You are a giant delicious cookie and you smell amazing all the time. This is how your baby feels sleeping next to you. There’s no harm in creating a little distance between your baby and her yummy cookie mama at night to promote longer stretches of sleep between feeds. This could be as simple as placing the baby in a bassinet or other infant safe sleep surface near your bed or trying out that crib in the corner of the room. Perhaps sending the other, non-lactating parent over in the middle of the night to soothe the baby back to sleep, confirming that the milk shop is temporarily closed. Of course, if your baby is truly hungry she must be fed. But isn’t it worth a couple tries to figure out when she is really hungry, and when she just wants a nice soothing lick of that delicious cookie that happens to be sharing her bed?
Ways to help your baby ween some of those nighttime feeds:
-Cluster feed before bedtime. Offering the breast on demand (every hour or so) between 5pm and bedtime (around 8pm) will encourage your baby to stock up and prepare for a nice solid stretch of sleep.
-If your baby isn’t into cluster feeding, try dream feeding your baby before you go to bed. 9/10 pm is generally a good time for a top off, but always stagger the time so your baby doesn’t start waking up expecting to eat at the same time each night. Eventually, you will want to drop this.
-As mentioned above, create some space between you and your baby if you have been co-sleeping, so she is less likely to smell you and expect to be fed in the middle of her sleep cycles.
-Wait a few minutes before responding to little noises to see if your baby will go back to sleep on his own. Try comforting him without picking him up or feeding.
-Once you start noticing which wakings are truly from hunger and which are from habit or the need to be soothed back to sleep, find your nighttime schedule. Maybe your baby is really hungry around 2 and 6m. Try to make those the only times you feed your baby, which will encourage her to wake less once her body gets in tune with its new rhythm. Eventually, you can push off that 2am feed a little at a time.