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Breastfeeding 6 month old when he wakes at night. Should I stop?

(19 Posts)
mumtojohn Thu 11-Jun-09 22:04:07

My DS is nearing 6 months and (after sleeping through for a few months) has started waking several times in the night, screaming. I always feed him as it gets him back to sleep really fast and without fuss.

However, friends have said it is madness to feed him when he wakes as it creates the wrong sleep associations: i.e., he will expect a nice bf every time he wakes for the rest of his first year (effectively I am rewarding him for waking), when he needs to learn to get back to sleep without it. This also means I will get rubbish sleep for the forseeable, of course.

I agree with them if they are right that he is just feeding for comfort when he wakes, but I am unsure how to break the cycle, especially as he sleeps in our room. Leaving him to cry at all means we don't sleep until he does! Perhaps I need to wait until he moves into his own room (we need to get round to it!) and try some sort of 'crying it out' technique (checking him at regular intervals etc).

My main question though is whether he is comfort feeding at all. I am wondering if he is actually genuinely hungry. I say this because when he does bf at night, he gets on with it quickly and efficiently (far more so than in the day, when he will often stay on the boob for an hour, comfort feeding, if I let him); he sucks continuously and then finishes by himself. This makes me wonder if he is in fact, hungry, and therefore not feeding him at night when he wakes is at best a losing battle and at worst, downright mean.

Any thoughts? Has anyone has this and come out the other end? He has 5 bfs in the day and 2 solid feeds. I have only been solid feeding for a few weeks but his night time wakings started (just) before I began weaning.

fishie Thu 11-Jun-09 22:09:34

mtj this is all normal, go ahead do feed your baby.

maybe friends are being nice and trying to make sure you are ok but sometimes people seem to be oddly obsessed by getting babies under control.

do what you want to, which is likely to be what your baby does. winner all round.

mawbroon Thu 11-Jun-09 22:34:50

Yup, what fishie says.

If you are happy to do it, then carry on.

I learned the hard way with my ds that going with his needs is much easier than going against.

PacificDogwood Thu 11-Jun-09 22:43:34

Why on earth would you want to stop if it works wink?
At 7 months he is still tiny and even if strictly speaking he may not be starving at night, so what if he just needs comfort?
IMO, he will reduce his night feeding in his own time. Sleeping through the night has nought to do with food and ALL to do with maturity, development and baby's personality.
Go with the flow, he will let you know when he does not need you overnight anymore.

BTW, my DS3 required 2-3 night time snacks until he was about 10 months old and then v abruptly just stopped, sleeping 11-12 hrs/night. It was far easier for all of us to just dock him on, feed for 5 min and go to sleep again - in fact I think I perfected the art of getting up, putting v cosy dressing gown on, feeding him in his room and returning to my bed without waking up.

Repeat MN mantra: this too will pass.. smile

Syb Thu 11-Jun-09 22:47:46

This is exactly what happened with mine. I always fed him, I thought just for comfort. However I had to stop breast feeding as I was going back to work, and immediately after the first bottle he started sleeping through the night. I'm absolutely not saying you should stop breast feeding, only suggesting that the smaller calorie count in breast milk maybe isn't enough to see yours through the night. So keep feeding!

KristinaM Thu 11-Jun-09 22:52:51

sorry, syb, are you saying that there are fewer calories in breast milk than in formula so giving a bottle will make a baby sleep through?

because AFAIK that's incorrect

i woudl agree with fishie, ignore your friends and follow your instinct. just feed him when he needs it. maybe he's hungry, maybe he's just lonely. who knows? he just wants his mum

you will blink and he will be off to university smile

OmicronPersei8 Thu 11-Jun-09 22:55:54

DD did this - I stopped feeding her and she still woke up 3-4 times every night until she was 10 months old. Second time round, with DS I fed him whenever he woke at night because after a while I began to wish that I did have the magic comfort of the breastfeed to offer my DD. I've had no regrets, he still wakes at night (he's 14 months) but only once at 4am now and I feel happy with my choice.

I think DS being my second child I've realised that the important thing is to do what you're comfortable with, and whatever that is, in the end they will sleep better. Do what you feel comfortable with.

Syb Thu 11-Jun-09 23:05:18

thats not what I'm saying!smile Breast milk is infinitately better for your baby, and partly thats because breast milk can have more calories than your milk - hence why bottle fed babies can put on more weight - and no one is sure if thats a good thing. All i'm saying is that some babies wake in the night because they ARE hungry, mine certainly was, and I don't think you should deny them the feed.
I didn't give him the bottle to make him sleep through, I barely slept for six months, and didn't care because I wanted to do the best for him. I wish I could have done it for longer!
Agree with you KristinaM that following your instincts is a good thing. You are the only one who really knows your baby

KristinaM Thu 11-Jun-09 23:12:00

thank you for clarifying smile

its just that there are some people who believe that [whispers] a teaspoon of pureed carrot/pear is more filling or calorific or nutritious than breast milk shock

i was just checking.... grin

PacificDogwood Thu 11-Jun-09 23:17:40

Formula milk is not as easily digested as breast milk, so leaves the stomach slower, so may make baby feel full for longer. Nothing to do with calories.

Like I said, my 3 Dss all slept through when they were ready: DS1, bottle fed aged 8 months, DS 2 mixfed aged 2 months, DS10 breast fed 10 months.

I would totally agree with going with what you are comfortable with.

Syb Thu 11-Jun-09 23:19:30

No problem!
Breastmilk contains everything babies need, and cannot be beaten. Mumtojohn should be congratulated for persisting despite the sleep deprivation. God knows, you don't get the support from most health visitors... but thats a different thread...

mumtojohn Fri 12-Jun-09 09:14:03

Thsnks so much everyone. I will continue - it's much better for everyone all round and I don't really mind the sleep loss. Do people find that when they wake up in the morning they often can't even remember how many times they were up or when? Sometimes I even have to think as to whether he woke up or not.

KristinaM Fri 12-Jun-09 09:31:00

yes! my Dh will ask how often i was up and i have no idea. unless it was never grin

we seem to produce sleeping daughters and non sleeping sons. no idea why......

TrudyVotion Fri 12-Jun-09 20:49:37

Hello. Couldn't help noticing the bit about DS not feeding brilliantly in the day. Now I don't know how to go about this, but could you try to get more of his milk intake into him during the day, rather than during the night?

I know babies wake in the night and BF is a marvellous way to get them off again, I do it myself with my 5 1/2 month old, but that doesn't mean we should be aiming to feed them a zillion times a night - well IMO, anyway. There are no medals for sleep deprivation! I now make a point of whenever possible feeding my son in a quiet, familiar environment so that he'll concentrate on filling his face. I've also found that if I leave him to grizzle for 5 mins he'll often go back to sleep by himself - I don't consider that unacceptable and child torture, esp as after a couple of nights he'll usually stop waking more than once a night, when I will feed him.

Anyway, I'd try to get more milk in him during the day, might help. Good luck!

Dragonfly74 Fri 12-Jun-09 21:00:32

Hi, I totally agree with everyone who has said to feed your DS when he wakes.

My DD is almost 15 mths and still BF, It is only in the last month that she has started to sleep from 6.30pm till 6.00am, I BF her when she wakes and she goes down for another hour.

Personally it didn't bother me whether she was waking for food or comfort, I really enjoyed being alone with her and having cuddles in the middle of the night. Even though I was completely knackered.

Enjoy it...As another poster said you will blink and he will be at university.

merrymonsters Fri 12-Jun-09 21:05:45

He may still need the milk and he's still very young. I don't think there's anything wrong with a baby being comforted.

I don't believe that habits can't be broken. I fed my DD on demand during the night until she was 17 months old, this was still 2-3 hours between feeds. By that age it really was habit.

I got fed up with that and did the 'gentle nightweaning' (we co-sleep) so I offered water and hugs instead of milk between 11pm to 6am. There was some crying but she wasn't left to cry as I still hugged her to sleep. Within a week she started sleeping in 9 hour stretches and she still does. She now sleeps from 8pm to about 5-6am (I breastfeed her then) and then she sleeps again until 8-9am.

tassisssss Fri 12-Jun-09 21:09:41

I'd feed and put back to bed for all wakenings up to 7am. I've done this with my 3, the first 2 slept through (7-7ish) from 8 months and my 3rd is pretty much there now at 12 months. It's hard work, but it's easy too IMO. If they're unsettled or sick, you do the same. It works. It's exhausting though so much sympathy!

elkiedee Sat 13-Jun-09 20:07:21

I agree with those who say feed him, and it seems like that's what you want to do. Whether he wants comfort or food, if it works, it works. Don't worry about what your friends say if you're comfortable with what you're doing now.

momofMMM Mon 22-Jun-09 04:04:40

Hi mumtojohn- I read your post and felt as if you and I have the exact same situation. Everything you wrote connected with me. I would have written a very similar post if I didn't see yours first. My 6 month old has been waking at night and the feedings are the same. Quick and efficient. Family and friends have been encouraging me to stop the 2 night time feedings (usually 12am and 3 am) but I feel as if he really is hungry. It's a descision I am glad to make. Reading your post made me feel like I am not alone. Thanks for writing. Let me know if you are still doing as you stated or if things have changed. Thanks!

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