Night Time Nursing And Children
Night Time Nursing And Children
Gary Feldman (Medical Director, Stramski Disorders Center, Miller Children's Hospital ) gives expert video advice on: Should I nurse my baby whenever he cries at night?; How do I know if my baby is waking up at night because he's hungry?; Should I put my baby on a nursing schedule to help him sleep at night? and more...
Should I nurse my baby whenever he cries at night?
A baby is getting a bottle or being nursed because you want to give them food. I think the issue is: is do they need food or not? For example, if the baby is used to going to sleep either with a bottle or being breast-fed and they fall asleep while they're being nursed or fed with a bottle and then when they wake up spontaneously during the night they may very well, because it's a now a habit, they sleep under the association they may very well want to have the same again. Question is, are they hungry or not? Do they need it or not? That's what you have to ask yourself. So as a rule, from about six months you should be able to sleep though the night without needing food. You may wake up for whatever reason, but you shouldn't have to wake up because you're hungry. And I think it helps for mothers to understand that because I think instinctively when a baby is waking up at night your nature is "I want to nurture." and part of nurturing is feeding. So when a baby wakes up at night, your instinct is to say: "Well, I think my baby is hungry" and it requires a mom or a dad if he is doing feeding, to kind of be a little objective and to look at the situation and think do we have a hunger issue here, is the baby still young? Are they still waking up in the night because of hunger? Or is this the waking up because it's normal to wake up but they have a habit of going to sleep with a feed and fell asleep while they were feeding? And now this is what they want again. Not because they want the food, but they want to suck or they want the same experience that they had when they were falling asleep.
Should I nurse my baby to sleep?
You must understand that if you nurse your baby or feed your baby until they fall asleep, then that's what they'll get used to. Now, certainly you'll have a lot of quality time, but there's going to be a trade-off, and the cost to that quality time at bed time is going to be increased risk of them waking up in the middle of the night, possibly once, twice, five times, eight times, wanting the same thing. So, if you want to have some more quality time in the middle of the night, which probably not going to be true, because you're going to be exhausted, it's going to become... you can create a problem for yourself. Now, I don't believe in saying that there's a yes and a no, that there's a right thing and a wrong thing. As long as you're aware of what could happen. It might be a trial and error type situation: "well, let's see what happens if I feed my baby at night until they fall asleep." But you've got to be reminded that they may get used to this habit and you may find yourself having a lot of night time problems, multiple wakings-up for them demanding to be fed again.
What is the key to getting my baby to nurse less at night?
To get your baby used to feeding less frequently at night, you would start in the daytime. You'd begin to space out their feeds. When we talk about feed, we are really talking about nursing or bottle feeds, because as they get older, to say about four or five months of age, you start introducing solid feeds anyway. So, that's going to give them more endurance between feed times. It's not going to be necessary for you to nurse them or bottle feed them. That's going to stretch them, if you like, in the day and that stretching between feeds should work for night time as well, meaning they will nurse less then, too.
Should I put my baby on a nursing schedule to help him sleep at night?
So if you want to begin to stretch the intervals between feeds for the child and getting them used to enduring longer times at night where they don't wake up for full feeding, you can work on 15 minute increments, half night increments. You start in 15 minutes a little bit later and then stretch it to, let's say, half an hour. But also bear in mind that if you're introducing solid foods, automatically, the baby is going to be more associated. And so they are not going to want to feed when you expected them before they were introduced on solids. So the whole thing is a continuim. It's very hard to say there are fixed rules or there's a difference in gridlock strategy, or a strict set schedule that you have to stick to because A) every child is different and B) things change. As you introduce, you start with solid feeds once a day- Then you do it twice a day- Then it's three meals. The quantity that they take is different and it increaes as you make those changes so the child is able to tolerate and increases lengths of time before they need to have a bottle.
Can I abruptly stop feeding my baby at night?
I don't think anything should be abrupt in children; everything should be process. For any child, whether it's stopping feeding, whether it's taking away a toy, whether it's stopping them from doing something they're used to, it's a shock. Generally speaking, there are exceptions, but you want to get a child used to any impending change. If a child is used to being fed at eight o'clock and your question is, "Should I stop the eight o'clock feed until they just get used to their dinner time?" It may be too long, a child might need to have a little bit of a drink. But the point is the drink doesn't have to be right as they are falling asleep; the drink can be an hour before.