YEAR OLD- Still wake to nurse at night?
My daughter turned one on Mother's Day, but she is still not sleeping
through the night. She will wake to nurse and then go right back
asleep. Is it normal for her to need to nurse or is it more of
a comfort thing for her? I don't mind her nursing at night, whether
for comfort or need, since she rarely nurses during the day anymore.
I am just wondering if it is normal for her to still wake to nurse
There are lots of babies (both breast and bottle-fed) who continue
to wake during the night well into the second or even third year.
Sleeping patterns vary widely among individual babies, just as
they do among adults. Everyone knows that some people require
seven or eight hours sleep in order to function effectively the
next day, while others do just fine with five or six hours. Some
adults are light sleepers, some are deep. Some sleep better curled
up spoon-like next to their partner, while others gravitate to
the far side of the bed because they need their own space. Why
do we accept these differences in adults, and yet expect babies
to start sleeping through the night be a certain age?
"problems " are a hot topic. There are dozens of books and hundreds
of magazine articles on how to get your baby to sleep longer.
In our culture, a Ďgoodí baby is defined as one who sleeps a lot
and demands as little attention as possible. If you define sleep
problems the way many experts do, then almost all babies have
some sort of sleep problem.
need more REM, or active sleep than adults. For the first three
months, babies spend 45-50% of their sleep time in REM sleep,
10-15% in transitional sleep, and 35-45% in quiet or deep sleep.
This high percentage of active sleep in infancy will gradually
decrease to adult levels by the time the baby is two or three
have shorter sleep cycles than adults. A sleep cycle is the total
time spent going through both active and quiet stages of sleep.
Adultís sleep cycles last about ninety minutes, and periods of
active sleep occur about four times a night. Babies sleep cycles
are half as long as adultís, and they have twice as many periods
of active, or light sleep. When a baby is moving from a quiet
into an active state of sleep, he is most easily aroused. Nursing
for a few minutes is what helps him transition back into deeper
sleep, unless he is a self soother and is attached to a security
blanket, pacifier, or thumb.
who are self soothers wake up just as often as babies who use
the breast for comfort, but they are more likely to put themselves
back into a deep sleep state on their own.
baby has no concept of day and night. Adults have been conditioned
to stay awake during the day and sleep at night. The typical sleep
pattern for infants is to sleep during the day and be awake more
at night. For the first few months, most babies will sleep 14-18
hours each day without regard to the difference between day and
night. His sleep patterns are similar to his nursing patterns:
small frequent feedings and short frequent naps. Most newborns
seldom sleep more than three or four hours at a time without waking
up for a feeding. In rare cases a baby may sleep through the night
(defined as a five hour stretch or longer) by ten days, but most
babies donít do this until three months or later. Waking up once,
twice, or three times during the night is not uncommon. Between
one third and one quarter of all babies will continue to wake
up during the night even after they are a year old.
older babies who had been sleeping long stretches at night will
start waking more frequently when they begin teething, and also
when they begin to deal with separation anxiety and need to be
reassured that their mom is still there.
is an excellent way to meet your baby's nighttime needs for milk
and security while also allowing you to get more sleep than you
would get if your baby was in a separate room. If she is in the
room with you, you can nurse her as soon as she begins to make
the transition from deep sleep to active sleep, and neither of
you has to wake up completely. How you feel in the morning depends
more on how you are awakened more than how many times you are
awakened. I remember nights when I couldnít have told you how
many times the baby nursed, because I never woke up enough to
Since you seem to be comfortable with the nighttime nursing arrangement
you have now, then I would continue nursing her back to sleep
at night until she outgrows the need. It sounds like she is already
well on the way toward weaning since she has cut back so much
on daytime feedings. She will continue to get the nutritional
benefits of the milk she receives during those short feedings,
as well as the security of knowing that you are there to meet
her needs during the night as well as during the day. Before you
know it, she will be an independent little person who sleeps through
the night in her own bed and climbs in your bed occasionally just
to snuggle. Enjoy the special closeness of these nighttime nursings
while they last, because someday soon they will just be a fond
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