Q&A on How to Adjusting your Child’s Sleeping and Breastfeeding Habits
Q: My Son is 18 weeks, and I will be going back to work in 2 weeks. He is exclusively breastfed. In past months he has taken the rare bottle from Grandma or Dad, but it’s been at least a month now. He is now refusing the bottle and I’m so scared. He will be with Dad one day and the nanny two days to allow me to go back to work. Should we try another method such as a sippy cup or syringe/dropper for when I’m gone? I estimate he will want to be fed up to 3 times.
What your totally breastfed baby (lucky baby!) is doing by preferring your breast to a bottle is typical. But you don’t need to be scared, he will be able to make that shift once you really need him to. For one thing, have you tried having Dad or Grandmother or Nanny give the feeding when you are nowhere to be seen, like quietly in another room or out of the house? Your smart and selective baby will, of course, say “no way” when he knows you are right there. If he’s not hungry enough, it may take a while to convince him that he wants that milk in the bottle. Have the caregiver hold him facing away from them so he isn’t assuming the position of cradle hold, which will make him think of and expect breastfeeding. Another trick that works is for him to be in a baby carrier or sling and offer the bottle while walking or just standing and swaying a bit. There are lots more ideas for this challenge in The Breastfeeding Book, Chapter 8 – 20 Tips for Breastfeeding While Working. There is a whole page and a half devoted to “Getting Baby to Accept a Bottle”.
Q: Hello Martha! Thank you and Dr. Sears for being who you are. I respect you both so much! My 2 1/2-year-old son has been a challenge for me. He loves me, he loves to give hugs and kisses, but he is so strong-willed, stubborn, and loud. I’m concerned (and embarrassed) about bringing him in public and even driving in the car. Littlest things make him go into a screaming frenzy. What can I do to tame that roaring lion and that loud voice and help with obedience?
There are many things we have learned with our own strong-willed, stubborn, embarrassing-in-public children. We could write a book about your question; in fact, we already did. If you haven’t read The Discipline Book yet, now is the time you need it. It picks up where The Baby Book leaves off, helping parents with the behavior of their children from age two to ten. (There is just too much too much to say about your question to give a short and sweet reply.) See if there is an Attachment Parenting group in your area, or check out their website at AttachmentParenting.org. There you will find support from moms who have similar concerns. And there is a series of books by Louise Bates Ames: Your One-Year-Old, Your Two-Year-Old, Your Three-Year-Old, and so on. I found it very helpful to understand ages and stages, and to learn how development at each age unfolds in discrete and predictable stages.
Q: I’m co-sleeping with our 4 1/2-month-old daughter. I breastfeed her to sleep. Now for her naps, she doesn’t stay asleep for longer than 30 minutes. Also at night when I put her down to sleep I also go to sleep at the same time. How did you manage with your children? Did you fall asleep with them or get back up once they were down? I love the bond of bed sharing, but would like to stay up a little later than 7:30 pm!
For one of her naps, you could “nap nurse”, meaning you take a nap, too. What mom doesn’t need a nap, anyway. Then she will probably stay asleep longer for that one nap. The other nap can just be shorter. At night, I would get up again once the baby fell asleep and try not to be too frustrated when I needed to go back and do another stint of nursing back down. If I fell asleep, I took that as a nice little rest for me and I could be refreshed for some adult time.
Q: My baby wakes up every 1.5-2 hours to nurse, the only way to get him to sleep. I’m soooooo tired and even more concerned that I may be doing him some sort of disservice by not “sleep training”. What is the best sleep approach for 4.5 months? He sleeps in a crib next to my bed.
A: When this problem arose with our fourth baby, we discovered very quickly that she needed to be sleeping right next to me. By the way, we had her in a cradle right next to our bed for the first 6 months, and when she started to wake, usually all it took to get her to resettle was to nudge the cradle to a gentle rock and she would not completely wake up but fall back asleep for another hour or two. When I needed to feed her, usually just twice during a night’s sleep, I was happy to do that. Then when she turned 6 months and the cradle had to go (she could sit up by then), we moved her into a crib about 10 feet away, over against the wall. Well, she started waking up every hour because she knew I was close by, and I couldn’t rock her anymore. (It didn’t occur to us to put the crib right next to the bed, but that might not have made a difference.) So, I said to Bill, “I don’t care what the books say, I have got to get some sleep!” So I took her into bed with me and we both slept fine, her only waking twice to nurse. For a lot more on how to figure this out with your baby, if having him in bed with you is not an option, see what we have for you in The Breastfeeding Book, under Night Feedings and under Sleep in the index.
Q: Hi Martha! If a 2.7-year-old is deleting initial consonants when should that child be tested?
A: Speech development is extremely variable in children in the first 3 years. They can go through periods of progression and regression. The golden rule of speech development is that progression is more important than timing. Keep a diary, your child’s own speech development diary. If over the next 6 months you notice a gradual improvement, then there is unlikely to be a problem. If however your child continues to regress or fails to progress in speech (we call this hitting a plateau), then the next step is to have a complete developmental and speech assessment. Be sure at your child’s routine 3 year check up to bring this to the attention of your child’s pediatrician.