Bed Time Routine and Feeding

A customer recently sent us this inquiry:

“My son is almost 8 and half months and has been exclusively breastfed, with solids introduced at around 6 months. He takes good feeds for most of the day (7am, 11am, 2:30-3pm) but it is our last feed of the day, the evening feed that he has always struggled with. He has solids at 5pm and then a bath and then I offer him a breastfeed at 6:30pm, at which he will cry and arch away. I don’t force him so keep offering up until bedtime at 7pm but then I feel like I am reinforcing a feeding to sleep habit (although he is always awake when he goes down). He will suck for up to 10 times but then cry and turn away, at which my milk lets down and so he really isn’t taking much at all. I have never got into expressing so I am unable to say how much he actually takes but at a guess it would be very little.

Is it that he is not hungry after his solids (he usually gets a small amount of veges followed by a half cup of fruit & custard). Should I decrease this amount to up his milk intake?  He has always been grizzly and hasn’t fed well at this time (tired!) and he will always wake early in the night (9:30pm) for a huge breastfeed. I would love to be able to cut this night feed out, but am concerned that right now it is probably his best feed of the day and am reluctant to if he doesn’t feed well at 6:30pm.

I would so appreciate any advice you could give me about how to  improve this feed!”

You sound as though you have an amazing routine / rhythm going with your baby, fantastic! We do hear your concerns about the last feed at night.

It’s important to keep in mind when looking at baby behaviour, to look at the whole day as well as the whole baby. Baby feeds, both breast and food beautifully throughout the day without any fussiness, and the fussy feed at the end of the day has never been his favourite by the sounds!

As for the quantity of milk Baby’s having at this ‘fussy’ time, it really is amazing how much an 8.5 month old can take in a very short amount of time, and the fact that he takes himself off when the letdown comes down, perhaps suggests that he isn’t really after a full feed at this time of the day. My feeling is to not offer a breastfeed at 6.30pm after the bath, but to wait until bedtime, just half an hour later, where he may, perhaps feed a little longer.

Babies will often behave quite differently at the end of the day,  (just like us!), which can be concerning for parents sometimes.

Don’t change baby’s dinner intake, he is doing just great with food for his age. There is a lot of information out there on ‘bad habits’ and ‘habit forming behaviour’ in relation to feeding to sleep (some of it not always true!), I can reassure you that due to your little guy happily going to sleep on his own after the feed, there is no breast/sleep association going on!

I also would be very reluctant to change that 9.30pm breastfeed (as I know you are!) as it sounds as though Baby has a wonderful feed then, sleeping until 7am which is wonderful!! Sometimes babies and small children just ‘need it when they need it’ not when we as parents would like them too – I thinks it’s great that it’s 9.30pm and not 2.30am!!! This 9.30pm feed will pass.

This question was answered by our BabyCare expert Simone