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Night feeds getting more frequent...help please!

(7 Posts)
TheJen Sun 19-Aug-07 21:29:11

Can anyone help? I have a 4.5 month old DS (first time on mumsnet so hope lingo ok!!!) who was sleeping through from 8 weeks. He's totally breastfed on demand. About 4 weeks ago following a tummybug and hospital admission on holiday, then a heavy cold and growth spurt- he began to wake in the night, sometimes every 2 hours for food. Although this has improved a little after introducing a 10pm dream feed and moving him into his own room, now he wakes up about 9.45pm and screams for milk. I feed him and now sometimes he wakes 2 hours after this, and sometimes 2 or 3 more times. My DH tries to calm him with some success but generally he wakes again a few hours later and I end up feeding him. Since he has never had a bottle and now refuses I can't top him up with expressed milk so last night I tried baby rice which he loved and he did sleep a little better so I was thrilled but today he has pooed almost constantly and is now really sore so I fear his digestive system is still too young to introduce solids. Basically my fears are as follows;

-what do I do about this dream feed and the fact that he's now waking for it? Will it ever stop? Should we be trying to stop it?
-will he ever sleep through again?
-is my inconsistency just making matters worse...should we be working harder to settle him without a BF? or should I just go with the flow?
-Am I going to have to let him cry to break the habbit? I really really don't want to do this.
I would really appreciate some experienced advice as feeling really exhausted and low.
Thanks

PutThatInYourPipeandSmokeIt Sun 19-Aug-07 21:53:51

Hi there - oh I do sympathise! My DD is similar actually and 8 months old. It's all very up and down and as you say, growth spurts and illness etc all affect them. My personal opinion is that it's much easier to handle once you get in to the mindset that it's all just a phase. As long as he's hungry when he wakes, then feeding is exactly the right thing to do as he needs the calories. If he's just sucking a few times and then dozing off on you then I would think some of it might be habit and you could try offering cooled boiled water (which i guess he won't take as it's in a bottle?) or a dummy BUT 4.5 months is still pretty young. I also think that introducing solids at 6 months is considered almost 100% 'safe' in that all digestive systems are mature by then, though of course there are always going to be the exception to the rule. I personally don't think you should feed solids just to get him to sleep - try to put it down to the fun of early parenthood. I know it's knackering but you have to do what's best for him not for you.

I don't know if this helps but every time DD wakes, I try the same old routine of soothe, dummy, water, milk (also BF) and sometimes just the soothing works, sometimes the water etc etc. She seems to need different things at different times (most unhelpful!). Plus they are all different. Just know that this will NOT go on for ever!! I personally stopped doing a dream feed as like your DS, she started waking for it. If she wakes at that time now I can usually soother her back to sleep.

Having said all of this - your DS is gearing up for his massive 6 month growth spurt and is likely to be needing the milk. Oh dear - I've been no help at all have I?

TheJen Sun 19-Aug-07 22:20:19

Thanks, glad I'm not alone! I think half my problem is that I feel a huge social pressure to know what I'm doing and look in control. I will try soothing first as you suggested but am now sitting on the sofa trying to decide if I wake the sleeping baby for his feed or risk going to bed and having to get up in 20 mins... beginning to dread the unpredictability of nights as so tired.

PutThatInYourPipeandSmokeIt Mon 20-Aug-07 07:30:03

Ah yes I know - how was last night? I used to feed her then but stopped as I thought I might we waking her up and sure enough she suddenly stopped waking then but woke a couple of hours later instead. I decided that the best thing for us was just to let her do her own thing and for me not to try to influence her body clock and just see what happened. I do think that 4.5 months is too young to try to train them - as in I don't think they should be trained at the age but that's just my opinion. What I would say is that it is absolutely perfectly ok to buy yourself some sleep by asking someone else (e.g. DP!) to give him a bottle of expressed / formula and to take over for one night so you can be off duty. You may still wake but you won't have to get out of bed and you'll go straight back off to sleep. Doing this once a week / fortnight may just be all you need to feel better? I know my wall crashes down weekly so i just work with that!

fruitful Mon 20-Aug-07 07:54:49

I agree about the mindset. Survival is the key here. You have a few weeks till yo can start solids (I know, seems like a lifetime but really its not). And it is a phase, which also won't last forever. Its always always worth working out if you can survive whatever they're doing until they grow out of it, because 90% of the time they change b themselves without your having to "fix" anything. If he doesn't, you can do sleep training later. I know you feel as if you ought to be in control and know what you're doing, but don't be fooled by any other mums - we're all just guessing you know. I'm pg with my third and praying I'll get one that sleeps, but if I don't, I'll muddle through.

Both my dcs got worse at night at around 4 months. One was bf and one formula-fed and the formula made no difference at all!

Can you bf lying down in your bed? Much easier on you. Esp if your dh can get ds and put him next to you!

Can you feed 2-hourly all day for a bit (stuff it into him and hope he isn't so hungry at night?).

Also do decide on a plan with your dh. So you don't have to think at nighttime. Like, is one of you going to try to settle him / put him off for a bit or are you going to leap up and feed him straight away in the hope that everyone's sleep will be less disturbed.

Not much use I know, just wanted to offer support really - sleep deprivation is torture! And it will pass.

TheJen Mon 20-Aug-07 09:49:03

Well after all that... last night was good!! He fed at 10.30 then slept through- under no illusions that it will happen again but it was great to catch up on some sleep and lovely to wake up to your messages of support-thank you. I did wake him but regret doing it as it seems mean and I read your message this morning about going with DS' natural body clock and that seems to make sense.
I think your right about the mind set and it is very reassuring to hear that other babies struggle at 4 months- I was beginning to feel like I'd broken him and he'd been feeding in the night til he was 3! (its amazing how you lose perspetive with a bit of sleep deprivation) I'm just so worried about getting into bad habits but will try and go with the flow a bit more. It would be great if I could get DH to do the odd night feed- he's very willing and does sometimes help in the night but DS simply wont take a bottle- any suggestions? Have tried few different teats and different people giving with me out of the room but he gets so distressed that I can't bear it. A few people (including health visitor) have suggested starving into submission but I'm not sure I have the heart or the ressolve to do that yet- it's especially hard when so knackered.

gloslass Mon 20-Aug-07 23:26:32

My DD refused a bottle absolutely until she was about 7 months. My DH could cup feed her if I had to be out but it was a bit messy and stressed him out. But since then, she's been a bottle-fiend and rushes round at any gathering trying to find and drink from any bottle other children have left about. All things pass!

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