Friday, August 15, 2014

Newborns, Breastfeeding, & Sleep: The True Skinny

Newborn Brennan asleep in my bed.
I have made it clear many times that I do not run a expert blog. I'm an expert on eating fried cheese, and maybe chocolate. But after seven kids, there are a few things I know about. Newborns, breastfeeding, and sleep, are definitely areas where I have some experience.

I'm sure it will come as no shock to all of you that the crunchy, hippie, Pagan mom, is a fan of breastfeeeding. But I will say that I am not militant about it. In fact, the longer I do this job, the less judgement I have for mothers who make different decisions I do. Not everyone breastfeeds, and I'm not about to judge them for it.

But whatever you decide on any aspect of parenting, you should have accurate information, and the best tools for success.

I came across an article by FoxNews that made me want to yell at the screen in frustration at the just plain WRONG information it shared. The article can be found here and is entitled A New Method To Help Newborns Sleep Through The Night.

It should be called: Total Lies That Will Cause Breastfeeding To Fail, Your Baby To Be Neglected, And If You're Super Unlucky, Failure To Thrive!

The article says:
Bringing home your newborn from the hospital is one of the most joyous moments in a parent’s life. But those joyous moments can quickly turn into chaotic and stress-ridden times if your baby can’t sleep through the night. 
“When we first brought Peyton home from the hospital he would wake up every two to 2 ½ hours, and we would have to feed him two to three times during the night,” Alyssa Russomondo told
Here's the True Skinny:

When your baby comes home, they're not supposed to sleep through the night. Getting up to eat every 2 1/2 hours is what we call normal.  Breastmilk (and even formula, though formula a little less so) is digested fast.

Your baby isn't confused, they're genuinely hungry. Not feeding them makes them cry, and when your baby is crying from hunger and you're not responding, it makes you feel like a crappy human being. Sometimes it's necessary, like when you're on the road, and literally can't stop. But that's a rare occurrence. What these guys are advocating is a regular pattern. Your baby won't like it, and I'll bet you won't either.

When you first bring your baby home, you may actually feel like you're living one really long day. Your sleep is broken up into small naps around the clock, and without that long break between one day and the next, they kinda melt together.  This shouldn't be chaotic and stress-ridden. If it is, you need help. Sleep when your baby sleeps. Ask people coming to visit, if they can maybe help with the dishes, or do a load of laundry. The baby is not the problem. That you need more help with caring for your baby and the house, is the problem.

And of course, there's always our old pal Post Partum Depression. That bitch truly can make things feel chaotic and stress-ridden. But again, that's not the baby's issue. That's the chemicals in you body going crazy. Accepting help and/or medication for this, is not a failure on your part. It's correcting Mother Nature going overboard.  No Shame! But also, no reason to sleep train.

The article says:
To train newborns to sleep through the night, the Jassey brothers created a method that eliminates middle-of-the-night feeding by stretching out meal times to occur at four-hour intervals during the day. 
The theory behind their method is to train a baby’s hunger receptors to acclimate to a specific schedule. As long as a baby gets fed the appropriate amount of food needed for healthy weight gain and development, they will not become hungry at inconvenient times— like 2 a.m. 
If your baby is in the habit of going fewer than four hours between feedings, the doctors recommend extending each feeding time by fifteen minutes each day. That way you can gradually increase the in-between times.
The True Skinny:

You do not need to "train" a newborn to sleep through the night. They will do that when they are ready. My kids have ranged from 3 months, to 2 years to do that. Not that they were always up every 2 1/2 hours, all night long. And Liam was the one who was 2, and that was really related to his unique neurological needs, which isn't typical.

Like I said before, breastmilk and formula are digested quickly. And a newborns stomach is only the size of his or her tiny fist!  A small amount of milk fills it, and in a couple of hours, they will need more. What these people are asking parents to do, has nothing to do with their "hunger receptors" and everything to do with trying to force feed them more than they can handle during the day, and with way too long in between.  It's not how babies function physiologically, and they don't need to change. Our expectations do.

The article says:
In order for the Jassey brothers’ method to work, parents also need to learn that a bottle isn't always the answer for a crying baby. 
“Just because they’re crying doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are hungry--- it’s their effective way to communicate with us,” Dr. Jonathan told “We don’t want them to realize that every time they’re crying they need to have a bottle or a breast shoved into their own mouth. Their stomach can get used to being fed so frequently and start to expect that.”
Here's the True Skinny:

A bottle or breast isn't always the answer for a crying baby. Sometimes they need to be changed, held, rocked, sung to, loved, and sometimes they need to be fed. You know how you start to figure out which cry is which? By responding.  By learning your baby's unique sounds and needs. Want to make that easier? Babywear. Be close. Like Nike says, "Just Do It!" But you don't ignore what you know are cries to be fed.

I also want to say that I found the statement "We don't want them to realize that every time they're crying they need to have a bottle or a breast shoved into their own mouth." to be really offensive. Seriously. It makes the very normal feeding of ones newborn, sound like a form of violent neglect. Nope.

I would counter that making a newborn wait hours longer then they are physiologically designed to, in order to make an adult more comfortable, is bullshit, and way more harmful to a baby than feeding it regularly. You know, like we're supposed to.

I have other concerns about this method, and I don't buy the success rate the Jassey brothers claim. See, there's this book called Babywise, and they recommended a similar system. It sent babies to the hospital for Failure To Thrive.  Not to mention it absolutely kills breastmilk supply. Your body is stimulated to make more milk the more your baby eats. If you're limiting when and how much your baby can eat, your supply will drop, and you'll have to stop breastfeeding. It's a recipe for disaster if you're trying to nurse your baby.

Force feeding babies more than they can eat at a time, making them wait twice as long as they're designed to, and learning to ignore their cries for food, are not how you want to spend your baby-moon.

Snuggle up with them. Look into side-lying nursing if you're a breastfeeder, so you can lay in bed and do it. Know that this time when you wake up, and it's just you and them in the dark of night, is fleeting. It will be over before you know it, and they won't want to snuggle with you anymore, because they'll be way too busy exploring the world.

The True Skinny is that you're going to be up at night for a while, and it's supposed to be that way. But there are ways to make it better, easier, and happier for both of you. And if you have any questions for me on how to do that, I am more than happy to answer them.

But don't read any more by these two idiots. It's really just plain bad advice.  I mean, seriously, these two a-holes are doctors? They should know better! But I'll bet promising parents sleep brings in a hell of a lot of money and attention.

Check out the following sites for more responsible and helpful information on sleep and newborns:
Dr. Sears Sleep Articles
KellyMom Sleep Articles

If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers


  1. Thank you. This is such very ad advice.

  2. Wow, I thought the scheduling thing was done and dusted, a horrible mistake from the early 20th century. This is idiotic advice and it's going to lead to crying babies and sobbing mothers. Feed the baby!

    1. So did I! I remember when I brought my first home, and I thought he was only supposed to eat every 3 hours. He wanted to eat more, and I thought I was doing something wrong. I wasn't! I wish I could give all new moms the understanding that babies have their own routine, and following them will make everyone happier.

      Like you said, Feed the Baby!

  3. The nerve of these guys. This is such antiquated advice. If doctors could grow some respect for babies and mothers and the rhythms of life instead of freaking trying to impose control over everything, the world would be a better place.

    I breastfed two babies, and it gave me such joy. It forced me to slow the hell down and just sit with my baby, no matter what else I was in the middle of. There has not been a single other thing like it in my life, and it's the thing I miss the most about having babies - even through multiple middle of the night feedings.

    I'm not where I need advice like this now, but I know of some who are and will share.

    1. I went looking to see if any doctors have been speaking out against this book yet. What I found were a few other doctors writing about how to get your baby to sleep. One doctor recommended that, so long as your baby was 10 pounds and 2 months old (2 freaking months!) put them in a crib, close as many doors as possible, turn off the monitor, buy some earplugs, and come back in 7 hours.

      Seriously, 7 hours, for a 2 month old.

      Of course he also said you have to get over Wimpy Parent Syndrome.

      I will continue to think of responding to my kids needs as being responsible as opposed to wimpy.

      What an ass.

      And you're right, those times when you get to sit down and feed your baby, when you look at their tiny faces and talk to them, those are the times that are so special. I wish I could explain how fast it's over to tired new moms.

      Thanks for sharing it!


I love comments!