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I think I need to sleep train....but so scared!

(15 Posts)
PersisFord Thu 07-Jan-16 08:21:34


I've got a 7 month old baby and a toddler. Toddler was appalling sleeper but because she was my PFB I just went with it, cosleep, fed on demand, etc....then did gradual withdrawal at about a year and it worked well.

This little one was fine up until 18 weeks, then became a lot more unsettled. He is in our room still in a cosleeper cot and needs to move into his cot, but that means he will be in with DD and I need him to be better before then. DH has a week off work, so now is the time!

He used to self settle at bedtime, wake once or twice for a good feed, and wake up for the day at about 5:30. This was great. But for about 3 weeks he is needing to be patted to sleep in his cot and is waking every hour. Until about midnight he can be resettled with his dummy and a pat in the cot, then I feed him at about midnight. Then the trouble starts - he will still wake every hour but won't settle with his dummy and wants to feed, but he won't feed properly, just suckling with no milk coming out. It sends me into a frenzy and I am getting blocked ducts and all sorts from it. So it has to stop.

What do I do? My current plan is to try and settle him in his cot without feeding for wakes before midnight, then for anything between that feed and 3, and then for anything between that feed and 6. But it is causing a lot of screaming and I'm not sure if it's a confusing message. Or whether I need to work harder at him self settling. Or whether I just need to ride it out. The trouble is that he will have to go in with DD within the next couple of weeks, and we are all so tired and miserable and snappy.

I know this is an epic...but if anyone could help I would be so grateful!!

PersisFord Thu 07-Jan-16 08:23:20

I should say that CC, CIO are not for me - I am sure they work well and are totally harmless for baby, but I just can't. I am prepared for crying with me there trying to soothe him, but not for any crying on his own. And I know that it will take longer because of that but I will just have to suck that up!

FaithAscending Thu 07-Jan-16 08:28:13

We had similar night time issues at 9 months (a trip away with teething issues really unsettled DD). We started sending in DH instead of me, offering a bottle. She had no interest and after 3 nights realising boob access had been withdrawn overnight, she slept through.

PersisFord Thu 07-Jan-16 08:36:39

He's never had a bottle, don't think he would know where to start with it. We could try I suppose. Sleep through would be amazing but I would settle for just not loads of screaming and things!!

FATEdestiny Thu 07-Jan-16 14:10:00

Hi PersisFord

7 months old - how's his weaning going? It is not unusual for babies to be more hungry at night during early weaning. This is because the types of food given in early weaning (veg, fruit etc) tend to be the low calorie foods. Also amounts consumed may be low.

In early weaning (child dependant, but generally from 6m to 9m) baby will still need the same amount of milk they were getting pre-weaning. During the growth spurt they will need more. The solids should be on top of their milk, not instead of.

If baby's tummy is full of low calorie parsnip and carrot followed by some banana slices for example, then baby's tummy may be too full to take the calorie-rich breast milk that he needs. So timings to fit in full milk feeds plus three meals a day can be a logistical nightmare! I remember it feeling like going back to the newborn days of baby spending all of their waking time being fed.

My waffling aside, this is why night wakings and night feeds can temporarily increase at this age. My later weaning (9m to 12m) portion sizes increase and more food groups are eaten in bigger quantities, fluid intake (non milk) starts improving - all this leads to a time when milk feeds start decreasing until reaching 12 months - 12 months marks when baby's calories should be primarily be coming from his diet not milk.

Also bear in mind fluid intake. Consider how much of your breastmilk he was 'drinking' before he started weaning. Is his water intake keeping up? A child who's well hydrated through the day has no reason to wake up thirsty. But a child who's dehydrated may wake up thirsty in the night.

You may be wondering why I am wittering on about weaning when you asked about sleeping. But I believe the two are directly linked. I don't think sleep training would be right for your son right now, because there would seem (to me) to be a reason for him waking (hunger/thirst) rather than him just waking up for no reason.

I would try to increase the amount of milk he's having during the daytime. I appreciate that is hard to do when breastfeeding. Otherwise, for now just accept that he might want more milk feeds in the night but know and expect that as weaning becomes more established it should improve.

PersisFord Thu 07-Jan-16 19:51:50

Thank you both!

He is doing BLW so he has gone straight to 3 meals a day but that involves a lot of food smeared in hair and not loads of actual calories going in. So I guess he might be hungry due to not enough solids - I give him lots of high calorie things like banana, avocado, rice pudding etc but he still isn't very good at it. The thing is that I would be very happy to feed him overnight but he isn't feeding, just messing around. Which I why I thought I should sleep train him....but I'm pleased to think that I might not!

So do I just roll with the punches until his eating is better? I am so tired that I tend to fall asleep immediately he latched on which I think has given him the impression that I want to sleep with him attached to my breast - maybe he thinks he's helping me out!!

PersisFord Thu 07-Jan-16 19:52:14

Oh, and should I feed every wake up then?

FATEdestiny Thu 07-Jan-16 21:05:03

If you think you can get him to take more milk through the daytime then night weaning would help. If you were bottle feeding I would definitely say that, just stop feeding in the night and he'll soon start making up for it in the daytime.

But it's different with BF babies, as you will know. It more comes down to if he would be willing to feed more in the daytime, because you cant realistically make him. If he's not 'playing ball' then you'll just have to feed on demand until you reach the point where you are confident he is getting enough calories from him solid diet so can start refusing feeds at night.

Nan0second Thu 07-Jan-16 21:22:43

Totally agree with everything FATE said (as ever pretty much) although I will add that we went cold turkey on the dummy at 7 months as baby was waking up needing it replacing every 2 hours, sometimes more, on top of 2-3 feeds... (Breast). Within 2 nights all wake ups stopped apart from the 2 feeds and we are all doing 100% better!
Just a thought.
We too are blw - but I make sure her diet is high protein / high carb as well as the veggies and am pushing very regular breast feeds in the day (nearly 2 hourly!) - as FATE says, it really is like having a newborn again!

PersisFord Thu 07-Jan-16 21:49:41

I had been trying to space his BF out in the day as I thought he would feed better and get into the habit of going longer...maybe I have made it worse!! I will up the BF, up the carbs....and carry on feeding at night. He is up about every 45 mins though, and doesn't feed brilliantly at the night feeds - he used to really chug away but now he is barely taking in any milk. But I guess he is sleepy.

The other thing is that he is so restless between about 3 and 6 - doesn't seem to get into a deep sleep at all. Then he is ratty and doesn't want to feed. Any thoughts?

FATEdestiny Thu 07-Jan-16 21:59:46

Could he be in pain? Teething or digestive issues which can come alongside early weaning and baby's digestive system learns to cope with proper food. If he's suckling a lot in the night but not taking milk, could it be wind?

PersisFord Thu 07-Jan-16 22:37:31

Ooh, and dream feeds...? Good or bad

FATEdestiny Thu 07-Jan-16 22:56:53

Meh - horses for courses

Some babies like a dreamfeed and it helps them sleep through.
Some babies refuse a dreamfeed no matter what you try
Some babies like a dreamfeed but it has no effect on night wakings so serves no purpose.

You also don't have to have the dreamfeed set in stone. Its fine to do a DF some nights when you are not too knackered whe going to bed. Then on other nights when you just want to go to sleep, don't bother with a DF.

No good or bad about it really.

PersisFord Fri 08-Jan-16 02:31:44

It could be teeth, he's a dribble monster....but it's been going on for weeks. But I could try calpol st bedtime and see if it helps.

Actually tonight he has fed at midnight and 2, but both enormous feeds! So that's good.

Nan0 - I've wondered about ditching the dummy - how did you do it? He doesn't have a comfort blanket or anything and I'm worried about leaving him with nothing to comfort him at all.....

Nan0second Wed 27-Jan-16 16:35:24

Sorry just saw this. We went cold turkey one bedtime. Sat by the cot and held her hand, shushing. She was very upset and angry (for nearly an hour) but then fell asleep without it and then hasn't missed it since!

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