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Moving from breast to bottle. Will it help?

Discussion in 'Parenting' started by LittleMissTidy, Feb 18, 2011.

  1. Hi Everyone,
    I have been breastfeeding my son since birth and he is now 18 weeks old. From around 8 weeks old he began ‘sleeping through’, only waking once for a feed at 3 am. Happy days... until 5 weeks ago when he started to wake every 2 hours for a feed. HV and BF supporters told me it was a growth spurt. However, 5 weeks later and he still hasn’t settled! Last night he feed every hour and a half. The worst part is that he doesn’t always go straight back to sleep after the feed. My OH and I are exhausted. After some discussion (and a few tears) I have decided to start weaning him on to formula earlier than planned. My plan is to continue to breastfeed as well, introducing an extra bottle of formula every 2 weeks. So, a few questions to those who have moved from breast to bottle, have had LO with sleep problems, or can help!
    Did you replace the same breastfeed for a formula feed each time? I’m finding this difficult as I feed on demand and so don’t have set times for a feed. I’m worried about affecting my supply.
    Did your LO begin to prefer the bottle as you introduced more formula feeds? I desperately don’t want to stop BF altogether.
    Did you find that your LO had any reaction to the formula? My LO seems very gassy since I introduced a bottle on Monday.
    How did your supply suffer?
    Did you find that your LO slept better at night, once you began introducing the formula feeds? This is really why I’m weaning early. That sounds very selfish, but I’m really struggling physically and emotionally.
    Please share your experiences, opinions, suggestions. I’ve spoken to HV and BF supporters but feel that they are simply pushing breastfeeding and have no real suggestions.
    Thanks LMT

     
  2. Hi Everyone,
    I have been breastfeeding my son since birth and he is now 18 weeks old. From around 8 weeks old he began ‘sleeping through’, only waking once for a feed at 3 am. Happy days... until 5 weeks ago when he started to wake every 2 hours for a feed. HV and BF supporters told me it was a growth spurt. However, 5 weeks later and he still hasn’t settled! Last night he feed every hour and a half. The worst part is that he doesn’t always go straight back to sleep after the feed. My OH and I are exhausted. After some discussion (and a few tears) I have decided to start weaning him on to formula earlier than planned. My plan is to continue to breastfeed as well, introducing an extra bottle of formula every 2 weeks. So, a few questions to those who have moved from breast to bottle, have had LO with sleep problems, or can help!
    Did you replace the same breastfeed for a formula feed each time? I’m finding this difficult as I feed on demand and so don’t have set times for a feed. I’m worried about affecting my supply.
    Did your LO begin to prefer the bottle as you introduced more formula feeds? I desperately don’t want to stop BF altogether.
    Did you find that your LO had any reaction to the formula? My LO seems very gassy since I introduced a bottle on Monday.
    How did your supply suffer?
    Did you find that your LO slept better at night, once you began introducing the formula feeds? This is really why I’m weaning early. That sounds very selfish, but I’m really struggling physically and emotionally.
    Please share your experiences, opinions, suggestions. I’ve spoken to HV and BF supporters but feel that they are simply pushing breastfeeding and have no real suggestions.
    Thanks LMT

     
  3. Hi, sorry you're having such a sleep deprived time of it at the moment. It's so hard. It's used as a form of torture you know! I breastfed my LO for 9 months but used bottles and formula occasionally too. Reading your post I'd say that using formula won't necessarily solve the problem. I think it's a misconception that formula makes babies sleep longer. In my experience it's just not true. My LO is a fantastic sleeper and has been b-fed since birth. He has slept through from being 3 months old (with a dreamfeed until 6 months old). I reckon that you should try structuring your LO's daytime feeds rather than feeding on demand. So, for example, feed at 7am, 11am, 2:30pm, 6pm & do a dreamfeed at 10:30/11ish (ie before you go to bed - perhaps this one could be a bottle feed done by your OH?) This way you know your LO is getting all the calories he needs in the day. Try to make each feed a really good one (ie both sides for as long as he will stay there!) By doing this your body will also know where it's at in terms of demand and eventually LO will get used to having mealtimes rather than 'grazing' randomly through the day. It sounds like your LO could possibly not be getting enough milk during the day and is spending the night 'catching up'. I really hope this helps. It sounds as though you desperately don't want to give up b-fing - and I don't blame you. Another thought...what are LO's sleep/nap times like? Could be worth attempting to structure those too. IMO babies love routine.
     

  4. Thanks for your quick reply, La Mariposa!
    My gut feeling is that formula feeding wont be the magic cure, but have pressure from family members to try it ( MIL!). I get very annoyed when people say to me that breastmilk doesn't fill up my little boy. He is not very little, weighing 17lb! That's on breastmilk alone. You can see that I am wrestling with myself over this! And you are proof that it can work.
    We had a great structure until this growth spurt began. He has a 'strict' bedtime routine and has three naps a day (that hasn't changed). However, since the disturbed sleep began, timings have gone out of the window! I know that this must have contributed to the problems we are experiencing. Like you suggested, I think he is grazing during the day. I feed him every 2 hours during the day, for as long as I can. But he is often not interested and only feeds for a matter of minutes.
    I haven't taken this decision lightly. I have tried to increase my supply, feed him more often during the day, checked that he is latching properly, dreamfeed etc. I just don't know what else to do!!
    As you have suggested, I will ask my OH to give the LO a bottle when he wakes at 10pm. I hate to admit it, but I think I just need a break. I feel so weak during the night and am losing alot of weight.
    x
     
  5. Chica77

    Chica77 New commenter

    I had to formula feed my son from 6 days old (milk supply problem - he lost way too much weight) but mix fed for 10 weeks. I can reliably tell you that formula does NOT make them sleep for longer!! It didn't give my son wind though, luckily. Maybe your son's just having a growth spurt? Have you tried expressing and giving him that in a bottle during the day so you at least then know how much he's getting and can make a more informed decision?
    That would definitely encourage me to continue!! (Sorry, i'm not making a joke about your situation, just would love to lose loads of weight :) )
     
  6. Don't apologise, that made me laugh! What a daft thing to complain about!!
    My BF supporter did say, 'if you have a sleeper, you have a sleeper, no matter what they feed'. So I suppose if you don't have a sleeper then you don't have ...much sleep!
    Unfortunatley, I have been unable to express since LO was around 3 months. That's what makes me wonder if it's a problem with supply?
     
  7. My LO is 8 weeks and I too was exhausted at being up every 2 hours at night to feed - I found the pressure of never having a break too much because there is no let up. It also got to a point where LO cried every night - which we thought was colic. However, we switched to combination feeding (using aptamil) so at least OH could do night feeds. We have not looked back - LO no longer cries at night (I think my supply was not enough as she only ever use to suck for 10-15 mins) and she sleeps 3-4 hours, sometimes 5 or 6. To do both, I now breastfeed first for 5-6 minutes, then give her a bottle. Supply seems to be fine and LO much much happier. she has also put on 12oz in the last week so must be working! It can be done!
    good luck with it
    x
     
  8. DilysPrice

    DilysPrice New commenter

    Don't shoot me down in flames but have you considered weaning? I doubt it's your supply as he's 17lb, my little girl went through the same sleeping 4-5 hours then going down to 2 for about 5 weeks-it's a killer. She's 17 weeks and I've just started and hoping for a longer night as she did used to sleep! If you are dead set against I would continue to feed as you are and introduce formula as a top up- it may be what you need and shouldn't affect your milk that way you can continue to breastfeed. Hope it helps.
     
  9. Hi, I went through exactly the same thing from LO being 3 to 5 months. He fed every 2 hours consistently - exhausting so i know how you feel, i was often in tears. It cannot be underestimated how truly draining this is. We started weaning at 5 months, and he dropped to 2 feeds a night very quickly - bliss after all those night feeds. At around 7 months he went down to one feed a night, usually around 5.30 so this felt like we were heading towards a full night. However, he's since been quite ill for about a month now and is back on 2 feeds. He's getting through the illnesses so hopefully will drop one soon. Anyway, think my point is, try weaning! Know it's a bit early but your LO sounds big, my boy has always been on 98th centile and think they just need a lot of filling! Good luck x
     
  10. Btw i breastfeed, it's not clear from my reply, sorry x
     
  11. No!!!! How awful for you. You don't need pressure but support right now!
    Oh people love to say that. It's classic. Put it this way, my LO is just over 9 months and weighs only a pound more than your LO!!! So I think breast milk has more than filled him up :) Perhaps he does need some solid food as others have suggested? My friend weaned at 20 weeks with no problem whatsoever.
    Perhaps you could try a bottle with one of those 'hungry baby' milks in... Here's a cut-and-paste from the HIPP website about theirs - 'Using HiPP Organic Hungry Infant Milk may help delay the early onset of weaning. The higher proportion of casein to whey in the protein blend in this milk means that it may satisfy extra hungry babies for longer than a whey-dominant formula like HiPP Organic First infant milk. Of course, all babies get hungry and need to be fed regularly with appropriate amounts of milk, but this milk is designed for babies that seem hard to satisfy on a first infant milk.' HTH x
     
  12. I think that the others have offered loads of good advice. I think the thing is that they are all different - some respond to one thing others to another.
    I had a similar experience of breastfeeding to Chica and as a result my daughter went onto formula pretty soon. I had to feed her on demand because she would just refuse if it wasn't when she fancied it - I could only get her into a feeding routine once we had started weaning and then if she refused milk I just didn't worry. She was easier to get into a sleeping routine though and luckily she generally wanted to feed in the day! You cannot get a baby to feed if they don't want to and you can't leave them to scream for 2 hours until the scheduled routine time.
    In terms of weaning different people have different views on when. I have a friend who is absolutely adamant that they need to start at 4 months and taste everything 15 times. She is still sure this is correct, despite the fact her 22 month old lobs brocolli and sprouts across the kitchen in the same way as most of them do! My daughter I didn't start till 6 months, not because I was listening to the advice but because she wasn't ready. The advantage is that I was pretty much able to move her straight onto proper meals rather than pureed veg, which I don't even think are any more filling than milk. She eats better now than most kids her age. They seem to now be suggesting again that earlier is better it wouldn't have been for her.
    If it was me then I would probably try giving him some baby rice. Has he ever taken a bottle because this can be hard by his age if not? You just need to try some different things. He seems fine it's poor you who is suffering!
    btw he only weighs 6lbs less than my daughter did at 21 months. Not that I'm sure that how big they are determines how ready they are for weaning. It's a damn impressive breastfeeding feat in the space of 18 weeks though [​IMG]
     
  13. I also know how you feel - nights where you're awake every couple of hours are truly hideous. I formula fed my LO from 8 weeks so I'm not trying to sway your decision either way, but I have to say that I never noticed a difference in how well he slept following breast or formula. I also noticed that it made no difference how much milk he had before bed - he would have 9 ozs and be awake an hour later, then have 1oz the following night and sleep for 7 hours (didn't happen much mind). I'm not sure that hunger is always the reason why babies begin waking in the night (even though they'll happily devour a bottle when it's given to them). But then, we do have a very poor sleeper - he's nearly 9 months now and still usually wakes up every couple of hours. We just settle him with water now though.
    Because we have such a poor sleeper, I've read quite a bit about it and it is very common for babies to go through a stage of 'sleep regression' at around the 4 month mark. If that's the case then I'm not sure that there's much you can do, except for ride it out and stick to a nightime routine etc...
    You could also try weaning and see if that helps. It does seem to be the thing that helps most babies sleep that bit better at night (just an opinion based on what I have oberved). Again, it didn't make any real difference for us, but I know that it did for most of my friends' babies.
    I do hope that you start to get more sleep soon x
     
  14. Thanks everyone for sharing your experiences and advice. I find it so helpful, and reasuring, to read what others have experienced.
    I have considered weaning but am nervous about going against the guidelines. I have a weaning party next week and was planning on maybe introducing a little baby rice when LO is 5 months.
    Thanks brettgirl2, that gave me a much needed boost!
    LO has just woken up and Daddy is just giving him a bottle of formula. Then I am off to bed!!


     
  15. I was going to suggest this- a friend from NCT had a big beautiful baby- similar weight at a similar age, and had similar sleep problems- she started to wean and things are improving. I think, in your situation, I would start to introduce solids... I think supplying enough milk to maintain a big baby must be almost impossible- but bloody well done for growing baby that big all by yourself! Min age for weaning is 17 weeks I think.

     
  16. I think it's worth giving a bottle of formula at night and seeing if it helps him sleep longer- you have nothing to lose. At least it gives you and your poor (.) a break and some sleep! I wrestled and cried and whinged and felt terribly guilty but eventually started giving the odd bottle of formula- I did manage to stop doing this and EBF until about 4 months when her bedtime feed became a bottle, which was lovely actually as it allowed me to have a rest in the evenings, to go out even, or for OH to do bedtime routine. I weaned her off when i went back to work at 7 and a half months but still bf in the mornings until she was almost 11 months old. The bottles of formula did fill her up more- the bf activists (!) will say that formula is terrible for babies for this very reason- that it is harder to digest and so takes longer- I say *** to that if it lets you have some much needed sleep! If you are not rested i think your milk supply suffers. Anyway not sure if I've answered your question or not!! How was last night?
     
  17. Not good!
    LO woke every 2 hours, despite downing 7oz of formula at 9, he was hungry for more by 11! He lasted no longer on the formula, than on the breast milk.
    He did go back to sleep at 6.30 till 8.30, which was lovely. But ofcourse this has disrupted the rest of the days feeds and naps!
    La Mariposa, I have been offering LO the second breast at each feed, as you suggested. He has fed from it every time, so has taken more milk at each feed I think.
    I also feel the guilt, Clematis. I think that's motherhood for you. I have such a beautiful, happy, healthy baby (during the day!!) and I just want to continue to do the best for him.
    I think I'm going to continue giving him formula at night so that I atleast get a break. Husband is more than happy to do it!
     
  18. Chica77

    Chica77 New commenter

    And that is the biggest advantage of formula feeding!! My 2nd is due in 10 weeks (aggghhh) and I am hoping to be able to exclusively breastfeed this time, but I am not looking forward to doing all the night feeds on my own this time! Hopefully after a few weeks I will be able to express.

    Maybe your son is ready for weaning? My friend exclusively breastfed her daughter for 6 months, but had to start weaning quite early as she was dropping off her centile line. Once she started weaning her she was a lot happier. She cried quite a bit before that, and had to be fed very frequently, even in the day.
     
  19. Chica, I was able to express from when I began at around 5 weeks. I was lazy though and only did it if I was going out without the LO i.e VERY rarely!!
    I loved BF at first, even though I had to do all the night feeds. I expected it to be hard at first, and it was,(but I had an awful labour resulting in an emergency C section which did not help) but by week 8 it was great. Easier than bottles IMO (so much easier to just get them out!).
    My son is now on the 91st percentile. He was born on the 50th, and shot up to the 98th within a few weeks. I'm thinking you are all right about the weaning, but it just seems so early to do it!
     
  20. My LO is a biggie too and breastfed. He does have the odd bottle of formula at bedtime but I don't find it makes a difference either. He has the hungry baby stuff too. He is nearly 6 months now and I began weaning at 20 weeks.
    Is your LO interested in food? If he is and can sit when supported then you could start very slowly. Why not try a bowl of baby porridge made with formula or breast milk at tea time to start with. To be honest though at that age they can only have vegetables and fruit which are not that filling or calorific so weaning is not an immediate solution. My LO is now on 3 meals a day as well as 4 BFs and a night feed but for the last week has been waking a lot. I have found once you crack it, something happens to mess it up again like teething or a cold.
    For his age I would say he should be able to go at least 3 hours if not 4 between milk feeds. I have the baby sleep system book which explains all about sleep behaviours and it sounds to me [and my very unexperienced brain] that his waking is more behavioural than hunger. If he is offered the breast then he will drink. If my LO wakes I will not feed him unless it has been more than 4 hours since his last feed. I went through a small phase of offering a dream feed at about 10.30 but we have now dropped this.
    It does sound like when he is waking, he can't settle himself again and can only be settled back by being fed. Does that sound familiar? Also breast fed babies can sometimes not get enough milk if mum is exhausted, what you could do is then offer a formula top up.
    I really recommend the book. They also have a forum and you can email questions to the author and team and they can assess individual babies cases and will offer you solutions. It's babysleepanswers.co.uk
    x
     

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