Monday, March 9, 2009

Permission to Breastfeed at Night

Co-sleeping with a baby beyond about 6 months of age can be hard when you hear other mothers talking about how their cot sleeping babies sleep through the night. Apart from the fact that this is probably not true (I bet they give them a last feed at 11 or 12pm, and are woken at 5 or 6 am), I was startled and pleased to read in Deborah Jackson's "Three in a Bed":

"A baby who is allowed to suckle in the bed takes consistently the same amount of milk every night for twelve months."

This is backed up by research at a proper peer-reviewed conference. The view extolled by many health visitors, that night feeders over 6 months are just "looking for comfort" (as if there was anything wrong with that!), is clearly on shaky ground - a baby may be physically able to go through the night without feeding, but it is obviously not natural for it to do so. So if your baby continues to wake you for night feeds when it "should" be sleeping through, please don't worry. It is just doing what it is genetically programmed to do.

PS I wonder if I'll be so fed up of night feeds in a year that I'll be posting about how to night wean!

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