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Thread: Help with cutting down night feeds of 15 month old

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Milton Keynes, UK

    Default Help with cutting down night feeds of 15 month old

    Hi all, this is my 1st time here as a poster! I've only ever hovered before!
    I am finally admitting that I do need some help with my 15 month old son's feeding habits at night. I have been adamant it's normal up until now. My HV won't help me until I take on her advice of putting him in his own cot in his won room instead of co-sleeping and to stop breastfeeding.
    I don't want to give up either. But am starting to struggle now and so I would really like to cut some feeds down to just 2 or 3 a night.
    I've worn myself out and got so dehydrated that I ended up in A&E the other week because of exhaustion. So I have been taking more water in a bottle rather than just a glass to bed with me. But the thing that is killing me is the constant feeding.
    My son feeds to sleep from 6.30-7.15pm ish. He wakes every 40 mins- 1hr until I go to bed around 8.30-9pm (I either rub is back to sleep or feed him back to sleep, he falls to sleep in 1 minute usually!) Then when I go to bed he wakes and feeds for an hour. Then it every hour until midnight. Then he will sleep for 2 hours and then feed every hour until 4.30 when he then starts feeding allll the time...I can't get him off me. If I let him feed then we can stay in bed until 6 or 7am but he is only sleeping for 20 mins at a time then feeding again and it's killing my back and making me so dehydrated. Or if I refuse to feed him we are up at 5am.
    I had hoped to wait until he could understand me so that I could explain we needed to sleep and he could feed when the sun comes up. But I just don't think I can go another few months.
    I've tried to rub is back instead of feeding him, but he just screams and twists around and is so angry as he is so tired and wants to sleep/feed.
    I'm just not sure how to go about dropping some night feeds
    My son did used to have reflux/milk allergy but recent blood tests said he wasn't allergic to milk any more and an egg allergy showed up - but I have cut out all egg now (as well as dairy, which i cut out when he was 7 months)
    Is this amount of feeding something to worry about? I do see my paediatrician who says his 2 year old still wakes to feed twice so he is supportive but has no idea how to help me.


  2. #2

    Default Re: Help with cutting down night feeds of 15 month old

    I feel your pain - both my children were similar to this. My DD was exactly as you describe and she night-weaned at 2 years, but it wasn't until she turned 4 that she started sleeping through every night. I coslept with her until she was 3 when I just couldn't stand her night-time tantrums any more and put her in her own room. Now she sleeps like a log from 7 til 7. My ds is 2 and I am night weaning him at the moment as he is also not a good sleeper, but I am doing it whilst cosleeping as that way he can have cuddles and reassurance even if the milk isn't on offer.

    Don't get me started on the uselessness of HVs - all bar one that I have had dealings with have been awful - judgemental and relying on their government guidelines factsheets for all their knowledge and advice. You are the only expert on your child and it is entirely up to you how you choose to parent.

    You are not alone, plenty of high need or high anxiety babies wake constantly, neither of mine ever napped for longer than 15 min for the first 18 months. They all mature at different rates, but they will all get there eventually.

    Only you can decide what you can cope with - if you feel you need to night wean, then do it without guilt - with my DD I cut out the bedtime feed and then she fairly rapidly cut out the middle if the night ones after that. My son is having a harder time with it and I have cut out all feeds between 10 pm and 6pm but it is a work in progress!

    It is hellish difficult surviving on no sleep - I feel like the living dead half the time, but there is light at the end of the tunnel - they will sleep eventually.

    Btw, have you tried cutting out beans, lentils, onions, leeks, cabbage etcfrom your diet? I always know I am in for a bad couple of nights if I eat anything which could produce wind as ds is v sensitive to it. Also, I found caffeine and chocolate in my diet affects their sleep too. With dd I eliminated caffeine completely as she was really sensitive to it.

    Hang in there, whatever you choose to do it will get better with time...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: Help with cutting down night feeds of 15 month old

    Here are some suggestions, not in any particular order.
    1) don't let baby go to sleep so early, or, go to bed earlier yourself so you can both get up earlier. 12 hours is a long time to stay in bed. Your baby may simply not be able to sleep that long and may be uncomfortable doing so.
    2) Have water by bed for dehydration-one for you and one for baby too!
    3) Try nursing more often during the day
    4) The No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley has many ideas for helping a breastfeeding, bedsharing baby sleep longer stretches. It is not a specific "do this, then this" approach, but rather, ideas to try or not try as you choose that have worked for other parents. There is one for babies and one for toddlers, at this age I think either will be helpful.
    5) Try not bedsharing, for perhaps some of the night if not all-some moms have had success with this.
    6) if baby is napping during the day and there is any way you can as well, nap with your baby.
    7) If you cannot nap then, or not always, find other times to catch up on sleep.
    8) Are you sidelying or having baby on top of you to nurse? Are you ever able to sleep while baby nurses?

    Is this amount of feeding something to worry about? I do see my paediatrician who says his 2 year old still wakes to feed twice so he is supportive but has no idea how to help me.
    IMO, no, it is not something to worry about unless there is some underlying cause like discomfort, illness, not getting enough to eat, etc. For example, this kind of restlessness could certainly be caused by a food sensitivity, but not necessarily is that the case. Have you looked into gluten intolerance?

  4. #4

    Default Re: Help with cutting down night feeds of 15 month old

    I've recently begun this journey with my 15 month old DS. I feel your pain. After he turned a year old, I knew I couldn't function anymore. I was getting very irritated by his constant waking and wanting to nurse. I too had been trying to convince myself it's completely normal, but I finally had to face the fact that, at least in my case, I would be a better mom during the day (and wife too!) if I cut down some of the nighttime feeds. Part of me felt it was completely unnatural. Surely mothers in more traditional cultures don't do this? But I knew I simply couldn't function anymore with 12-15+ wakeups every night. I'll tell you how I did it in the hopes it might give you some ideas.

    First I established a night night routine. It's pretty simple at less than 10 minutes, but I think it helps clue him into the fact it's time to go to sleep. I only focused on putting him to sleep for the night without nursing. We had co-slept/bed shared since birth. I had to stop this. It was just too tempting and frustrating for him to be right next to me but not get to nurse. So I put him in a playpen at the foot of our bed (even next to my side of the bed was too tempting). I only worked on putting him to sleep. There was some crying on his part, but for me I felt comfortable with it since I was there in the room with him to reassure him and make sure the crying didn't get too out of control. I found I couldn't pick him up as when I went to put him down he got angry, but I was able to pat his back and shush him and sing to him. It went on for about on hour, but there really wasn't too much crying on his part. He piped up for maybe a minute or two every 7 or 8 minutes. Finally he went to sleep. The next nights got shorter and shorter. I only worked on getting him to go to sleep on his own for a few nights. Whenever he woke up the rest of the night I nursed him in my bed like normal.

    After a few nights of him getting better about going to sleep initially for the night I started working on the middle of the night. I pretty much did a similar routine as outlined above. However, I did keep one nursing session somewhere around 2:00 and 3:00 (depending on when he woke up).

    Now he sleeps from the time I put him down (8:00pm or so) until 2:00 or 3:00am (depending on when he wakes up) so he can nurse. Then I nurse for a few minutes and put him back in his playpen until he wakes at around 5:30am. This is and always has been by far the worst part of the night for him so I haven't tackled this portion yet. I call it a huge success that he sleeps from 8:00 to 5:30 at this point. So from 5:30 until we wake up for the day I put him in the bed with us.

    I've found that tackling the night in portions like this worked really well for us. I've not really read much of baby sleep books, but from what I've heard of them, a lot of them sound like you're waging war. I didn't have the energy to wage war. So I think doing it in portions made it more manageable to muster up the energy and see the light at the end of the tunnel through the small progresses. At first I was a bit worried the baby might be confused about why sometimes he could co-sleep or nurse and other times he couldn't, but he seems to understand what's expected and doesn't seem frustrated by it.

    I hope this helps give you some ideas. I really struggled with the idea of not nursing/co-sleeping. It seemed unnatural for me not to nurse/co-sleep. And I felt guilty about not doing it. But then I realized he's 15 months old, not 5 weeks old. He catches on much more quickly than I think he will. And, unfortunately, we live in a very different culture from most traditional cultures where they nurse/co-sleep for years. And, once I started implementing the changes and got a decent night's sleep for the first time in nearly two years (I slept horribly throughout most of my pregnancy too), I realized I'm a better and more engaged mom to my very energetic baby. So now we still nurse a bunch during the day and even at naptime. I'm not quite ready to give up the co-sleeping for naps yet . I hope this helps.

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