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Breastfed 8.5 month old and night waking

(65 Posts)
Blahblahblahyadayadayada Thu 14-Dec-17 06:40:23

My baby is 8.5 months old. She breastfeeds and never took to a bottle. I’ve tried occasionally to give formula in a cup during the day but not terribly successfully.

I’d like to ideally wean her off night feeds but not sure how. She has always breastfed to sleep (my fault but I didn’t see any other way especially when trying to establish breastfeeding). Recently she has been in a lot of discomfort with teething (no teeth yet) and on/off colds.

I may have to try controlled crying but I’m not overly keen on this. Last night I attempted poorly to see if she would self settle with a sort of controlled crying but more at 2 min intervals and she got very distressed, quite shaky so I abandoned.
She seems to get wind at night eg might fall asleep deeply after a breastfeed but Wakes within an hour for burping. Last night I gave her some ibuprofen but she woke with terrible wind at around 1:40 am. In general she doesn’t wake with increased frequency unless she isn’t feeling well as she is not a baby who complains too much. Weirdly, she seemed to sleep better on days she didn’t eat so well. Not that she is a huge eater anyway. This week she had a few better nights, going from 1 to around 8 am but maybe that was more because of a growth spurt perhaps? I go back to work in 2 months’ time. I had hoped she would just do it herself... apparently there are some babies that just start sleeping through themselves!

Advice appreciated.

littletwofeet Thu 14-Dec-17 07:38:34

This is a good read for nightweaning a breastfed baby. I don’t think he recommends until after a year though.

I found co-sleeping and just feeding back to sleep neither of us really woke properly (not sure about the winding but they usually grow out of that).
Sometimes when you are looking at the clock, counting the wakes ups, it can be really stressful where as when you accept it and know you have an easy way to get them back to sleep, it can mean more sleep/rest for you.

If you night wean/sleep train, she could still wake up but it may be you are up for longer as you can’t just breastfeed her back to sleep. Also, if she’s unwell/teething, breastfeeding can be a godsend in the night to settle them.

Are you on any of the breastfeeding Facebook groups, sometimes it’s good to see what’s ‘normal’.

Blahblahblahyadayadayada Thu 14-Dec-17 16:43:05

Thank you.

I’ll look that up. I did come across t before but it was too long for me to read. I think I tried reading it while I was half asleep and propped up on a pillow and feeding the baby.

I’m nervous about co sleeping but I agree that feeding while half asleep means that at least I am sitting down and not having to rock a screaming child. And I see what you mean that stopping feeds won’t necessarily mean she will sleep.

I guess I’m just worried she will never grow out of the night feeds even though I was hoping deep down that she would just “get it” on her own.

I’m not on any breastfeeding groups. I just want to stop at what feels like a reasonable time to me. Preferably not after 1-1.5 years

How long did it take your baby/babies to stop night feeds?

NameChange30 Thu 14-Dec-17 16:47:14

Are you saying that she sometimes sleeps from 1-8am without waking (or at least waking enough to need you to resettle her)? I would kill for that.

If that’s unusual, what’s the usual pattern? What’s the longest she sleeps for? How often does she usually wake up each night?

stargirl1701 Thu 14-Dec-17 17:00:28

I just bedshared and it meant everyone got more sleep. DD2 was night weaned at 2 years when I could explain what was going to happen. She wasn't distressed, thankfully.

Codlet Thu 14-Dec-17 18:41:45

IME some babies do give up night feeds by themselves but others need a bit more encouragement. This basically means finding other ways of getting them to sleep (eg dummy, soothing, or controlled crying) until they stop associating night time with milk. I have three DC and I’ve tried several of these approaches at various times. There’s no magic solution unfortunately!

Blahblahblahyadayadayada Thu 14-Dec-17 20:04:47

Namechange30, no, she only did the 1-8 stretch twice this week. That was followed by waking at 1:40, 4, 6am or thereabouts.
She has no real pattern but the most commonly seen “pattern” is breastfeeding to sleep by 10-11pm and then waking st around 2. Very occasionally she will sleep until 4.
So she has me (and my breaststroke) very confused! If I could get her to do a regular pattern of night waking I could cope as long as I got 4-5 hours sleep in between.
I just don’t want to find myself back at work and doing all this. The lack of sleep is depressing and I don’t know how I’ll manage. I also have an older child who is quite active (and was/is a rubbish sleeper) so I haven’t slept well in years!

littletwofeet Thu 14-Dec-17 20:38:53

They all night wean/wean themselves, it just might not be as soon as you would like!

The article is worth a read when you’ve got time/are less tired!

The f/b groups are good just to read through when you’re feeling a bit stressed about things, see what other people have done/what their babies do and what seems ‘normal’ although there is obviously a massive range.

I found the stress of worrying when they were going to wake up/when would start sleeping through worse than the actual wakings. Once I relaxed about it and found I could fall back to sleep feeding lying down, I slept so much better as didn’t have the anxiety. Knowing that even if they woke up every couple of hours, I would still get lots of sleep/rest as didn’t have to get up really helped. I basically sleep trained myself!

You may find that once you are back at work, even if you get her sleeping though beforehand, she wakes up more due to the change/being separated from you. They also tend to get sick lots at that age, especially if in childcare.
Personally, the last thing I would want is to get up and down out of bed all night (or even once a night would be bad enough), I think that’s when you get really tired as it wakes you up fully and can be hard to get back to sleep. With breastfeeding, it releases hormones to help get you back to sleep.

Everyone is different though and you’ve got to find what works for you.

Blahblahblahyadayadayada Thu 14-Dec-17 23:05:34

Thanks. That is reassuring. Unfortunately I can’t feed lying down and I don’t want her in bed with me, so I feed her sitting up in my bed. Her room is very close to ours. I want to have my cake and eat it too- ie baby started to sleep without waking for feeds and without me having to “train” her! Maybe that is unreasonable!

I agree about nursery. They get ill all the time! And wake up more. Only DC1 had formula or normal milk by then and I guess it’s not quite the same as a breastfeed.

I just feel trapped and fed up at times but ok about it at other times. My older child was on formula only by 3 months and
still woke for formula until 1 year old. So maybe it’s ok for the current baby tofeed at night.. just not so often would be nice!

NameChange30 Fri 15-Dec-17 08:33:28

DS has been waking every 1-2 hours for months and I have been bedsharing and breastfeeding lying down just to survive. It’s not ideal (I was more comfortable when he was in the Snuzpod alongside the bed, rather than in bed with me, but he’s too big for the Snuzpod now). But I’d be getting even less sleep otherwise.

I’m starting to think about sleep training because I don’t see anything changing naturally. DS is not going to switch from bedsharing and breastfeeding throughout the night to sleeping in his cot for longer stretches without some intervention from us.

I’m dreading it though because it’s going to be hard work and we’re already exhausted. I feel caught between a rock and a hard place.

Sorry to talk about myself but I do think your options are either live with the current situation (and maybe reconsider bedsharing) or do sleep training.

Blahblahblahyadayadayada Fri 15-Dec-17 09:12:35

Thanks. I feel like that too. Currently, just feeding at night is the slightly less exhausting option as at least it is nice and quiet and doesn’t involve standing! What confuses me is that she occasionally sleeps better and I keep asking is that just a fluke, or a growth spurt. And is she wakin for comfort because she is about to cut a tooth? But with 20 teeth, it’s a long, long time! Having said that, my DC1 woke frequently for bottles so maybe it is just how my children are ( and how I am with them). I just don’t want the distress for anyone! Not solving any problems here, but it helps to vent.
Maybe I’ll try the Jay Gordon suggestion; seems less awful!

NameChange30 Fri 15-Dec-17 09:29:26

There’s also Pantley’s “No Cry Sleep Solution” that has some helpful suggestions (although I think the idea of no crying is optimistic!)

littletwofeet Fri 15-Dec-17 13:19:21

There is evidence that sleep training does work in the short term but in the long term (over 6 months) it doesn’t actually make your baby sleep better than if you hadn’t sleep trained. Not sure if that makes you feel better or not but may help you make a decision!

They will all lean to sleep on their own without breastfeeding but they might need it for longer than you are happy to do it! The same with breastfeeding in general, they do ALL stop by themselves but lots of people don’t want to feed for that long so wean. Everyone needs to do what suits them best.

KalaLaka Sun 17-Dec-17 07:24:42

I have just night weaned at 14mths. I wouldn't do it til 12 mths based on reputable advice I've read online. It took 3 nights of a lot of crying/shouting! The difference at this age is that I can tell her 'no milk in bed/at sleep time' and she'll understand much more. Now she sometimes wakes, but not as much as before. My older children were bf til 3 and were not heading towards self weaning at all by that age, so I decided to night wean so I could have an easier second year this time.

Chaosofcalm Sun 17-Dec-17 07:34:49

I would love it if my fully weaned baby (giant toddler) slept that well.

Controlled crying is not recommended until 1 and even then lots of people say it should not be done.

At 8 month my ff baby was having well over 16 oz milk a night and her last over night bottle was at 13 months.

Your baby sounds normal and remember they still need milk over night and may need you over night in one form or another until about aged 7

Blahblahblahyadayadayada Sun 17-Dec-17 21:12:06

Thanks for the reassurance. For the last 2 nights she woke frequwntly and wouldn’t settle at around 2 am or thereabouts. I’d feed her and she would fall asleep having fed from one side and I’ll be honest, I couldn’t face feeding her more so my husband took her for a while and bounced with her on an exercise ball until she fell asleep. It seemed she was happy to play. I then did the next feed after she woke up. Last night she did one 5 hour stretch so that was good.

I recall my older child didn’t drop the night bottle until 12-13 months. It’s just that this little one seems to want breast milk very frequently. Still every 2-3 hours at night and seems to be getting worse not better! However, from what everyone has said here, it is normal.
I can’t believe my health visitor told me at her 7 month weight check that she shouldn’t be waking for feeds at night and doesn’t need breastmilk during the day.. even the sample meal guide they gave still says to offer usual milk feeds at that stage.
So this seems like a ride it out situation. I just feel so depressed when I’m this tired.

April45 Mon 18-Dec-17 05:14:06

I find health visitor advice so mixed some is spot on and others you just wonder where they based their information from.

8.5 Months seems young to night wean? I feel very similarly and wish DS would take a bottle now he’s nearly one. I’ve accepted we’ll just have to carry on until hes ready but some nights I do get really cheesed off! We used controlled crying at 10 Months and it’s helped loads and it wasn’t bad. Before he was up every 2 hours, fed and then cried and cried when I put him down or if I rocked him. Controlled crying was much more gentle than I imagined. Some nights are worse than others especially when teeth related!

Blahblahblahyadayadayada Mon 18-Dec-17 09:28:43

I was thoroughly cheesed off last night when she wouldn’t settle after feeding at 3.45 am and wanted to be attached to breastfeed. She is teething but has been forever and with 20 teeth to get, I don’t know how I’ll cope. I’m really beginning to regret breastfeeding her. My sons suffered terribly with teething but at least he wasn’t sucking the life out of me by breastfeeding. I was so annoyed at her and then I started crying when I tried feeding her again. I don’t think the health visitors will have anything helpful or reassuring so I’m not approaching them with this. I’m just ranting, really. So. Fed. Up. Should’ve started formula in the beginning.

April45 Mon 18-Dec-17 19:15:11

Know what you mean about the teeth I googled how many there were too- We’re waiting on 5&6 atm.
Rant away! If you find a miracle cure to the sleep please let me know! Controlled crying gets a lot of bad press but we found it to be less distressing than the cries if I tried not to feed. DS is still up but no where near where he was an it’s manageable now.

totallyrandom Mon 18-Dec-17 19:41:26

My now 11.5 months DD was doing exactly this at 8.5 months. Now she sleeps through 7.30-7am 6 out of 7 nights. I think she was teething, nervous, in pain and just wanted to be close to me. What helped us is cosleeping- instead of breastfeeding I tried just holding her hand stroking etc and she learned to sleep that way. When she was feeding lots at night she just got worse and worse due to wind and lack of burping- so I did the cosleeping and dragged out the breastfeeding to just 1 during the night. She now has a huge breastfeed at 7am and always burps because there is so much milk. The other thing that helped us is watching her diet in the evening, no raw fruit and veg or anything difficult to digest. It seems that used to upset her. We are now down to 3 max 4 breastfeeds a day. Only gave up the 10.30pm dream feed a couple of weeks ago. She is also now much happier in the cot. After she got used to cosleeping for comfort I had to wean her off that- lay down in same room for a couple of nights and put a tshirt of mine in her cot. Who knows what will happen when the next illness/bout of bad teething occurs! Dd is my 4th and all of mine have been up and down with their sleep depending on circumstances.

Blahblahblahyadayadayada Tue 19-Dec-17 11:45:47

We now have the tip of one tooth! A less bad night last night as in she wouldn’t settle easily (DH bounced her on the exercise ball) but she woke at 23:30, 04:30 and 07:00 for feeds. She had milk at around 21:00 and fell asleep at the breast but woke up 10 mins later to burp and was wide awake. I think that’s the time she did so. I lose track of time!

Blahblahblahyadayadayada Thu 21-Dec-17 13:05:00

Another rubbish night.
Given that teething will go on for about 2 years, should I just opt for a period of relatively less bad teething symptoms April45?

RockinRobinTweets Thu 21-Dec-17 13:16:40

I night weaned at 7 months and he then sttn.

Start by having a cut off point, so if bedtime is 7 and then agree with yourself that you won't feed before 11pm and then again after they've had a feed, you won't feed for another 4 hours - or however long you're happy with.

When you feed at these times, the first night sets the bar. If the total feed is 10 minutes then the next night, reduce this by 2 minutes per feed. Then after 2-3 nights, do the same. Eventually, after a couple of weeks, you'll get to a point where you're down to nil

The best tool in your bag of tricks will be your DH. You do your timed feed and then over to Daddy!

At bedtime, make sure that you're not feeding to sleep as it confuses signals. Try following the same order, every night:

Milk - in the lounge
Brush teeth
Book - the same one
Bed, DH to settle.

Hope that helps!

Blahblahblahyadayadayada Thu 21-Dec-17 14:10:34

But when she’s screaming her head off in her cot after you’ve put her in bed, is that when the controlled crying starts? As in, am I night weaning and CC together?

RockinRobinTweets Thu 21-Dec-17 16:09:43

It depends how you want to deal with it, I suppose. If it were me, then yes, I'd leave her but it's up to you and how she responds. If you've always fed to sleep, she's much more likely to accept your DH doing the settling for a while.

You can choose to do the disappearing chair/gradual withdrawal where you just sit next to the cot, looking away and not talking etc but physically there, or you can do controlled crying or you can do rocking to sleep... Basically a combo of what doesn't wind her up too much and what works!

Lots of babies get overstimulated if you're doing 2 minute intervals. You really have to listen to the cry and decide if they're shouting or if they're upset as there is a difference. Also remember that when you're going in at intervals, your purpose is not to resettle but really just to reassure them that you're still there and then to leave again. The aim is to only be in the room for between 30-60 seconds.

If you're not happy with that (and that is totally fine!) you might do better with replacing with rocking to sleep or just sitting until she falls asleep on you and then putting her down or maybe trying pick up put down. I'd imagine from what you've said so far that she is just a bit too old and too likely to get really wound up by PUPD though.

If that's all too much, you could maybe just start with telling yourself that you're not going to feed to sleep any more. It's only one 'rule' to follow and it's fairly simple and it should hopefully see an improvement once she gets the hang of it.

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