Have you got a baby that hates sleep? Or at least hates to let you sleep for consecutive hours at night? There is one thing that you can do to gently encourage your breastfed baby to sleep for longer stretches at night, without crying it out. Read on to find out this simple trick that will help you and your baby sleep longer at night.
I have breastfed all four of my children
In fact, my breastfeeding journey only ended in summer of 2019 when I fed my youngest, who was 2, for the last time.
Even as an “experienced” breastfeeder, it was not always easy
Although I breastfed all 4 for a long time in total, breastfeeding was not without its challenges.
My 2 boys, they were not “good” sleepers as babies.
Dylan, my eldest, did not sleep through the night even once until he was nearly 2. I thought that was what all babies did. I accepted it. As he was my first baby, I merely followed his schedule. He keeps me up feeding through the night and I caught up when he napped through the day. As he was my first child and was under no pressure to return to work quickly, I had that luxury.
When I had my second son, I had no such luxury
He too kept me up feeding through the night, but I still had to adhere to the daily parenting routine that went with having an older child. Whether my baby boy had slept at night or not, even if he finally wanted to sleep when it was time for me to get up, I still had to get up and deal with breakfast, the school run and the rest of the day with my older son.
I was exhausted. Broken.
Something had to be done
My baby was bobbing on and off the boob all night and I was a walking zombie all day every day. (Sound familiar?)
So I did what I always do when I run into a parenting problem, I went into crazy research mode and read everything I could get my hands on with regards to the subject.
I came across lots of advice & interesting points, but one thing, in particular, stood out, it was something of a light bulb moment.
It was the most common sense that I had ever come across
I was amazed that I had not thought of it myself. I was eager to try putting this new theory into action immediately. As soon as I did, I was pleased and delighted to find that my restless baby boy slept for longer and longer between feeds. It was a miracle! Yet so simple.
Think about this…
If for dinner, you only to eat one or two spoonfuls of food, you would be hungry again very soon. You would no longer be starving, but you would not be anywhere near full enough to be satisfied for very long before you wanted more food.
The same principle applies
Every time, without fail, they would wake, only a handful of minutes later, and I would wake back up, groggy having just drifted off, and almost in tears begin to feed them again.
Here’s the secret…….
Next time you are feeding your baby, remember that if they fall asleep while feeding it is not necessarily because they are full. Small babies get tired before they get full. If you put them down the second that they doze off after feeding for only a few minutes, I guarantee that they will be waking you for a second helping very soon.
Here’s the answer.
When your baby wakes at night, look at the clock. Start a timer if you like. I discovered this great app that helped me time my feeds, plus how much the baby sleeps. It is great to see the correlation between longer feed and longer periods of sleep.
Alternatively, you can download my printable breastfeeding log.
Feed your baby. When they begin to drink off, use breast compressions to encourage the flow of milk and remind your baby to feed.
When they drift off entirely and cannot be woken by breast compressions, if they have not yet been actively suckling for 20 minutes, remember that they are still not finished.
Change their nappy, take off a layer of their clothing, put back on a layer of clothing, give them a gentle wipe with a damp cloth. Do whatever you must to wake them enough to finish their feed.
Once they have finished their minimum of 20 minutes active feeding, more if they wish, you can place them back in their cot, safe in the knowledge that they have a full tummy and a dry bottom, and you have the best opportunity to get some rest for a few consecutive hours.
In doing this, not only will you be ensuring that they are full enough to sleep for a much longer stretch before becoming hungry again
So give it a go.
Tempting as it is to close your eyes as soon as your baby closes theirs, this method will see to it that the sleep that your baby sleeps in longer blocks so that you can too.
If you are anything like me, you will find it so much harder being woken at that moment when you have only just reached the land of nod than if you have stayed awake for a bit then been able to sleep for a few consecutive hours. While staying awake for a moment longer than you previously thought was necessary seems counterintuitive, it might just save your sleep.*