My post I just wrote on Co-sleeping was actually prompted by this very topic of babies sleeping through the night. I was trolling the web to find articles that discussed when is normal for babies to start sleeping through the night. I wanted to know if Benz was constantly waking up because he’s a breast-fed baby that co-slept with me. Obviously, it’s easier for him to want boobie more often if he’s right next to me and is used to finding a warm boobie next to him to comfort him. I was frustrated because Benz was waking up constantly and even though I knew it was probably due to him starting to cut teeth, it was frustrating nonetheless.
Here’s the post I started when I was trying to vent my frustration.
MOMMY CAN’T SLEEP
Okay, it’s 4:30 AM and I’ve been up all night. I’m nauseous and I can’t sleep. Benz is asleep but he’s woken up 2-3 times already to nurse. He’s a breast-fed baby who co-sleeps with me so it’s not unusual for him to constantly wake up looking for boobie.
My frustration recently is that Benz is waking up quite a bit in the night (More than usual, I think due to teething) and obviously that is impeding upon my sleep, which compounded with first trimester tiredness and nausea, is REALLY making me tired and unmotivated to do well…ANYTHING. Remember, Desperate Housewife is what I want my new title to be.
So instead of waking 2-3 times a night, recently (which means like the last few days) it’s more like 10 times. It concerns me because I think he’s not getting a good rest cause I know I ain’t with all that waking up. Plus, since being pregnant again, my mom has been urging me to try to wean him because she’s concerned the unborn baby won’t have enough nutrients going to it.
NURSING WHILE PREGNANT
I’ve already done my research on nursing while being pregnant and there’s no concern. Click HERE for a link to La Leche League’s article on it. It is totally okay to nurse while you’re pregnant. Your milk will actually subside naturally anyway (and mine has) and it changes “flavor” (Benz would have to vouche for this but it doesn’t seem to be bothering him at all.) Even still, your body knows what it’s doing and it knows how to adequately allocate enough for all parties involved. I know I’ve been eating enough for 3 (Dick says 4) so I’m the supply should be there.
I was starting to mentally plan to try to wean Benz, at least at night so that he can get better rested. Plus, I wanted to try to get him to sleep through the night because ultimately, I want to sleep through the night too! Selfish, I know.
WHEN IS NORMAL FOR BABIES TO SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT
So there’s some really great information on these couple of sites that I found. The first being an article written by Katherine A. Dettwyler, PhD. She’s a Professor of Anthropology and Nutrition at Texas A&M University. She’s done research on childrens’ health and growth and more specifically, infant/child feeding practices.
First, what the heck is Anthropology? The dictionary says it’s the study of humankind (human societies, their cultures and their development). I had to look that up because it always sounds like the study of fossils or something to me.
Alright, so Dr. Dettwyler article about Sleeping Through the Night, she writes that it is absolutely normal for your child to wake up oftenand not sleep through the night. She states that not sleeping through the night until age 3-4 is healthy and normal and that our culture has self-imposed the expectation that children sleep through the night as soon as possible. Sadly it’s this false expectation that leads parents to feel like failure or that something is wrong with your child if they don’t sleep through the night early enough or that you child is exceptionally accomplished because they do.
From an evolutionary perspective, it can be seen in primates such as monkeys and apes (you know, our ancestors) that they will nurse as often as 3-4 times an hour for minutes at a time, hence why they keep their young on their back close to them. Another reason why co-sleeping is also natural. Babies thrive and need to feel their parent’s touch and energy.
Another article I found on a site called KellyMom.com goes on further to say that there could be other reasons for your child waking in the night:
- baby wants more time with mom (this is true for working moms that don’t have much time to spend with their baby during the day)
- developmental advances (for example: waking more often right before or after learning to turn over, crawl or talk)
- illness, allergy, diaper rash, eczema
- hunger (including growth spurts)
- reverse cycling: Some babies whose moms are away during the day prefer to reject most/all supplements while mom is away, and nurse often during the evening and night. If mom is very busy during the day or if baby is very distracted, this can also lead to reverse cycling.
It’s very possible that the baby is waking not because they are hungry but because they want the comfort of knowing Mommy is there…to feel your closeness, warmth, and familiarity. She states “The act of nursing is not just nourishing; it is nurturing”.
The article also states to letting the baby “cry it out” or trying to force them too early may result in other problems down the road. I’ve always had a hard time with “crying it out”. Your baby is not manipulating you or is “spoiled”, they legitimately need you for something. And, similar to potty training, it’s a milestone where if you let the child go at their own pace, it’s better for you and baby!
Yes, my baby does not sleep through the night but he’s a lovely, mild tempered and ultra-chill baby otherwise, hardly making a peep unless he’s hungry or sleepy. He usually wants boobie to put him to sleep and rather than spending energy trying to rock him to sleep, I’d rather whip out my boob and put him to sleep in a few short minutes. It’s the same for nighttime feedings, a few second or minutes and he’s right back to sleep. Granted, it’s a little tricky getting him to let go so I can do go other stuff but I’m glad I do have a quick solution available to me rather than to listen to him be fussy and crying all the time. Patience is what I need.
The two articles I’ve referenced have some really great information. I’ve only touched on the some of the great points that they’ve talked about so please read their articles if you want to be more informed about babies sleeping through the nite.
Essentially, every baby is different and if you’re baby is not sleeping through the night...DON’T STRESS IT. It’s totally normal! I feel better after reading the articles and although I really wish he would sleep through the night, I think I will definitely try to look at it as a more beneficial, healthy thing for my child rather than rushing through so I can selfishly get some rest. Although, I really hope he at least weans from nursing at night before the new baby comes. I don’t want to be tandem nursing! Shoot, I’m going to have boobs hanging down to my knees!
-Jane, Mommy of a Non-sleeping-through-the-night-baby.