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Night feeds: hunger or sleep association? So confused!

(5 Posts)
Heloise1982 Wed 21-Sep-16 08:03:26

I have 7 mo twins. On a good night one wakes once, the other twice. On a bad night, it's twice and 3 or 4 times. So I'm up in the night anything up 6 times. Very occasionally they will settle with a dummy but normally they will only go to sleep after a feed. They don't feed 'to sleep' (they go back into their cots awake) but the feed definitely settles and they usually go straight back to sleep.

I'm desperate to drop at least some of these feeds. I'm so sleep deprived! I'm breastfeeding, so can't even share the load. I've got no problem with doing a bit of controlled crying, and I'm sure feeding has become a bit of a sleep association, but I'm sure sometimes they really are hungry, and I'm not confident I can tell the difference. A few nights ago one of them woke up at 11.30 and had a big feed; he woke up again at 1, and I was sure he couldn't be hungry so just left him (after checking nappy etc) and after 40 minutes of fussing he went back to sleep. But then last night he woke up at 10.30. He never wakes this early for a feed normally, so I left him again. At first he was just fussing and yawning and I thought he would go back to sleep, but he was still going an hour later and starting to get more distressed. Now, 11.30 is around the time he often does feed, so basically he'd kept himself awake til feeding time. Even if he wasn't hungry to begin with, I was worried he WAS hungry now, so fed him (and he went back to sleep.) So it was the worst of both worlds, an hour of crying plus a feed anyway!

How do I negotiate this? Any advice? I really feel like I don't know what I'm doing! How do I know when to feed and when to leave them? And what do I do if they wake up originally because they just want a feed to help themselves get back to sleep, but then stay awake a while and start being actually hungry?


TheHubblesWindscreenWipers Wed 21-Sep-16 13:03:28

My ds is a year next week and still wakes a dozen or so times a night. Mostly we can get him back down with settling but he seems to need a feed about 11, one about 2 and then wants to feed constantly from 3am. He is genuinely hungry at thesefeeds and I can often smell a strong ketone smell on him, so I do think he's hungry
. I'm not sure how you tell other than trying other methods to settle them first. If that doesn't work then he they may be hungry.

I posted something similar today ... will see if anyone has any advice :/

Tatlerer Wed 21-Sep-16 13:50:35

Firstly, you both have my sympathies, it's brutal. Secondly, please know that I am not an expert, just a mum like you, but in trying to get DD to sleep better I think I bought and read every book on the topic, looked at every website and in the end consulted two sleep consultants and several maternity nurses. So, I believe I have some knowledge around the topic!
Heloise, like you my DD went to bed having fed and didn't fall asleep at the breast and subsequently the bottle (more on that later) but would wake several times a night and would only seem to settle after a feed. I too tied myself up in knots as to whether DD was hungry or waking out of habit.
What's the twins' daytime routine like? I found the Gina Ford timings worked for us. Versions of this was also what the maternity nurses and sleep consultants used. I followed the sleep timings and the feed timings, which is easier to do when bottle feeding. So initially I was expressing so I could see how much she was taking at each feed, but that was short-lived and we ended up changing to formula. Before I get attacked, I am not advocating this. In my case, I had a 'little snacker' who was taking teensy tiny feeds. Your twins may well feed very well and you may be confident they are eating enough. I wasn't. Even less so when I saw the evidence from the bottle! Anyhow, once the day time routine was established (fell together pretty easily once the feeds were scheduled) we tackled the nights. Firstly I introduced a late feed around 10.30/11 (gradually moved back to 10) which I woke DD for. However, I phased this out when DD was established on solids. How are your twins doing on the solids front? Secondly, in my DD's case, despite a 'textbook' daytime routine and a full tummy she was still waking at night, so I did some controlled crying. Or timed soothing. Call it what you will. Basically went in after 2 mins, reassured and touched her, stroked head, left. Then repeat after 4 mins, 6 mins. Never got beyond 20 mins total crying. It wasn't the nicest experience of my life but it worked.
TheHubbles I'm guessing as your wee one is nearly a year old that he's eating well? I'm almost certain therefore that he doesn't need those feeds overnight. Could you try water from a cup and see if he loses interest?
It's not easy and you've not been doing anything wrong. Some of my friends had model sleepers from very early on in the absence of any kinds of routines, sleep training etc. Some had model sleepers once they established routines. Others (like me) needed both.
DD is 3 in December and is a happy, settled little thing who sleeps all night unless she's ill or has a bad dream, in which case after a quick kiss and cuddle she'll always resettle.
Good luck.

FATEdestiny Wed 21-Sep-16 14:16:21

7 months old is a confusing age in the 'is baby hungry or just tired and wanting to go to sleep' debate. You are so early into weaning.

Until baby is fully weaning (3 meals a day, bigger portions, all good groups, bored diet and plenty of fluids for hydration) it is reasonable to assume baby may be hungry at night. Calorific need is ever increasing, yet early weaning foods are often low calorie and portions small, so baby often makes up for this with extra night feeds

I used to have the 10 min / 60 min dummy/feed rule. If baby woke I would settle with a dummy. If baby was still awake after 10 minutes of dummy settling, I'd feed. If baby did settle within 10 mins but then woke again within 60m I wouldn't bother with dummy, I'd just go straight to a feed. If baby has slept longer than an hour, I'd try to resettle with the dummy again.

TheHubblesWindscreenWipers Wed 21-Sep-16 15:23:05

He's not a great eater. Varies a lot day to day. He seems to burn through energy quickly. Weve tried water from a cup and a week of controlled crying. Neither worked - the controlled crying just made him extremely fearful and it took us several weeks to get him to even sit in his cot without crying. He never calmed down when we went back to soothe him and cried for several hours (it was horrendous to be honest...but we were desperate and assumed it'd work if we stuck to it.)
Heloise, there may just be nothing you can do. We are surviving by sleeping in shifts. It's not ideal but it's the only thing we can control.
I'd make sure they have full tummies by feeding lots during the day - perhaps a bedtime snack of porridge with cream/oil/butter in. Then try to resettle cwith water / rocking if they wake

Although I'm the last person you should listen to..

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