Feeding Schedule and Sleep Help for Mom with 8 Week Old Infant + Toddler?

Updated on September 24, 2009
A.Z. asks from West Newton, MA
14 answers

Dear moms,

I am exhausted. I have a very active 3 year old boy and a 8 week old baby. My baby's naps are still erratic and don't coincide with my son's nap so I don't get any sleep during the day. We are now using some of our savings to send my son 3 days a week to daycare instead of one day until hopefully soon my baby's sleep will regulate at night.
I am frustrated because I know that my older boy at this age was going between 5 and 6 hours once at night between feedings. The main difference is that I wasn't able to breast feed my son so he was getting pumped milk and formula bottles. At 8 weeks he was on a routine of eating every 3 hours, with a cluster feeding before bedtime and a long stretch following.
I am happy that this time I am able to breast feed my baby but I am exhausted since I don't get much of a break. My husband helps with a 10:30ish feeding with formula so I can go to bed earlier.

What I need advice with is this: I can't keep doing on demand BFing with my toddler around and because most days it means I don't get out of the house. I want advice from moms who were able to get into a routine and/or space out their baby's feedings so I can get more rest.
My baby is growing well and fast. He's been putting on an average of a pound a week and is already growing out of his 3 month clothes.
I feel that I am so tired and distracted that I have a hard time noticing when my baby cries because he's hungry, needing comfort or is tired... I feel that if we had a more predictable span between feedings, I would better be able to tell what he needs and I could plan my day better so I could get out a bit.
I know this is temporary and will pass soon but I am one of those people that doesn't do well with little sleep and it's wearing me down.
I am open to your suggestions. I am also thinking that even though I am a stay-at-home mom, I may switch to formula during the day and BF at night so I can have more of a routine and later a schedule. If I could have a schedule with BFing that would be great but right now it's so all over the place that I have a hard time thinking and feel that my older boy misses me even though we are in the same house most of the day.

thanks and I look forward to your advice and feedback.

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So What Happened?

Thank you everyone for your advice. I started to push my son's feeding times apart a little at a time and that has helped to stretch his evening sleep as well. I have no problems with latch or milk production and I don't want to pump since I have bad memories associated with pumping. I do hand express sometimes to get extra milk to top him off pre-bed when he is very hungry. I am taking it a day at a time. For those who are interested, I found out that there is a way to switch to formula during the day and continue to BF at night. It should be done slowly. Many moms do this who can't pump at work.

I would also like to see moms be respectful of other's decision to use formula. I know BFing is great nutritionally and for many other reasons but we must also take into account the mother's sanity and well being. My oldest son got formula starting at 10 weeks and went full time on formula at 14 weeks and he is healthy and very bright.

Be kind to yourselves and to others and thank you again for your advice.

More Answers

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C.W.

answers from Philadelphia on

A.,

Check out my website at www.help4newmoms.com, there's a free downloadable baby schedule that should get you started. Good luck,

C.

Doylestown, PA

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J.F.

answers from Boston on

Hang in there! It will get easier. I have a 2 year old {VERY active} little boy and a almost 4 month old infant, who is exclusively breastfeed. The unpredictable feeding schedule can drive you crazy....if you let it. Try to stick with it. I was on maternity leave all summer and it was very convenient to sit outside and nurse the baby, while my son plays in the yard. I don't have to worry about mixing about formula and cleaning bottles. I'm back to work (and exhuasted!) and the baby is still getting up twice at night to eat and of course there are no more naps for me. On the weekend, I try to lie down and nurse while the 2-year old naps...just lying down is helpful even if I don't fall asleep. And, I nurse the baby right before I go to bed for the night. If you are already supplementing with formula, it will impact your milk supply, as your body makes what your baby eats.
My 2-year old was sleeping thru the night by 8 weeks and was breastfeed, as well....this baby is different. I know it will get easier and it will for you too! Good luck!

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L.B.

answers from Boston on

My best advice it to stick with it. You are doing the greatest thing by BFing. I would encourage you to look up www.kellymom.com a great feeding website with tons of tips.

and momma it doesn't last forever, we weaned three months ago and it was bittersweet. she ate every two-three hours for at least ten months. it was tough but worth it:) hang in mom!

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J.K.

answers from Boston on

This may or may not work for you, but have you tried co-sleeping? I have a just-turned-2 year old and a 3 month old, and co-sleeping has literally saved my sanity! I was very worried when DS#2 came along, since with DS#1 I was a zombie for several months due to lack of sleep. I finally started co-sleeping nights and naps when my first son was 6 months, and it made a huge difference in my quality of life. So I started co-sleeping in the hospital before we brought DS#2 home, and it has made everything so much better. I've been able to keep my toddler on his nap schedule, and bring the baby in with me to nurse and nap at the same time. The baby sleeps really well during the night, nurses when he wants to, and neither of us fully wake up so we both get a decent night's sleep. It worked best for us to bring a twin bed into our master bedroom that the baby and I share; that way DH doesn't have to have to change how he sleeps and I don't have to worry about blankets over the baby's face. There are lots of resources out there about safe co-sleeping (like Dr. Sears) that I really like. Good luck! Hope you get some sleep soon.

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K.E.

answers from Boston on

I breastfed both my sons and intend to breastfeed my third baby, due in a few weeks. So I have no experience with formula. But I do want to caution that switching to formula might not solve all your sleep problems. It could be that your kids are just different eaters and/or sleepers. My boys were totally different in this regard. The first slept 7 hours at night from just a few weeks of age, and he took long naps during the day. He was easy going and allowed me to get lots done while I was on maternity leave. I later was able to work full-time from home three days a week (I went into the office and pumped breastmilk the other two days).

There is no way this would have worked with my second son. He didn't sleep all the way through the night until he was over 1 year old, and his naps didn't last for more than an hour for a long, long time (now he's almost 2 and naps for about 2 hrs in the afternoon). He ate CONSTANTLY (although at least he was quicker about it than his older brother, who kept falling asleep during feedings and had to be unclothed and tickled). Like you, I really need my sleep, and I was pretty exhausted, especially during the first few months. A couple of things did help, though.

First, because I just really, really needed my boys to take naps at the same time, I tried to get my baby on a nap schedule from 3 months (which is also when I "went" back to work -- from my basement -- but I need to work while my kids are sleeping in the afternoon, so I needed to have simultaneous napping). I basically just tried to get my baby on my toddler's schedule (although of course the baby took more naps). I would try to keep him awake after his morning nap until my toddler was ready for his afternoon nap, and then right after putting my toddler to bed, I'd feed and jostle the baby until he fell asleep and could be put in his crib. The routine of feeding and jostling the younger one to get him to sleep was taking way too long, though, and although I wasn't sure it would work, I actually taught him to put himself to sleep arounf 5 months, much earlier than I attempted this with my first son. So I would say to just remember that you really can get two kids to nap at the same time; just stick it out for another few months, and things will get easier.

Another thing is, if you don't have one already, get a baby sling or other baby carrier to use around your house (and out of it, of course). Slings are great because babies will go to sleep there, and you have your hands free to chase your toddler. I hardly ever used my sling in the house with my first son, but what a life saver it was with my second just because it allowed me to pay attention to two kids at once. It also let me get out for walks, go to the playground, and do all sorts of things with my older son. And it helped to get my baby to take a nap on my schedule. And although I never got the hang of it, a ton of people are able to breastfeed their baby while the baby is in the sling, and if you can manage to do this, it would allow you to be with your toddler while still feeding your baby. There are many good baby-carrying options out there, but you can check out my website (www.eieiobabygear.com) for affordable baby slings.

Finally, and another mom mentioned this, you can still get out of your house while you're breastfeeding. If you're feeling uncomfortable, bring a blanket to cover up with or check out stylish nursing clothing at www.motherwear.com. If you don't want to spend a fortune on a nursing wardrobe, just buy a few nursing tanks and wear those under shirts you already own.

Keep up the good work with breastfeeding. It really will get so much easier soon.

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D.M.

answers from Hartford on

Hi A., I truly understand what you're going through. My son is just over 3 and my daughter is 7 1/2 months. I don't have experience w/ formula feeding but I can tell you my daughter was on a 3 hour feeding routine at about 8 wks but my son nursed every 2 hrs. or so for months! So, as others have said, this baby is probably just different and formula may not even make a difference. That being said, for some reason, some people think breasfed babies can't have a routine and that's just not true. I completely agree w/ the other mom who said that if you can get them on a schedule w/ formula you can do it w/ breastfeeding. Journal what the baby's doing for a few days and you might already notice a pattern emerging. Use the weekend when your husband is home and can spend time w/ your older child to look for sleepy signs or overstimulated signs in your baby so you can soon detect the difference between these and hunger signs. In both my kids there were very clear hunger signals. And over the next couple of weeks you can start to try to space out feedings by getting the baby to go 2 hrs. and 10 or 15 or 20 minutes by going for a walk w/ the kids or reading a story or doing bath time...I don't know the differenc but in my and my friend's experiences, breastfeeding is SUPER convenient on top of being great for other reasons. It already takes me 20 minutes to get out the door w/ both my kids - I can't imagine having to deal w/ bottles too! Hang in there - I'm sure you're doing a great job and your son's extra time at daycare will help you feel more rested too. Also, I can't count the number of times I've nursed my daughter in the car outside of Target or the grocery store or on a bench at the park or the bookstore while my son plays...your 3 year old is probably way more adaptable and flexible than you realize and will roll with the punches. Just feed the baby right before you leave to go out (even if it's just topping him off) and you'll have more freedom that way. Good luck!

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J.P.

answers from Boston on

Congratulations on the birth of your second child!
I have just a few quick thoughts:
1. Perhaps if you write down when your baby eats and sleeps for a few days, you will see a pattern emerging.
2. With that information, you may be able to loosely schedule breastfeeding so you don't feel like you're constatntly on demand. If you can schedule bottle feeding, you can probalby do the same with breastfeeding.
3. People do breastfeed in public. It is possible to get out with both kids.
4. If you want to continue giving your baby breast milk, perhaps you could schedule time to pump 1-2 times/day. Maybe it would be easier to pick times when your husband is home so you don't have to worry about the kids.
5. Ask your husband to take the kids for a couple of hours this weekend so you can nap. :-)
Good luck!
J.

E.M.

answers from Boston on

I am sorry to hear you are exhausted. Know that this phase will come to an end soon and say that to yourself often throughout the day. You are giving your child the best gift and that is the gift of breastmilk, as well as yourself breasfeeding decreases your chances of cancer in the future along with other benefits. Stick with it. Breastfeeding is bestfeeding. Breastfeeding should be done on demand. With that said though your baby does not need to use you as a pacifier and maybe he/she needs to suck to soothe him or herself and at this age they can not find there fingers because that requires too much coordination for them at this age in a few more weeks that will change though. So offer a pacifier or your fingers for soothing until then. Formula has not been proven to extend the length of time between feedings as you are finding out if the baby is getting formula at 1030ish and still not doing that 5-6 hr stretch you were hoping for. So with that I would suggest pumping while feeding your baby from the other brease and giving that at the 1030 feeding. May I also suggest for the next couple of weeks hiring a Postpartum doula they are great at helping which ever way you need. You could lay down while your son does and she could have the baby for that 2 hour span and it will only be neccessary for a couple of weeks until things get more managable for you. Your baby may be going through a growth spurt right now and will feed less often with in the next few days. Increased feeding could also mean the baby's needs have increased and it takes a few days of feeding more to increase your supply. Those 3 days a week you older child is in day care you should rest and even sleep if you can every time your newborn rests. Even 20mins for an adult is rejuvinating. If you want to leave the house bring a blanket so that you can nurse in public as well as a sling that you can have your hands free and nurse as well in private. There are great slings out there that you can nurse in and no one will even know what you are doing and your hands are free to tend to your toddler. Visit www.mymammasmilk.com for some great carrier ideas and she will show you how to wear your baby as well as let you try them on to see which is best for you. I found a carrier to be a life saver with my second child. I even wore her around the house she would fall asleep so fast when put in there they love being close to you and hearing your heartbeat it all mimics their time in utero. Dr Harvey Karps book the happiest baby on the block talks about how important that is to do in the first three months of life. This is the 4th trimester and he still calls them fetuses because we as humans are born too early but we have to because of the size of our brains. Great book I suggest getting it. He believes babies should be swaddled with the hands down by their sides because of their lack of coordination and the startle reflex. I have used it as a postpartum doula and babies do love it. Some need more than this though and so the other soothing techniques he suggest to mimic itrauterine life are white noise simply playing the radio on a static station pretty loud or using a white noise machine all placed with in a foot or two of the crib. swinging is another and sometimes that means naps and even night time sleeping is spent in a swing. I know some parents are not keen on that and think that there child will be spoiled by this but remember these are all things they got 100% of the time in utero while you carried them so doing it 75 or 50%of the time is already cutting back 25-50% and don't forget they are still fetuses and we wouldn't not do something in utero because we thought we might be spoiling our child. This is why wearing your baby is important as well. They get the movement and the heartbeat sound all mimics that intrauterine life they were in for 40 weeks.
Try co-sleeping and feeding your baby while sidelying. If I can answer any more questions for you or if you want to hire a postpartum doula which I happen to be email me at ____@____.com care and Be Happy. These are only phases and each one only lasts a short time. There is an end to all of these phases. Keep smiling

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D.N.

answers from Hartford on

My two boys are 16 months apart and I nursed them both...what helped me with the second child was I had a mothers helper (a friend's daughter) come to the house and play with my oldest for two hours three days a week so I could have time with the baby. I fed my youngest on demand until he was about four months. Before then I just realized that I would have to nurse in public, because my oldest had to get out. I got a great "hooter hider" by baby au lait and nursed him when he needed to when we were out. I hope that helps a little...it is going to get easier as the baby gets older and is on a more predictable schedule, as now I can feed the baby and then go out.

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J.E.

answers from Boston on

There is so much pressure around breastfeeding, but I honestly believe that a happy and well-rested mom make a happy baby (and family). I absolutely think you should let your husband do night feedings with formula. Any breast milk the baby gets is great, but you need to be able to function! On the other hand, my son basically only had formula and still ate every 2.5 hours until he was 5 months....but anyone could feed him. Good luck!

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A.R.

answers from Boston on

You doing a wonderful job, dont be so hard on yourself.
I have two kids 22 months apart and I know what you mean about being exhausted!I bfed both of my children and found it much harder to fit everything in with my second. when I did stop bfeeding my second and switch to formula I was amazed at how much more energy I had, only you can decide though if that is best for you, dont beat yourself up your children are being very well taken care of and you are doing a great job. Good luck.

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C.Z.

answers from Boston on

My first son was mostly bottle fed with formula due to a lack of supply on my part and his lack of interest in nursing (long story). He ate every 90 minutes even with the formula. Now with my second son I'm finally getting 3-hour stretches from him and he's just 4 months today. But even with those longer stretches there are days when we're back to the 90-minute or 2-hour stretches.

I echo the suggestion about cosleeping. Lie to your pediatrician if you have to but get the rest you need! Cosleeping is only dangerous if you are medicating with drugs that cause drowsiness or drinking (which I'm assuming you're not if you're nursing as much as you are). Baby sleeps better and so does mommy. It used to make my husband nervous but I told him he could sleep on the couch if he didn't like the baby in the bed (not a punishment, just a fact of life- there's not enough room on the couch for me and baby). He got over it and we all get to sleep (yeah!).

Hang in there! I get ready to pull my hair out at about the 2 1/2 month mark and then things settle down. You'll make it!!!

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L.P.

answers from Hartford on

The only suggestion that I really have is to get in touch with your local La Leche League. The are such an awesome support system and they can help you get through this!!! They have a website....good luck!

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H.H.

answers from Boston on

Hi, i went through the same thing and i can tell you what helped me! Get a mother's helper! even if it is just in the morning until your 3 year old goes down for a nap. I would have her take my son (he was just about to turn 2 when i brought my baby home) to the park or the beach or the YMCA to get him good and tired and i could have the morning to myself with the baby and try to sleep when he slept a bit. also, i co-slept with my second for the first 6 months!!! it was great and nursing was quick and we both fell right back to sleep without getting up! My Husband was great and understood my desperite need for sleep and slept on the couch until he was finally just doing 1 nighttime feeding and we moved him to the crib then. Just remember, it does go by very fast although when your sleep deprived it does not seem like it! hang in there and your baby will be on a schedual before you know it!

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