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Any tried and true methods to help baby sleep longer at night?
~ A Message Board Archive

From Maureen ~ I am breastfeeding my three month old baby, and we're doing great so far . . . except, he's still nursing every three hours, around the clock. I have to return to work in another month and would LOVE it if he could skip a night-time feeding. I've spoken with lots of other breastfeeding moms, and have received many different tips, and am now very confused. Some said breastfeeding babies just need to eat more frequently so I have to live with it. Others suggested helping him skip his middle of the night feeding by having my husband go in to comfort him at the 2 AM time, but not feed him. Others have suggested cereal, but I think my son is too young for this.

storkHi Maureen, First the bad news . . . It might briefly get worse when he has a growth spurt! But the good news is that it only lasts a few days. As far as feeding goes, remember the baby has a tiny, tiny tummy and he needs small amounts often. It REALLY doesn't last, however many babies get more than half their nutrition at night. I found it easier with my second baby as I didn't need to change his diaper every feed. Bill (#1) used to poop with every feed and he was a terror. I'd have to do a complete change or his bum would be raw. Duncan, OTOH, was easier (which was lucky as I was virtually on death's door). I just fed him and rolled over. I was a bit nervous with Bill, but with Duncan, we just brought him in the bed with us and he'd whimper a little when hungry, I'd roll over, feed him and he'd go back to sleep. If you're not adverse to bringing the baby in bed with you it might be a way for you all to get some sleep. Let us know how you go. cheers ~ Cath

storkI also have a frequent night feeder since birth - now 8 months. I never tried the cereal idea because I wanted to delay solids and anyway I, too, have heard from a lactation consultant that it doesn't work. The only thing that has worked is having Grant in the bed with us at night. I hardly wake to feed him; I do it in my sleep. I wear a short vest so there is no fussing with the bra, just pull it up. As Cath says, they get a lot of their nutritional intake at night and thus denying a feed may not be a good idea. Prolactin (milk production hormone) is higher at night thus the night feeding is good for stimulating supply. Stick it out if you can; it does get better. ~ Deb

storkI totally agree with Cath & Deb. Skye used to wake about every 2-3-4 hours at night . . . and it was VERY stressful for a couple of months . . . but now she is starting to sleep longer . . . I only had to wake up for one middle of the night feeding last night!!!! *happy dance* Breast babies often wake more at night simply because our milk is SOOOOO perfect for them that they digest it more completely and quickly and so their tummy feels empty sooner. But to me it is worth all the lost sleep for Skye to have the benefits of such perfect nutrition! *HUGGS* ~ Elaine

storkHi, I have found, like the others, that breastfed babies often do go longer before sleeping through the night. I also have found that every time they did start sleeping through something would happen (eg teething, change in routine etc) and they would return to waking up. Still, we solved this by having them in bed with us - after they woke for the night feed, but not before - so that we had at least part of the night 'alone'. This also stops them from getting too used to the idea of sleeping with you. It's worked so far with the older two, and I hope it will work with the current one. Jared is of course TOO young for solids so don't even consider them until he is at least 4 months and only then if he is looking for them. It will do you no good to offer them as it does not work anyway. I too hoped that by the time I had gone back to work (3 weeks ago) that Jared would have settled down - but he has had the flu for that time and is waking several times a night. Ah well, the best laid plans of mothers and working women. ~ Ngaire (who also has a Jared)

storkOh it is so wonderful to hear that other families really are in the same boat! Jakob is 6 months and although big and healthy, still wakes at night. Most nights he goes to bed in his crib then when he wakes, we bring him to bed for night nursing. My husband and I both work so we get sleep and Jakob is happy. I have been visiting a pediatric sight (to be left unnamed) that continues to push the sleep training thing to the point that I keep thinking I should be letting him cry it out - which I really don't want to do. The times when we have tried to assure him from the door and let him cry for 10 minutes or so he gets so worked up, gets tears in ears - then gets more mad . . . Anyway, thanks for letting me know that there is nothing wrong with my little boy who still needs to eat at night and wakes up next to mom and dad with a big smile on his face. ~ AMANDAK

storkMy son Christian is 5 months old. I had been wondering if he should be sleeping through the night by now, but after reading your posts, I feel much better. People have been trying to make me feel so guilty because he sleeps in the bed with me, that I don't even talk about it anymore. It's just so much easier to feed him, and he goes right back to sleep. People also told me to start feeding him cereal right before he goes to bed, but my pediatrician told me that was not the answer to him sleeping through the night - and that I've done the right thing by ignoring those suggestions. I have introduced Christian to cereal though (just a little), and applesauce, which he loves, but only a tablespoon of each. Ninety percent of his food is breastmilk, and it seems to be doing the job. At five months, he is 21 pounds and 28 inches long! It just blows me away every time I look at him, because I was always told breastfed babies were always smaller than formula babies . . . and when people ask me what has he been eating, and I just say "breastmilk," they look amazed! So obviously, I'm doing something right, but recently I've just felt so alone in my quest to breastfeed Christian until he's a year old. Thanks for letting me vent. ~ Libramom

storkTake it from one who knows!!!! I started letting my husband give Matthew (now 6.5 months old) a midnight bottle, which was wonderful because I got more sleep, but I had less and less milk because he was not nursing at night. Then, he got to where he did not want to nurse at all, so here I am 6 months later, pumping five times a day and feeding it to him in bottles!!!! Believe me, this is NOT the route you want to go!! ~ Mollie

stork Hi everyone. It's great that you are all b-feeding. I am a mother of an 11 month old who still nurses, and I am pregnant and due April 11, 1999 with number two and plan to nurse that baby too. My daughter started sleeping through the night at 10 months. I had given up and just thought breastfed babies don't sleep through the night like bottle fed babies, and I should just bite the bullet. I let my pediatrician know that she wasn't sleeping, and she said that she saw no reason for her to be up with the exception of teething pain. The doctor gave me some info to read, and it made a world of difference. The problem was the way her meals were spaced. I was feeding her as frequently as I did when she was newborn and when she would have growth spurts. I couldn't expect her to eat almost constantly during the day and then expect her to go without all night. To remedy this I slowly spaced out her meals 10 minutes each day until they were 4 hours apart. She was eating just as much but further apart. I also separate nursing from sleeping. I would nurse her for the last time of the day then have her bedtime ritual so that her last waking memory wasn't of nursing. In the beginning I had to feed her once during the night but she stopped waking for that feeding after a couple of weeks. I am sorry that I didn't do this all sooner. I could have had her sleeping through the night as early as 6 months. (Your baby needs to be nursing and eating all solid foods-fruit, cereal, meat, and veggies.) ~ Crystal

storkSounds just like the routine I have with my daughter, Rita (5.5 mos.) I put her to bed around 8 pm. Most nights she nurses to sleep, but if she isn't hungry I just rock her for a few minutes and put her in the crib. She wiggles and does the tired fuss for a few minutes and goes to sleep. She wakes up between 1-3 am and I bring her to bed and feed her; we then go back to sleep. She eats again shortly before we all wake up and is good until about 8:30 or 9. I nurse her during my lunch hour. Otherwise she gets breast milk in a bottle. She has started trying soft solids. I wake up to bring her to my bed, but otherwise do not get up at night. Different people have different feelings about this, but the bottom line is that I am a happy, RESTED mommy and she is a happy, thriving baby girl.

Crystal, that is an interesting system. If I feel Rita's feedings are becoming unmanageable, I think that would be a sensible way to change things. Thanks for sharing.

Maureen - I just want to mention that I had the exact same concern with my daughter. Miraculously (or maybe not!) she started to sleep a 6-7 hour stretch after her first day at daycare. Might have been all the activity. My point is that her schedule changed when mine did. LOL ~ Lynne

storkIt's so great to know that we're not alone. Isn't it funny that all of your friends' babies and your siblings, etc. slept through the night by the time they were 3 months old? I was beginning to think I had the most active baby in the world! Chaynee is 10 months old, and I am very lucky if she sleeps through the night. We still see each other 2 or 3 times before it's actually time to get up. Whew! Some nights can be very exhausting, but I wouldn't change a thing! I'm fortunate enough to be a stay at home mom, so now and then I get to sneak in a nap of my own! Of course, we're planning baby #2 so my nap days may be over! Hang in there - as long as you have a happy, healthy baby (and mom) - it's worth it! ~ Natalie

storkI'm confused! My 5 month old has just started REALLY sleeping through the night -- from about 8:30 or 9 pm until 6:30 or 7 am! It's great, but I'm wondering about breastfeeding. She's exclusively breastfed and seems to be doing okay with feeding every 2-3 hours during the day. (She's been sleeping all night for about a week now.) Will my milk supply diminish over time?? I wake up feeling very very full, still. (Rather uncomfortable). It seems like everyone else's babies wake up at night to feed. Any thoughts? ~ Micaelasmom

storkHi Micaelasmom, I wouldn't worry, since ALL babies are on their own schedules...If that seems to be the pattern with your daughter, I don't know if you are pumping too, but I would just pump before I went to sleep, and then pump again in the AM, after your daughter nurses. I've learned very quickly that our bodies adjust to our babies' schedules. Even though my son has expressed breastmilk at daycare, he rarely drinks all of his milk. I send 20-24 ounces, I always have at least one bottle which was untouched. His provider tells me, it's like Christian has radar, because after 2 pm, he won't really eat. I usually pick him up between 2:30 and 2:45 pm and as soon as we're home, I nurse him, and you'd think he hadn't eaten ALL DAY! ~ Kenyatta

storkMy daughter is 4.5 months and nursing like a pro! Our problem is naptime and bedtime. After nursing or shall I say while nursing, Victoria falls asleep. I burp her and lay her down in her crib. She wakes up the minute her head hits the bed and she is out of my arms. WE go through this night after night . . . during the day for naptime I have been just holding her, it is just easier. BUT I can't do it any longer. She needs to go to sleep on her own, in her bed!!! Has anyone else had this problem? What did you do to correct it? What works is after a few tries, we turn on the hair dryer for a minute or two. It works but I really hate doing that. I don't want to let her cry. PLEASE HELP!!!!! ~ Stephanie

storkChaynee is almost 11 months old, and she still does the waking up thing sometimes. I've been very wimpy when it comes to teaching her how to go to sleep on her own. I did the crying thing, and I just wasn't tough enough! Today, she nursed and went to sleep wonderfully for her nap, but if she hadn't, I would have ended up putting her in her stroller and taking her for a walk. She's getting better at night sleeping - finally. Last night she only woke up once! I suppose my only suggestion is to be persistent. Victoria is still so little, I don't think I let Chaynee cry to sleep (okay, tried) until she was 6 - 7 months old. I can't say that I'm much help on the subject, but you're not alone! ~ Natalie

storkWhen Simon, my eldest, was a baby we used to think he was a reverse sleepy-time doll. You know, the ones that automatically close their eyes when you lie them down - only he would automatically open his. Time and time again we would put an apparently dead to the world baby down in the cot only to end up staring at two wide-open little eyes going 'ha ha gotchya'. We tried heaps of things - and no doubt you will too - but what finally worked for us was to have him well wrapped up and held so that we could pat him on the back. As we put him down we would keep patting until it was obvious he was really asleep. You have to really ease them down onto the bed - I used to keep my arms around him so that if he opened his eyes he still felt as if he was being held. Then I would slide my arms out from under him. Actually, what worked best and still works best on his youngest brother is to feed them in bed and leave them there when they go to sleep. Not easy for some, but those of us larger endowed mothers it's a very good option. Best of luck ~ Ngaire

storkI was wondering if anybody had this problem. My 3 month old son never slept well on his back. He would just wake up every time I but him down, and on his side he would sleep but very little. I dealt with it for the first 2 months and half. And now I have noticed that he sleeps so much better on his tummy. I have read a lot on the subject and I do other preventive things like sleep with him, totally breastfeed, I don't smoke and I took very good care of myself during my pregnancy. I have also read that babies have died also sleeping on their backs and sides. My concern is should I worry about him and me getting sleep or is the risk just too high? It's better not to get any sleep at all. I would like to know other moms' opinions. ~ kanth620

storkThis is a tough one. I definitely agree in following the recommendation of putting baby to sleep on his/her back, but I also know EXACTLY what it's like to have a kid that refuses to sleep that way. Here are a couple of ideas to try with the back sleeping . . . raise the 'head' of the bed by placing an adult size pillow BENEATH one end of the babybed mattress. Some babies seem to like the 'incline'. You can also try rolling a blanket into a tight roll and laying it beside the baby to sort of snuggle him and make him feel more secure though it is important to keep the blanket away from his face. We even went as far as to let Skye sleep in her carseat beside our bed a few nights. It was the ONLY way she'd stay asleep other than my sitting up and holding her all night. She wouldn't even sleep laying down in bed with me. If you do decide to let baby sleep on his tummy, (and I'm NOT advocating it but I know some parents do make this decision), try to be sure that the sheet is tucked securely around the mattress and that there are no loose pillows, blankets, or sheets around the baby's face. One of the main concerns with tummy sleeping and SIDS is that some baby's breath so shallowly that they don't push the exhaled air (carbon monoxide mostly) away from their faces and so they eventually build up a cloud of 'used' air around their face and that is what they are breathing in and out until finally there is no oxygen left in the air. By keeping blankets and things away from their face, you can help prevent the used air from being trapped. You can also use a fan in the room to insure that the air circulates. You just don't want it blowing directly on baby or making him too cold. Once a baby is old enough to roll over easily s/he'll probably find their own sleeping position anyway. I put Skye to bed on her back, but now she usually rolls to her side almost immediately. Good Luck! ~ Elaine

storkI didn't specifically have this problem, as my daughter usually stayed on her side. However, we did get a baby gift that (although we never had to use it) other moms have told me was a lifesaver (literally) for them and their babies. It is a foam frame that fits both behind the baby's back and in front of the tummy to keep baby on his/her side. They aren't very expensive and can be purchased at most department stores with a baby department. (J.C. Penney's, Sears, Wal-Mart, etc.) This may provide more restful nights sleep for you (less worry) and for the baby (not actually on back). Good Luck! ~ JillL

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storkI have a now 6 month old and had the same problem. At 3 months he still was not sleeping more than 2-3 hours at a time at night. I finally decided to try putting him on his tummy. The first night he slept 6 hours, although I did not get much sleep because I was paranoid and kept checking on him. Even though this is my fourth child and all my others slept on their tummies, I felt guilty because of the SIDS factor. I think you have to go by recommendation, but I also think you have to use common sense and when nothing else works, do what you have to. There are a lot of risk factors associated with SIDS other than placing an infant on their tummy. Hope everything goes well. ~ Tina

storkI need help!!! My dd is 5.5 months old. She was doing well with sleeping . . . going to bed between 8-9 and waking at 4 am to nurse, then up by 8 am. It was wonderful, and my dh and I slept nicely. (So did she) Well, Thursday night she was in bed at 8 and woke at 11 pm and then every hour till morning. Now each time I put her at my breast and she would nurse a few minutes and fall asleep. I then would lay her back down. This went on ALL night! THEN it happened Friday night and Saturday and Sunday night (last night) was just awful! She would wake up after 10 minutes in bed. I knew she was tired, yawning as I'd pick her up, and nodding off soon after. I don't know what to do!! Could it be teething?? Growth spurt? I have heard that many things can interfere with sleeping, but like this? I haven't had a decent night's sleep in 4 days. I am a walking zombie! Any suggestions would be appreciated greatly!! ~ Stephanie

storkDoes Tori sleep with you at night, or after her first night waking? I have a 6.5 month old whose sleeping habits are very similar to Tori's, except that Rita wakes around 1-2 am and I get her from her crib and nurse her to sleep in our bed. We sleep till about 6 am. Now that she is taking solids, I notice that she takes less expressed milk from her bottle at daycare and seems to nurse more at night. Of course, I don't really notice it because I can sleep through it. I don't know about teething; Rita has been showing signs, but no teeth and no change in sleep patterns. Wishing you plentiful zzzzzzzs ~ Lynne

storkIt sounds like teething to me. My doctor told me to look at my son's gums and if they had flattened out, they were getting the teeth. It seemed to be correct. They can also have discomfort for weeks before any teeth show up (sorry, that's not good news). It does not sound like a growing spurt because she is not eating that much, probably just getting comfort. Is she drooling a lot and mouthing everything?? When it seemed like my son had a lot of pain we would give his some of the homeopathic teething tablets; we found them in the grocery store and that seemed to help. And when it was really, really bad we would give him some tylenol. I hope this helps, because we just went through the two bottom teeth and it really messed up his sleeping and ours. ~ Chris

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