I thought it might be useful to write something more general about Daniel’s feeding habits leading up to our beginning the BLW. In short, Daniel has given us no cause for concern with his ability to feed well – he has a good appetite, has had no digestive problems, and he’s a very healthy weight (just under 18lbs at 22 weeks old). As such, this ease around feeding so far has given me confidence to try the somewhat more ‘adventurous’ approach of BLW.
Daniel has been exclusively fed on breastmilk, but when he was about 8 weeks old I started to express once a day, and so on most days he has a bottle of expressed milk in the evenings, which Jon gives him.
Other than the very first few days, when he was sleepy and needed encouragement to stay awake long enough to feed, Daniel has always been a very good and efficient breastfeeder. Up until recently, I’d nearly always only fed him from one side per feed and this had seemed to keep him going for (on average) three hours between feeds. Whenever he woke to feed in the night, he was always very efficient about it – crying gently to let me know he was awake and hungry, but then eating quickly and falling straight back to sleep of his own accord when he was done.
By three months, he was usually sleeping a decent stretch of around 7 hours overnight and for a week in November (when he was three-and-a-half months old) we had a wonderful week where he slept nine hours solid every night. However, I then took him on holiday to Dubai for a week, where he didn’t sleep very well (waking in the night and wanting to feed), and he came home with a cold which made it difficult for him to breathe and seemed to make him need to quench his thirst more often in the night. And since then we’ve not managed to get back to the lovely 9-hour stretch at all – he’s been waking somewhere between 3am and 5am for a feed, and then again sometime between 7am and 9am. However, he’s still very quick about it, and since cot is still next to our bed within easy reach, it’s not too bad for me sleep-wise.
Just before Christmas, I was talking to a friend who has a baby a couple of months older than Daniel, and she was surprised that I was only offering one breast per feed. So for the past few weeks, I’ve been offering both breast each feed during the day, and he normally wolfs down one within 5-10 minutes, lets me know when it’s empty (by humming, gently biting the nipple, or coming off completely and staring fixedly at me!) and has a good go at emptying the second one. At night, I just offer one breast, and he always seems satisfied with this, falling asleep when he’s had enough. Since he’s re-started the night waking recently, I feed him lying down at night (rather than sitting myself up in bed), which also seems to help with not rousing either of us too much from our slumber.
In total, I estimate he’s having about 12 ‘breastfuls’ per day (including his daily bottle), spread out over 6-8 feeds in a 24 hour period. Based on the amounts I’ve been expressing, I reckon this adds up to about 48oz of milk per day.
I’ve heard people say that a re-emergence of night waking at around 4-5 months can be due to increased hunger and – therefore – a sign of being ready for weaning. On the other hand, I’m more persuaded by those who say ‘if your baby is hungry in the night, then feed him’. I know I have been very lucky in that Daniel is a good, efficient feeder and is good at going quickly back to sleep, but this being the case, I’ve stayed more inclined to just meet his needs for more milk during the night at this stage, rather than hurry him onto solids in the quest for an unbroken night’s sleep. Although we’re now offering him tastes of a few things, I have no plans to reduce his amount of breastfeeds until he shows signs of wanting to do this himself.
I’ve only had one uneasy feeling over the last couple of weeks. Now that Daniel has had ‘proper food’ in his mouth and has (as far as we could tell) ingested his first piece of solid food (yesterday’s microdot of red pepper), there’s a tiny part of me that feels very slightly like I’ve made a ‘mistake’ by not waiting for that holy grail six month marker of exclusive breastfeeding. However, I know this is silly, and the whole point of BLW is to go with your baby’s indications of interest and readiness. He is certainly interested. Today in a café with a friend, Daniel looked mightily miffed that he didn’t have anything to munch on while my friend and I tucked into our lemon cake and cream scone!
A piece of red pepper and a piece of yellow pepper for ‘tea’ tonight. Again he had a very good chomp on both, but I removed from his mouth the piece that broke off as it looked too big to swallow whole.