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Formula to help sleep?

(16 Posts)
Tabitha1983 Mon 27-Feb-17 09:45:27

Hi ladies...just after your thoughts/experiences pls
I'm in the middle of 4month sleep regression hell...I've been posting about it a lot! Baby is taking 45min naps (4 per day) and waking hourly (more or less) through the night requiring dummy insert (sometimes does random 1.5hr stretch at some point in the night).
I'm on my knees now as have a toddler to look after too. Baby is EBF but friends/family, including DH, keep telling me if I give him a bottle of formula b4 bed he will sleep better 😕 Has anyone found this to be true? He doesn't seem hungry to me as he goes straight back to sleep once I put dummy back in? (Obviously I feed him too...roughly 10pm,2am,6am) but I'm wondering if formula some how 'knocks them out' for longer?! Yes I know his isn't exactly a good thing but blimey don't know how long I can sustain this sort of sleep deprivation! Even one 2-3 hour block of sleep would be wonderful 🙈😂

OuchBollocks Mon 27-Feb-17 09:49:18

Formula will help if your baby is waking through hunger, and a fair few babies do sleep longer. However if it isn't hunger it may make no difference (it didn't for my nephew and a number of other babies I know) and will be more hassle for you unless your husband is proposing that he's the one getting up to aake the bottle.

FATEdestiny Mon 27-Feb-17 10:01:03

Moving to exclusive formula, or mix feeding but with free amounts of formula through the day, are far more likely to improve sleep than a single bottle at bedtime.

The frequent wake ups you describe, if they are to do with hunger (and they may well not be - there are lots of other reasons), are likely to be due to low level hunger (total calories over 24/48 hours) rather than any hunger at a specific time that requires a one-off feed.

It's unlikely that baby is starving hungry when going to bed, assuming you feed before bed anyway. And a single bottle may not make any difference to frequent waking - because it has only minimal effect on overall calories over the whole day.

So if you are not previous about breastfeeding, by all means introduce a bottle at bedtime. If nothing else it means others can help with bedtime and share the load. Have realistic expectations though, it's not likely to be a Magic Answer.

If you are not previous about breastfeeding at all this time around (which is nothing to feel bad about, life is different with your second), maybe you want to keep breast feeding "for fun" or "for cuddles", but give very frequent formula feeds through the daytime to calorie load.

All that said...

In the middle of sleep deprivation is not a great time for making decisions. Are you absolutely sure you want to start mix feeding? It's a very difficult decision to go back on so be sure you don't look back at this decision with regret.

Tabitha1983 Mon 27-Feb-17 10:09:11

Thanks ladies...so I think the same basically...not convinced it is the 'magic cure' but you know how others can be...blame it on the breast feeding 🙄
Fate...that makes sense tho about the total calorie intake over 24hours...Im not precious about the BF but don't want the hassle of sterilising etc if it's for no benefit?! However, a few bottles during the day to calorie load and give me a break might be better option than bedtime bottle actually-thanks for that consideration x
Oh well...45mins to the second and baby is awake crying 😕 oh the joys! X

pyjamaarama1 Mon 27-Feb-17 10:16:31

In my experiences with my kids, and my friends/family experiences, generally it always appeared to me that formula fed babies often slept longer stretches.

I think it's because usually they have routined feeds. The same amount at regular intervals. Whereas breast fed babies tend to feed on demand and might take smaller amounts more often and perhaps feel hunger more often because they don't fill up like a baby taking a full bottle would. Therefore a big bottle before bed might last longer than a breastfeed where it's hard to know how much milk has been taken, and how much was comfort suckling. If say it's just a couple of ounces worth the chances are they will be awake in a couple of hours feeling hungry again.

If you are completely worn out you won't be at your best to handle a toddler and a small baby. Some women feel great sadness when breastfeeding comes to an end, if you don't feel that way and want to mix feed go for it.

It may potentially lead to finishing breast feeding if it becomes more convenient or helps the sleep situation and if that suits you and won't bother you I would say it's definitely worth a try!

Good luck whatever you decide to do!

Heirhelp Mon 27-Feb-17 10:19:29

My DD was ff at this point. She woke up similar amounts, if not more than OPs description.

CityMole Mon 27-Feb-17 10:19:48

We gave our EBF DS the very occasional bottle of formula at bedtime (if I was ill, or if I couldn't be at home for bedtime). It make feck all difference to his sleep (if anything it made it worse as he was quite often sick after formula about half an hour after a bottle, so we'd have to change him and the bed, and then try to get him back to sleep again).

TBH, I find with sleep regression there is v little you can do other than be there for your LO and ride it out, knowing that IT WILL PASS (until the next regression, but still- with each regression, you come out the other side with a baby who has mastered new skills, and so much fun and joy to be gained form that!) I know it is sod all comfort when you're on your knees with lack of sleep, but I found that once I made peace with the fact that sometimes certain things work, and then they stop working, and then nothing works, and there is no rhyme or reason to it, I actually felt quite relieved, as I was driving myself crazy around the 4m stage looking for the magic answers. (the closest we had to magic answer was co-sleeping and white noise btw).

ElspethFlashman Mon 27-Feb-17 10:26:46

Tbh I think most of the wakings during that period are developmental. It's just that when EBF the go-to is to feed back to sleep numerous times a night so it muddies the waters.

I found formula made little difference to wake ups but it did crystallise just how NOT hungry they were as they literally won't take the bottle on some wake ups. That helped just to clarify what was going on. It meant you had to rely on cuddles and dummy to get back to sleep but it also means that once you start weaning you have already started feeding less at night so they start eating/drinking more during the day. And that's when sleep starts to improve.

I never tried Hungry Baby formula though. Some people have night time success with that as it takes ages to digest.

FATEdestiny Mon 27-Feb-17 10:32:48

With my youngest, I found the decision to start mix feeding at 4-5 monthd really positive. Having EBF one child and EFF another child, I relished the idea of having all the niceness of beastfeeding without any of the pressure.

I started giving 2 hourly formula feeds through the daytime, in thr knowledge that all calories came from formula. But I maintained comfort breastfeeding for ages. I got all the snuggly, bonding cuddles, the cosleeping lie-down feeds, all the parental exclusivity (I did all the feeds, including bottles, all the time), whilst knowing there being no pressure.

It won't work for everyone and I don't think I'd have felt as positive about losing the exclusivity has I not already EBF a child. I would have been far, far more precious (why does this keep autocorrecting to "previous"?) about not giving formula earlier on in my parenting journey or if I'd never been able to exclusively breast feed. In fact with hindsight I think my child formula fed from newborn (day 20) taught me more about baby's feeding than any of the breastfed children.

Mummyme87 Mon 27-Feb-17 10:40:30

In my experience formula was not the cure for a non sleeping baby. My DS was purely FF and he woke every 45mins all night until about 11months.
Very commonly parents introduce some formula at night and find it doesn't help but causes wind and vomiting due to excessive amounts. Obviously there are cases when it does work but not common.
Hungry baby milk isn't advisable as it actually expands in your baby's stomach to fill them, it has no extra calories.

My advice would be ride the sleep regression storm, and remind your family it is normal for babies to wake frequently in their first year

Tabitha1983 Mon 27-Feb-17 10:45:28

It's a really interesting discussion...and a good point made...that maybe it's not the formula itself that often means babies sleep better but rather the fact it is more controlled and you know exactly how much they are taking? Therefore by default the formula babies are better sleepers?
I'm demand feeding (or 2 hourly max), hoping to fill him through the day...but often the bedtime feed feels as if he is just falling asleep and not really filling up? He will settle with dummy so trying not to constantly feed to sleep.
...I FF DD1 (failed attempt at BF) and she slept a dream from about 10 weeks...she did go through 4 month regression, but I'm talking 1-2 night wakings for about 3 weeks...that's a good night now with EBF DS2 😂
I'm so happy to be breastfeeding maybe I shouldn't rock the boat? Although back to work (shifts) when he is 8 months old so he will need to take formula & bottle then anyway x

pyjamaarama1 Mon 27-Feb-17 11:16:53

I would weigh up the pros and cons of the convenience of FF and BF to you personally and see how you feel.

If you are going to have to leave the baby for long periods eventually, learning to take a bottle would be ideal. The longer left, the harder it can be to introduce. Then again, solid food and still BF in the evening and early morning will be possible?

If BF is your absolute preference day to day and you wouldn't want to use bottles apart from last feed before bed it might not be wise incase it results in BF dwindling.

FATEdestiny Mon 27-Feb-17 12:16:52

Tabitha1983 - given the fact that you failed to breastfeed DC1 and are able to do it this time with DC2, you are doing absolutely amazing.

Maybe a mindset change needs to happen, rather than a feeding change.

It would be a real shame to give up on exclusive breastfeeding, given how far you have come. Do you have accessed to a breast feeding support group? These may be better able to boost your confidence in breastfeeding, because you can do this. You will get through it. It is hard though, be kind to yourself flowers

helenfagain Mon 27-Feb-17 12:25:12

I stopped breastfeeding at 8 months due to serious biting issues and I can honestly say moving to formula made no difference whatsoever to his sleep!

MargaretCabbage Mon 27-Feb-17 12:55:11

My EBF baby is a million times better at sleeping than my FF baby ever was. If you want to introduce a bottle of formula or expressed milk so somebody else can take over for a bit so you can get some sleep it's worth a go, but if you're happy to continue to BF don't bother as it might not make a difference. If you're able to feed lying down and co-sleep it makes it much easier.

Tabitha1983 Mon 27-Feb-17 18:55:51

Thanks Fate you always know what to say don't you 😊
Decision made...sticking with the EBF for now...nobody has convinced me the poor sleep is anything other than sleep regression so no point throwing my hard work away now?!
...I'll cling onto the 'I can do this' 😝
And DH is taking his turn at some dummy inserts tonight so that will help me recharge a bit! X

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