Karen asks; “My LG is 13 months old and down to just night-time feeds. I’m struggling with stopping the feeds and replacing it with a feed free routine. She sometimes wakes up to four times a night but will sleep eight hours straight so I know she can do it.”
We chatted a little bit to Karen and she’s almost there in making that transition but here are some ideas about how to say night-night to the bedtime breastfeed.
It’s often at around 11-13 months that babies and their mums are ready to move on from breastfeeding, especially if they’ve been in the process of dropping a feed at a time. It can a bit of a wrench for some mums or it may be you’re glad to be going into a new stage – there’s no right or wrong way to feel.
Food and drink
Developing into a toddler diet takes a few adjustments, most of which you’ve probably already done. Here’s how often they need a little something, and if you’re looking for menu or snack ideas Tweet, Facebook or #AskSarah and we will do another blog post for you.
A typical daily diet for a 1-year-old
– 3 little meals a day
– Morning healthy snack
– Afternoon healthy snack
– Milky supper
– 2-3 milky drinks (plus water and the odd very diluted natural fruit juice)
– 1 pint of milk (as a drink or in foods e.g. yogurt, fromage frais, cheesy meals and custard)
I’d recommend avoiding sweets, high-sugar foods and drinks, sugar-free drinks and squash. The additives and sweeteners in sugar-free squash especially make children thirsty and so they often will drink more and more without quenching their thirst and end up literally running on squash, which fills their tummy and spoils their appetite and make them overactive and more likely to have toddler tantrums and not sleep very well.
If you’re Little One is having 2-3 milk drinks and/or milk in their food they’ll be getting enough to compensate for loosing the breast milk. You might find she’ll go through the night for a few nights in row and then start waking up again, this is her body waking her up to get the nutrients and calories it craves as it adjusts.
Keep her topped up by giving her a milky supper (e.g. cereal, cheesy toast triangles, porridge). I know it can seem strange if your baby had their tea at 5-6pm to give them a supper but they often need it to get through the night.
Give yourself a few weeks to adapt to this change to in your baby’s pattern of getting her nourishment.
You’ll have your own way of doing things in your household but here are some ideas for a bedtime ritual.
A typical mini-bedtime ritual
– TV and devices off (iPhones, iPads etc put away)
– Lights turned down low
– Milky supper
– Bath time
– Milky drink and bedtime story
– Nursery rhymes or prayers
– Kisses goodnight
– Maybe an audiobook
– Check back in 5 -10 minutes, sit quietly in a dark corner, rock them or stroke them whatever you want to do
From suppertime to the last kiss goodnight, try and get your bedtime routine down to an hour or less. If they start delaying and dawdling your Little One is most likely trying to draw things out and keep themselves awake. Be positive and warm but keep things moving along – as they grow, it would be an absolute angel that didn’t try their luck at extra splashing in the bath, stories and snuggles.
Establishing a bit of a ritual for going to bed helps your Little One feel secure and accept that it’s now time to start calming down and go to sleep. The more relaxed and contented your baby feels the less likely they are to demand the comfort of a breastfeed. If you have the option, it might help if your partner or another family member gets involved in putting your Little One to bed to ease the tension and give you the opportunity to create new mini bedtime routines.
Stay positive and remind yourself that you are giving your baby everything they need, this is just a transition and that they do not need to have breastmilk any longer and that tthey get plenty of nourishment. You’ve done a fantastic job breastfeeding all this time, congratulate yourself, you’ve done your stint and you’ll both benefit from moving onto a new stage. There are plenty of firsts coming up for you and your baby.
At this age there can be other factors that contribute towards your Little One craving the closeness and comfort of breastfeeding, like teething or maybe you’ve returned to work, but as long as their emotional and practical needs are being met, you are doing everything you can to help your baby.
It’s normal to go through a bit of trial and error in finding what works for your family – you don’t have to be wedded to a set way of doing things every single night.
If you’re not getting much sleep, be kind to yourself and look at ways you can take a bit pressure off yourself the following day if you can. Lack of sleep is very tough on everyone!
Karen, I hope you and your LG get a well-earned night’s rest soon and thank you for your question. x
If you’ve got a question you’d like to ask then go to the #AskSarah page and drop us a line. Trust yourself and enjoy your baby, you are the expert on your own child.
Over four decades as a nurse and a health visitor Sarah Beeson’s career has been shaped by the needs of children. Since her earliest days on the wards of Hackney Hospital she has stood up for her patients as shown in The New Arrival her heartwarming true story of training to be a nurse in 1970s London.
Her expertise and innovation have been recognised with the MBE from the Queen for services to children and families, and her health prevention work received the Queen’s Nursing Institute Award but she’s happiest listening to mums talking about their baby.
Sarah firmly believes that this generation of parents is the best there has ever been. Her new parenting book Happy Baby, Happy Family: Learning to trust yourself and enjoy your baby is the culmination of a life time’s experience watching, listening and being part of thousands of families’ journeys from birth to their Little One’s first birthday and will be published by HarperCollins in Spring 2015.
Sarah second memoir about being a newly qualified health visiting in rural Kent in 1970s She’s Arrived! will be published by HarperCollins in March 2016.