Monday, 15 February 2016

BABY: How I went about reducing the night feeds

Back as 2016 was quickly approaching and it's the year I return to work, I reflected on the routines we had with Isabella. We have never implemented strict routines, but Isabella has always got herself into some level of a routine. I love our day time routine at the moment, it's pretty consistent so I know when I'll have time to get things done and time to play with her. 

Night time was also consistent, including 3-4 feeds, which wasn't ideal. Isabella didn't need to feed so much during the night, instead she was using breastfeeding to comfort her back to sleep. For months now I've not put her down asleep, so that she can (hopefully) learn to self soothe. This hadn't been completely successful, as we would often have to go in and stroke her back until she was asleep. It would only take a couple of minutes, but still disrupted sleep and we weren't making any progress. 

So at the beginning of December I knew things needed to change, I was getting exhausted and was aware that I just couldn't get up so many times when I do go back to work. I read about it and babies should be able to sleep through the night from 4-6 months, therefore not needing to be fed throughout the night. I was confident that Isabella wasn't actually hungry/thirsty when she was feeding in the night, she was just suckling. Though I'm not ready to give up breastfeeding and reducing the night feeds having an effect on my milk supply did worry me. I therefore try to feed Isabella once during the night, usually around 3am. By this point I've had plenty of solid sleep and this way stops me worrying about my milk supply drying up. 

So, how did I go about reducing the night feeds? Well firstly I replaced me feeding her with something else I know calms her....music. During her daytime naps I will often use the 'calm waves' sound on our baby monitor (BT Baby Monitor 7500) to get her back to sleep if she's not had long enough. Most of the time this would get her back to sleep on her own, but I was originally hesitant to use the sound at night. Partially because it plays through the monitor, so we have to listen to it too and partially because I didn't want Isabella to need sound to go to sleep. But after thinking about it and trialling various other ways I thought it would be better for her to have the music as a stepping stone between weaning her off using me to soothe and being able to settle herself. If she wakes up in the night now I will put the calm waves music on as quickly as my eyes will adjust to the bright light of the monitor! The quicker the better though otherwise she wakes up too much. After a couple of nights this would settle her down straight away and I could turn the music off within 5 minutes of putting it on. Perfect - no need for me to leave my nice warm bed and Isabella was learning to soothe herself without using me. 

After a couple of weeks Isabella stopped waking up at her usual feed times and instead only woke up once or twice throughout the night. Instead of needing to use the music she'll often get herself back to sleep. I still go in and feed her once during the night, but I don't think she really even needs that any more. I know that these changes in her night feeds could change any day, as with anything to do with babies. But for now I'm enjoying more sleep throughout the night and Isabella is sleeping so much better too!

Did/does your little one naturally drop their night feeds or did you choose to try and actively reduce them?

Feel free to leave a comment :)

Helen x
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7 comments

  1. Aww I'm so glad that you were able to drop some feeds and get some sleep! When I read your post, I could have been reading one of mine as we had similar experiences and used similar techniques! Although I didn't breastfeed, Mia woke a few times during the night to be fed and after a few weeks I was so tired! We too used music to soothe Mia back to sleep and she very quickly slept straight through to the morning.
    Well done on getting your nights (almost fully!) back :)

    #maternitymondays

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  2. Matilda finally dropped her last feed a month ago but generally still has one or two wake ups (like you - ones where she just needs tucked back in and she'll settle down right away).

    We don't play her music but I don't really know why not. I had the same idea as you that I didn't want her to NEED music (or anything else) to settle but I don't know why I feel so strongly about that - we don't have a baby monitor and I used music to help myself get to sleep right into my twenties without thinking of it as a crutch or A Bad Thing so why shouldn't Matilda?!

    The best thing we did was actually move her out of her cot... but there's a whole blog post about that coming up tomorrow!

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    1. Ooo I'm intrigued - will certainly be reading your post tomorrow :)

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  3. Well done on reducing the feeds. My daughter was a terrible sleeper and although she didn't feed at night she needed comforted for absolutely ages unfortunately. Interestingly, given the last comment, she only started sleeping well when we took her out of the cot and put her in a single bed x
    #maternitymondays

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  4. I did something similar, Little 3 was feeding 3-4 times a night and I knew he couldn't be hungry so I just cuddled him and patted him every other wake up, within 3 nights he had dropped the 2 feeds I'd been cuddling, I them wouldn't feed before midnight and cuddled instead, within a week he was sleeping through. It did however mean the beginning of the end for breastfeeding for me. #maternitymondays

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  5. Maddie hasn't had a feed during the night in quite sometime. We did dreamfeed at around 10pm but we actively dropped that about a month ago by doing it 30 mins earlier and earlier every night until it got to 8pm and then stopped. She usually still wakes up around 4 - 5am and I need to go and put her dummy in! I'm trying to get rid of the dummy too but its so hard! I often still get out of bed and check on her around midnight and 2am. We don't have a monitor but I like to go and check there is no blankets over her face or something! She is usually fine and fast asleep, I wish I could sleep through! lol.

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  6. I've found if G is teething he feeds more so even now, at nearly 13 months, I still feed him some nights. He is definitely not hungry, it is just comfort but if you are going back to work, you needed to do it. You cannot function on such little sleep. Long may it continue #MaternityMondays

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