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Thread: 8 month old frequent nurser & "failure to thrive"

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
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    Default 8 month old frequent nurser & "failure to thrive"

    Hello,

    We've been feeding on demand since day 1 and babygirl, who will be 8 months on Friday has either been nursing or taking a bottle (of pumped milk at daycare) every 2 hours. We introduced solids at about 5.5 months. She's getting 2-3 solid meals a day. She gets about 3 oz of poi (a Hawaiian starch, that has amazing nutritional value), 2.5 oz of veggies and 4 oz of yogurt. When at daycare, she's getting a total of 8 oz (I'm gone about 8.5 hours) - 2, 2 oz bottles and 1 4 oz bottle at the end of the day.

    She's strong and developing well, except for her weight. Right now she's below 3rd percentile for weight and we've been adding olive oil to her solids and added the yogurt. This is appearing to help, as she's gained 5.5 oz in 5 days.

    We've also struggled with sleep and have just hired a sleep consultant. Babygirl is completely co-dependent on me for sleep - she has to touch me to stay asleep and went from waking once a night for a feeding to waking 3 times or more around 4 months. The sleep consultant suggested extending the time between feedings and I'm not sure how to do that without having her think she's starving.
    Any advice, experience and suggestions would be greatly appreciated! TIA!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
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    Default Re: 8 month old frequent nurser & "failure to thrive"

    Are you basically concerned that she won't sleep without you? It sounds normal to me and if you've had wt gain issues I'd keep nursing during the night as much as possible. My twins are 8 mos and nurse at least 5 times each during the night and I think it's normal although exhausting.
    Nursed my sweet daughter 3 years, 3 mos.

  3. #3
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    Mar 2014
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    Default Re: 8 month old frequent nurser & "failure to thrive"

    Thanks for your response. She won't sleep without me. She has to physically be touching me to stay asleep. If either of us roll over, she'll realize she's not touching me and will wake up. It's a crazy co-dependency. And it results in at least one of us (DH included) in not getting any good sleep.

    The concern I have is spreading out time in between feedings, as the sleep consultant suggested. I'm not sure how or if I should do this.

    And, awesome job Mama! Proud of you for continuing to nurse twins!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    Default Re: 8 month old frequent nurser & "failure to thrive"

    My suggestion: fire the sleep consultant. Her advice to stretch out the baby's feedings is the absolute worst thing you could do for a baby when there is a concern about weight gain. Not only is it torture for mom and baby, because the baby won't understand why she's being denied nurturing and sustenance and will be miserable, but it's also likely to reduce mom's milk production. Milk supply is created and maintained by the baby's demand, and any time you mess with that system by spacing feedings out to some artificial interval, you're likely to end up with decreased supply.

    It sounds like sleep is currently a big issue for you. You're co-sleeping, right? If so, where- in a bed, on a futon on the floor? Is the bed firm or squishy? Is dad always in bed with you and baby? Does dad have the option to sleep elsewhere in the house? Is there a clock in the room where you sleep? Do you sit up to nurse or have you mastered side-lying nursing?
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  5. #5
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    Default Re: 8 month old frequent nurser & "failure to thrive"

    It's not really co-dependent. I mean, co-dependency is an actual problem where somebody needs to be needed and it's a psychologically unhealthy relationship. Your baby needs you. I fall asleep with a baby latched on all the time so really it doesn't need to take a way a ton of sleep and honestly I did this with my singleton and she nursed at least 8x/night until she was almost 2 and I didn't lose a ton of sleep from it. Now yes with twins I lose more if they're both hungry at the same time but nursing one baby in bed doesn't need to be a big sleep harmer for you, if you can fall asleep with baby latched on. Thanks for the encouraging words, it's been hard work and I have found a lot of support here I do encourage you to stick around.
    Nursed my sweet daughter 3 years, 3 mos.

  6. #6
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    Jun 2009
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    Default Re: 8 month old frequent nurser & "failure to thrive"

    Has a physical cause for both the slow gain and the sleep "issues" been considered? Food allergies, for example, might cause slow gain and difficulty sleeping. This could be from something you eat as well as what your daughter eats.

    An ounce a day is normal gain for a newborn. For an 8 month old, that is exceedingly rapid gain. Has weight gain always been slow? Are you adding olive oil to baby's diet on medical advice?

    Who is saying your child is "failure to thrive"? That is a very serious label. (it's not really a diagnoses because FTT is not an illness or condition.) Has a doctor used that term for your child? It does not fit your description of a child who is strong and developing well.

    I suggest the book "My Child Won't Eat." It offers lots of good info on what is normal in terms of growth and eating habits, what growth charts mean and don't mean, etc. it is not a book about how to get a child to eat more.

    I am very curious what training and qualifications the sleep consultant has. My healthy and happy 20 month old usually nurses at least three times over night. Nursing several times overnight is entirely normal. And needed, especially if baby is away from mom during the day and averaging an intake of one ounce per hour during that time. This could be ok intake, as the rule of thumb is one to 1.5 ounces per hour during separations. But I wonder if baby would take more breastmilk at daycare? What if more breastmilk was swapped out for those veges? Ounce per ounce, Veges have very little calories and breastmilk has a ton.

  7. #7
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    Jan 2013
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    Default Re: 8 month old frequent nurser & "failure to thrive"



    With respect to the night time issues--well, my daughter would wake if she wasn't physically touching me until she was about 14-15 months old. Now at approaching 17 months, she seeks me out at night plenty, but can and will sleep in her own space some of the night. I've done nothing to encourage the change, she's just growing into it on her own. I wouldn't classify this as co-dependency. This sounds like normal baby behavior, in my opinion!

    Eliminating night feeds is the last thing I would do if I were worried about weight gain. Unfortunately, "sleep consultants" usually are not knowledgeable about normal breastfeeding physiology, and their recommendations are usually not best for breastfeeding success. Some moms and babies just need frequent feedings, including night feeds. I would fall into that category, as I have a low storage capacity. If I had tried to eliminate night feeds, I have no doubt that my supply would have dropped precipitously, my daughter wouldn't have gotten enough milk overall, and breastfeeding would have been significantly harmed for us.
    Apologies for the short responses! I'm usually responding one-handed on my smartphone!

  8. #8
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    Mar 2014
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    Default Re: 8 month old frequent nurser & "failure to thrive"

    I'm not going to stretch out feedings. It's counterintuitive to me on all levels. I did email the sleep consultant to express my concerns and she was VERY receptive and said she was going to consult with a LC friend of hers and we'll go from there. I'm hoping we can still find a good solution.

    We are bedsharing. It's soft-ish and yes, Daddy is always in bed with us. He could sleep somewhere else, but that's not something we'd like to do. There isn't a clock in the room. Thankfully, we have mastered side-lying nursing. This is the only way I've gotten any real sleep. The problem is that she's gone from her Arm's Reach Co-Sleeper, where she slept 4-5 beautiful hours to waking up every hour or two. She won't sleep anywhere other than her car seat - if the car is in motion or in our arms or our bed. This leaves about 45 minutes for me to get dinner prepared, wash bottles - get ready for the next day before we begin our cluster feeding and evening routine. None of us are getting good or enough sleep.

    She's currently getting 1 oz per hour, but I can certainly bump that up to 1.5 and we can reduce or eliminate some of the food.

    Thank you Mamas! I think the big thing that I've learned (I seem to re-learn this over and over again) is that I need to trust my instincts and myself. I am enough.

  9. #9
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    Mar 2014
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    Default Re: 8 month old frequent nurser & "failure to thrive"

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*lllmeg View Post
    Has a physical cause for both the slow gain and the sleep "issues" been considered? Food allergies, for example, might cause slow gain and difficulty sleeping. This could be from something you eat as well as what your daughter eats.
    >No, we haven't explored this more yet. However, I did notice a correlation between the drop in percentiles to when we introduced solids. I think we'll add a bit more breast milk and cut back on solids to see if that helps.

    An ounce a day is normal gain for a newborn. For an 8 month old, that is exceedingly rapid gain. Has weight gain always been slow? Are you adding olive oil to baby's diet on medical advice?
    >Yes, she's always been small and slow to gain weight, however it has progressed in the last two months. Her Ped suggested adding olive oil.

    Who is saying your child is "failure to thrive"? That is a very serious label. (it's not really a diagnoses because FTT is not an illness or condition.) Has a doctor used that term for your child? It does not fit your description of a child who is strong and developing well.
    >I would tend to agree. It was the dx that was on our charts for the blood test our Ped had us go through. All of her blood work (kidney, liver function, iron levels, thyroid) is all good and perfectly normal.

    I suggest the book "My Child Won't Eat." It offers lots of good info on what is normal in terms of growth and eating habits, what growth charts mean and don't mean, etc. it is not a book about how to get a child to eat more.
    >Thank you! I'll check this out!

    I am very curious what training and qualifications the sleep consultant has. My healthy and happy 20 month old usually nurses at least three times over night. Nursing several times overnight is entirely normal. And needed, especially if baby is away from mom during the day and averaging an intake of one ounce per hour during that time. This could be ok intake, as the rule of thumb is one to 1.5 ounces per hour during separations. But I wonder if baby would take more breastmilk at daycare? What if more breastmilk was swapped out for those veges? Ounce per ounce, Veges have very little calories and breastmilk has a ton.
    THANK YOU everyone for your support and insight! It is truly appreciated!

  10. #10

    Default Re: 8 month old frequent nurser & "failure to thrive"

    I actually had something VERY similar to this happen. (And we also hired a sleep consultant!)

    Just out of curiosity, does she always fall asleep instantly while nursing? DD was dropping in weight, and it was because she didn't actually get much milk since she'd always fall asleep right away while nursing. Which then made her depending on nursing to fall asleep. We had to do a lot of work to force her to stay awake while nursing (lights on, talking and singing songs, making her a bit chilly, etc)

    Once we fixed her sleep problem and she was getting enough sleep, her weight problem actually resolved as well.

    As a note, we did the sleep lady method. It's kind of a CIO method, but you're right there with her patting her back and comforting her, and you pick her up if she's really crying. It was really hard on all of us, but we were at the point where her lack of sleep and low weight was much less healthy than the sleep training (she was only sleeping 9 hours a day total).

    But we never said no nursing when she woke up, ,and everything was on demand. Though when she went to her crib, DH would go see if he could get her back to sleep just by patting her back. If that didn't work then I'd nurse.

    Good luck!

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