Within the past month or so, we successfully dropped Ada's 2AM/3AM feeding. I've debated writing a post about this process since I feel like I'm going to jinx us. But I'll take the risk because enough of you have Tweeted or emailed us with questions.
You might be wondering: Why drop the feeding?
After the newborn period, Ada had been sleeping pretty much through the night until the 19-week sleep regression hit. Then, she ate sometime in the middle of the night a little more often than half of the nights. But as we progressed through her fifth month, that feed got shorter and less enthusiastic. It seemed, to us, at least, to be more for comfort than nutrition.
Sometime just before her sixth month, I had read about dropping night feeds online and in some books, but I never though I'd try to force something on her. If she woke, I should respond, I thought. But, after checking with her pediatrician (mostly to see if 6 months was an OK time), I eventually decided when she didn't seem to need to eat that responding didn't have to be the boob or me at all. Stephen stepped in.
That's really the initial step: At 2AM (or whenever the mood struck her), Stephen would go to comfort Ada's crying. The first few nights, it was difficult. I'm not going to lie. I think Ada cried for almost an hour on and off. Like heart-wrenching cries, I did give in that night and fed her -- and told Stephen I was a horrible mother for even trying the whole thing.
The next night -- tired -- we stuck to our plan. So, Stephen rocked her on and off during that hour. We're not big on the CIO method . . . so he'd return to her crib in 5- or 10-minute increments, never longer. He's amazing at calming her, but it was the setting her in her crib again that got her going. Eventually, though, she settled down.
Surprisingly to us, it didn't take many nights after that before Ada stopped crying and slept through. Maybe three nights total. Actually, the whole thing seemed a little TOO easy.
And it was.
Ada ended up getting a cold a week after we dropped the feed, and, as a result, we happily gave into each and every of her needs during that time. Too, we sensed a big difference in her nighttime crying (more intense, inconsolable) when she was sick. She needed the hydration (had a fever) and was very much looking to eat (evidenced by bobbing of her head and other feeding cues we've observed in her since birth).
So, we rolled with it. When we knew she was well again -- no fever, waking but tired and more whiny than hungry -- we repeated the original process. This time, it took a couple more nights, maybe five total. The plan was the same: Ada cries. Stephen responds, which I've read is good to do because babies can smell milk on mothers. Ashley stays in bed (and don't get any ideas that you can actually sleep through any of the disruption. I was as awake as Stephen and perhaps more frustrated).
Of course, we don't just plain ignore Ada's crying at night. There have been a few times when I have fed her in the middle of the night. During sickness. During growth spurts (you other moms can probably just tell when those are going on -- when during the day the babe is eating like crazy, right?).
As weird as it sounds, I really can tell a difference in Ada's cries -- when she's just tired or when she really does need something. If it's a tired-sounding cry (not urgent), we let her go on for five minutes. If it doesn't let up, Stephen responds. If she doesn't calm down after half an hour of soothing, I feed her. But the number of times it has come to this point can be counted on one hand. Seriously.
I feel I should also note:
#1: We are still doing a dream-feed at around 11PM every night. This brings Ada's total breastfeeding sessions to an average of 6 for the day. I read somewhere that 6 sounds about "right" for her age, but I don't really know. We hold onto that feed because she does eat heartily from both sides, and we'd rather feed her at 11PM than 2AM/3AM.
#2: Ada's typical wake-up time ranges between 7AM and 7:30AM (though since last week's trip to NJ, she's been waking up wicked early, but it's been getting better each night, thankfully!). She eat immediately upon waking.
Has anyone else dropped the night feed (or feeds)?
Does our process seem similar to what you did? I don't think it's right or wrong, it's just what worked for us. Now, I've raised a few eyebrows lately when I've mentioned we still wake Ada at 11PM to eat. I guess I'd love to hear your feedback on that, too! And I'd be happy to answer any additional questions you have.
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