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Thread: hunger cues, sleep schedule-i have lots of questions!

  1. #1
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    Jan 2014
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    Question hunger cues, sleep schedule-i have lots of questions!

    This is going to be a little long... It's been a while since I've been on here so I have a few questions I've been putting off asking. If you want to skip my looooooong writing, you can skip down to the * with the heart of my question.

    My daughter is 2mos2wk old and it seems she is eating a lot less than usual the last few days and sleeping a lot more. I'm not sure what to make of it. I have few concerns... She doesn't seem to tell me when she's hungry anymore. She used to try to eat her hands, but lately she started doing this for fun and stopped using it as a hunger cue. Or she'd do this little whimper to let me know she wanted to eat, but now she either doesn't do it at all and goes 4+ hours without "asking" for food or she skips those usual cues and goes straight to crying. Maybe I'm missing the cue somewhere in there, but it seems one minute she is great and the next she is screaming for boob! Like a true woman, she is sending mixed signals! () I am worried she is not eating enough so I've been offering her the breast when she gets to 4 hours whether she "asks" or not and she eats very well. She doesn't garf it down as if she's starving; she just eats like normal. Without her giving me her normal cues, I'm wondering is I should start trying to establish a schedule. How many times a day should she be eating and how long in between? I heard it is normal for the frequency of feedings to be less around this time, I just want to be sure she is getting enough nutrition. This also makes me a little concerned about my milk supply. I've been getting engorged more often lately since she is eating less frequently. I had a significant dip in my supply once before and I'm afraid for it to happen again.

    Which brings me to my next question: sleep. She is sleeping (no joke) 12 hours a night! We have a nightly routine somewhere between 9 and 10pm. We go upstairs to change into pj's, change the diaper, nurse on both sides as long as she wants, burp, swaddle and then put her in the bassinet to sleep. She wakes in the night to nurse after 6-8 hours (it's not always consistent when she wakes up and sometimes she wakes after only 4 hours if she didn't get enough to eat before bed) and then she goes back to sleep to get a total of 12-ish hours. Is this normal or weird? Am I blessed or cursed?! I haven't paid too much attention to her daytime naps because they're so different every day. She'll nap anywhere from 15min to 2+ hours throughout the day. Sometimes she needs one of us to help put her to sleep and other times she just falls asleep where she is. When she's awake, she is fully awake and alert -eyes open, lots of activity and "talking" to us. Should I wake her a little earlier? Should I start a nap schedule during the day? I try to keep her engaged and interact with her during the day, but I also can't sit and play peek-a-boo all day long so I get up to clean and cook and shower, etc... and sometimes when I walk away for a few min and she is in the bouncy seat or on the floor in her little play gym she just dozes off right there. (As I type this little essay she is sleeping on my shoulder after eating.)

    *Both these questions (long-winded as they might be -sorry!) boil down to: should I establish a schedule or just let her eat/sleep on demand no matter how long or how often she wants it?
    Lisa & David Est. 9/3/11
    Madeline 12/31/13

  2. #2
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    Jan 2014
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    Minnesota
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    Default Re: hunger cues, sleep schedule-i have lots of questions!

    I am in the "on demand" boat on this one. She knows what she needs. If she is gaining weight and having enough wet/soiled diapers she should be fine. If you are worried about supply you could try to work in an extra feeding overnight - maybe set an alarm so she nurses every 4 hours instead of 6-8.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: hunger cues, sleep schedule-i have lots of questions!

    Here's what I think. I don't see the need for sleep or meal schedules with babies this young. In my personal experience your family falls into a rhythm overtime and baby goes with it. But not this young by a longshot, so I would suggest not really worried about schedules at this time.

    But that certainly does not mean it might not be smart to encourage baby to nurse more frequently. As far as I am aware there has never been a healthy normally gaining breast-fed baby who nursed too often. But there certainly have been plenty of breast-fed babies who did not nurse often enough. Of course if the baby does not nurse often enough, the baby may not gain well and also the mothers milk production may be harmed, and infrequent nursing can also cause other breast-feeding issues as well.

    To me there are cues that come from baby and also cues that come from mother. A Mother who is feeling engorged is getting a cue from her body that it is time to nurse. So at that point it would probably be a good time to offer baby to nurse. And a baby may have very subtle cues. Sometimes a mom may have no idea why she felt it was time to nurse baby it just felt like time. It's not always that the cues are something obvious or that you can even name. If you are with your baby most of the time you can pretty much tell when baby wants to nurse and in any case it never ever hurts to offer!

    I think It is important to remember that from a biological standpoint humans are meant to sleep with their infants. We know this because almost all mammals and certainly all higher order primates sleep with their infants and are in fact in virtually constant physical contact with their infants sleeping and waking. I am not saying that's what you need to do, but a baby who is sleeping with her mother will typically nurse more often then one who does not. So if a baby is sleeping long periods while sleeping in another space, particularly if it is another room, that is something to think about. You do not say were baby's bassinet is, but the American Academy of pediatrics suggests that babies sleep in the same room as their mothers.
    Swaddling is suspected in causing some babies to sleep longer than is biologically normal. You don't mention pacifiers, but if your baby is also getting a pacifier for sleep that certainly has been clearly linked to some babies not nursing enough and consequently not gaining well.
    As far as being engaged and interacting with your baby, you can do that and get a lot of things done around the house at the same time if you find a baby carrier that you like. Slings/wraps/etc.

  4. #4
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    Jan 2014
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    Default Re: hunger cues, sleep schedule-i have lots of questions!

    I am trying to encourage her to nurse more often. I'm paying more attention to her and if she gives me even a little hint that she might be hungry, I offer the breast. If she doesn't want it, she doesn't take it. (Actually, when I offer and she's not hungry, she gets this adorable grin on her face looking up at me from my arms... it makes me melt!!)

    Her bassinet is in our bedroom right next to my side of the bed. I can reach in to get her without even getting out of bed. She is swaddled at night as she is not able to roll over yet (pediatrician's recommendation). She gets a pacifier on car trips and sometimes at night, though she seldom uses it. She uses it occasionally during the day, but only after she's been fed. She doesn't use it for long before spitting it out.

    Her diaper output is good. She has a ped appt tomorrow and we'll see if she's on target with her weight, though seeing as how she's grown out of all her NB clothes in the last month (), I think it's safe to say she is gaining very well.

    Today I kept her up when she woke after 10 hours of sleep. I nursed her, changed her and brought her downstairs to play before Daddy went to work. I think this is what I need to do about her extra long sleeping. Instead of putting her back down, just keep her up. I am SO not a morning person, but I suppose that doesn't matter much now!
    Lisa & David Est. 9/3/11
    Madeline 12/31/13

  5. #5
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    Jan 2014
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    Default Re: hunger cues, sleep schedule-i have lots of questions!

    I agree with PPs, LO is very young so you just have to observe her feeding habits and demands. Since you said she has outgrown her clothes, then it is possible that she has gained weight which is a good sign. Good luck tomorrow. I know ped will have something good to tell you about your LO.

  6. #6
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    Jun 2009
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    Default Re: hunger cues, sleep schedule-i have lots of questions!

    I am unclear why a baby who is unable to roll over requires swaddling. The recommendation that I am aware of is that babies are placed on their back to sleep, so if baby is laying on her back and can't rollover then you're good to go. If you want to read more about how swaddling might encourage very long sleep stretches that MAY negatively impact breast-feeding I believe Nancy Morhbacher has some information on her blog. Swaddling is recognized as a sleep lengthening technique, it is used to encourage longer sleep stretches. so if you're concerned about your baby sleeping long hours that would be the thing I would suggest looking at. It sounds like your baby is doing just great now, but the problem is that less frequent nursing will impact milk production going forward. Or at least it might. I agree that 10 hours seems like an awfully long time for baby to be sleeping and not eating in one stretch. But are you saying that baby is sleeping two five hour stretches basically and nursing in between? (Or 4 and 6 or whatever) I mean that would probably be fine. Newborns sleep a lot of course. They just also nurse a lot in between. Typically.

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