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Nightwaking, hungry or habit? Lock Rss

Hi I breastfeed my 5 month old baby and she has always had at least 4 night feeds between her bedtime at 7pm and roughly 7am and now im starting to wonder if its habit or whether she is hungry.
I tried formula and solids which made no difference and since im breastfeeding i dont know how much she is taking at night, some feeds are long and she has both sides but others she will only have one side but she empties the breast and either way she wakes every 2-4 hours.
I can never tell before i pick her up what sort of feed she will have and i have even let her cry and really wake up so she will have a full feed and even then she can fall asleep after one side and at other times i can pick her up before she wakes too much and sometimes thats when she feeds the longest, it doesnt even make a difference whether she has both sides or one side when it comes to how long after she will sleep.
I just cant find a pattern in there at all, she even wakes at different times every night so i cant even predict that!
I am reluctant to let her cry it out as breastmilk and even formula digest reasonably quickly so if its been more than 2-3 hours how do i know she really isnt hungry?
Ive heard the watering down method but being breastfed i wouldnt no how much water to give her before realising she really was hungry as i couldnt tell you in mls how much she drinks, even on the times she has been fed formula she drinks all different amounts.

Another reason i dont want to let her cry it out is that i did the whole sleep training and i dont want to confuse her by letting her cry when to her by going to sleep she has done what i wanted her to, she is a great sleeper now, night and day so im pretty confident its not a settling problem as i always offer the dummy first and only feed her if that doesnt work.

She always goes straight back to sleep after a feed even if she has had both sides and i have to put her down awake she still goes straight down so im probably lucky that way but im worried that it will become normal to her and it will be harder to break it later but im so worried she still needs it and she is hungry.
So what i'd like to know is how to tell the difference between habit and hunger, i dont want to stop breastfeeding yet and she prefers formula in a bottle to breastmilk and i dont want to have to express in the middle of the night or inadvertantly dry my milk up while im trying to figure it out.
Any and i mean ANY suggestions would be appreciated,just because its easier to feed her than have her cry doesnt help my sleep!
Sorry its long, but i thought the more information i share the better.

Amanda,Perth,nearly 10 Month baby Girl

hi amanda you poor thing! i think this is definitely habit. your DD seems like she is feeding well (correct me if thats wrong) night and day. i assume she is a healthy weight? if all that is correct, i'd definitely say its habit. i had the same problem with my DS when he was about 3 months old. he was waking 4-5 times a night wanting feeding. i knew he was getting more than enough during the day, so i wondered if it was just becoming a habit at night. the first night i 'tested' my theory, he woke, and i just resettled him (dummy, patting, ssshhh... whatever) i did feed him once that night. the second and third nights were the same and after that, he didnt bother waking up. now he only wakes for his 3am feed, and soon we will be cutting this out as well. i hope this helps a bit. where in perth are you? im in clarkson

Tania. WA, Daniel - 26/01/06... smile

Hi Amanda,
Sounds like she might be waking up now out of habit rather than hunger. My DD was doing that before I put her onto a routine. I find that since then her body is being 'trained' and her sleep times are more consistent both day and night. Initially she was waking every 2 hours or so at night and I just popped the dummy in or used a ssh/pat method to put her back to sleep. If she didn't go back then it was hunger and I fed her. Now she's going further and further and only has 1 night feed (she's only 12 weeks old). Bless her. Is she crying every time she wakes up or just fussing? Do you use a dummy? I'm not a fan of letting them cry either. I think there are better ways of helping them get back to sleep. Hope any of this helps.

Sharni, QLD

Im just getting over a very restless night so I'll apologise ahead if I carry on too long. My boy is 18weeks old and for the last couple of weeks we have been stuggling to get some night routine, he was sleeping from 8.30pm - 4am but that went out the window after having his 4mth needles now he's waking at all different times and im confused as whether he's really hungry or just fussing. I fed him nearly every couple of hours last night this was after trying the dummy, patting/shh him, a quick cuddle before the feed, it felt like i was just putting him back down and getting myself back into bed and he was awake again, i even tried giving him some water instead of the boob, he took a little but then insisted on the boob. I dont know how he could be so hungry other than is it another growth spurt. Im not sure whether to try formula feeding either, i dont want to if its not going to help. sorry i dont really have any suggestions i just needed to have a whinge. He is great going to bed at night i dont have a problem there and he does go back to sleep after a feed but the question is for how long, some nights he will sleep 4hrs, but then nights like last night it was only 2hrs, im at a loss too, just hoping its a phase and that it will pass soon.

Stacey, WA

I am going to go against the others here and say that I would just continue to feed her. You say you offer the dummy first and try to resettle her before you feed. I would take this as a good indication that she is hungry. I dont think breaking a "habit" is any more difficult at 5 mths then say 12mths so personally I would keep going as you are for a couple more mths and see where she is at after solids are really established. "They" say that after 6mths babies dont "need" a feed over night but I know of many babies who have continued night feeding after that and then stopped of their own accord.

I know it doesnt help with your sleep but if it IS easier to feed her then let her cry (and this is what I would do) then I say just do it.

Good Luck with it all.

Mumma to DD1 Jan 04 and DD2 Mar 06

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