful thing for your baby - he feels comforted and secure and blissful in your arms feeding - much better for him to sleep this way that crying himself to sleep. I still feed my ds to sleep and he is 7mo - I will stop if or when it becomes a problem to me or ds but at the minute it works so I am sticking with it.
I find people, especially the older generation, are obsessed the idea that babies should be "independent" and that comforting them will somehow transform them into spoilt power crazed mini dictators! There is also an obsession with getting babies to do stuff (sleep through/eat solids) before they are developmentally ready to do so. Just ignore everyone (I know how hard this is as I have a super-critical mil) and do what you feel is best - he is your baby and you are doing the best thing by bf him.
Routine is ovverated for bf babies in my opinion. The only thing you could do is start a gentle bedtime routine of low lights/bath/feed etc - we only did this at about 3mo when the cluster feeding stopped. This might teach your ds that it is night time - but won't necessarily change the frequency of feeding - as this is very normal.
I recommend The Politics of Breastfeeding! Gave me some steely resolve when I was at your stage!
Totally agree with Moules that babies are designed to feed and sleep in short bursts.
If your baby is getting enough sleep over a 24 hours period I don't think it matters (to him anyway) if it's in 90 minute chunks or 8 hour chunks. I think formula fed babies tend to sleep longer than breastfed babies because formula takes longer to digest - so a breastfed baby will often have an empty stomach after 3 hours sleep whereas a formula fed baby won't. However, as wigglesrock suggests, some babies are just poor sleepers and it isn't about how hungry they are or what kind of milk they have.
Actually, think what a nightmare it would be if your baby woke 6 times a night and needed a bottle to get back to sleep every time - you'd barely spend anytime in bed at all. At least you can breastfeed lying down!
My ds is almost 13 months now and I'm the only one in my circle of friends who still breastfeeds - sometimes I feed him to sleep, sometimes I don't. Of my friends babies the worst self-settler is a little boy who was formula fed from a couple of months old - he can only fall asleep on a bottle and barely sleeps at all in the day.
You sound like you're doing a fantastic job.
I agree with Rita and Moules. 11 weeks is tiny. Most babies' biological clocks don't really start maturing properly till 3-4 months, and on average they're not properly in synchronisation with the 24 hour day till 10 months. So most aren't actually capable of being in a 'routine' till at least then.
The first three months or four are a nightmare and things usually do settle down after then. The older babies get, the easier they usually find it to go to sleep (although progress isn't necessarily linear!) Struggling to get to sleep at that age is really, really normal. At that age I spent 6-10 hours a day trying to get DS to sleep. A ff friend had similar problems.
Waking frequently doesn't cause children a problem if they are just got back to sleep again. Helen Ball who runs the Sleep Lab at Durham University wrote a really good article on co-sleeping (she is a big fan), and she said it's the total number of hours' sleep per 24 which counts, not how long a child stays asleep for at a time. She also recommends not leaving children to cry themselves to sleep under the age of 2. She's written a good article on co-sleeping here.
Feeding to sleep is only a problem if it's a problem for you. I still bf DS to sleep most of the time at nearly 20 months, but that's because both he and I love it, it works, and so I've had no reason to bother teaching him to 'self-settle'. And he usually either sleeps 11 hours straight, or only wakes once at my bedtime (we co-sleep).
And no, you can't overfeed a bf baby.
PS the best advice I had when DS was little was to try walking him in a sling for naps (he didn't feed to sleep in the day at that age), and to try to get him to sleep by the time he'd been awake no more than 1.5 hours since the previous sleep.
And I found sometimes that if he wouldn't feed when I knew he was tired, I'd give him a finger to suck then quickly remove the finger and stick him on the breast, which would sometimes calm him enough to get him to feed to sleep.
It's really unhelpful when people make comments like this. Every baby is different. My EBF DD has always been a good sleeper. It's nothing to do with parental skill but she is just a sleepy baby. Compare to other mums in my group she sleeps better than a lot of FF babies. Slept through from around 11-12 wo, have always been able to into her cot awake.
Would a book help you? I really like Elizabeth Pantley's no cry sleep solution. She says babies under 4mo doesn't sleep properly in the sense of day naps and night sleep. She recommends you to try putting the baby down into the cot drowsy but awake. Oh and my DH helps with putting DD to sleep in difficult nights. She always want boob from me, but takes rocking from DH. That might help your LO to wean off the boob. But tbh at 11wo they are programmed to fall asleep at the breast.
If you are worried, get a copy of the book and read. I found it reassuring that feeding to sleep cannot create bad habit eg.
I had similar worries about sleep and routine when I had DS1 - I didn't feed him to sleep or co-sleep (although he had reflux and wind issues so when I did try feeding him lying down he would vomit anyway) and spent a lot of time getting him into a routine.
With DS2 I quickly found that in order for me to get enough sleep to function, co-sleeping and feeding him to sleep were the way to go. Plus he had no routine other than mostly awake during the day and asleep at night until he started on solids.
DS2 is now nearly 9 months and (although he's still waking to feed during the night to feed, which DS1 stopped doing by about 5 months) he sleeps in his own cot, is sometimes fed to sleep and sometimes settles himself. He also settled into his own routine based around our mealtimes. I really wish I'd known before what I know now - that you don't break a baby by co-sleeping, feeding to sleep and having no routine - as I would have been much more relaxed and had more sleep during the newborn stage with both babies (and basically enjoyed them more!)
As to overfeeding a BF baby - it is possible but it's fairly rare. DS1 overfed (probably due to the reflux issues) and ended up bloated and uncomfortable because of it. I ended up cutting back on his feeds and giving him a dummy to comfort suck instead. However rapid weight gain is completely normal for some EBF babies and if your DS isn't displaying any signs of digestive discomfort/explosive green nappies etc then he isn't overfeeding, just taking what he needs.
I also recommend sticking your DS in a sling and walking about to get him to nap during the day if he's struggling to drop off (or going for a walk with him in a buggy/for a drive in the car). Both my DSs struggled to nap during the day to start and would get overtired which then made everything worse!
I hope that your DS starts to sleep "better" soon! Until then try not to worry and make the choices you feel happy with.
It sounds completely normal to me, very like my DS. Babies have no concept of daily routine - they just go with what they want and they want it right now, no matter what! You're in the very early stages still and it must seem like there's no light at the end of the tunnel, but there is, honestly. One day you'll wake up and think, goodness my baby is huge and thriving, I feel normal and everything is finally going ok! Go with your gut, do what you feel is right and don't listen to all the well-meaning people who are making you doubt yourself. IME the real stress and angst comes from constantly second-guessing yourself and feeling like you're doing the wrong thing. You really have to go with the flow in the early days- you're both getting used to each other and you're bound to feel a bit at sea. As long as your baby is fed, clean, warm and loved then he's doing great. Remember that apart from the love and nutrition absolutely nothing you do now is going to affect how he is as a person. You simply cannot give him bad habits as his brain isn't capable of forming any habits yet. Enjoy him, he won't be this tiny for long!
FWIW I've always fed my DS to sleep. He woke a few times a night till he was about 5 months then suddenly started sleeping 6:30-5am of his own accord. Now he's nearly a year he still wakes sometimes during the night but a quick bf gets him back down in a minute. I love that I can comfort him like that - why would I want to take it away from him? And I love feeding him to sleep in the evening, it's a great opportunity for a quiet cuddle now that he's a wriggly ball of mischief and won't let me hug him for more than a second during the day!
As others have said, it's totally normal. Bear in mind that studies show that formula fed babies do not sleep any better and that co-sleeping, breastfeeding mums often get the most sleep. It just feels like that isn't the case when you're talking to a small group of friends - because a small sample can easily not be representative.
Also bear in mind that a waking for a formula feed is likely to be a lot more disturbing to sleep than a breastfeeding one (if breastfeeding is going well). Formula feed is generally 'get up, go downstairs, heat up bottle, cuddle baby whilst doing so, feed, go back to bed' (although I know some babies will take it cold, etc, etc). A breastfeed can be 'reach over, pick up baby, feed with eyes closed, put back down.' I suppose what I'm trying to say is that counting number of wakings isn't necessarily showing you amount of sleep even.
Unfortunately, some of us just don't get good sleepers. Take a look at my thread here for the evidence!
Routines are by no means essential to development. However, the one thing I would recommend is trying to get your baby off for a nap before he's too overtired. Both of my two have given few tired signs, so I am making a conscious effort with DD2 to put her down for a nap 1 1/2 to 2 hours after she wakes up. They do find it easier to sleep if they are not overtired. But naps in the cot are entirely overrated in my opinion. Sling, pram, car, do whatever works. My DD1 refused to nap in her cot for months, now at nearly 2 1/2 she still has a long lunch time nap, but refuses to do it anywhere but her cot!
Hang on in there!
My DS is 12 weeks old and EBF. I used to really worry that if he slept too much in the day, he wouldn't sleep at night, and would wake him if he slept too much. Recently I've come to notice that the more he sleeps during the day, the more settled he is at night, but if he stays awake for bursts of more than 2 hours he gets horribly overstimulated and can't sleep at all. Do whatever it takes to get your little one to nap during the day, and the nights might improve for you too. When mine is coming up to the 2 hours point and showing no signs of looking sleepy, I pop him in his pram and take him for a stroll, or put him in the sling.
I still do get bad nights from time to time, but they are far less frequent.
I can't help with the BF aspect either as my DD is FF but wanted to say that IMO (and I've converted a good few people to this way of thinking now, using my DD as proof) that babies will do whatever they want, when they want.
My FF DD was a nightmare baby - she never slept and would not be put down for the first 12 weeks of her life. I was a wreck and all the "helpful" comments from family weren't actually helpful. I got the "she won't be developing properly with no sleep" and apparently the way to resolve this was to leave her to cry.
I simply could not do that. Still can't to be honest.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, she led me and now she sleeps 7pm - 6am 99% of the time. She has two 2 hour naps each day and is a healthy thriving 9mo. She settled into this at about 5mo. Teething and chicken pox have thrown spanners in the works at times but generally she's in a nice routine now.
As everyone else said, if you're happy with what you are doing and your instinct tells you it's ok, go with it. My DD turned out to be allergic to formula and resolving that helped a lot but really, she got into her own routine when she was good and ready and me trying to force her into one that suited my DH and my MIL just caused me a lot of tears and feelings of failure.
I very rarely bite back when my MIL starts at me but I really wish I had said to her "if you're so bloody concerned about me eating a meal not holding the baby why don't you hold her for a bit so I can eat this meal then"! Why can't people turn their helpful comments into actual helpful practical help?!
Just want to add my support and agree with the other posters. There's nothing wrong in feeding to sleep, a BF has a totally different growth curve to a FF baby and will grow at his or her own rate, and babies either sleep or don't. It will get better - I promise!
Thanks so much for all your support. It's a relief to know DS is normal in being completely inconsistent and anti-routine and that this isn't going to hinder his development. You are all right in that it's others' comments, 'tips' and judgements that are making me second guess every decision and feel down. Must learn to tune them out and focus on what my baby wants/listen to mumsnetters instead! Easier said than done i know but will give it a go. Thanks again
i would echo all the great advice above. And just wanted to add that frequent feeding (and therefore waking) are the normal behavior of a baby, as bf is the physiological norm for our species. Many people fail to realise this as we've been mostly ff for a couple of generations, and so they see this normal behaviour as a problem.I have always found it reassuring to remember that though the early days of bf are hard work, they are as mother nature intended (and this too shall pass...)
Sounds like your doing a fantastic job x ROUTINE???? bahhhh, got plently of tiem for that, and if other mothers around you were completely honest its probaly not the plain sailing picture they are portaying. As for the BF decision, of course you've made the right choice, babys sleep and baby dont sleep REGARDLESS of how they're fed, and as for over feeding, short of force feeding I dotn see how, mother natures fantastic like that your body will only produce the milk ur LO needs. Perhaps you could look at ur diet if u feel ur milk isnt quite right, the most tinest tweek in ur foods can effect the result (i could never have cauliflower with my LO getting wot appeared to be terrible tummy cramps). At 11 weeks perhaps u may feel ur feeding is stablished enough to use a dummy (if not try letting ur LO suck ur finger instead) as more often than not they are not actually hungry just using u 4 comfort, and although it feels like theyre nursing they are actually using using u as a dummy instead!!!!!! Good luck x
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