Tips on helping breastfed baby sleep longer

Eliza - posted on 04/18/2010 ( 5 moms have responded )

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My daughter who is now 11mths old is still waking up 2-6 times during the night. She eats well during the day (4 solid meals and breastfeeds before sleep time and a breastfeed when she wakes up from each sleep). I've tried everything to help her sleep better but nothing seems to work. i think she may suffer from nightmares as she wakes up pretty startled and upset and the only thing that will help her back to sleep is a breastfeed and cuddle. Is there anything else that I can do to help her stay asleep for longer or is it just something that will improve in her own time as she gets older? I plan on breastfeeding her till 18 mths. Any suggestions?

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User - posted on 04/22/2011

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Have you tried music or sound? We all have sleep cycles and maybe when she is in her light sleep cycle she wakes up all the way. If she goes to sleep with a fan or music when she wakes up it might lull her back to sleep. It also blocks out household noise that might be disturbing her. We used a fan and piano CDs then transitioned to a sound machine with ocean waves. We also found a Sleepy Bee online (sleepybees.com) It's a little ocean wave sound machine to take along that attaches to the car seat or stroller. No more missed naps.

Rebekah - posted on 04/20/2010

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What time does she go to bed at night? Wake in the morning? And when and for how long are her naps? To me, it sounds like she's overly tired and thus sleeping restlessly. Or hasn't learned to self soothe and be comfortable falling back to sleep on her own. The solution, if that's the case, is some sleep training. There are a lot of books on the topic (I love "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child) or just really start working with her to get her to fall asleep on her own (laying her down drowsy, but awake).



How often does she nurse during the day? Are you feeding her about once every 4-5 hours? My only other thought might be that she's not getting enough milk during the day and making up for it at night. I know you mentioned that you give her solids, but I think at this point her main source of nutriment is breastmilk.



So, as long as your nursing her frequently during the day my guess is that she doesn't need to be nursed over night. Could you send your husband into her overnight? When my daughter wakes in the night I always send my husband to cover her back up and tell her goodnight again. It seems like when I go in there she automatically expects me to nurse her and throws a tantrum when I leave without feeding her.



So, those are my ides. You might mention it to your pediatrician though b/c I know my daughter's doctor told us she should not be waking any more at night at 9 months.

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Eliza - posted on 04/23/2010

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Eva doesn't get anywhere near 12 hrs at night! just the last few nights she wakes up at bout 10 or 11pm and won't go back to sleep for bout 2-3 hours later! very tiring! She did the same thing last night however, once i got her back to sleep at bout 12:30am she slept till 5:30. I was so pleased that she slept for a solid 5 hrs! I know i certainly needed it! Yeah i think consistency is definitely the key to successful sleeping through. I'll try not feeding her after her daytime naps and see how that goes.

She's a real mummy girl as my fiance has trouble getting her to settle back to sleep - i normally come in and feed her if he hasnt had any success after an hour.

How old is your daughter? I think Eva is getting a bit better with self settling as I have put her down after a feed while she was still half a wake and she whinged for a little bit and then rolled over on her belly and nodded off.

When Eva was newborn she slept in her bassinet in our room and then sometimes we would co-sleep as she seemed ot settle better in our bed (she was born in May so i think she liked the warmth of our bed rather than her cold bassinet) When she was about 4 mths old we moved her into her own room which is right next to ours. This was a challenge - she freaked out for a few nights being alone the poor little thing. She has always gone to sleep with the 'Music for Dreaming' cd (which plays on repeat for the whole night) We live in a unit at the moment so it helps to drown out any loud noises from our neighbours. Eva is very sensitive to sounds.

Will keep you posted on her sleeping habits! Thanks for your suggestions - will give them a go! Cheers :)

Rebekah - posted on 04/23/2010

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How's it going now? Sounds like her sleep is great: Early bedtime, about 12 hours of sleep at night, and two good long naps a day. Are you co-sleeping? Is she in your room? Or is she in her own crib in her own room?

For some reason, when I read your first post, I thought you were only nursing her before bedtime (at night), the 2-6 times overnight, and then in the morning. So, if you're also nursing her before and after her naps, it sounds like she's nursing plenty during the day. My daughter only nurses 5-7 minutes on each side, but I think the nursing time varies between children (I remember my son being much slower). My only additional suggestion might be to stop nursing her when she wakes up (from naps). If she's slept less than 2 hours, I wouldn't think your milk would even have time to come down again. Maybe, b/c she always nurses when she wakes up, she's associating waking with nursing AND sleeping with nursing. Again, just a suggestion...

Honestly, I'd be amazed if that Aware Baby technique works. I've never been able to get either of my kids to sleep all night without some protest crying. I'm not a fan of crying-it-out and I certainly DO respond to my kids true "needs." But, I've allowed my daughter to cry some at night because I feel it's best for her. I think of it the same way I do when she cries in protest because she wants to play with wires (her #1 fascination these days). She may cry for a minute, but I know what is best for her (staying away from wires, and sleep). My goal has always been to get my children to be very secure in their own beds from birth. I do not want my children to be insecure either and that's why I help them to feel comfortable and secure without me... even if that involves some tears.

Here's how I got my daughter sleeping all (or most, at least 8 hours) of the night. If my daughter wakes in the night (which is rare these days) I giver her between 5-15 minutes to fall back to sleep. If she doesn't fall back to sleep, or she starts to really scream, I tell her "No. It's bedtime" and cover her back up with a blanket. The only time at night I even offer to nurse her, is if she wakes up and she's been asleep for 8 full hours. I also tell her, "No It's Bedtime." if she starts to protest when I put her down for a nap and she's not completely asleep (after nursing her). She's pretty much figured out (with a lot of consistency) that after I've nursed her at nap or bedtime, I'm not going to pick her up and nurse her again. She knows that when she wakes in the night, all I will do is come and cover her up.

So, whatever you choose to do, I think it could work with a lot of consistency. You won't be successful if you try one method one night and try another method the next. Anyway... Good Luck!

Eliza - posted on 04/20/2010

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Hi Rebekah,
Thanks for your tips - In your response to your questions - Eva goes to sleep between 7-8pm most nights and then wakes several times throughout the night. She is up for the day between 6.30-7am (it was earlier as too much light was coming through, we have now made it darker which seems to help) She naps quiet well during the day (2 naps for about 1-1 and half hrs each)
I have just started reading a book called 'Aware Baby' which recommends not to leave a crying baby alone as it is detrimental to their health (creating insecurity and trust issues later on in life) Her tip is to hold baby nice n close while crying as babies need to release the built up tension and if they don't then she believes that causes them to wake up frequently through the night. We tried this a few nights back and Eva slept for just over 5 hours!! Which was brilliant for us as we got a solid 5 hr block of sleep too! However, the last 2 nights have been a nightmare. Although i have read that when you begin a new sleeping routine Night 2 & 3 are usually the worst.
Eva breastfeeds for about 20 mins before each of her sleeps and then for about 5-10 mins after she wakes up. How long are each of your breastfeeds? I will cut down on her solids today and up the breastfeeds and see how that goes. Thanks for your ideas

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