My name is Jenny… and my son is a feed-to-sleep addict

Bub asleep just a few weeks oldIt’s true, I’ve got to admit it to myself now. Bub is definitely addicted to feeding to sleep. And over the last few weeks it’s caused us all a fair number of sleepless nights.

At first he was a pretty good sleeper. Slept 8 hours straight when he was 8 weeks old. I always had to rock him or help him get to sleep, but he was pretty good once he got down and only woke a couple of times a night. In fact waking a couple of times a night was our standard pattern for months.

But he got too heavy to rock to sleep easily and got super distracted whilst feeding out and about. So it made sense to feed him when he was tired. Saved my back from all that rocking and meant he actually had a full feed. And so of course he got used to this and started to like it. We both liked it. Feeding to sleep is truely a lovely way to send your little one off to sleepy land.

However sadly the books full of warnings about the perils of feeding to sleep were right in our case. If they feed to sleep then when they stir in the night (which all babies do) they think they need to be sucking in order to get back to sleep. So they (and you) wake up fully and do a feed. And then a bit later the situation repeats, and repeats, and repeats….

It took us a fair while to get into a really problematic feeding-to-sleep position though. For weeks it was fine, still only waking a couple of times a night. I think one of the routes into a deeper problem was my discovery that I could do side-lying feeding. Such a lovely thing to do and so much more preferable than a half hour feed sitting up. But it just took a couple of times with me dozing off and Bub sleep-sucking for an hour or so and the sleep-suck association was entrenched.

About three weeks ago things hit rock bottom. Bub was waking roughly every 90 minutes all night, sometimes even more frequently. Feeding him was taking between 30 and 60 minutes each time. So you can imagine that neither of us got much sleep….

My milk supply gets very low in the evenings and it’d been taking longer and longer to feed him before bed. I kept telling myself that it couldn’t be a sleep association that kept Bub waking. After all he was feeding of half an hour after waking. I thought it must be because of my poor supply and that he was hungry.

About two weeks ago we started to give Bub a bottle of formula before bed. My poor supply wasn’t improving and I was finding it exhausting to feed for so long every night.

But after Bub took 8oz of ‘hungry’ milk before bed and still woke up six times that night wanting a feed even I had to admit that Bub had a feed-to-sleep association.

However, and there is a good news point after all this introduction, we are *hopefully* on our way to better sleep for the two of us. A couple of nights ago Bub slept six hours straight (first time in months!) And last night he only woke twice. I can’t describe how happy I am. And no tears (except a few of my tired ones) along the way. Will post again tomorrow to say what we did to get here….


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4 Responses to “My name is Jenny… and my son is a feed-to-sleep addict”

  1. A Modern Mother Says:

    There is nothing like a good night’s sleep. Good luck, this is the hardest part of being a parent me thinks.

  2. Sarah Says:

    Lovely post and I totally can relate as have fed my three to sleep over the years (and currently doing so with youngest). I found I didn’t mind too much in the first year, as it meant little crying and comforted them through teething, developmental milestones and separation anxiety. However I did feel like a human pacifier at times! When I needed to make changes I used techniques from Elizabeth Pantley’s, ‘No Cry Sleep Solutions’ book.

    I shall look forward to your next post.

    Wishing you good sleeps x

  3. Our five steps to better baby sleep. Or how my son became slightly less of a feed-to-sleep addict « Jenmum's adventures in parenting Says:

    […] 29, 2010 I wrote a few days ago about how Bub’s feed-to-sleep habit had got to the point where he was waking around every 90 […]

  4. It’s all gone horribly wrong! | Don't wake the baby! Says:

    […] the lead for a while and stop trying to control things. After all just because his brother got in a dreadful sleep association with hourly wakings all night it doesn’t mean Baby […]

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