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can i stop night feeds? - 6MO waking every 3 hours in the night and i'm not functioning properly.

(15 Posts)
nello Sat 24-Sep-11 09:21:25

i have no idea whether she is hungry, and up to now have been feeding her every time she wakes which is generally at bedtime 7pm, then at 10.30pm, 2.am, 4am, 6.30am (get up). I have had enough! I am exhausted and am not functioning properly in the daytime, and don't have the energy i want to have for her in the day.

I'm wondering whether it she has got into a habit of expecting a feed for comfort when she wakes and whether she is not actually hungry. I don't think she can be properly hungry at each of these times. And so I am wondering whether i can stop feeding at some of these wakes? I am worried about not feeding her if she is actually hungry, and this is something i don't know how to judge. Any one have nay experience of this? Last night i offered her water in a bottle at 4am but she cried for a whole hour and a half and i ended up giving her a feed and taking her to bed with us sad so that didn't go down well. so, how do you judge when she needs a feed and when she doesn't...and if she doesn't how on earth do i manage to settle her when she is used to having my boob to comfort herself? Cuddles work at 9pm when she sometimes wakes and i refuse to feed her, but in the middle of the night all she wants is my boob it seems confused

I am trying to give her 3 meals a day, but at the moment she is still 'experimenting' -not eating full meals and is on 4 hourly feeds in the day too.

Any ideas? thanks!

organiccarrotcake Sat 24-Sep-11 10:07:04

Initial thoughts are that 4 hourly daytime feeds are unlikely to be enough for her at just 6 months. She's very young to be taking 3 meals a day - as you say she's just experimenting which is perfect - and she's really going to be taking the same amount of milk as before until she's heading towards a year old. So she's got to get a certain number of calories on board in a 24 hour period and she will make these up with night feeds if necessary.

You might consider trying to feed her 2-3 hourly during the day, and also giving her as much as possible at her 9pm waking - both boobs and the first again if she'll take it - to keep her going as long as possible.

You can generally tell if they're hungry or comfort feeding at night because of the amount they take on board. Comfort feeding is a lovely way to get them to sleep quickly, but as it's affecting your sleep and if you don't find that giving her more during the day helps, you might want to look at the "No-Cry Sleep Solution" by Elizabeth Pantley, which gives gentle ways to encourage the breaking of a feed to sleep cycle.

However, I would certainly consider more day feeds first because it seems most likely that this is the problem given the 4 hourly feeds which is just not enough (even if she seems happy and settled on it).

WoTmania Sat 24-Sep-11 10:23:44

I agree with Organic that 4 hourly feeds in the day isn't much.
As to whether she is hungry or 'just' wants comfort well, if you offer other comfort (cuddles) and she still doesn't quiet she probably is hungry.

You could try a couple if things. My first thoguht would be bedsharing, or having her nearby so your sleep is disrupted as little as possible.

Also you could try and up the feeds in the day and maybe use a sling if you're not already. By doing this you're getting the extra calories in in the day and she'll be getting lots of conact too so maybe if her contact needs are met i the day too she'll go a bit longer at night.

What time doy ou go to bed. Many mothers find it helpful to get a really early night a couple of times a week so they catch up a little and it makes the other days more bearable.

It is tough and sleep deprivation sucks but you can get through it.

RitaMorgan Sat 24-Sep-11 10:50:01

I would feed more frequently in the day too - I think at 6 months my ds had just moved towards 3 hourly feeds in the day, but he'd started solids at 5 months and was eating 3 decent meals by then.

Do you feed her to sleep at bedtime? I found that made the biggest difference to ds's sleep - when I fed to sleep at bedtime he needed the boob to fall asleep, so every night waking he needed to be fed back to sleep as well. Instead I started doing his last feed before his bath, and then DP first rocked, then ssh-patted him to sleep. Soon ssh-patting was his sleep cue so if he woke in the night a quick pat would get him back to sleep, and it meant DP could deal with night wakings too.

I still fed him 4 hourly in the night though, at around 11pm and 3am, and at first DP went to him if he woke between those times as if he saw me he expected a feed. Didn't take long til he was only really waking for those two feeds. Once he was eating well in the day, I started shifting the 3am feed towards the morning. I think once he'd been on solids for a month or two he was going 11pm-6am, and then I started bringing the 11pm feed (which was a dreamfeed) earlier and earlier before dropping it too. He still had at least one feed in the night until he'd been on solids for 3 months though - I know HVs/books seem to think that from 6 months babies don't need to feed in the night, but mine definitely did and he was a big daytime eater too.

nello Sat 24-Sep-11 11:00:15

Thanks for your advice, i'm taking it all onboard, but i just want to ask about the 4 hour feeding in the day...she has been doing this since 4 months, as i followed the advice of the baby whisperer of moving them onto a 4 hour cycle at 4 months. do you not agree with this and if not, why does she suggest it do you think? thanks

nello Sat 24-Sep-11 11:08:56

could you suggest how and when i should fit more feeds into the day? currently our day looks something like this:
7am bf
8am soilds
9-11 nap (though wakes early)
11am bf
12 solids
1-3 (nap, wakes early)
3 bf
5 solids
6.30 bath, bf, bed

also, she is actually nearly 7MO - sorry! thanks very much smile

nello Sat 24-Sep-11 11:11:21

me again! also, i get conflicting advice as others telling me i should be b'getting the solids in to her' as it will help her sleep, but if lots of milk not hungry for solids...?

RitaMorgan Sat 24-Sep-11 11:39:25

The Baby Whisperer talks absolute bollocks about breastfeeding - I assume she has only had experience of bottle feeding so just assumes breastfed babies should be doing the same as bottle fed babies. She didn't have any understanding of how breastfeeding works.

If she wakes early from her naps what time does she actually sleep? I think my ds at that age was something like:

7am - bf
8am - breakfast
9.30am - bf
9.45-10.30am - nap
12pm - lunch
1pm - bf
1.30-3.30pm - nap (I'd usually have to feed him back to sleep in the middle of this nap as he could only sleep in 45 minute bursts!)
4pm - bf
5pm - tea
6.30pm - bf
11pm - bf
3am - bf (had moved this to 6am-ish at about 7 months I think, though in reality it was more like a 5am-7am doze/feed session in our bed)

organiccarrotcake Sat 24-Sep-11 12:05:55

The Baby Whisperer is famous for scuppering breastfeeding with her routines. Even though they're not as strict as, say, the lady who must not be named, the 4 hourly feeding just is NOT enough. Sadly she died - what - 10 years ago? Maybe more now? And therefore her books haven't been updated with new research. From what I understand from someone who knew her well she'd have certainly updated them had she still been alive (but that's third hand info).

Some breastfeeding relationships will work just fine on 4 hourly feeds, and some babies will even thrive on it, but that's very rare and is likely to be because their mother's milk supply is unusually high, and unusually resilient to the low amount of stimulation.

"Getting solids into her" is often suggested if they waking up hungry, but the logic doesn't quite work because at this age they're best just exploring foods, and the majority of food should be milk, so, that's why giving more milk makes sense.

DangoDays Sun 25-Sep-11 10:36:56

Agree with Rita and Organic in terms of more frequent feeding in the day. At 7 months my ds was at least 5/6 feeds in the day and 1/2 at night. He didn't really get into food until about 8 months....just not that interested. I am sure once your DD is more interested in food then she will start to drop feeds, until then feed lots in the day.

Hopefully more milk in the day will help at night. Perhaps the more your ds gets used to being comforted other ways at night the easier it might become to settle her without milk, but if that is how she is used to being settled then give her time to adapt. Like Rita DS is much better comforted by DH in the night as he wants milk if I go in. Also think it is a good ideas to give milk before bath (book, lullaby, cuddle, pat....whatever works) so your DD gets used to going down awake. I found it easier to focus on this in the day when I wasn't so bloody tired. It helped DS get used to this at night so milk wasn't the only trick in the bag!

found it really hard to judge in terms of hunger so not so much advice here on that front except go with your instinct. If you think it seems like a habit comfort suck then I would try to hold off until you think she actually is feeding for hunger. Sending sleep vibes your way smile

harverina Sun 25-Sep-11 20:16:45

Agree with Rita and Organic that 4 hourly feeds are not enough...your dd is probably waking because she isn't getting the calories she needs in the daytime. At 6 months milk should still be your dd's main food. I think that around 6 months my dd fed at 6am, 9am, 11.30am, 2pm, 4.30pm and 7pm. She slept through some nights but usually woke once. A few months later when she was on 3 meals per day she fed 7am, 10am, 2pm, 7pm and supper! When my dd went through growth spurts I increased the feeds even more...better to increase calories during the day than during the night.

I tried the EASY approach and gina ford but they don't fit in with demand feeding.

I highly recommend trying some of Elizabeth Pantley's ideas. We used the pantley pull off method and it worked a treat with no crying!

nello Mon 26-Sep-11 12:58:56

so...i don't want to tempt fate by writing this, but i have upped the amount of milk in the day, feeding every 3 hours more or less and also still giving the three 'meals' letting her eating what she wants to, and then giving her a dream feed at 10pm AND...the night before last she slept all the way through until 6 shock and last night she work once foe a feed at 3.30 and then needed waking at 7 this morning. This is unheard of - thanks guys, i have a spring in my step today!! Here's just hoping it continues hmm , don't want to be too excited incase it doesn't! Thanks so much for the advice grin

lilham Mon 26-Sep-11 13:26:44

Good one nello. My DD is 6mo and she feeds way more often than 4 hourly too. I bf on demand, and fit the solids to my mealtime (if she's not asleep). She does sleep from 10pm to 6am about half the time. And if she doesn't sleep through, she'll usually demand a feed anytime between 3-5am. Looking at your original waking times, it's just one less feed then you between 10 and 6am, but every hour makes a difference isn't it? One thing I do that's a bit different is I offer a top up bf after her meals. Not sure if it undermines the solids, but I felt it's more convenient to my day. If I'm already sitting down feeding her, I might as well get the bf done too, iyswim. Then I can go out or do other things for a couple of hours.

I also recommend Elizabeth Pantley too. One thing I've succeeded during the newborn phase is putting my DD down in the cot awake (half asleep). If she's not too upset, she can self settle with her comfort blanket. So at night I know if she's hungry when she wouldn't stop crying. If she's just woken up, she'd usually just grunt or suck her thumb really really loudly.

harverina Mon 26-Sep-11 16:29:54

Oh that's great news! It's amazing how much better you feel after a decent nights sleep smile

WoTmania Mon 26-Sep-11 17:51:43

Ooooh, let's hope it carries on

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