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Baby-led weaning and sleeping through the night...are they mutually exclusive

(20 Posts)
MACattack Thu 05-Aug-10 22:52:56

My bub is 8.5 months old and he still doesn't sleep through the night. He always wakes between 10.30pm and 12.30am for a feed and then around 3 to 4 hours later and another 3 to 4 hours later after that. My hubby and I are not morning people so anytime before 7am is still considered a night waking and so I will often feed him between 5.30 and 6.30am and put him back to bed. I am fully breast feeding and I am also following the baby-led weaning concept with a bit of spoon feeding as well (weetabix and yogurt for example). On of my fellow mum's thinks he is probably waking because he is hungry because of the BLW method. All the websites indicate that a baby of his age should no longer be waking from hunger but perhaps this is because many babies are spoon-fed. I want to try to cut out the feed between 2 and 4 am but I'm worried I will starve my bub...has anyone else doing BLW had this problem?

Lionstar Thu 05-Aug-10 22:55:19

Sounds EXACTLY like my son. Some kids just don't sleep, mine don't sad

LaDiDaDi Thu 05-Aug-10 22:58:02

Ds is just the same (7.5m) although I now offer ff first three times a day to get him used to it before I go back to work, He still bf loads both day and night!

LadyBiscuit Thu 05-Aug-10 23:01:21

I think other people are right sadly. My DS was (still is) a rubbish sleeper (as am I). I know other BLWed babies who have slept like err babies though so I don't think it's because he's hungry. That does sound pretty frequent for a baby of that age though - are you sure he's hungry and not just lonely/seeking comfort?

You have my sympathies though. I very rarely get an uninterrupted night and my DS is 3 1/2 but at least he goes for 4 or 5 hours at a time now

MummyElk Thu 05-Aug-10 23:23:24

i'm not sure it bears direct corrollation to how you wean your baby - 8.5 months is still young. His main calories are still (and should be) from milk - food is about tasting and getting to know how to get it from hand to mouth!
Every baby is different, but eventually - every baby DOES sleep through.
I suspect your friend is saying this because you are not the 'norm' smile and therefore it adds some justification to her theory - but as with everything i'd say - what's your instinct here? do YOU think it's the BLW?
easier said than done but might be worth just going with the flow...i'm doing this with dd2 and life is much simpler....sigh smile (i'm still flipping knackered though!)

It's Baby Led for a reason...

Bobby99 Sat 07-Aug-10 21:14:05

Hello - you're certainly not alone. My DD is a rubbish sleeper too (7mo). I have wondered if she's hungry in the night - she consistently wakes at 2 or 3am and doesn't settle for a hour or so (in addition to the other 9 or 10 times she wakes and settles quickly once I stick the dummy back in...).

A couple of nights her tummy has been rumbling, but she stopped night feeds of her own accord at 3 months so I haven't reintroduced them.

I think the reliance on the dummy is probably our main problem and I'm not sure how to solve that one.

LifeOfKate Mon 09-Aug-10 21:44:24

We go against your friend's theory here! We are BLW (and breastfeeding) and DS sleeps through the night probably 2 out of 3 nights and only wakes once if he does wake. He is 8 months old, btw. He's not eating vast amounts, so the idea that BLW means they are more hungry does not sit very well with me; surely if BLW babies are eating less solid food than their counterparts, they are dropping feeds slower (i.e. drinking more milk), so should be no more or less hungry (I don't believe babies are any more/less hungry on solids vs milk).
I really don't think that sleep is food related, I just think that all babies are different with their sleep patterns and there are far too many variables to compare babies.
FWIW, DS used to be a rubbish sleeper, we went through a hellish time until he was 5 months old, his sleep has improved dramatically since then, without me consciously changing anything (other than starting BLW at 6 months and moving him into his own room at 4 months), so it's not as if he's always been a good sleeper.

YanknCock Mon 09-Aug-10 21:59:46

Don't think BLW has any effect on sleeping at all. DS (nearly 1) is doing BLW and has a great record of sleeping through since he was 9 weeks old. He had a blip of a few weeks at about 4.5 months which I understand is quite common. Sometimes it is taken as evidence that solid food should be introduced earlier than 6 months, but with some reassurance from MN I didn't give in.

Sometimes they just sleep. I don't kid myself that it has anything to do with me or the BLW. We just got very lucky.

DS didn't really start dropping feeds until he was 9.5 months. BLW is all about exploring for the first couple of months, they still get most of the calories from milk. I highly doubt spoon feeders are getting that many extra calories in--mushed veg is nowhere near as calorific as breastmilk. It just sounds like night feeding is part of your DS's routine. Cutting out one feed will not 'starve' him--he'll make it up in his other feeds!

lovely74 Mon 09-Aug-10 22:12:03

I agree with the LifeofKate. We're BLW DS too (now nearly 10 months)who was a pretty horrible sleeper till about 8.5 months when he started sleeping though most nights, although we have hit a the lovely 10 month regression recently, oh joy! I put down the improvement in his sleep with an increase in his activity levels (he's been crawling and cruising for ages).

I really believe that milk has more calories that solids so it's not logical that a baby who still takes more milk than solids (and food is fun before they're one...) will wake more because they're hungry. The one thing I thought might have been affecting my DS sleep is that because he is BF I think he still tended to save some of his feeds for nighttime. I was really tempted to start offering water at night if his sleeping had continued to be not so good (contraversial I know, sorry!). Can you try and up the amount of feeds he has during the day so then you know he's had adequate milk so when he wakes at night you can try and comfort him back to sleep so he may then realise there's no benefit of waking up?

But, I've had comments from family about him not eating enough when I talk about sleep issues. This is just down to them me not doing it the "normal" ie spoon fed and bottles, way. My DS troughs loads!

MACattack Tue 10-Aug-10 23:11:51

Thanks for all your thoughts guys. It's great to hear I am not alone (although I don't wish sleep issues on anyone!)

I always thought he was hungry rather than seeking comfort but who knows! In the past I've tried to breast feed him for a longer period of time at each feed but even when he was around 4 months he would only feed for about 5 minutes all up and he would last 3 to 4 hours til his next feed which used to amaze me and still does as he will still only drink for a very short amount of time at each feed (and as you know, you can't force feed the breast!) When he was around 5 months old, I thought he was old enough to be sleeping through and for a week we rocked him back to sleep when he woke in the middle of the night, which was completely knackering as it could take up to 45 mins before he'd go back down and then he'd wake 30 mins or an hour or two later. I thought a week should change his behaviour but it didn't and both my hubby and I found it a lot less tiring to just feed him and put him back to bed which brings us to where we are now.

I'm not sure whether it is the BLW or not...that was my thought for a while, but now he is eating more and after hearing from you all, maybe he is just one of those babies that wake. It's great to hear that other BLW bubs are sleeping pretty well though. We also offered water during the night a couple of times last week (don't worry lovely74, I don't think it is too controversial, I agree with making the night time wakings unappealing). He happily sucked it down but then cried for milk (ie he didn't just accept it and go back to sleep). I've also given him chamomile tea, as they swear by it on the continent, and my Mum also gave it to me as a bub but that didn't really work so I'm going to try getting the organic, whole chamomile flowers to see if that makes a difference (it's good for other stuff too, like immunisations, digestive problems etc so nothing to lose there). I've thought about upping the daytime feeds but then I'd be feeding him more often than before I started weaning and that sort of feels regressive so I haven't done it. Not to mention, with 3 meals a day in between his milk feeds there isn't that many opportunities for extra feeds and then he may be less hungry for solids...ah the dilemmas of it all!!

Bobby99 Thu 12-Aug-10 09:19:49

Okay, I don't want to count any chickens, but I think we're on to something here. DD went from waking 10+ times a night to sleeping through overnight. Then we had a night with 4 wakings, then last night she slept from 7.45pm to 4.40am and didn't even wake for her last feed. Then a quick 2 minute cuddle, and back to sleep until 6.15am. Amazing!

And what did I do different? Well, after resisting the advice of my mum for ages I gave DD some porridge with her evening feed. She usually grabs the spoon and shoves it in her own mouth, but sometimes she just opens her mouth and expects me to put the spoon in. Not exactly BLW, but she's so happy and well rested (and so am I!!! Yippee!!!) and all of her meals are BLW. So we are now doing BWL+porridge!

It may just be that she was ready to sleep better and that small change was enough to make all the difference, I don't know, but I'd definitely encourage anyone to give it a go.

MACattack Thu 12-Aug-10 11:03:43

Great news Bobby99!

My bub's night was slightly better too, but like you, I don't want to count any chickens yet either. We all had quinoa with a chicken casserole and because it was a bit runny, I spoon-fed it to him (BLW in terms of we all ate the same food but non-BLW in terms of me feeding it to him). He ate a fair bit, then he had a few raspberries which he didn't really eat as they were a bit sour then some yogurt to finish off, bath, then breast feed before bed at 7.45pm. He woke unexpectedly about 9.45pm but fell straight back to sleep on my hubby without a feed and didn't wake again until 12.45am then again at 4.45am and then woke around 7.45am this morning. That was effectively two wakings after being put down to bed instead of the usual three! If he would just sleep through to 4.45 without waking I would be even happier...but for now, I just hope he continues to either stick with 2 wakings or get even better with one or none!

I suppose the thing I did differently was to make sure he got the opportunity to eat a lot at dinner to make sure he was Bobby99 with the porridge. Maybe hunger is the reason for these wakings for some of our BLW bubs and we need to modify it a bit to suit

AngelDog Thu 12-Aug-10 14:33:06

There is a very common sleep regression at 8/9 months (see here).

Bobby, I saw your post on the BLW thread. Apparently it's really normal to have lots of night wakings during a sleep regression, then a night or two of really good sleep (maybe sleeping right through even if they've never done it before), then back to their 'old' pattern or some new pattern of sleeping. The theory is that they're so exhausted from all the waking that they have a couple of really good nights of catching up. See here.

But I do hope your good nights contnue!

Bobby99 Fri 13-Aug-10 21:06:08

Hi AngelDog, funny how all the same people pop up on the same threads!

I don't think we're as far as the 8/9 month regression yet, DD's just over 7 months so we have that pleasure to look forward too...

Sorry for broadcasting the porridge theory, but I was so over the moon that it seems to be working. Will report back in a few days.

AngelDog Fri 13-Aug-10 21:48:38

Bobby I think we just all have interchangable babies.

If it's the porridge that works, it's definitely worth sharing!

AngelDog Mon 16-Aug-10 12:26:35

Bobby, I was thinking about your porridge thing and I realised that in the early days I would often be unable to go back to sleep after doing night feeds because I was too hungry to sleep. Now I have a big bowl of porridge at bedtime and it fills me up enough that I can drop off again after being up in the night.

So it's good for babies and for mums!

tahli Fri 05-Aug-11 21:31:07

I am BLW and breast feeding but at 8 months she was still waking a few times a night, so I was advised to try cold bottles (expressed or formula up to you). The switch was enough for her to give up and sleep through very quickly, although you have to be sure they can take a bottle during the day first and that was a much bigger battle!

sedgiebaby Sat 06-Aug-11 13:46:25

Hi, I found your question really interesting and got me thinking! No one wants to withhold feeds at night when baby is hungry, especially not us - we had terrible weight issues at the start and I had to wake her for night feeds for months. However sometimes with night feeds you have the obvious issue of feeding to sleep (which can cause baby to become reliant sucking to settle etc) but also the need can develop where baby can only sleep on a full belly. But its easy to conclude that they are starving! Maybe you are dealing with one of these rather than real hunger, or perhaps the solids are yet to take off and more calories in the day will signal a change. Are you happy about quantities of the uptake of solids?

With BLW v Puree's I'm with you on blending the two, at first I struggled with what to do. Initially BLW theory made great sense but then I got to thinking how in primitive cultures mums are observed to masticate food and feed it to their little ones, so not sure that in primitive times babies were left to go it alone. On the other hand if baby welcomes mashed food from parents, perhaps that is after all baby led in the true sense - as you are following their prompts. So a bit like yourself I do both, only with us, at each meal I offer finger foods and allow baby to help herself to a selection of what we are eating along with spoon feeding.

Not sure what your kind of quantities of solids your baby is taking but once they are on the three good size meals you might feel happier about some night weaning. This is where we are now (dd is 10 months) and she eats so heartily I'm happy now about dropping the remaining night feed which for some weeks I've been moving forward and shortening it - and she does not appear to be missing it.

Emma7007 Sat 06-Aug-11 14:40:31

Hi MAcattack - apparently this is a common problem! As soon as I read this: I ditched the baby led weaning stuff and started spoon feeding when he was 8.5 months. I agree with sedgiebaby blending BLW and puree's is the way to go. He was sleeping much better within a couple of days. At 10 months is down to 2x bf's a day and eats everything and anything. Feel guilty now I know his night waking was due to hunger! He's now sleeping a good 11.30 - 12 hrs solid. Hope this helps

iskra Sat 06-Aug-11 14:50:17

I don't think sleeping through is really connected to food consumption. DD was always a terrible sleeper, and didn't sleep through till 20months, but she was eating plenty by then & not living on milk. I agree with the poster who mentioned the sucking to sleep association, that was certainly our problem with DD.

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