Putting A Baby To Sleep

Putting A Baby To Sleep

Babies have a strong need to suck and derive a lot of satisfaction from it, and the more your baby sucks, the more milk you make.

But some mothers feel angry or exhausted by extended sucking, especially at night. If you feel this way, remember that it doesn’t have to be you or a bottle that your baby sucks. It could be a dummy.

Alternatively, try shortening the feeds. The process is easier if you help your baby learn to fall asleep without a full tummy first (see above). After that, watch the clock for a few nights and see how long your baby really feeds and then the next week shorten each feed by about five minutes. Use your alternative sleep cues to get him back to sleep. Don’t offer him more. Once your baby goes back to sleep easily you can make the feeds shorter again – it’s up to you how much of a jump to make each time. Once you are feeding for no more than one or two minutes, you could try stopping altogether if you like.

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Bottle-feeding parents can either make up less formula every few nights or make the formula weaker, by adding more water. By the time there’s only water on offer, your baby may decide it’s not worth waking. If he still wakes, don’t offer the water, and after a few nights he may sleep through.

Dummy Facts

• Check that the need to suck on a dummy at night isn’t masking a pain.

• Dummies introduced at birth may affect your baby’s chances of successful breastfeeding, as they may change the way he takes the breast into his mouth.

• Delay using a dummy until after the first six weeks, when your baby’s feeding is secure’.

If your baby sucks excessively night and day, he may be in pain. Most babies probably suck to relieve minor discomfort at some point (rhythmic sucking releases endorphins that ease pain) but a few need to suck for hours on end, night and day. Like Rosie, who sucked constantly and cried when laid down flat:

Rosie wouldn’t settle until one or two in the morning, and would wake up three or four times a night. I breastfed her until she was 11 months old, and it used to take me about an hour each time she woke. And then she had to sleep propped up in our arms because she didn’t like being horizontal. Even when she went on to the bottle at 11 months she had to have a bottle each time she woke in the night. Eventually we took her to a cranial osteopath and he said that a couple of the bones in her skull were seriously misaligned, and she would have had a lot of pressure in her skull. She was sucking constantly and trying to remain upright to ease the pain.

He treated her and within four weeks she dropped the bottle at night.’

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