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Thread: Sleep training and night time feeds??

  1. #1

    Default Sleep training and night time feeds??


    My beautiful daughter will be four months in just 8 days, and my husband and I are thinking of beginning sleep training with her in the next few weeks. My huge reservation here is that she some times still wakes up to nurse during the night (probably about 50-80% of the time), and I do not want to force my baby to be hungry, or break her trust that I will respond to her cries. I also don't want to set us back by nursing her every time she cries. Can I get some advice per sleep training and night time feeds?
    Many thanks in advance!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2015

    Default Re: Sleep training and night time feeds??

    Ha! If you are not a frequenter of these boards, you have no idea how timely/funny your question is. A few threads currently have healthy debates going about sleep. This one (linked) is where I've posted my most thorough thoughts on the matter:


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2014

    Default Re: Sleep training and night time feeds??

    I would say night feeding is not only normal and natural but actually beneficial to baby.

    Here's a short article I like on the subject, which is quick and easy to read, if you would like more in depth info check out James McKenna and Dr Sears or read the articles Milk Meg is citing.


    Now this isn't to say that everyone should know you are a breastfeeding mother by the size of the bags under your eyes! If you are struggling with lavk of sleep, Elizabeth Pantley writes well in her book the 'No cry sleep solution' and LLLI have a book called Sweet Sleep for sleep ideas too

    What I do wonder is what you mean by 'set her back' by nursing when she cries? Nursing is a great comfort and it's normal! Babies who don't breastfeed (and some that do) use a pacifier to mimic this comfort but the reason pacifiers work is sucking is soothing to a little one Also I don't know a single adult that needs to nurse to sleep - guess what we all grew out of it one way or another

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: Sleep training and night time feeds??

    My huge reservation here is that she some times still wakes up to nurse during the night (probably about 50-80% of the time), and I do not want to force my baby to be hungry, or break her trust that I will respond to her cries.
    Exactly! This is the big problem with sleep training. There is NO WAY TO KNOW whether your baby is nursing "just" for comfort, or if she really depends on the nighttime feedings for calories. You don't know whether or not sleep training means broken trust. And you don't know if your milk supply will be okay if you stop nursing for 8-12 hours per day. This is why so many of us prefer to cope with night waking in some way other than sleep training, especially with such a young baby.

    What is your primary motivation for sleep training? Are you really suffering from sleep deprivation, or is this just something you think you have to do because so many people do it? Are you being pushed into it by a family member or spouse?

    I also don't want to set us back by nursing her every time she cries.
    Babies don't get "set back" by responsive nursing.

    Maybe you've heard that nursing on demand makes babies demanding? If so, put that idea out of your head. Babies are demanding because they are babies, and they don't have wants. They have needs. How could responding to a child's need be a bad thing?

    Can I get some advice per sleep training and night time feeds?
    Take Bsua65's advice and pick up a copy of "The No-Cry Sleep Solution" for a realistic look at infant sleep and some breastfeeding-friendly strategies which may encourage your baby to sleep longer and more independently.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: Sleep training and night time feeds??

    The suggestions above for further reading are all good. I would point out that the OP in the thread linked above has some different concerns than you and also an older baby.

    There are many ways to approach nighttime feeding and sleep. Sleep training is one, and of course there are different ways to sleep train should someone chose that option. We can probably help you more specifically if you talk more about what your goals are, why you are thinking about sleep training, how sleep works in your house now, etc.

    So I am going to keep my post limited to the specific question of sleep training and breastfeeding.

    When a mom is breastfeeding, there are a few things to think about if she decides to sleep train.

    Age matters. A breastfed baby who is under 12 months old is getting all or most of their nutrition from breastmilk. So it is important that milk production continues to be in good shape, and that baby be encouraged to nurse as frequently as baby needs to in order to get enough milk to grow normally. Long stretches of not nursing may well cause baby to not gain well and/or to reduce milk production.

    If a mom makes an abundance of milk, long stretches of not nursing might cause different issues. She may become very full or even engorged. This can possibly lead to several issues. For mom, she may be uncomfortable or develop plugs and even mastitis. For baby, the next time baby nurses there may be a whole lot of milk to handle at once, a too fast flow, and if this is bad enough bay may even refuse to nurse.

    Latch and nursing requires coordination. So generally speaking, a calm baby nurses better. A baby who has not nursed for a long stretch may be very hungry and basically to frantic to latch well, again, possibly causing breast refusal, latch pain for mom, and breastfeeding problems.

    All of the above could happen at any age, but are going to be more likely to cause problems the younger baby is. 3- 6 months of age tends to be a time when nursing habits and a moms milk production changes anyway, and this can bring on some fussiness and difficult behavior, nursing-wise. So this is, generally speaking, a very problematic age for stopping cue feeding as would be required to sleep train.

    At the same time, many babies between 3 and 6 months begin to naturally- entirely on their own- move to a longer sleep stretch at night, (5 or more hours)- possibly eliminating any reason to sleep train.

    So some options might be-

    Wait until baby is older. It is never "too late" to sleep train if that is something you want to do.

    Night wean, but for a shorter rather than a longer period of time. Many sleep trainers suggest that even a very young baby like yours should sleep continuously without eating for as much as 10-12 hours a day! But this is in direct contradiction to human physiology. Babies are designed to have small tummies and to grow very fast. This means, eating frequently. But this does not mean mom can never take a longer stretch of sleep. As long as baby is nursing many times a day, encouraging a single 5-6 hour a day sleep stretch is less likely to cause the really serious sleep training issues of poor gain and too low milk production. Of course this can be accomplished many ways aside from letting baby cry. If someone else is there, they can comfort baby for a while if mom needs a longer stretch of sleep.

    It is ok to be flexible, to change or abandon the plan, at any time the plan is not working for you. If someone is telling you that you must never deviate from some sleep plan, beware. Every baby is different and there is no such thing as one size fits all baby care.

    Every baby is different and every mom is different, physiologically, and so what is normal nursing frequency and what is normal in terms of sleep stretches in normal, healthy babies varies a tremendous amount.

    Some moms can get away with nursing a 3 month or older baby 6 times a day, and others must nurse 12 or even more. This Nancy Morhbacher pictogram http://www.nancymohrbacher.com/blog/...-capacity.html explains why. This is another reason one size fits all sleep training makes little sense from a physiological perspective.

    Hope this helps!

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