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Why not feed under 1's during the night?

(63 Posts)
mears Tue 21-Dec-04 09:42:25

This is a thread for my interest really.

There are lots of threads about trying to get babies to sleep through without feeds during the night. I think mums are ending up with even less sleep that if they just fed their baby, be it breast or bottle. Is it the fear that if it is not cracked by 6 months they will never sleep through?

My sister has 4 girls who didn't sleep though till at least a year and her philosophy was to do whatever would get herself back into bed and sleep the quickest. She realised with her second baby that she spent too much time being annoyed about being up which was making her even more tired. She remembered the hassle with the first so she decided just to feed at night and sort out the sleeping when they were older. When they were over a year she sorted it out with controlled crying (didn't take long)

I took that attitude myself. When babies woke I took them into bed and fed them. That meant I could sleep at the same time. They were all breastfed. First 2 babies slept through the night by 4 months. Number 3 did not sleep through till 8 months and he was the fattest baby out the lot. With 2 other toddlers to look after there was no way I was going to lose out on sleep at night by avoiding just feeding. Number 4 was B/F exclusively till 6 months and she had periods of being up during the night then sleeping through again about the 6-7 month mark.

I had 15 months between babies number 2 and 3 and was also working 2 night a week. DH got up and gave EBM when I wasn't at home, so I wanted to make sure I got as much sleep as possible.

The point I am trying to get across is that perhaps mums are getting themselves stressed out where they could just feed and get back to sleep.

Once baby is a year old it is possibly easier to stop night feeds with controlled crying like my sister did. I found that I didn't need to do that because the latest mine slept through was 8 months. I have never had a problem with children sleeping in my bed. Once they started to sleep through that was it.

Any thought?

aloha Tue 21-Dec-04 09:48:28

I posted on the other thread Mears. Believe me, if my son had gone back to sleep just because I fed him, I would have done. But he didn't. Not all babies go back to sleep just because you feed them, or take them into bed or any of the other 'magic bullet' prescriptions that people offer. I think if your babies always found that milk acted like a narcotic, it's reasonable to assume that all babies will react in the same way. Mine didn't - he'd wake, I'd feed him (for up to 40 minutes sometimes) and he'd be awake. He'd poo all up his back, I'd change him, he'd be awake. So I'd latch him back on, and he would feed again, and still not sleep. I'd put him next to me in bed and he'd bash me cheerfully on the nose for two hours and cry if I stopped cuddling him..... This could easily go on for between two and four hours in the small hours of the night. And THAT'S why I was keen to stop night feeds so I could do cc at some point. For us, it didn't work at six months, so I tried again at 8 and it did. The lack of sleep was making me and dh very unhappy indeed. I got pretty tearful and desperate. Dh is actually still pretty traumatised by it, and really isn't looking forward to this baby of ours arriving because it was so dreadful. I mean, he will be wonderful, but he is so afraid of those first 6 -8 months now. So am I

aloha Tue 21-Dec-04 09:49:55

Oh, and it wasn't just one waking, or two, or was endless waking. Sometimes after just 20 mins sleep, sometimes after an hour. I was supposed to keep a sleep diary but I couldn't do it as ds's sleeping was so erratic and his waking so frequent and I was so deranged by lack of sleep - just one night covered three pages!

TheHollyAndTheTwiglett Tue 21-Dec-04 09:53:31

Thanks Mears .. I was driving myself mad with 7 month old DD .. cos she wakes at 3am (regularly) feeds for 5 minutes or so then goes straight back to sleep .. started trying controlled crying but meant we were up for almost an hour before I decided I was too tired then fed her for 5 mins and she went back to sleep

I posted on this and people, mainly aloha actually convinced me (or let me convince myself} that its not really a problem

so we're back to feeding at 3'ish .. and I'm getting more sleep

aloha Tue 21-Dec-04 09:55:25

Oh Twiglett, it sounds WONDERFUL - if my next baby is like that you will hear my whoops of joy in, well, E Dulwich!

mears Tue 21-Dec-04 09:56:02

You are demonstrating something else which is really useful Aloha. Babies do not necessarily wake at night because they are hungry therefore changing from breast to formula is not the answer. Yes I did have nights where my babies would not settle even in bed. I fed them first and if they didn't settle I got DH up to take a turn with the rocking for a while. Controlled crying is more successful with an older baby - I think 6 months is too young. Other strategies need to be employed such as parents taking turns being up. I have put a fed baby in the pram and let them cry for 10 minutes and then gone back to 'shoogling' etc. Also getting sleep during the day when you have a waking baby, or in the evening when your partner is home from work.
Feeding is not the only component of night feeds - in my case the majority were sorted out with a feed in bed. I slept at same time.

aloha Tue 21-Dec-04 09:59:39

Oh, we did shifts all right...but still only got about four hours sleep a night on very, very many nights. And I was back at work at five months. We both used to absolutely DREAD bedtime. It hardly seemed worth going to bed as we knew that was when the torture started. I could never sleep and feed as ds couldn't or wouldn't latch on if I lay down. I'd quite often be crying as I fed him because I was so tired and frustrated. Rocking didn't make him sleep, NOTHING did. A baby that is regularly very awake between 1am and 5am is very hard to deal with IME. OMG...I'm frightening myself again...

motherinfestivemood Tue 21-Dec-04 10:39:13

My babies did, usually, go back to sleep after a feed; but I'm afraid I didn't find it easy to be in bed with them and just feed automatically in semi-sleep. I worried too much about rolling onto this fragile baby - and actually I'm not very good at sharing a bed at all!

Aloha, NOTHING is certain, honey. xxxxxxxxxxx

Blu Tue 21-Dec-04 10:45:18

I have never understood the driving need to have babies sleep through just for the sake of it, it seems to me if they need to feed, they need to feed, and although DS woke fairly regularly, until about 14months, he did go back to sleep, and I was comfortable with bed-sharing. If I had found myself in Aloha's situation, I would have taken some more drastic action, but as it was, feed calmly and get back to sleep promptly worked reasonably well for us. I think 'moulding' babies into a pattern of behaviour inder the control of parents causes more stress. Buut I think it depends v much on the persona;ity and needs of parents - some people really do need that level of control to feel secure. And fair enough.

lisalisa Tue 21-Dec-04 10:48:53

Message withdrawn

otto Tue 21-Dec-04 10:50:07

I had exactly the same experience as aloha. I went back to work at 6 months and neither dp or I could cope with the constant waking and lack of sleep. If ds had gone straight to sleep after a feed I could have coped, but he didn't. He would need to be rocked for up to an hour and would often wake up as soon as we put him down. I tried to feed lying in bed, but couldn't get comfortable. Also I worried that he would end up under the duvet. If he'd been a different baby and my circumstances were different I wouldn't have got so stressed about it. To solve the problem I had to stop feeding at night and do controlled crying.

I hope you don't have to go through anything like that again aloha. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you.

Flumberrysauce Tue 21-Dec-04 10:54:32

I guess I agree Mears. I have just one baby. She is 10 months. She often sleeps through but about every third or fourth night she wakes at around 4am crying.

My mentality from the beginning has always been what is the quickest way to get her back to sleep. I usually try leaving her for five minutes or so to see if she will settle herself back down. She sometimes does, sometimes doesn't. I stopped breast feeding a week or so agao.

Now if she is fully awake and crying I get her up and make her some milk in a beaker. Then I sit in the roking chair with her and have a lovely cuddle looking at the Christmas tree lights. She is calm then and I put her back in the cot awake then she sleeps till about 7. When she wakes up she is very calm as she is not starving.

I work full time and I quite like it when I get extra cuddles in the night.

Flumberrysauce Tue 21-Dec-04 10:59:51

She is an astonishingly easy baby though. I anticipated having a baby to be as Aloha describes it but we have been very lucky, only had disturbed nights, never sleepless.

lisalisa Tue 21-Dec-04 11:04:22

Message withdrawn

bakedpotatohoho Tue 21-Dec-04 11:05:12

i'm with MI. dd, bless her, usually settled well after night feeds. the problem was, I didn't.

seems to me that if you are by nature a good napper/catnapper, you will find the first few months of broken nights far easier to get through. i plainly had sleep issues of my own, as i found it nearly impossible to nod off, day or night, knowing that i'd be woken up again in an hour or so (cosleeping was never a possibility: i'm far too light a sleeper) -- ^no matter how tired i was^. over the first few months, i just went madder and madder through sleep deprivation. plus had endless run of physical snags like mouth ulcers/cold sores/bleeding gums etc from being run down.

as soon as the nights were uninterrupted, i began to claw a bit of enjoyment out of the experience of being a mother. this really didn't happen before.

of course i would have preferred to have had a more relaxed attitude to sleep, i can see it would have made things far less stressful. so mears, when you write, 'perhaps mums are getting themselves stressed out where they could just feed and get back to sleep,' the thought that comes to mind is: God, I wish!

it's horses for courses, IMO. you find out what you can personally cope with.

Pidge Tue 21-Dec-04 11:06:40

Aloha - I reckon you'll get a 'sleeper' this time. Meanwhile, having had a champion snoozer last time, I will no doubt be landed with a little insomniac in March! (I'm round your neck of the woods - so look forward to comparing bleary eyed notes in the spring).

Mears - I think if your baby feeds and then settles back to sleep, great. Also if you find bed-sharing easy - that helps. Personally, and to my surprise, I found just having dd in the same rooom was waking me up even when she wasn't. We all slept better when we turfed her out at 4 months. I was incredibly lucky, as she started doing 12 hours through at 5.5 months (not even on solids at that point) and never looked back.

If I had a baby who didn't settle after feeding, I would find being woken in the night incredibly stressful. I need a huge amount of sleep and get unhappy very fast if I'm not getting it!

Gobbledigoose Tue 21-Dec-04 11:11:28

Mears - I agree and just do whatever it takes to get them back to sleep. I'm getting a bit frustrated at the moment though because ds3 is just coming up to 4 months and after having dropped all his night feeds ages ago and sleeping from 7 to 7, he's started waking up - from last week he's woken at 5am and last night it was 3.30am. We don't mess about - we feed him!! He goes back to sleep.

It's still frustrating though as once I'm awake I really struggle to get back to sleep and usually end up wide awake, then the longer I'm awake the more stressed I get about how little sleep I'm getting and then it's harder to sleep - and so it goes on. If ds3 was my only baby I wouldn't care and would just go back to sleep in the day but with 2 others under 4 there is no chance of that!

I can see why people try very hard to drop those feeds because, as a parent, the sooner you get a full night of unbroken sleep the better you feel and the more able to cope you are (especially from my point of view as a SAHM with 3 under 4, but I'd imagine also if you were having to go to work!). I suppose the worry with just feeding them is that they'll then get into a habit of waking and then you are prolonging the time it will take you to get a full night sleep. If you can go straight back to sleep after or during a feed then I suppose it's fine but I just can't do it.

Flumberrysauce Tue 21-Dec-04 11:57:42

I quite like the quiet time in the middle of the night. I put the baby back to sleep then sit and have a nice coffee and a fag and look at the Christmas tree before I go back to bed.

I'm not to bothered by lack of sleep though as had that knocked out of me by being a holiday rep for five years and doing all night stints at the airport. Baby much easier to look after than drunken idiot tourists.

Flumberrysauce Tue 21-Dec-04 11:58:32

Fag! under the extractor fan of course.

stopping on January 1st - again!

cranberryjampot Tue 21-Dec-04 12:08:40

DH was apparently 2.5 before he slept through the night!!! I was horrified to hear that. When mine woke in the night I would feed them and they soon went off to sleep. In fact dd would fall asleep and I would then change her nappy whilst she was sleeping. This was harder with ds admittedly but the thing is all babies are different aren;t they. DD slept for about 7 hours at 10 days old (!). She started sleeping for 12 hours the day before her 6 week check. DS was about 9 weeks before he started sleeping through properly. If they had been children that were still waking at 8 months old I would bave done absolutely anything

mears Tue 21-Dec-04 12:27:45

Do you think then the skill of lying down to feed is needed really. I found that once my babies were efficient at latching on, they could feed in lots of different positions. I always lay with baby in the middle of the bed and was able to snooze while feeding. I would waken and find baby asleep so would just transfer them back to cot. If they woke again I brought them in and kept them in. Babies are able to latch themselves on at will you know . Maybe this time you will be able to sleep and feed Aloha - I highly recommend it.

Sympthaies to those of you who can't - years of working shifts has allowed me to be able to sleep practically standing up . I am also the master of 10 min powernaps where you feel asa though you have had a few hours sleep after a 10 min snooze in the chair. Another highly recommended skill.

nailpolish Tue 21-Dec-04 12:34:17

agree mears - years of nightshift have given me the skills for nightfeeding.

just to add i would rather feed during the night than have unsettled days. and i like to change the nappy during the night too. dont like having the nappy on all night - scared of nappy rash!

lockets Tue 21-Dec-04 12:37:47

Message withdrawn

mears Tue 21-Dec-04 13:41:32

Ever done toddler group duty after a night shift nailpolish - pure hell

eefs Tue 21-Dec-04 13:52:08

my anecdotal tuppence worth:
DS1 - big baby, fed lots, slept in cot until first awakening then I'd latch him on and quickly fall back to sleep. If I woke and he was finished he was put back into the cot, otherwise he stayed with us. DS1 didn't sleep through until about 6 months but I had sufficient sleep from about 2 months.
DS2 - ahh completely different child. woke lots, plus I had to express during which he patiently waited (not!). I dreamed of being able to latch him on and nod back off, but found bottle feeding meant I had to stay awake. I was much more sleep-deprived for DS2. He's just over a yr now and still wakes up but I feed him and will probably continue to do so until his waking causes me more trouble than a week of CC would. I'm hoping we won't get to that stage.

agree with your thinking Mears

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