24 06, 2017

Does My Baby Still Need to Feed at Night?

June 24th, 2017|Categories: Baby Sleep|Tags: , |

Baby still need to feed at night? Here’s how to tell!

You know the drill: you have spent an hour trying to get your baby to bed for the night. You haul your exhausted body to bed, only to be woken up a few hours later to the sound of crying.

Climbing out of your warm covers, you scoop up your baby and try to feed her. She takes a few sucks and then is back asleep. Laying her back down, you try to return to sleep but you can’t-you know she will be back up in an hour to repeat the process.

And so you start to wonder;

“does my baby really need allllll of these feeds, or am I being used as a human pacifier” ?

Whether I’m teaching workshops, doing my free Q & A sessions or working with private clients, it’s a common question.
Usually it’s followed up with; ” I’m totally fine with feeding-if she truly needs it-but how do I know? She never refuses a feed and it seems to be the only way I can get her back down”.

It’s rare for a baby to not feed at least a little when offered a breast or bottle. Even older babies, who may be waking every 1-2 hours often still eat when offered. But this doesn’t always mean that they are hungry. Confusing, right?

So let’s clarify something.

A baby waking at night feeding for true feeds, and, waking at night and wanting to eat because the baby is used to falling to sleep while feeding, are two separate things.

You can have a baby that wakes to feed at night to satisfy true hunger and still knows how to fall asleep independently. The two are not mutually exclusive because sleep training does not mean forced, premature night weaning.

However, if your baby is only feeding as a means of getting back to sleep and isn’t taking full feeds, this is usually referred to as a sleep association, prop or crutch.

Confused yet?
But wait, there’s more.

It’s common for children to combine these during the night; sometimes waking because of a sleep association and other times needing to be fed.

How does a tired mom decide which category her child falls into?

To answer this question, we need to examine a few factors.

Factors To Consider

Before we start, we need to consider your baby’s;

  • age
  • growth, weight percentile (both current and past)
  • general health, and any medical concerns
  • daytime sleep routine and amounts
  • bedtime
  • whether the child is falling asleep feeding or not
  • feeding routine and
  • intake amounts; day vs. night

When I work with my private clients, I also get their opinion on where they feel they are in their breastfeeding journey (if applicable), as well as their feelings/instincts on whether the feeds are needed out of hunger or wanted as a means of getting back to sleep. (To read more about sleep associations click here.)

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It is also important to factor in any medical professional’s opinion that you value such as the child’s doctor and/or an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).

While we want to get a complete picture, I do find that most of the time, mama knows best. Sometimes there have been one-too-many opinions and my moms are feeling a bit overwhelmed and are just looking for some guidance. I know you’re tired, but don’t discount your own gut instinct.

How Many Night Feeds Per Age

Let’s start by looking at some common feeding patterns. Please note: this is just an average. Every child is unique and you need to consider all the factors mentioned above.
Case in point; I’ve seen 4 month olds go 11-12 hours at night without a feed, and other 4 month olds that needed 3 feeds throughout the night. But here are some average night feeding amounts.

0-3 Months: Feeds every 2-3 hours

4-5 Months: Bedtime feed, plus 1-3 more feeds through the night

6-8 Months: Bedtime feed, plus 1 feed

9-11+ Months: Bedtime feed, 0 night feeds

If your baby is feeding more frequently than listed above, she may have developed a sleep association with the breast or bottle. Use the following checklist to help you narrow it down more.

Night feeds may be needed if:

  • Your baby is younger than 8 months
  • Your baby can fall asleep independently
  • Eating solids are not a part of your baby’s regular daytime routine
  • Your baby takes a full feed at night
  • Your baby is going 1.5-2.5 hours between milk feeds during the day, and takes a significant feed at each one
  • Your baby goes back to sleep easily and quickly after a night feed
  • Crying escalates and continues for a long time if you try to wait to feed your baby at night
  • Your baby is regularly waking up at similar times for a night feed (eg: 12:30AM and 4:30AM)

When Are Feeds Not Needed?

A feed may not be needed if:

  • Your baby is 8 months or older
  • Your baby frequently falls asleep at the breast or bottle
  • There are a wide variety of solids being consumed, 3 times a day
  • Your baby only nurses or drinks to get themselves back to sleep
  • Your baby is going 3-4 hours during the day between milk feeds
  • Your baby stays awake for 20+ minutes after a night feed, and is happy
  • Your baby returns to sleep (after fussing/babbling for a while) if they wake at night and you don’t feed them
  • You describe your baby as a “snacker” during the day but takes long feeds at night
  • There is no consistency in night wakings; sometimes she sleeps until 3am, other times she feeds at 11pm.

Still Not Sure?

“Ugh! I’ve read everything and I’m still not sure-does my baby need to feed at night, or not?”

If after reading the above categories, you still are undecided on what your child needs, I recommend that you continue to offer night feeds but begin to document your child’s night wakings.

For 7- 10 days, record/log their daytime feeds and amounts, as well as night time wakings and intakes each time you offer the bottle or breast.

Once finished, review the information you have collected. What do you see?

Do you notice which feeds are larger than others?

Are there any similar patterns from night to night?

Babies four months and older may fall into a pattern of a feed at bedtime, and then two more after that during the night. Using that information you may find that the bigger/longer feeds may be the “true” ones and the shorter feeds may be the ones that are the sleep associations.

If you find there are several more feeds than that (and there are no health concerns or weight gain issues), you can talk to your IBCLC or doctor about weaning some of the extra night feeds.

Want to discuss the results of your night feed logs? Join the Baby Sleep 101 Facebook page to participate in the weekly Q & A session, or book a private mini-consultation from the A La Carte section to spend more time in a one-on-one discussion.

P.S. Don’t forget to download your FREE copy of the Baby Sleep 101 sleep guide. Get it here.

 

 

17 06, 2014

Short Naps Explained

June 17th, 2014|Categories: Baby Sleep, Naps, Toddler Sleep|Tags: , , , , |

Does your child continually take short naps? Modern Mama recently featured Baby Sleep 101’s article on the reasons for short naps and how to change that in Short Naps Explained.

15 05, 2014

Will Starting Solids Help Your Baby Sleep Better?

May 15th, 2014|Categories: Baby Sleep, Guest Post, Sleeping Through the Night|Tags: , , |

Baby and Child Feeding  Advice

The following is a guest post written by child-feeding expert, Kristen Yarker. A little background on how she came to write this article for me…

My second child is a much more cautious eater  than my first was. Whereas my daughter would try everything right away, my son takes a very long time to try new foods. Mealtimes were becoming increasingly frustrating for both of us and I was feeling a bit lost on how I should approach things with him. Like many of you looking for sleep advice, I was conflicted by all I was reading and the contradicting advice I was getting. What I was looking for was evidence-based and expert advice on what approach I should be taking with him.

Enter Kristen.

I came across Kristen’s website and looked around, signed up for the newsletter and then left it at that. Then my son had a few more meals spent crying and turning his head away from every food I offered. That was the final straw and I went back to her website and purchased her e-book, Provide, Trust, Love (And Then Introduce New Food).  Her book was fantastic and exactly what I was looking for. It completely identified my son to a “T”  and gave me a detailed plan on how to approach my situation.

Because I was so impressed with the advice and the methodology (hint: it’s a lot like what I do with my clients when we change sleep habits!), I asked her if she would like to comment on some questions that I frequently get from clients on feeding. Here is her first post.

 Kristen Yarker, Child-Feeding Expert

I’m a child-feeding expert. Since 2008  I’ve helped Moms and Dads in BC be confident that they’re providing good nutrition for their children today, and instilling a life-long LOVE of healthy eating. Now I’m providing online seminars and an e-book so that parents everywhere can have the success that I’ve helped local families achieve. www.kristenyarker.com

Here’s the answer to the first of a number of questions that I’ll be answering.

   “My baby is large/small for their age and the pediatrician told me to start solids early because they aren’t sleeping well at night. Is this a good idea?”

I understand why Moms and Dads (desperate for some sleep) grasp on to the myth that feeding a baby solid foods will make them sleep through the night. However, it is a myth. Feeding your baby solid foods won’t make your baby sleep through the night.

 Sleep and Eating Milestones

It’s true that some babies start sleeping for longer stretches through the night at about the same time that they start solid foods. But it’s not that the solid foods have caused the sleeping. It’s that for many babies, the developmental stage when we start to feed them solid foods coincides with the developmental stage when they start sleeping for longer periods of time. Sorry exhausted Moms and Dads, it’s not the solid foods causing longer sleep.

Size Doesn’t Matter

Furthermore, big babies don’t need to be fed solid foods early. There’s no evidence to support starting solids early for babies who are at the top end of the growth curve. Breast milk and formula are very rich. And, your baby is likely an expert at breastfeeding or formula feeding by this age. Therefore, continuing exclusively breastfeeding or formula feeding until about 6 months is recommended (the same as average-size babies).

Also, small babies don’t need to be fed solid foods early. There’s no evidence to support starting solids early for babies who are on the small end of the growth curve. As I mentioned above, breast milk and formula are very rich and your baby is an expert at breastfeeding or formula feeding by this age. So continue to exclusively breastfeed or formula feed your baby until about 6 months (the same as average-size babies).

Wait Until 6 Months

In summary, starting solids early won’t provide big babies or small babies with extra nutrition. Nor will it make your baby sleep through the night.  Introduce solid foods when your baby is about 6 months old.

Kristen Yarker, MSc, RD

Child-Feeding Expert

Helping Moms and Dads support their picky eaters to try new foods on their own (without being forceful or sneaky)

 

www.kristenyarker.com

www.facebook.com/VitaminKNutritionConsulting

 

Did you feel your child was waking at night because they needed solids? Did you start solids before 6 months? How did it go? Share your comments below. And if you liked this article and found it helpful, please share it with others.

6 01, 2014

Sleep Training Series:Part 1

January 6th, 2014|Categories: Sleep Training|Tags: , , , |

People who say they sleep like a baby usually don’t have one.  Leo J. Burke

 You’re tired. Your child is tired. Nobody is happy. You have decided that it’s time to hunker down and commit to sleep training/sleep coaching/sleep shaping (it goes by many names) to help your child sleep through the night and take restorative naps.

But where to start? You’ve read a thousand books and each one contradicts the other. It’s enough to make anyone frustrated.

Thinking about Sleep Training?

Folks who don’t face sleep issues may scoff at the idea of ‘teaching’ a child to fall asleep, but what many people fail to realize is that falling asleep unassisted is a learnt skill. And just like anything in parenting, if you want to teach your child a new skill, it is going to require time, patience and a ton of consistency.

Every sleep training method can work, but only if you are 100% committed to it. How can you commit to something you know nothing about? Well you’re in luck! This article will be the first in a series of posts examining the most common sleep training techniques from gradual to the most direct, along with the pros and cons with each method.

Let’s start at the beginning…

The first place to begin before any sleep training begins is with a solid pre-sleep routine. I often refer to this as a wind down routine. A wind down routine is a short series of steps that go through with your child right before their nap and/or bedtime. It is fairly consistent from day to day and between naps and bedtime. This vital step helps to cue your child’s body and brain that it’s time to relax and get ready to sleep. In fact, a wind down routine is so important for great sleep that it’s even recommend for adults.

A wind down routine might include one or more of the following, depending on your child’s age and if it’s before a nap or before bedtime;

  • diaper change or potty time,
  • nursing/bottle,
  • pajamas,
  • brushing teeth,
  • reading a book together,
  • prayers/quiet song,
  • rocking/ cuddling
  • bed
The Next Critical Step…

So now you have the perfect wind down routine and are using it consistently. Excellent! The next important step is focus on your child’s daytime routine.  Ensure that your child is on a solid routine or about to begin one. That means he or she is taking restorative naps (most children 3 and under still need to nap) and has a relatively early bedtime.

 

Want more tips to help your baby sleep through the night? Download the FREE Sleeping Through the Night guide.

If the child’s routine isn’t on track, then you are not going to have success sleep training. Why? Because you can’t sleep train a chronically overtired child. You may be teaching them to fall asleep independently, but they will still continue to wake up at night, take short naps and be miserable because their routine is off and bedtime is too late.

This is a really important point, so it’s worth repeating : 

If you want to solve all sleep issues, then your child’s daytime routine needs to be addressed too.

So therefore make sure you child is napping well during the day and going to bed on time each night. Sleep begets sleep and what happens during the day, has a direct effect on the quality of your child’s night sleep.

Know Thyself

Once you have a wind down routine in place and a great daytime routine, you will want to begin thinking about what your parenting philosophy is and what kind of person you are. What does this have to do with helping your child learn great sleep skills?

Everything!

In order for sleep training to be effective, you have to be extremely consistent day in and day out-for several weeks.  In order to teach a child a skill, they need to practice it over and over again in the same manner every time. I really can’t emphasize how important the consistency factor is. Please don’t skim over that part and think it won’t apply to your child.

It will.

This means you have think about your personality and your parenting philosophy.  Understanding your feelings in regards to parenting, will help you to follow a method you really and truly believe in and feel comfortable with.

It’s great that your cousin’s-best friend’s-brother’s -sister-in-law had success with crying-it-out after 4 nights. But if you find it difficult to listen to your child cry for two minutes alone, then it’s that method isn’t right for you. It’s unlikely you won’t be able to follow through for one night, let alone four. Choosing a method that fits with your comfort level and personality is the first step to seeing success.

Know Thy Child

The same holds true for your child as well. What is your child’s temperament and personality? Can your child easily adapt to new situations or are they more stubborn strong-willed and persistent? Not only should you pick a method that you can stick to, but you need to also pick something what is best for your child.

Unfortunately, sometimes the two are not the same.  If you have a strong-willed child, then it’s even more important that you pick a suitable method that you can sustain for the long haul.

So there you have the beginning steps that are vital for successful sleep training. It’s important to begin with these steps first so that you can choose which method you need.

Sometimes though, just establishing a great wind down routine, a  consistent and well-timed daytime routine and an age appropriate bedtime is all you need to solve your sleep issues.  If it isn’t, then stay tuned. In the upcoming articles, I will explore the most common sleep training methods. You can read the next article in Part Two: Understanding Crying.

Remember to pick up your free Sleeping Through the Night guide, here.

Don’t want to wait and too tired to read? Get started on helping your family have healthy, restorative sleep now and see our consultation page to select your package.

18 10, 2013

The End of Daylight Savings:Transition Tips

October 18th, 2013|Categories: Transition Tips, Uncategorized|Tags: , , |

Every year around this time, parents of young children begin to worry. The first Sunday in November brings about the end of Daylight Savings Time when we turn the clocks back one hour. For most people this is an enjoyable time and one to look forward to, as the prospect of having an ‘extra’ hour to sleep is a welcomed thought.
However, if you have a child who is waking early, the approaching return to Standard Time can strike fear in the hearts of even the calmest parent. Suddenly a child, who is waking at the somewhat still manageable hour of 5am, will now be starting the day at the unholy hour of 4am. Other than taking advantage of the new waking and becoming a baker-what’s a parent to do?

Determining A Cause For The Early Wakings
The first step is to figure out why your child is waking up early. So how early is too early? It’s biologically appropriate for most children to wake naturally between 5:30am (don’t worry, this is actually quite rare) and 7:00am. Anything earlier than that usually indicates that there is an issue causing the waking.

  • Over-tiredness-The number one reason why children wake before 6:00am is that they are overtired at bedtime. If this is the case in your child, then you need to look at their overall routine and ensure that they’re getting the right amount of naps in the day and that bedtime is early. If you get them on a good routine ahead of the time change, then it will make the transition much easier to deal with.
  • Hunger-If you have a baby under 9 months, it may be possible that they are hungry and need a feed. If you feed them and they don’t go back to sleep, then see reason one.
  • Discomfort-If your child is sick or experiencing physical discomfort such as teething, wet diaper, too hot or cold, then this can also trigger a wake up at this time.
  • Outside noise-In the early morning hours, we all are in the lightest stages of sleep and can be disturbed by outside noise more easily than during the earlier part of the evening. Anything that you can hear-garbage trucks, birds, street traffic may also be triggering a wake up.

My Child Isn’t Overtired, Hungry, Uncomfortable and We Have A Sound-Proofed House.
We Have Good Thing Going And I Want It To Stay That Way!

If this is you, then first, congratulations! You can pick from the following three options to ease the transition.

1. Do nothing!
Yay! This is obviously the easiest option. You just let nature and biology take over by following the new time right away. Our internal clocks or circadian rhythms are dictated by the amount and timing that our brains perceive light and your little one will adjust in a few days. This is why adults eventually adjust to Daylight Savings and time zone changes as well.
If you have a child who is very sensitive to getting overtired, then they may need an earlier bedtime for several nights after to help compensate for the time difference. For instance if your child was going to bed at 7 previous, their body will be ready for bed at 6pm. On the Sunday you may need to have them in bed at 6:00pm, but you can move that ahead by 15 minutes every night after that.

2. Do Something! Shift Forward to Fall Back
Option One
This works well for children who are able to go with the flow, but a word of warning that it may make things worse for others. Start 4 days before the time change occurs and move your child’s entire routine ahead 15 minutes every day. Not just sleep periods but meals, wake up and playtime as well. Our bodies respond to cues (remember Pavlov’s Dog?) so everything must move 15 minutes ahead each day in order to help the body shift. This also means that you need to leave your child in their bed after they wake up from naps and in the morning because it’s unlikely that they will automatically sleep in longer immediately.

Shift Forward to Fall Back
Option Two
This route takes a bit more time, but can help those children who get overtired easily. For this option you would begin about a full week before the time change and allow for some days of no shifting at all. This gives the child’s body a chance to catch up before being moved forward again. The downside is that you can’t control the wake up and they will likely continue to wake at the same time for a while. To increase the chances of success, it’s important that you leave your child in their bed longer, even if they continue to wake at the regular time. But if you want to try it, here’s an example;

Let’s say your 18 month old currently has this routine:

Wake up 6 am, Nap -12:30pm-2:30pm, Bed 7:00pm

Day 1-move 15 minutes ahead,
Wake up at 6am, nap 12:45pm-2:45pm (if they wake earlier, leave them until this time), Bed 7:15pm
Day 2-Repeat Day 1
Day 3-Move another 15 minutes ahead
Wake up 6 am (most likely still 6am, but leave until 6:30am), nap 1:00pm and leave in bed until 3:00pm, Bed 7:30pm
Day 4-Repeat Day 3
Day 5-Move Ahead
Wake Up-6:15am (but again leave them until 6:45am) Nap at 1:15pm-3:15pm, Bed 7:45pm
Day 6- Repeat Day 5
Day 7-Move Ahead
Wake up 6:30am (but leave until 7:00am), Nap 1:30pm-3:30pm, Bed 8:00pm
Day 8 Time Change and you’re now following the new time

If you’re trying this option, just like in option one, it’s important to move the whole day forward-including meal times and activity times.

3. Somewhere in Between
This option is a middle of the road approach between not doing anything at all and trying to shift each day incrementally.
For this choice, you would follow the clock time but once the time change occurs you would be flexible with their whole routine for the following week. So in essence, instead of moving the routine forward before the change, you are doing it after the change, but watching your child for cues. For the first few days you may only be able to move the nap forward but bedtime needs to stays early because your child is showing tired cues. Or it may be the other way around. Either way, you would move only as much as your child can handle. Once again, it will take about a week for them to adjust.

These are a few options you have to help with the time change. If you find that after a week, your child’s routine hasn’t settled, then Baby Sleep 101 is always here to help you with a customized sleep plan to tackle those persistent sleep problems.