Archive for the ‘Sleep’ Category

13 Things that are normal baby behaviour!

The range of normal is wide, if your baby doesn’t do these things they are probably normal too and you’re very lucky!  If your baby does all of these, my sympathy but they really do become toddlers eventually.

  1. Newborns feeding 8-20 times a day and averaging 11, NOT every 4 hours.
  2. Feeding every 2 hours.  Or less.  My second fed every 45 minutes around the clock for the first 3 weeks or so.  She still doesn’t manage every 4 hours at 18 months and she loves her solids as well.
  3. Waking up at night until at least 12 months.  ‘Sleeping through’ means 5 hours, not 12, and quite a few don’t even manage that!
  4. Starting to dribble at 3-4 months – they haven’t learnt to swallow it yet, it’s not teething (necessarily).
  5. Getting much quicker at feeding suddenly around 12 weeks – it has nothing to do with supply, they’ve worked out how to do it!
  6. The 4-month monsters at, well, 4 months.  They start waking up and feeding what feels like all night, because the world is just far too interesting to feed during the day.  And if they’ve been sleeping through it’s a rude shock 🙂
  7. Starting to reach for food, keys, pens, phones, … basically anything you have in your hands from around 4 months.  It doesn’t mean they want solids any more than they want to drive, write or talk, they just want to be like you.
  8. Feeding pretty much continuously in the evenings – it’s called cluster feeding, and yes, they can be hungry again already.
  9. Wanting to suck, and suck, and suck, and suck, and suck a bit more.  It’s got nothing to do with hunger or supply, it’s a comfort thing.
  10. Only sleeping in 40 minute blocks.  This is the length of a baby sleep cycle.  While some will go for 2 or 3 cycles, some will only do 1 no matter how much you pat them.
  11. Waking up 20 minutes after you’ve just got them to sleep – there is a dip in the sedative hormones at that time, a top up should get them back to sleep.
  12. Having days, weeks, months when they just don’t want to be put down.  A good carrier is essential for living with koala baby!
  13. Needing help to learn how to go to sleep.  It’s weird, but it’s a learned skill.

You may also be interested in ‘The Human Baby as an External Foetus’ to explain some of it.

(As an aside, see if you can now describe my children’s feeding and sleeping habits :D)

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Why is formula the saviour?

It’s World Breastfeeding Week and we are celebrating at Fusion Parenting.  Come back for a new post on breastfeeding every day!

 

I have had 2 friends in the past few days tell me that they’re so tired they almost gave their baby formula. Both of them have children under 16 weeks. I haven’t slept more than 4 hours in a row for over 17 months and it has never once entered my mind that formula would be something that might be my saviour.

Not that this is a sleep-deprivation competition! There seems to be many other reasons why people state that formula is their saviour whilst in the same breath saying “I wish I could breastfeed though, I would have if I could have”. However if you sit down and nut it out with them their love for formula seems to stem from either ill-advice or expectations of their baby that just weren’t realistic.

I do not judge parents who feed their baby formula – that should go without saying. We’re all trying to do the best job we can do and that also goes without saying. However when I get my back up is when I’m accused of making someone feel guilty because they fed formula. “Not everyone’s as lucky as you Tiff” or “I wish I had as much milk as you” are comments I have heard frequently. Why have I not needed formula? Why do I have so much milk? Could it be because sleeping through the night is not a priority for me but feeding my baby regularly whenever they tell me they need me is? Sure, what I wouldn’t give for a block of sleep longer than 3-4 hours but not at the expense of my milk supply and certainly not in the first 6 months. That’s not to say that breastfed babies don’t sleep through the night (considered a 5-6 hour stretch) and formula fed babies don’t wake during the night but by and large it seems that many people consider formula to be the sleeping through the night saviour. Formula top-ups for babies that could be exclusively breastfed without a problem seem to be becoming the norm. Recommended by child health nurses and GPs are routinely as the reminder for your 2, 4, and 6 months vaccinations. Why? I have no idea! My breasts work just fine, my babies love breastmilk and it wouldn’t occur to me to buy a tin of formula let alone hope for better sleep patterns after giving it!

The old “breast is best” debate seems to be frequently rehashed when it comes to the question of whether formula was necessary in a breastfeeding relationship. This is where the guilt-trips come into play too. I hear “I was exhausted and it was best for my baby because I wasn’t the best mother I could be. You are not going to make me feel guilty for doing what was best for my family”. Ummmm no. I have no intention of making you feel guilty. In fact a guilt-trip was never on my list of things to impart when we sat down and started chatting about our babies yet it is the first thing I am accused of giving when I dare to mention that I have been breastfeeding my 2 children for 39 months.  Why is that? Are Mum’s feeling guilty for their own choices and looking for someone to blame? Is the media responsible with it’s “breast is best” message? I read an opinion piece in Saturday’s West Australian Newspaper that ended with (paraphrasing) “it doesn’t matter if my baby suckles on a human nipple or a silicone one” – well of course it doesn’t but what is coming out of the nipple DOES matter. Breastmilk can come out of the silicone nipple in the form of expressed breastmilk or it can come straight from the breast and there is no debate that that IS best for both baby and mother.

If you chose not to breastfeed and you made an informed choice then own it. If you ended up not breastfeeding due to misinformation and poor advice then own that. The more we place formula on a pedestal as the saviour when it comes to infant (and toddler) feeding the more I believe our breastfeeding rates will decline. With only 1 – 2% of women actually medically unable to breastfeed there is either a lot of women given poor information so that they think they couldn’t breastfeed, had no milk, their milk dried up or was bad or their crying baby wasn’t crying because that’s what many baby’s do but because of a problem with their milk supply or that figure of 1-2% is incredibly inaccurate.

Shhh, I have a secret.

Actually, I have two (let’s be honest, I have lots, but I’m going for an effect here).

My first secret is that I co-sleep.  In some circles that wouldn’t rate a mention, but others would be horrified.  I have had my one year old in the bed pretty much for a year, the cot sits in a corner of the room and I stare longingly at it.

Because that’s my second secret – I hate co-sleeping.  I would love to get her in the cot, even just for a few hours, even for a nap.  I hate being squashed to the edge.  I hate having to lie in the right position because she’s sucking.  I hate not being able to snuggle up to my husband.  I hate having to sneak into bed because it will wake her up.

So both ‘sides’ of that particular parenting divide can be upset with me.

If I hate it, why do I do it?  Well I hate it less than the alternatives.  Midget had reflux, which meant many hours of pacing the floor then very carefully falling into bed exhausted (because if she was jiggled in any way it started all over again).  Plus she would only go to sleep by feeding – even being held by Daddy while I went to the toilet meant hysterical screaming to the point of throwing up.  So seeing as I don’t want to deal with screaming (not crying), vomit, throwing herself around and hours to calm down, it’s into bed with her.

And I have to admit that I’m doing very well for someone whose one year old feeds 4 or 5 times a night, every night, still.  I manage to get up and be coherent every day, I occasionally think of really inventive things to do with my toddler, although there have been some really hard times.  But on balance I think it’s been easier than the alternative. 

There are several take home messages here (other than the fact that I am so jealous of any baby that sleeps longer than 40 minutes).

  • Accept reality.  Sometimes there are things we don’t want to do.  Sometimes we’re stuck with only bad choices, and we just have to go with the least bad.
  • I’m an adult.  It’s a lot easier for me to understand what is happening and change than it is for a baby.  And I’m the one who got myself into this situation by having a baby, she didn’t ask for it.
  • Do whatever you can to minimise the stress.  It’s a marathon, not a sprint, so you have to make sure you’re there at the end.
  • The only people whose opinions matter are yours and your family’s (including your baby).  It doesn’t matter if everyone else thinks you’re wrong.

And I’m sure there are lots more.  I hope my year long experiment in how little sleep we need/how many hours you can be attached to a baby helps others feel better about some of their decisions.