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Breast Feeding

Not Sleeping at night-supliment w/ formula??



As a new mother I have been breastfeeding my 4 month old baby with very little problems since birth. My question is a somewhat common one from what I have read, however, it has not specifically answered. My son has not slept for more than 3-4 hours at a time--ever, and at night he frequently sleeps for 3 hours then wakes up every hour or two after that. I have tried rice cereal, but it does not seem to make any difference. As I am back to work full time now these frequent night time feedings are wearing me down fast. And now my question: Whenever I have talked to other mothers whose babies are sleeping through the night many of them are NOT breastfeeding, would it be a good idea to try a bottle of formula at bedtime? Could this get me more than 4 hours of sleep? My son has never had any formula before, so would it have any negative ramifications?


Many babies awake at night for a variety of reasons besides hunger, including restlessness, teething, and loneliness. Sleeping through the night is a developmental and adaptive process that occurs, and may or may not be related to the type of feeding the child is receiving. The research has shown that solids (such as rice cereal) do not result in babies sleeping through the night. Frequent night feedings can be very tiring and stressful. Have you tried to extend the time between feedings by using comfort methods to gradually delay feeding times during the night? You (or someone else) might try walking and/or rocking the baby when he first awakens and gradually delay the feeding intervals until it is five or so hours. Babies who are fed formula do often times sleep for a longer interval, and frequently at night but this is not always the case. One potential complication from using cow`s milk-based formula is an allergic reaction in the baby. This may be exhibited by vomiting, colic, diarrhea, and reluctance to feed. If you do begin using formula for your baby it is important to us an iron fortified formula for your baby, and continue using only formula for the first year of life. You should also discuss this with your child`s health care provider regarding the type and amount of formula to feed your child.

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Response by:

Tina   Weitkamp, RNC, MSN Tina Weitkamp, RNC, MSN
Associate Professor of Clinical Nursing
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati