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Please talk to me about whether I can help BF 6mo drop a night feed

(14 Posts)
IsItMeOr Thu 17-Sep-09 12:49:16

Hi,
Our exclusing BF 6mo DS has never "slept through" yet, struggles with sleeping generally, and DH and I are exhausted. I'd really appreciate some advice on what, if anything, I can do to help DS drop a night feed.

So, the best possible night at the moment is one where he settles to sleep after a bath and feed by around 8ish. He then wakes for a feed any time between 10.30 and 1 and then for a secon feed any time between 2.30 and 5. He then wakes up between 6 and 7, ready for the day.

A common night would include a further 5 wakings, including one of up to two hours awake, and if we're really desperate a third feed.

He had got all his feeds day and night down to about 20 minutes, but after a spate of teething and colds, he is feeding for up to an hour at bedtime, and then 45 mins+ for each of the night feeds. He tends to fall asleep during these feeds, and I am loathe to wake him given his tendancy to then take an hour or more to resettle. During the day he seems very distracted during feeding, so I have now started to sit in a quiet room, no TV or anybody else for them which helps a little. He doesn't really seem that enthusiastic for his feeds.

We would love him to drop his second night feed, and DH has read in the cursed sleep books that at 6 months DS shouldn't need any food at night. But I'm not sure that I believe a sleep expert is necessarily a BF expert also, and I honestly don't know where to begin encouraging DS to drop a night feed.

Please can anybody help? Thank you!

cassell Thu 17-Sep-09 16:49:44

One thing that helped me to get ds (exc bf, 5.5mths old) to drop night feeds was to "cluster feed" in the evening so that he was (hopefully) full up and wouldn't then wake. Part of this was supposed to be to do "dream feeds" where you feed them without really waking them iyswim at c10/11pm - though my ds won't settle before 11pm/12 so not much dreamlike about his feeds I just feed him a lot between c10-12! He will then go til 6/7am (or 8 on a really good day) without waking though.

Anyway bumping this for you as I'm sure there are some experts around...!

IsItMeOr Thu 17-Sep-09 17:28:46

Thanks cassell. As I've always tried to feed on demand, I did the cluster feeds for a short while when he wanted them, but then he stopped doing that, so I thought maybe he'd gone past that stage. A bit like you, I've never contemplated a dream feed, as he is always awake most evenings for a feed about that time anyway...Interesting to know that you find it works even at this age though.

On a similar sort of principle I've been trying to give him an extra feed in the afternoon, the last couple of days, but it all went to pot today when I met a friend for coffee and he just wouldn't settle to feed in the coffee shop.

Hmm.

Hulla Thu 17-Sep-09 19:12:57

IsItMeOr my dd was just like this at 6 months but now at 7.5months she'll go to sleep at about 7.30-8pm and have her first feed of the night around 3am (we co-sleep but I started feeling so refreshed when she'd roll over to feed I started checking the time). So what I am saying is if you can hang in there it might not be too long before he drops a nightfeed himself.

Good luck, I know how awful the exhaustion is.

logrrl Thu 17-Sep-09 19:35:45

Perhaps not much help, but my almost 6 month old DS wakes every 2 hours during the night, starting at 10.15pm (although he doesn't stay awake after he's fed and only takes about 15 minutes each time) and this week driven by anguish about the situation, I found reading the stuff on kellymom about "why won't my baby sleep through the night?" really helpful. If you are not into attachment parenting you might not be so impressed. I have to say that I feed every time with the exception of a feed at about 3-4am, when DS is shh patted back to sleep by my DH, which can take a while (3-10mins).

My understanding now is that it's normal and common for them to be feeding during the night at this age and I for one am going to try and ride it out.

My sister fed both of hers during the night (once or twice) until they were two. Don't know about you, but I hope to have passed this stage LOOONG before two! hmm

IsItMeOr Thu 17-Sep-09 20:41:03

Thanks Hulla and logrrl - strangely it does help to know that others are experiencing similar.

DH has been cuddling DS back to sleep where possible in the night for as long as I can remember (memory definitely suffers with the tiredness!), simply because from 6-13 weeks, he slept very poorly indeed and I couldn't keep feeding him every time. Our rule of thumb was that if he could be cuddled back to sleep then he didn't need a feed, and if he couldn't he needed one iyswim. So we still do that now, and some nights he obviously only wakes up twice so I feed him both times.

logrrl, DH and I both laughed hollowly at your counting 3-10mins as "a while". DH had about 45 mins last night when he was determined that he wouldn't let me feed DS and was going to put DS down awake but not crying. It worked eventually, but I'm not sure if we have finally gone insane to even think that was a good idea.

logrrl Thu 17-Sep-09 21:16:27

blushIn the middle of the night 5 minutes can feel like an hour and an hour the whole night! My husband tells me that the times it has taken longer than a few minutes I have insisted that he hand DS over to me to "make it stop" blush...

We did that "if he keeps crying he must really need fed" thing as well, but I think he was onto us hmm, so we then tried deciding beforehand whether he would be fed or not but this could be a very confusing conversation as we tried to work out how long it had been since he last woke up, in the dark and in a sleep deprived state.... so we just agreed that the third feed (after we were in bed, really his 4th feed) was being cut as more often than not he was latching on and then conking out pretty much straight away. This really has reduced the crying time before settling again, so I guess DS is starting to work that one out hence the less than 10 mins?? If you think you have a pattern you could try this.

It really DOES help to know that you are not the only person in the world awake in the middle of the night (which is why I enjoyed reading those kellymom scientific articles on baby sleep patterns).

IsItMeOr Fri 18-Sep-09 00:54:18

logrrl - think you must be me! DH and I always seem to be having those conversations. Have come down to distract myself from DSs crying as DH tries to get him to settle, and because DH just told me in the nicest possible way that my hovering suggesting DS needed a feed was distracting DS blush.

Right, off to look at the kelly mom link...

DancingDolly Fri 18-Sep-09 09:21:56

I have just logged on this morning in desperation to post for some MN advice/support and this thread could be me and our situation!

DS is 5 and half months and waking every 2 hrs (sometimes more?!) in the night for the boob. He can also take an hour to settle after a feed as well, which I think is connected to wind discomfort, a whole other long story, but there you go...

I agree, it restores my sanity somewhat to know that we are not the only ones. Although this is my 2nd child, DD never seemed quite so 'boob-obsessed' as I put it and DP was always able to settle her to sleep.

Last night sounds very similar to you IsItMeOr, as DP rocked a screaming DS in the bathroom as I hovered nearby and eventually said, 'Just give him to me I'm going to have to feed him' even though he'd been fed just hour and a half before!

I don't know about any of you guys but I sometimes feel very angry/cross about it all in the middle of the night in my sleep deprived state, and whilst I mostly love breastfeeding I start to feel like a milk machine and quite resentful of poor little DSsad The worry for me is that it seems to be getting worse not better (ie more wakenings) and I wonder whether we will have to deal with the screaming and deny the boob at some point for him to get the message?

Anyway, sorry for the hijack, but hoping we can all share some tips/support on this. Have recently started weaning with the tiny glimmer of hope that this may help...hmm

IsItMeOr Fri 18-Sep-09 09:30:57

Hi DancingDolly - grin at what we must look like when trying to get the baby off our poor DHs!

I generally manage not to blame DS, but DH isn't so lucky always, so my DH is particularly long-suffering.

I've realised that DS is really not feeding well at all during the day as he gets distracted, and yesterday was particularly bad, so I think he may have been genuinely hungry all three times he fed last night. Today's plan for feeding during the day is to try and feed him in his room after he wakes up from his naps before bringing him downstairs. At least if I know he's really properly fed, then I fuss less when DH is trying to do his thing.

DH is trying to change the way he settles DS at the same time, so we're not quite sure whether DS's failure to settle - after an hour of DH picking him up every time he cried, rocking him until he was calm and then putting him down awake (DH tells me he repeated this 44 times, bless him), before we agreed that I should feed him - is because of DS being genuinely hungry or the new resettling approach.

Will report back with how we get on tonight!

Rhian82 Fri 18-Sep-09 09:39:53

When DS was 6.5 months we decided to stop feeding him at night. It was hard and took a couple of weeks (DH took over at night cuddling him and comforting him, so my breasts weren't taunting DS!), but then he started sleeping from 7pm through to 5-6am. (We'd feed him once it passed 5am)

He's recently started waking at about 4.30am and screaming a lot, but I think that's because he's teething, has bad eczema and just had a tummy bug (He's now 11 months). We're feeding him whenever he wakes but hope he's not undoing the good sleeping.

BeckBeck Fri 18-Sep-09 10:20:21

Hi IsItMeOr,
From my experience and from some advice I was given when desperate to stop night feeding, when my DS was waking in the night it was because he hadn't eaten enough in the day. So I think getting him to breastfeed properly in the day is a good plan but also making sure he eats enough solids is really important after 6 months. Breast milk is digested very quickly but solid foods with carbohydrate and fat are digested slower so will keep him going longer.

From age 6-9 months my DS was breastfeeding 6-8 times in 24 hours, which was really exhausting. I was advised to cut back to four feeds with a decent amount of time (at least an hour) between milk and meals and a big drink of water at lunch time. I was also advised to increase the amount of fat and carbohydrate in his meals. He now eats so much more at meal times and sleeps through more and if he does wake it's not because he's hungry. I sometimes offer him a feed in the middle of the night if he wakes but he just doesn't want it anymore.

It helped me to get advice from a health visitor at a local breastfeeding group, because she gave specific advice based on my answers to a range of questions about my son's diet and feeding habits, his age, weight etc.

Hope you have a better day today.

DancingDolly Fri 18-Sep-09 11:49:59

Some really helpful/interesting replies.

It seems as though we can either decide to try and cut some/all night feeds and go for it or try and chill out a bit and accept the path of least resistance...this too will pass etc. Have to admit the second is probably more my style grin

Funny how when feeling desperate and exhausted I just want someone to 'tell me what to do'!!smile

IsItMeOr Fri 18-Sep-09 12:43:22

Thanks Rhian and BeckBeck. More ideas for us to try. And I will definitely speak to the health visitor when we've been trying him with solids for a little longer so have a clearer pattern to speak about!

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