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March 18, 2010


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I started a comment on your previous post but didn't submit it. I didn't think the readers going through the newborn stage should hear my tale of horror and woe and breastfeeding errors and overproduction and foremilk/hindmilk imbalance and possible dairy sensitivity and colic and crankiness and lack of sleep and overwhelm and marital strife. And it was coming across as a little overly self-pitying.

By four months, things were so much better. She slept. Maybe not all night, but over the course of the day we all got enough sleep (and I was back at work!). We knew what we were doing. Breastfeeding was well-established and I was doing it right. My supply had balanced out.

So, four months is not terrible for everyone. It can be a great relief for some of us who struggled with the earlier stages.

I don't know about sleep training then though. My daughter is 27 months and we still haven't sleep trained her. We're thinking we should soon... the cosleeping and middle-of-the-night tantrums are starting to get annoying again.

@Dr Confused- I also had trouble with early breastfeeding, particularly with my first child. I remember things getting much, much better at about 3 months. With my second, the mechanics worked better, and that is when I figured out that my fast letdown was part of our sleep problem. Petunia was so gassy because she was literally gulping to keep up. Nursing "uphill" and block nursing helped with that a bit. Looking back, it was probably also part of my problem with Pumpkin... but I was too overwhelmed to notice. Also, Pumpkin definitely had trouble with dairy in my diet. With Petunia, I just cut the dairy out as soon as she was born. I'm just adding it back in (she is almost 6 months old), and it seems fine.

Petunia's sleep did go "backwards" in this time period, but she also has been amenable to some very gentle corrections. She started sleeping through the night (on her own! I didn't do anything to make it happen) a little before 3 months old, but added two night nursings when I went back to work when she was 3 months old. I soldiered through for a couple of months, but then we decided to try to decrease the nightfeedings. We've managed to get her to drop her first feeding using the standard "slowly decrease the amount of milk in the bottle" method. And last night, she dropped the other feeding, too. I had sort of suspected this might be the case- it seemed to me that once I fed her in the night, she went onto a schedule where she wanted to eat every 3 hours.

I was planning to try to do some actual sleep training at 6 months. Now I've got my fingers crossed that maybe I won't need to.

Oh Dr. Confused....I too had nursing issues. I think it was at 3 months when my husband said, "Let's make this a positive experience for everyone" that I let go and exclusively pumped. DS started sleeping through the night which only lasted until 5 months and then teething and teething and teething and gas and teething and gas and gas. Slept trained (past tense?) at 7 months and lasted until 18 months. then slept trained again at 24 months and ahhhh, he slept 10 hours last night :) Although he usually still gets up once a night, it is very easy to put him down again, lasting only a few seconds or so. We did super nanny method at 24 months in a bed.


Sleep training worked for us until around that time too (from 6 to 20 months). Is that a trend Isabella? Does sleep training actually wear off? Zoe was in her own bed at 23 months so was not 'caged in' physically, which had always helped with reminder sessions in the past.

At 4 months, both my kids started to get highly distracted when nursing. That wasn't such an issue with no. 1, who didn't really need the extra 5/10 minutes as he was growing well, but no. 2 was a wee slip of a lass and could have done with a few mls (litres!) in her. At the same time she started waking up at night to feed ( something she hadn't done since she was 6 weeks old) and I was convinced it was due to the interruptions at meal times. I went to great lengths to get as much milk into her as humanly possible. But who was I kidding. The kid was most definitely NOT waking becasue she was not getting enough into her during the day.

Well, I don't have any words of advice for how to get through the 4-5.5 month, because I felt like it was going to kill us (though of course it didn't). The only advice possible is do whatever you need to do to keep your sanity intact and know that it WILL GET BETTER. My son had a relatively good first three months - he woke up to feed regularly, but generally didn't cry in the night (he was in a co-sleeper, so I'd get to him before crying). But just before 4 months he had a terrible attack of eczema and this coincided with a complete degeneration of his sleep. No good sleep at night, no naps during the day. It was horrible, until he started being napped in the stroller, and then we got some peace. But at the same time his month from 5-6 months was so wonderful - he was smiling and laughing, learning how to sit up and then learning how to crawl. So it brought great joy as well as great frustration. From 4 months to 5 months was probably the worst. But overall his sleep didn't truly even out and improve until he was 7 1/2 months and we did some sleep training and he started sleeping through the night - THEN he also started napping regularly and well, and was so much happier!

I don't have memories of the 4.5/5 month period. Probably because I've repressed them. But I was really anal and kept a sleep chart for the baby and I think 4.5 months was when naps deteriorated (as if they weren't already bad enough). I think I camped out on the futon in the nursery (which used to be the guestroom) during that period at night. I remember Boo started sleeping slightly longer stretches at around 2 months (i.e., 5 hours max at night) but we were still generally hovering at the 3/4 hour mark between night wakings.

I've wondered whether the time of year when the baby is born also makes a difference. Boo was born in late Oct which means at 4 months it was late Feb - really the worst of the winter in terms of it being still dark all the time and we were (and still are) in rainy/sleety England...I've wondered whether it might've been easier if he was born in say April or something.

I was so happy to come home from work and see this post in my feeds. Yes, I am back at work almost full time with a 5 month old at home (with a loving Daddy). Our babe is also very distractable and so has now shifted his "major" feeds to night time. Interesting that his longest feed is at 11:pm, once he has been asleep for about 4 hours. Then he feeds every 2-3 hours after that until 8:am. The only way I have been able to make it through is to have him co-sleep with me for the second half of his night time sleep, so he usually ends up in bed with me by about 2 or 3am. I know I may pay for this dearly in a few months, but for now it is all I can do. Like Bella, there are too many variables going on for us now - he won't sleep without the swaddle, needs to be rocked to sleep, wants a pacifer when he wakes - so it's hard to know where to start.

Also, he seems to have formed a strong association between being flat on his back (in the crib, on the change table and in his infant "gym") and playtime. It is literally like flipping a switch - he just wants to kick and smile and yell. So all of the advice about "put your baby down when he is drowsy" has been an epic fail for us. I am also looking forward to 6 months when I hope to start nap and sleep teaching...and I imagine some night weaning!

@tiredmum- I went back to work fulltime when my baby was 5 months old (twice- I have two kids, and I took the same leave each time). It IS really hard but you will get through it.

And did I have the temerity to post about improved sleep in our house up above? HA HA HA HA HA. Hello, 6 month growth spurt. Good-bye, sleep.

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Hi, I'm Isabel

  • I'm a developmental psychologist and mom to two awesome 3-year-old boys. My area of expertise is social and emotional development and most of my research is on interventions that help make families and friendships healthier for children. More about me...


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