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Q&A with Ann from @FullFeedings to get your baby sleeping through the night

I’m so excited to share this Q&A with my girlfriend and super Mama Ann from @FullFeedings ,who has started a consulting business to get your baby sleeping through the night (yes pleaseeee)! If there’s anything her and I are equally passionate about, it’s getting our sleep. She’s a mom of three (a toddler + twin baby boys) and somehow manages to do it all by herself, with some help from her husband… and running her business simultaneously.

Not only has she helped me establish a routine in getting the baby sleeping longer hours through the night – she’s real, honest and freaking funny through it all to keep me sane during this process. It’s so nice to connect with another mom who understands the struggle but is actually sleeping through the night herself now. For any mom or parent who is sleep deprived I can’t recommend enough to reach out for a consultation with Ann.

Find Ann on FullFeedings.com and follow her at @annalainamarks and @FullFeedings.

1) To dream feed or not dream feed and please break it down for those who have no idea what this is. 

I am ALL about the dream feed. The dream feed is an extra feed between 10-11pm where you have your baby sleep eat a full feed to keep them fuller for longer at night. You try not to wake them, keep the room dark and quiet (or crank the sound machine!!), only change them if they are soiled, hold them upright and pat lightly to try and burp, and then put them back in their crib and pray you don’t hit a squeaky floorboard on your way out!

I think the dream feed is an essential first step to “sleep through the night”… This provides a way to transition to a full nights sleep in a gentle way.  It’s absolutely possible for 3-month old baby (and sometimes younger) to have evening feeds at 7pm, 10pm, and then not again til 6 or 7am, but not without the dream feed at 10pm. I think it’s unreasonable to put a 3-month old to bed at 7pm, and expect them to sleep through the night without a little extra food. HELLO DREAM FEED!

2) What if after consistently dream feeding the baby for two weeks they still continue to wake up at the same time whether you dream feed them or not. Do you suggest to stop or continue cutting into your sleep to dream feed? I honestly dropped Elanor’s dream feed because I was loosing so much sleep staying up to do it and no matter what she always woke at the same time. Helllppppp!!! 

I always suggest that my moms go to bed after the evening feed and wake to dream feed anyways. I know that isn’t always easy but those extra few hours can make all the difference. I also think the dream feed is an amazing time to get your partner involved, that is if baby will take a bottle.

Like I said, I think the dream feed is essential to nighttime sleep. Some babies don’t naturally extend their nighttime stretches and need to be gently nudged towards longer periods of sleep. Instead of dropping the dream feed, I would suggest rocking baby through their usual wake time in the middle of the night. You can do this one of two ways:

  • You can wake up 30 minutes before they usually wake up, try to pick them up without waking them, snuggle them (in a rocker, not a bed) through their normal wake time, and put them back down.
  • When they wake up, you can pick them up and try to get them back to sleep in their crib and just try to extend their night feed a little longer each time. (I.E. if they normally wake at 1am to eat, try to stretch them to 2am, then when they start waking at 2a, stretch to 3am, etc.)

Babies are creatures of habit and most times they are waking up because they are getting to spend time with you and eat warm milk. Wouldn’t you wake up too?

 NOTE: I don’t suggest doing any of the above prior to 7 weeks old. I also don’t suggest doing this unless daytime feeds are well established.

3) You swear by full feedings, so at 3 months old how much do you recommend the baby takes for each feeding?

For the breastfeeding mom, I suggest 30 minutes per feed. I like feeding from both breasts at each feed because this ensures a full feeding. Usually one breast makes more milk than the other, so if you single breast feed, every other feed baby will be consuming less milk.

For the bottle-feeding mom, I suggest between 3-5oz per feed but baby must finish the bottle within 30 minutes.

Feeding longer than 30 minutes can tire a baby out and cause them to not get their adequate play time.

4) Should you wake a sleeping baby from their nap to eat?

Oh my goodness…YES! I just wrote a blog post about this. You can view it at https://fullfeedings.com/blog/

I don’t suggest letting a baby nap longer than 1.5 hours during the day until consistent nighttime sleep is established.

It’s so tempting to want to let baby try and “catch up” if they’ve take a bad first nap or missed it altogether, but this is something I am a stickler about. WAKE. THAT. BABY.

5) “They say sleep begets sleep,” could you share what a day in the life schedule should look like for an infant.

Great daytime sleep will get you great nighttime sleep. I’m including a sample schedule for a 12-week-old baby that is sleeping through the night. Some things to note:

  • EAT time should not exceed 30 minutes (for breast or bottle)
  • A 12-week olds optimal wake time (from the time they wake until they go down for their next nap) could be between 50-90 minutes, including EAT time.
  • No nap should exceed 1.5 hours at any time
  • If baby wakes early from nap, feel free to pick them up and rock them back to sleep, hold them for the remainder of their nap, or put them in a swing. Revert back to “great daytime sleep will get you great nighttime sleep.” Always start in the crib, and work to stay in the crib, but if all else fails, just get the nap in any way you can!
7:00a-7:30a EAT
7:30a Play
8/8:30a Nap starts
10:00a-10:30a EAT
10:30a Play
11/11:30a Nap starts
1:00p-1:30p EAT
1:30p Play
2/2:30p Nap starts
4:00p-4:30p EAT
4:30p Play
5/5:30p Nap starts
7:00p-7:30p EAT
7:30p Bath & Bedtime (by 8pm)
10/1030p DREAM FEED

**Dream Feed should be no later than 11pm

6) For baby’s that take pacifiers, (Benjamin never took one and Elanor does but every time it falls out she cries…which means alllll night long), what do you suggest in this case because it’s the only thing that gives her comfort? Ditch or keep?

I love pacifiers when used appropriately. I believe that they really should only be used for sleep. If your baby is fussy during the day, I believe there is a need that isn’t being met. If you follow my daily routine, you should find yourself with a super happy, contented infant that won’t need a pacifier unless it’s time to sleep, and may not even need one then.

I really love the WubbaNub pacifiers with the stuffed animals attached. They seem to fall out less frequently, which clearly is helpful when you’re trying to get some sleep.

I usually suggest to my moms to set a limit for yourself of how many times you are willing to go in and put the pacifier back in, and really try to stick with it. Of course if your baby is really upset, this rule goes out the window because I always believe in comforting your child…but try to police yourself. Cleary running in your baby’s room every 5 minutes to insert their pacifier isn’t sustainable for the long term. I’d rather see you rock your baby back to sleep and put them down if need be.

7) Every baby is different so if something worked for your first child and isn’t working for the second, when do you advise trying something new?

It honestly depends on what we are talking about. As an example, I strongly believe in the dream feed and believe it should be implemented until baby is sleeping through the night. It may not seem like it’s “working” because your second baby may not naturally extend their nighttime sleep like your first might have, but I believe it’s essential and wouldn’t ever suggest giving up on it. 

But if we are talking about your first baby loved their binky, and your second is like “no thanks”, I’d give it a week or two…

Some babies love swings, some love momaroos, some love the crib… As a rule of thumb, I think you try something for 2 weeks before trying something else.

Babies can have naturally fussy periods, or be teething, or not be feeling well and those types of things can taint their likes and dislikes.

I should note that I believe when a baby is fully fed, they are much happier and I find there aren’t as many dislikes as a baby who is hungry.  So feed your baby fully and I think you will have yourself a content little human who likes whatever you want them to like.

8) Why do you think full feedings are best vs. feeding on demand?

I like to think of my method as “full feedings on demand”, because baby’s cues are also taken into consideration when making decisions about what to do throughout the day. (i.e. If baby wakes 30 minutes early from a nap, and you can’t get them back to sleep within 10 minutes, you can assume they are hungry and you feed them, even though it would be before the ideal EAT time).

Feeding baby fully when they first wake up helps provide communication with these little people, long before they can actually talk. You organize their day into EAT, PLAY, SLEEP. They eat fully for 30 minutes, you play for an age appropriate amount of time, you watch for their sleep cues, and when they show them you know they are ready for their nap. If they don’t show you a sleep cue, you put them down before the maximum wake time for their age.

The timing of everything is going to vary for every baby and every family, but the general structure should always remain in place.

 

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