Nursing At Night...

Sarah - posted on 01/01/2009 ( 13 moms have responded )

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I still breastfeed my daughter, and she eats solids (no formula). I also nurse her to sleep for her naps and for bed time. She also wakes up during the night on average 3-4 times in a night-- sometimes 2 times if I am really lucky, and sometimes up to 6 times-- like when she is cutting teeth (like now!!).
I am wondering for the other nursing mommies out there, if their babies still wake during the night and mostly insist on nursing as well, and how many times they wake up? Sometimes my daughter will fall back asleep on her own without nursing, but mostly she wants to nurse and will cry her "mama" cry that is her "I want my mommy's boob" cry.
I find it so so tiring some nights when she is up a lot-- and I refuse and am very against CIO. Everything with my training as an Early Childhood Educator and everything my gut tells me is against it-- so that is not an option ever.
And for those with older children that were nursed even as older infants, what have been your experiences with this?? Did they self wean, and how,or did you help wean them from night nursing??
I don't want to wean my daughter from nursing, but it would be nice if she could nurse even 1-2 times in a night-- or not at all (I doubt that very much right now).
She also sleeps with me in my bed that last half of her sleep-- it has been the only way for me to get sleep really... so she does wake up to see me (I have read about babies waking up in their cribs crying because their parents are not there- so that does not apply with her).
I guess mostly I want to know if this is normal for babies that still nurse at this age, and if she will start doing it less or stop in the near future-- I am hoping it is the teething and milestones she is reaching right now too ( she has 2 teeth in and 3 cutting-- just started to crawl, babbles with consonants like crazy, and other developmental milestones-- I have read that babies can have disrupted sleep when they are reaching milestones as well).....thanks for any input!!

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Chanel - posted on 01/07/2009

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Sarah- have you thought about temperature at night?  I always thought that wouldn't really affect Bobby enough for him to wake up but we've discovered through trial and error that he actually prefers the room on the cooler side.  He sleeps in footy pjs and just one light blanket on him (that he usually kicks off anyway).  Turns out I was putting too many layers on him and he was waking up because he was hot.  As soon as I bought thinner pjs, turned the fan on, and closed the vent, he started sleeping better.  He's just like his dad- doesn't like to be hot at night! 

Sarah - posted on 01/07/2009

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For those with babies that sleep through the night ( with maybe one wake up)-- you are so lucky to get your sleep!! I am looking forward to the day my daughter reaches that milestone and sleeps without waking up and wanting her "mama" numerous times a night!

Pamela - posted on 01/05/2009

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Makenna wakes up once a night at around 3 ish.  I nurse her for about 15 mins and then put her back in the crib and she goes to sleep right away.  This has been her norm for about 4 months.  She has always slept through the night every since we have brought her home from the hospital.

Sarah - posted on 01/05/2009

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Actually that is one thing I am trying to stay conscious of doing now, and making sure she nurses LOTS during the day. So I am hoping that helps. And when she does wake up, I do let her fuss for a couple of minutes, and sometimes she falls back asleep. Sometimes she has a different cry when she wakes and is not hungry or needing to be nursed-- it is more of a whine, than a cry. If she does this I will wait for her to go back to sleep on her own, or say "shhhh" to her and she will nod back to sleep.
I am really thinking though too that a lot of her waking up more often right now is because she is teething a lot ( 3 teeth just cut, and one is starting to cut-- all at the same time!), and is just reaching a few milestones-- 2 big ones being crawling and baby talking ( babbling).-- and from what I have read, all of those things play a big factor.
Thanks everyone for the input!! I knew I was not alone!

Kaytee - posted on 01/05/2009

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She might not be getting enough calories during the day. I'd try nursing her more during the day to make sure she's got enough to eat. Also babies have a tendency to wake up a few times during the night anyways, let her fuss for a couple of minutes and see if she puts herself back to sleep. My daughter wakes up every now and again during the night to nurse, but that's mostly if she's teething or if she didn't eat enough during the day.

Sarah - posted on 01/05/2009

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I have been doing some research online about this, and I found out few things about Night time nursing I thought was interesting-- and helpful!!

- We recommend you make sure your baby eats on schedule during the day. By your baby being satisfied in the daytime, he or she is less likely to have the need to feed at night.
-Then, many babies will increase their desire to nurse when they are going through a developmental stage. For instance, if your baby is starting to pull up on things or even walk, while exciting, this time is also the unknown, which can cause some insecurity. Therefore, that extra nursing time at night provides the child with the reassurance needed.
-Sometimes, babies simply cannot stay awake long enough for their last feeding. Although it might be challenging, you will find that waking him/her just prior to bed for a good feeding will likely help. Let us say the baby fell asleep at 8:00 p.m. and now at 10:30 p.m., you are getting ready to retire for the night. By waking the baby up with a diaper change and feeding, his/her tummy will be full and you will likely get a little more sleep than you would have by not waking him/her up. While you might thing this sounds cruel to wake a sleeping baby, all you are doing is establishing a healthy
feeding schedule that will benefit everyone.
(from http://baby.families.com)

-Remember that sleeping through the night is a developmental milestone (like walking or toilet training) that different babies will reach at different times. At some point, your child will sleep through the night - even if you do nothing to encourage it.
-Getting your baby to sleep is not a battle to be won, as it is so often portrayed in books and the media. The real goal should be for your family to get the sleep they need, while respecting the needs of the youngest family member(s).
-Eliminate discomfort

* Teething.
If you suspect teething at all, it may help to give baby a pain reliever before bedtime (check with baby's doctor for suggestions). Some babies nurse more often to try to relieve gum pain. Teething pain is often worse at night.
* Room temperature.
Find your baby's temperature comfort level: some babies will wake if they get too hot or too cold.
* Solid foods.
Has baby recently started solids? Many babies (particularly those under six months) start or increase night waking after the introduction of solids, due to problems digesting the food. Try avoiding solids in the evening, or consider decreasing or eliminating the solids until baby's digestive system matures more. Several studies have shown that adding solids to a baby's diet does not help baby to sleep more at night.
* Allergy.
Babies with food allergies, environmental allergies or eczema may wake more at night due to discomfort.
* Reflux.
Discomfort from reflux may also keep baby up at night.
* Illness.
Illnesses like ear infections and colds can interrupt baby's sleep, and result in increased night nursing. A bad diaper rash or other rash might also affect baby's sleep. Anytime baby suddenly increases night waking, keep an eye out for illness.
-Maximize baby's nursing during the day and during any night wakings

* Nurse more during the day.
Encourage baby to nurse more often during the day (perhaps every 2 hours instead of every 3), so that she takes in more milk during the daytime hours.
* Minimize distractions.
During the day, nurse in a room that is as free of distractions as possible. Turn off the light, close the door, pull the blinds, etc. Get your older children busy doing something before you start nursing. Try nursing while lying down. Sometimes babies can become so distracted during daytime feedings that they don't take in enough milk and then have to make up for it with more frequent night feedings. One study showed that older babies can consume as much as 25% of their total daily intake of mother's milk during the night, probably partly because of daytime distractibility.
* Tank up before bedtime.
Nurse often in the hours leading up to bedtime (at least every 1-2 hours). Some moms nurse on one breast only during this time period so that baby gets more of the higher fat milk available at the end of a feeding (this helps baby go longer between feedings). When baby wakes at night, try nursing on the other breast for all or most of the night, again so that baby gets more of the higher-fat milk.
* Listen to your child.
Only your child knows if she's really hungry - don't automatically assume that your child is not hungry or thirsty. Many adults wake at night for a drink of water or even to get a snack.
( From http://www.kellymom.com)

AND... I also found some tips from Dr.Sears about Night Weaning and Nighttime Nursing... so I know I am going to use some tips here, and thought I would share them...here is the link for "Night Weaning: 12 Alternatives for the All Night Nurser":
http://www.askdrsears.com/html/7/t070800...

Also, I know that this is totally normal now, and it has also ensured me more that nursing my daughter to sleep won't harm her sleeping habits and that I am doing the right thing for her right now. Ahhhhh-- but it would be nice if she could cut back on the night nursing on those 4 times + wakings and nursings . But it looks like with her teething, and reaching her milestones with crawling, babbling, etc--- she seems to have needed that extra comfort from nursing.

Dagmar - posted on 01/05/2009

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I wouldn't worry about it all really...it's all part of motherhood. I am going through the same problem as you at the moment but I've come to the conclusion that it's because he is going through the teething stage and just wants comfort from mum. My son, Marcus is constantly wanting the breast at the moment but that's just for comfort. I'd have him on a dummy but he doesn't take to it. I try to make sure he's full with solids before bed and for comfort, he gets wrapped up and nursed just before he gets put into the crib. He sleeps for atleast 3 or 4 hours and then the next feeding time I'm just too tired, I end up feeding him in bed with me and we end up having a bit longer time of sleep. Sorry, can't help with weening off breastfeeding...I breastfed my 5yr old daughter till she was 3yrs old and that was easy. She only got nursed when she wanted comfort for the first few times coz it was all she knew but she was all excited about being a big girl drinking milk from a glass. I hope it helps...sorry, couldn't be much help I'm tired and I don't know if I've repeated myself.

Kristine - posted on 01/04/2009

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My 8 1/2 month old girl falls asleep on the bottle (which we've fed her with since she was 6 months) and that is what she is used to so she wakes up twice a night to be put back to sleep on the bottle for comfort. She used to wake up 3/4 times per night and it was all habit really. It's like she wakes up if her tummy is empty! We changed it to twice a night by giving her formula for hungry babies and that tricked her to get used to waking up twice, and now she is back on regular formula and accustomed to that pattern. I find she sleeps better at night if she goes to sleep on her own without the bottle which doesn't involve her crying though, just grizzling, but it can take up to 45 mins. I think just letting go of hoping for a change makes it easier...just trying to enjoy the baby stage while it lasts!

Chanel - posted on 01/04/2009

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You're not alone! I know it seems like everyone else's baby is sleeping through the night but I'm convinced there are more people like us out there, hiding in the shadows! My son is up 2-3 times a night (lately 2 so I'm happy!) We co-slept for about 6 months but then he was moving around too much and I wasn't getting any sleep anymore. Plus, I became convinced he was waking up more often BECAUSE I was right next to him. Turns out moving him to his crib was the right thing to do but he still gets up a few times to eat. I'm fine with it because I know the breastmilk digests quickly and he needs to refuel. CIO is also not an option for us. I can't even think about that without getting upset. Just remember that this won't last forever. They will sleep through the night. We will sleep through the night. When you're up with your baby in the middle of the night, just stare at her and remember that this is your special time with her. She needs you and you're providing the perfect food for her. :)

Chrissy - posted on 01/03/2009

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The best advice I got when my baby was born was to let him fall asleep on his own. Babies wake up scared and upset if they wake up alone in their beds, but fell asleep in the arms of mom. We made a consistent effort to put him down when he was still awake (even waking him up after nursing) so that he went to sleep on his own. It may just be my baby, but it has worked amazingly, and he has been sleeping though the night since 3 months. He talks himself to sleep and wakes up that way as well. Crying it out has not been something we have tried or needed to do. If he can't get to sleep the first time, we just play for awhile and try it again. I hope this is useful.

Dianna - posted on 01/02/2009

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I am so glad to see your post. I completely agree with you. CIO is not an option. I nurse him sleep for naps and going to sleep most times. He sometimes will fall asleep without nursing, but not often. The one thing I would reccommend is keeping the baby in the bed the whole time. This is what I do and it works really well. When he starts to wake up I am there and can get him back to sleep right away so he does not fully wake up and neither do I. I feel that almost every night I am fully rested. My little man usually sleeps for about 4 hours the first time, the eats a little- very little and goes back to sleep for 2 hours then the same thing for another 2 hours. Although I know I wake a little to feed him I feel like I am getting 8 hours of sleep. I know other mothers this has worked very successfully for, their kids are healthy and independent. Also there are a couple of side benefits for us-1 we make more of prolactin (sorry I am not sure how to spell it) the mothering hormon. 2nd the longer we night nurse the longer out periods stay away.

Sarah - posted on 01/02/2009

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I do know that around this time babies have are working on obtaining object permanence, which is when they understand that objects still exist even when you can't see them-- so, if you leave the room or babies wake up and you are not there, they don't understand you still exist and pretty much think you disappeared. This is why babies love the game "peek a boo" as it looks like you are magically appearing and disappearing-- yet they know that is a game. BUT playing games like peek a boo, can help them obtain object permanence-- which will help a lot when you have to leave the room, house or if they sleep in their crib. SO... this is one reason why babies cry when they wake up around this time--- often it is because they are scared and/or lonely, and not so much as hungry (like when they were newborns). SO.. in saying this, I think a lot of the time when my daughter wakes up and cries for me, it is not because she is hungry, but because she first, is scared, and second, is teething and nursing is a comforting feeling for her, and third, she has nursed since she was born to help her sleep so she associates nursing with sleeping.
So... I am pretty sure why she wakes up and wants to nurse-- I just wish I could find a way she could wake up and want to nurse less often. I also wanted to know if others out there were having the same experiences-- and if anyone has had babies in the past that did this and they stopped later on, and why and when.

Just seeing what anyone else has for input.

Shana - posted on 01/02/2009

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Sorry I have absolutely no input other than to tell you that everything you just said is my life too. My son, wakes 3-4 times a night and only wants to nurse and is cutting his 4th tooth. I know you are against "crying it out" it is not something we have tried either. I have tried giving him solids before bed to see if it may fill him up a bit better but that doesn't work either. I too bring him into bed, usually around 5am and typically have a nap with him in the afternoon. I'm wondering if he is too used to seeing me and this may be a problem with his night sleeping, when he wakes and I'm not there he freaks out.

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