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  • Megan Robert

MYTH #1: SLEEP TRAINING MEANS GETTING RID OF NIGHT FEEDINGS (PART 2)

MYTH #1 OF SLEEP TRAINING

PART 7.2 OF 7.2 OF AREAS OFTEN OVERLOOKED OR NOT STRATEGICALLY PLANNED WHEN SLEEP TRAINING

SLEEP TRAINING MYTH #1: Sleep training means you will have to get rid of all night feedings depriving your child of food.

This is the last part within my blog series, The 7 Areas Commonly Overlooked or Not Strategically Planned When Sleep Training. It also happens to be the beginning of my new series, The 10 Myths of Sleep Training.

In the first part of this mini-series, I touched on some realistic expectations to set when it comes to night feedings. Now it is time to dive into the practical side - what to consider when deciding whether or not to keep them AND how to strategically create and implement a sleep plan that improves your baby's sleep while doing what is best for your child regarding caloric intake.

STEP 1: SPEAK WITH YOUR INFANT’S PEDIATRICIAN

Before making any decisions around keeping or dropping night feedings when sleep training, first thing’s first. Figure out what is best for your infant’s growth and development by speaking with a pediatrician. Call or set an appointment to discuss the number of night feedings you should expect based on your baby’s needs. Generally, it falls somewhere between 0-3 depending on age, weight gain, and daily caloric intake.

STEP 2: EVALUATE YOUR INFANT’S CURRENT NIGHT FEEDINGS

Log your baby’s night feedings for about three to five days. Log the start time of each feeding session with the duration of time if breastfeeding or amount consumed if bottle feeding at the end throughout the day and night. If you are already doing this, great! You are ahead of the game.

Once you have the data collected, analyze it to find which feedings were true night feedings, if any. For lack of a better term, I will be referring to these as "ok-to-feed times" for clarity throughout this post. With this we are fishing for three pieces of information: number of true night feedings, general time for the first feeding of the night, and a typical duration between the beginning of one feeding to the next throughout the day.

When we have this information, it is usually pretty easy to pin point the true feedings from the ones used to sooth back to sleep between sleep cycles.

NOTE: This does not need to be rigid! This is just to give you a general idea for the next step so that when you create and implement your sleep plan in a way that leaves you feeling confident in your decisions at night.

REAL LIFE EXAMPLE

I will be using the example of Jewels, a seven month old girl who was breastfeeding at night. When we first began back in September 2020, Jewels was sharing a bed with her twin brother, Mom, and Dad. Jewels would wake frequently at night requiring a breastfeeding session to get back to sleep. When mom was asked how frequently Jewels wakes, Mom's reply was, "Too sleep deprived to count."

STEP 3: PICK YOUR FIRST DESIGNATED OK-TO-FEED TIME

Now you are going to look at the first feeding of the night. What is the earliest your infant has been experiencing a true feeding? This is what we will designate as the first “ok-to-feed time." It generally is three hours or more from the last feeding prior to bedtime. You are going to use this time in the next step.

REAL LIFE EXAMPLE

After logging, we discovered that true feedings for Jewels lasted between ten to twenty minutes and tended to be around midnight and 4:00 AM. How did we know? Mom said she could feel when letdowns occurred; Mom said she could see and hear whether or not Jewels was actually drinking milk; Mom logged the duration of each session.

If Jewels had been bottle feeding, we would have known her true feedings based on whether or not the amount consumed was equivalent to other meals during. Mom or Dad would have also paid attention to whether she was actively drinking the bottle or falling asleep rather quickly upon receiving the bottle without actually drinking milk.

STEP 4: CREATE NIGHT FEEDING GUIDELINES IN YOUR SLEEP PLAN

When y