2.5 Year Old Still Waking

(22 Posts)
helloandthankyou Sat 17-Apr-21 22:46:03

Hi all,

I had my first son in 2018 and he took to breastfeeding really well. I was so naive and new to babies so I used the boob for everything as I just assumed ‘breast was best’ and every time I fed him and felt that I was doing good by him. He never took a bottle for a year so I had to be with him day and night. He would go to sleep around 7 and wake at 11 and we would then co sleep with him in the boob all night until 5/6am.

I used the boob if he whined or cried. I used boob to send him off to sleep. I used it for snacking... it was just like a reflex. I couldn’t stand to hear him in discomfort and it always worked so easily... I never realised how much of a rod I was making for my own back and how much I was affecting his relationship to food. He’s a big boy and I understand now that I wasn’t able to give him enough of a feed for him to feel full. In hindsight I should have gotten him onto the bottle a starter formula from around 3/4 months.

I now have an incredibly lazy, picky eater who still wakes in the night and still needs a bottle to get off to sleep. He doesn’t understand about food and will just graze all day. I am at my wits end after another rejected dinner..he will eat grapes all day long and nothing else.

This has obviously led to sleep problems. He will wake up at around 3am, hungry. He will come into our bed and want a bottle of milk. I don’t know how many more sleepless nights I can take after two years of this. We now have another baby and taking care of both of them is impossible on broken sleep. The baby sleeps better than my toddler.

I feel so awful.. I’ve completely set him up to fail with food. I was so naive and just thought that breast milk trumped anything else. It’s really affected my ability as a Mum and my relationship with him. When I’m sleep deprived I can hardly talk, let alone play with him or take him out.

Has anyone else had this experience? I’m sorry for the long question .. I’m just at my wits end after another interrupted night

Thank you x

OP’s posts: |
ATieLikeRichardGere Sat 17-Apr-21 23:12:21

I don’t think you’ve done anything wrong, but it sounds tough. What are mealtimes with your DS like? Does he get bored and leave?

helloandthankyou Sat 17-Apr-21 23:22:18

Hi @ATieLikeRichardGere yes! He won’t sit at the table for longer than two minutes. I got him sitting for a whole meal of sausages and mashed potato for a few days by putting his iPad on and feeding him every single mouthful...but that was taking around an hour every night and then he started shunning food again.

He stays with my parents one night a week and will eat everything. But only because they let him sit on his bean bag in front of the TV and my Dad feeds him every single mouthful.

I sort of go between wanting to do that to get him to sleep but then thinking he needs to grow up and learn to feed himself.

Either way I don’t want him to know how frustrated I am about it.. I don’t want to make food a ‘big deal’...my partner and I both have good relationships with food.

OP’s posts: |
ATieLikeRichardGere Sun 18-Apr-21 00:13:08

I do that with my 2.5 year old. She won’t sit still ever so I spoon feed her in front of the tv. I would feel bad except that no one else, no grandparents nor nursery, have managed to do better. I definitely prefer it to her waking up hungry which used to happen. Wish I had better advice but just so at least you know you are not alone!

helloandthankyou Sun 18-Apr-21 02:46:51

@ATieLikeRichardGere ah thank you. What do you feed her?

Sometimes he will refuse to even eat when spoon fed.

He just woke me up again for a bottle 45 minutes ago. It’s killing me. Baby still asleep.

OP’s posts: |
Marty13 Sun 18-Apr-21 04:21:14

My son is a similar age as yours and though we don't face the same issues, he also can be picky. For instance I made leek puree with ham ; he didn't like it and refused to eat it. When that happens I tell him that's fine but he's not getting anything else (I do let him share a yoghurt with his brother but that's it).

I think you need to cut down hard on the constant snacking. So long as this goes on, of course he's not gonna eat - he's not even gonna be hungry. So stop buying grapes or whatever he snacks on, or make it unavailable to him. Do not let him eat anything outside of meal times.

He's going to cry and whine and ask for snacks. Don't give in ! Tell him if he's hungry he can eat at (next meal). You'll need to be strong for a few days as he'll probably be cranky and sleep bad but that's an investment towards a better future, hopefully. In order to make the transition easier, you can try and make all his favorite foods during meals as an extra incentive to eat.

At least this is what I'd do in your place, but you have to be ready to ride it out for at least a few days, maybe a couple of weeks. And make sure your parents and partner are on board.

Marty13 Sun 18-Apr-21 04:23:58

Oh - and I'd stop feeding in front of a screen. I don't think that eating mechanically without even noticing what's in his mouth will help restore a healthy relationship to food.

I'd also try to make sure the whole family is sitting down for meals so that you model the right behaviour for him.

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ButterPopcorn Sun 18-Apr-21 04:27:00

I’m sorry you’re having a tough time but I don’t think you can blame breastfeeding for this.

Marty13 Sun 18-Apr-21 04:34:52

Ah and I'd stop giving him bottles, or only at set times. My son (born october 2018) has not been interested in bottles since last summer. I know all babies are different but my point is, he doesn't need them. If you keep giving them whenever he asks you're encouraging him both to not eat and not sleep.
Giving him a bottle for breakfast, or before sleep, or both, is fine. But I'd cut out bottles at any other time (giving him a bottle of water or watered down juice for him to drink in the night on his own if he wakes up is fine, so long as it doesn't involve you waking up and getting up).

You also need to break him out of the waking habit. No bottles, no snacking and bigger meals will help, but he'll keep waking out of habit for a while probably. Here's what can help :
- go in for less and less time until you just stop coming at all when he wakes. It can be gradual but it needs to happen.
- explain to him that he is a big boy and needs to go back to sleep on his own
- my son has a night light and a stack of books that he has free access to. If he wakes up in the night that can help distract him until he falls asleep again.

You may need to grow a thick skin and let him cry for a few nights.

SmednotaSmoo Sun 18-Apr-21 04:41:14

I have an October 18 baby too who has only slept through a handful of times. (Not even going to depress you with stories of my 5 year old...). She does eat proper meals (although not a hugely varied diet) and has two breastfeeds a day, evening and morning. I just wanted to break the blame you gave on the sleep thing for the eating thing.

In your position, I think I’d go cold turkey on the screens/food link. It’ll be hideous for a few days but won’t be forever.

helloandthankyou Sun 18-Apr-21 07:34:40

Thanks everyone. I couldn’t get back to sleep so have just been thinking about how to break the cycle until now.

Thanks for your suggestions

- I will no longer be offering him juice. Just water.

- I will no longer be offering snacks (although his snacks are usually apples and grapes).

- The television will now be off whenever there is food present.

I’m starting to get depression from the constant waking. Baby slept from 7-7. Those of you who say I can’t blame breastfeeding; did you nurse for everything like I did? My son never fed for longer than ten minutes on each boob. I feel like I didn’t do it properly. But then again I was just feeling my way through motherhood.

Thank you

OP’s posts: |
LittleRa Sun 18-Apr-21 07:44:12

helloandthankyou

Thanks everyone. I couldn’t get back to sleep so have just been thinking about how to break the cycle until now.

Thanks for your suggestions

- I will no longer be offering him juice. Just water.

- I will no longer be offering snacks (although his snacks are usually apples and grapes).

- The television will now be off whenever there is food present.

I’m starting to get depression from the constant waking. Baby slept from 7-7. Those of you who say I can’t blame breastfeeding; did you nurse for everything like I did? My son never fed for longer than ten minutes on each boob. I feel like I didn’t do it properly. But then again I was just feeling my way through motherhood.

Thank you

Yes, I have a 6 (nearly 7 year old) who I breastfed on demand as you describe for 14 months, and I currently have a 6 week old baby I am doing the same for.
Of course everyone will have different experiences, no two children are the same.
But please don’t beat yourself up for breastfeeding on demand, meeting your child’s needs, comforting him etc.
2yo is a tricky phase with many challenges, little ones are learning to assert themselves and are also transitioning out of a “baby” phase to a child- ie dropping naps, dropping bottles etc. These things don’t happen overnight by themselves though.
Good luck, and take care of yourself. Sleep deprivation is brutal!

MaMaD1990 Sun 18-Apr-21 07:54:22

I really wouldn't focus too kuchen on what you did re breastfeeding, you did what you thought was right at the time, and it may have nothing to do with how your son is with food now! It looks like you've got a good action plan for dealing with his eating habits and now is the time to get tough with him. Just remember if he refuses food, no toddler has ever starved themselves to extreme points - he will eat when he's hungry but stay strong!

DancesWithDaffodils Sun 18-Apr-21 08:07:27

You gave your baby what he needed at the time. And now you've got a plan to give you and your toddler what you both need. Sounds like great parenting to me.
FWIW, I had a 2 year age gap, and a newborn who slept better than his brother. He also ate everything and anything.
I'd be tempted to stop night feeds. Just water after bedtime until breakfast.
Good luck.

Sunnyfreezesushi Sun 18-Apr-21 08:19:46

One of my 4 children was like this. I think you just sound absolutely exhausted as you have a toddler and a baby.
Sometimes too much fruit can give a toddler a tummy ache at night. 2 of mine actually needed light meals in the evening to sleep well. Could you when you restart the food routine try protein and veg at lunch but just big bowl of porridge/simple pasta for dinner. That might help. In fact, porridge is a great food, will he have that? (Could use formula at first)
You will just have to stop giving him a bottle at night and go through a hard few nights. Scrambled egg for breakfast is great once he gets hungry enough in the morning. Extended breastfeeding is great for attachment, as in actual physical attachment not just meeting a child’s simple needs. So you have done all of that for your lovely boy.

SlidesAndLadders Sun 18-Apr-21 08:23:05

I've got a nearly three year old DS2 who has spent most of his life attached to me. Fed on demand all day every day. Finally in the last month he's sleeping through most nights (he's 2y 11m). For most of his life he's been up at least twice at night and more often than not has been in my bed. But he still has (cows) milk before bed and has been breastfed this morning. The breastfeeding has slowed off in recent weeks - but for more than 2.5yrs it was almost every time I sat down.

You've not "made a rod for your own back". You've created a child who has a firm attachment to his mother. Who's slept at night with the person he loves the most. Who's been fed with love and patience.

The bigger issue seems to be your worries about his nutrition now. All toddlers would happily live off juice and grapes if they could. Sounds like you need some support in expanding his diet and getting him to try new things.

How did weaning go? It's scary with your first one.

Templetreebalm Sun 18-Apr-21 08:24:54

I BF until age 2 but didnt transition onto bottles -we used a cup.

My advice
All meals in highchair, no screens ( save for emergencies!)
Pop into highchair and offer breakfast
Toast/ egg etc
If he whinges, ask if he has finished?
No cajoling to eat etc.
Mine said finished, thank you and got down.
But no running straight to tv or screen.
Keep his toast, sandwich etc if he hasnt eaten and dont offer grapes or sugary snacks
They get used to it very quickly.
Repeat throughout the day.
Toddlers eat little and often, sometimes barely eat and other days eat lots.
Agree that water, milk is best but in a cup.
Bottles are terrible for teeth and hes filling up on milk .
If he wakes in the night, offer water in a cup.
He wont be happy, is there anyone else who can take him back to bed instead of you?

Fispi Sun 18-Apr-21 08:44:42

You have done great job! This stage is hard and sleep deprivation is torture. DC1 bf similar to yours although I night weaned at 16 months. Co-slept till 2 yrs 10 months. I swapped to offering water in a 360 cup at night. Continued bf till 2.7. DC 1 is a grazer if allowed so has a good breakfast, then nothing till lunch which we do early to fit round nursery. Snack after nursery but not other days. DC usually eats less at tea time than other meals. Then if has had a busy day/growth spurt etc sometimes a cup of milk and a bannana or piece of cheese etc before bed. Dc1 still doesnt consistently sleep through but has improved since nursery started. I hope the first couple of weeks with the new plan arent too bumpy, good luck!

1940s Sun 18-Apr-21 08:51:54

You really can't blame breastfeeding for this and it's this sort of stuff that puts people off doing it.
He needs a routine and boundaries. Not allowed all day snacking, gentle sleep training and start cutting the bottles.
He was obviously satisfied by your milk or he wouldn't be a 'big boy' stop blaming breastfeeding on the other things you've failed to implement such as good food routine and sleep boundaries

RobertaSloth Sun 18-Apr-21 09:02:28

You shouldn’t blame yourself for this OP. You haven’t rested a rod for your own back or done anything wrong at all - these aren’t issues of your making. Some children are just poor sleepers and eaters, it’s not because you’ve trained him to be that way!

There’s plenty of good advice on this thread so I won’t repeat it, but just wanted to reiterate that you’re a good mother and that breastfeeding didn’t cause this situation flowers

YumYumApplePie Sun 18-Apr-21 09:22:25

You haven't done much different to what I did. I breastfed DD1. Fed on demand. Day and night. Though I did stop the co-sleeping at 9 months. As I learnt she was waking, as we all do, seeing me and wanting milk. Not waking for milk.
I stopped bfing at 13 months.

DD is 21 months. Some days she eats really well. Some days she hardly eats anything. Some days she wants snacks all day but won't eat a meal. Some days she'll eat multiple breakfast. Multiple lunches and have seconds at dinner.

Sleep is developmental. Giving a bottle earlier wouldn't have meant he'd be sleeping better now.

TheOneWithTheBigNose Sun 18-Apr-21 09:27:38

I breastfed all 3 of mine on demand.
My first took to weaning really well and is still a great eater at 7.
My middle one was really fussy with food until 3 but now eats anything at 6.
My youngest is 2 and a nightmare with food so far, but I’m fairly relaxed about it as I know it will improve.
Nothing to do with being BF on demand.

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