Nursing your little one can be very rewarding but also has its frustrations. Most nursing moms can relate to waking up with a wet shirt (and sheets) the first night their baby slept for a longer stretch. As sleeping regulates, both at nighttime and during naps, how do you adjust your nursing schedule accordingly?
A reader shared that her 6-month-old has begun napping an hour and a half in the morning and again in the afternoon, then has a shorter early evening nap. This mom has been nursing when her daughter wakes up from naps, but it is cutting down on the number of feedings per day. Should she begin feeding her before naps, too?
How do I adjust my baby’s nursing schedule with her changing sleep routines?
Adjusting your baby’s nursing schedule to meet her changing sleep routines isn’t as challenging as you might think. It involves nursing on demand, managing your supply and taking care not to derail your progress. Keep reading to see what I mean!
Nurse on-demand. It’s important to remember that so long as your baby is gaining weight, nursing on-demand is fine. If your baby isn’t showing signs of hunger before going down for a nap, there is no need to feed her then. When she eats after she wakes up, she will take more milk in that session to make up for the reduction in the number of feedings. She’ll also become a more efficient nurser as she gets older, so don’t let it worry you if the length of time she feeds at each session doesn’t increase.
Be careful not to derail progress. Adding in a nursing session before naps can actually end up being detrimental to your baby’s ability to self-soothe. If she is currently falling asleep on her own, you don’t want to get her into the habit of nursing herself to sleep. It’s a very tough habit to break (speaking from experience), so if you’re lucky enough not to be dealing with that currently, do everything you can to avoid starting it!
Manage your supply. If you have a moderate or low milk supply, the biggest concern with reduced feedings is that your body will adjust to the change in demand and produce less. In order to keep supply up, or if you’re looking to increase your freezer stash, add in a pumping session right after your little one goes down for her nap. By the time she wakes up, you’ll be ready to nurse her again, and you’ll also bolster your supply.
Get the camera ready… Your baby nursing less frequently is a precursor to starting solids. At 6 months, milk or formula is still the primary source of nutrition, and any solids you start are best thought of as the “dessert” of the meal. As you start those solids, make sure you’re ready for some adorably messy photo ops.
Celebrate a little independence! The fact that your baby is nursing less frequently is exciting! It means you’re getting closer to being able to leave the house without knowing what stores have a mother’s room.
As mentioned above, these tips should only be taken into consideration if your baby is gaining weight appropriately. If you are concerned about weight gain, consult your pediatrician. He or she will be able to guide you on what steps are necessary to make sure your baby stays healthy, because that’s the only thing that really matters!