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#1 of 14 Old 07-05-2011, 05:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I just had a good sob and feel a little better but I am really losing it here. My almost 6.5 month old still nurses nearly every hour. We introduced solids 3 weeks ago, and he likes everything so far and is putting down several ounces of food a day on top of the nursing. He is a tiny baby, 15 lbs, and he has always been a comfort nurser- I've nursed him every hour (sometimes more often) since he has been born. I was expecting it to let up as he's gotten older, and it was for a while, to the point where I could go maybe 2 hours here and there without nursing. The thing is that he's a snacker as well. He never really gets a full session in unless some time has elapsed. He is too distracted and when the milk slows down after a few minutes he loses interest. However, I don't think much of his nursing is for hunger.

 

The past few weeks he has started grabbing at my boobs and climbing up me to let me know he wants to nurse and he does this constantly. He has been teething nearly nonstop it seems for about 2 months now but it has gotten aggressive lately and he has had some rough nights. The only way I've ever been able to get him to sleep is by nursing. But lately he just doesnt let go of my nipple. I used to be able to nurse him and roll away, or walk while nursing him until he was asleep and then pull out. But I just spent about 45 min nursing him down to sleep for the night, and he woke up 40 min later. I tried to nurse him back down but when I pulled out the nipple he woke back up and cried. Tried this maybe for another hour- tried walking him and nursing, tried laying in the bed and rolling away. If I put him down in his crib or pulled out to roll away, he woke up and started crying again. My husband used to be able to walk him to sleep- now he screams and looks for me. In the car, if he's tired he will not drift off like he used to do- now I have to lean over the carseat in desperation (while I get carsick) in order to nurse him until he is fully out. To add to it, DS typically kicks me constantly in the bladder and pinches me while he nurses, until he gets super sleepy and starts to go limp.

 

My husband just took him out walking so he will fall asleep in the Ergo, but I know when he comes back in and tries to transition him to the crib, DS will wake up and I will have to spend another 30 min+ nursing him down to sleep again b/c otherwise he will just scream.

 

I just can't bring myself to let my son CIO or anything like that. I won't even let him cry in my husband's arms. But I am so beyond frustrated and exhausted with all of this marathon comfort nursing. I want to give my son what he needs but it seems he is growing more dependent on the nursing instead of less so. Of course I will not wean him. Oh, and I should add that he took a pacifier here and there when he was about 5 weeks old until about 2 months...then we backed off it a bit, and now if we offer it to him it just makes him more upset.

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#2 of 14 Old 07-05-2011, 11:27 PM
 
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Yes, that sounds like too much nursing at six months of age. I know that people around here have exclusively nursed for 12 months and more, but my six-month-olds ate a lot of solids--they ate whenever I did, plus nursing on top of that. Make sure that you're offering at least one high-fat food--full fat yogurt, avocado, butter in his oatmeal, something.

 

It sounds like some of his nursing may be happening out of boredom. Right around 6 months is a big developmental milestone--sitting up well, usually, so they get more interested in toys. Might be worth investing in some new fun things--or even your spoons and spatulas from the kitchen. My oldest DD would get fussy if we did not go out every day--even just to the grocery store--and see some new things. (My younger children have had their older siblings to entertain them) Do you read to him? He might be distractable with some good board books--we like the DK ones that feature photos of babies and other real things.

 

As far as night-time goes, I found that I was willing to nurse them down, but I am not willing to have my nipple as someone's plaything all night long. I draw a big line between crying alone and crying with someone--in Daddy's arms, perhaps, or next to Mommy, but not nursing. I would offer the pacifier, a swing, perhaps, or a walk in the Ergo, but no hour-long suck-a-thon. Some babies just need to fuss to themselves for ten or fifteen minutes before they fall asleep--my oldest DD was like that. She wasn't panicky, but she was fussy. I set a timer, but she really needed that alone time to fall asleep.

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#3 of 14 Old 07-06-2011, 07:09 AM
 
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first, distract: every hour is really pretty frequent for a 6 month old, and yeah, i agree that he's snacking, not really taking a full feed. so, if two hours is what you feel like you need to feel somewhat sane, then try a few tricks to distract between those feedings. if you're sitting down, get up! pick up the baby, and do something goofy, like tip him over, tickle him, sing a song or something. offer a sip of water, a little snack, or something to hold that he doesn't usually get (cellphone, keys, camera etc were and are big hits... even something like a pen or crinkly piece of paper). if he persists, gently say, no, not yet, and try something else. you could also try mostly only nursing in one or two locations in your house, like on your bed, or in a rocking chair, and avoid sitting down in those places when you don't want to nurse. 

 

second, alternative methods of comfort: when i was trying to stretch out feedings for my older baby, i made sure to offer plenty of cuddles in the hours we weren't nursing. of course, babies associate nursing with cuddles and warm snuggly feelings, so you can make sure to offer plenty of cuddles without nursing. in our house, we like to cuddle with a blanket, singing a couple sweet little songs i made up for her, in a more upright and outward facing position so the nipples weren't right in her face. the carrier helped a ton too, since she could be close and snuggled, but since we rarely nursed in there, she didn't associate the two. you might try the pacifier again. my baby had such a high suck need that there's no way i could have met it without losing my mind. even as a toddler, she needs to have the soother during high stress situations... the benefit is that she can meet that comfort/suck need, while still being able to participate in what's going on around her. 

 

that should help for daytime. for night, again, i suggest using a pacifier as a place holder for your nipple. my dd sometimes does protest the switch, but if i'm firm and continue to hold her tightly and rock her, she almost always falls right asleep with it. i don't know how either of us would ever get a full night's sleep without the pacifier! however, if your baby won't take the soother or you don't want to use one, i think it's okay to set limits on nighttime nursing if it's affecting your sleep and sanity. at 6 months i'd expect a lot of babies to still be nursing every 2 hours or so, but i would try to give your partner the space and time to find his own way of getting the baby to sleep. 

 

finally, i think you should consider a pain reliever for his teething pain. we use baby tylenol and it really makes a big difference. when the teething pain is bad, we use it almost every or every other night, but it's only for a few days at a time every couple months. also, 6 months is a big growth spurt, so you may find that in a few days this has all passed anyway. 

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#4 of 14 Old 07-06-2011, 07:35 AM
 
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that should help for daytime. for night, again, i suggest using a pacifier as a place holder for your nipple. my dd sometimes does protest the switch, but if i'm firm and continue to hold her tightly and rock her, she almost always falls right asleep with it. i don't know how either of us would ever get a full night's sleep without the pacifier! however, if your baby won't take the soother or you don't want to use one, i think it's okay to set limits on nighttime nursing if it's affecting your sleep and sanity. at 6 months i'd expect a lot of babies to still be nursing every 2 hours or so, but i would try to give your partner the space and time to find his own way of getting the baby to sleep. 

 

finally, i think you should consider a pain reliever for his teething pain. we use baby tylenol and it really makes a big difference. when the teething pain is bad, we use it almost every or every other night, but it's only for a few days at a time every couple months. also, 6 months is a big growth spurt, so you may find that in a few days this has all passed anyway. 


Regarding the 6 month growth spurt - YES!  My DS went through this conventional growth spurt and it was tough on both of us.  He was waking up every hour and a half at night for at least 5 days in a row (and they were loooong sessions...my DS is huge and was restless and he would push off my legs causing his head to shift way above my breast and I'd have to sliiiiiiide him down again...exhausting).  At his sixth month check up his pediatrician told me lack of sleep could make me "psychotic" (yikes!).  She suggested that my husband give him cuddles and he try to get him back down if his sleeps didn't lengthen out.  His spurt eventually ended so we didn't have to enlist DH, but it was nearing that point!

 

Hang in there mama!  And the previous posters' advice is good - I hope it helps.

 


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#5 of 14 Old 07-06-2011, 07:06 PM
 
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Have you talked to a good IBCLC at all? I'm just wondering if milk transfer could be "optimized" and that would make feeds more efficient, and faster, which would likely lead to baby needing to feed less frequently. Sometimes babies who gain slowly and feed often have an issue such as posterior tongue-tie that has been overlooked, and a good LC can do a full check-up, and suggest options to help if needed.

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#6 of 14 Old 07-07-2011, 07:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for your replies- you have given me some great suggestions!

 

I think a lot of what is happening is probably my fault, unfortunately. Since my DS was born, I just haven't been able to bear to hear him cry or fuss, so I would offer the breast pretty much every time he was upset, unless it was obvious that he needed something else (diaper change, to be held, etc.) As a result, he has never really cried much at all since he's been born, until now, and the breast doesn't seem to be the quick fix anymore. I just wonder if I've taken the concept of "nursing on demand" a bit too far- I guess I've spent the last 6 months nursing on demand plus even MORE. I never really agreed with the concept of putting my baby on a feeding schedule necessarily, but since reading your responses and talking things over with my husband, we decided to try to keep my son from feeding less than every 2 hours. We take him out nearly every day- he is quite the active little one and is always extremely happy and occupied whenever we are out of the house. But my husband goes back to teaching tomorrow, and it is always harder for me to find things to do alone with him that take up the bulk of the day. The suggestions on distracting him in the house are helpful though. I think it is true about novelty. He is definitely bored with his toys and will crawl toward anything that he hasn't seen before, so I think if I just keep whipping out new things, that may help.

 

What is bothering me most of all is not just the constant nursing, but the fact that it takes so long now to get him to sleep. The nursing-to-sleep thing was always magic but now it seems to be working less and less and I'm so frustrated. We co-sleep part-time, since I like to start out the night without him in bed so that I can sleep a bit more comfortably (plus I find that if I move, I often wake him up since he sleeps up against me). I used to nurse him to sleep within 15 min or less, and bed-sharing at night would allow us both to fall back to sleep in less than 5 minutes. Now it can take over 30 min to get him down for a nap during the day while nursing, and in the middle of the night it can take an hour of a sucking session for him to fall back down! He always wakes up crying now, which he never did before. So, on top of the on-demand nursing throughout the day, it is just too much these days for my body to handle without feeling majorly touched out.

 

My husband did nighttime duty last night with a bottle which at least gave me some time-off when my son woke up after a 5 hour stretch (the best he has done in several days). But when he woke up again after 2 hours of going down, he brought him to me and I swear I dream-fed him every hour until he woke up. It went OK but really didn't stand out from any other night other than the 5 hour stretch of sleep he had.

 

PatioGardener- I didn't think about talking to a LC. Thanks for the suggestion! The only thing is that my DS was born under 6 lbs (full-term) so he has just been a small baby. Weight gain has been very normal (an ounce a week) throughout but has tapered off a bit this last month or so as he has hit the "teens" in weight. I would be very concerned about him not getting enough if he was having full feedings and still seeming hungry, but with all the snacking he was doing, I just don't think it is so much a milk output problem, but perhaps an issue of him being used to getting the breast constantly without really getting a full feed a lot of the time. But if this issue continues, I will definitely explore all the options I can.

 

I'm going to try to continue to limit my tendency to give him the breast every time he fusses and try to maximize the times he gets a full feeding and distract in between and see if that helps. As for the hyper-alertness at night, perhaps it is that 6 month growth spurt you speak of, or teething? We have used Camilia for teething pain and it helps, but only if I give him a double dose in one. Baby Tylenol or a teething necklace will be the next things I'll try if things get worse.

 

*ETA- I forgot to mention that, when we do take my son out of the house, he does NOT want to eat every hour and can go every 2 to sometimes even 2.5 if he is distracted enough. So, again I don't think it is so much of an issue of hunger...I just wish I could figure out what is disrupting his sleep so much at night these days.

 

 

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#7 of 14 Old 07-07-2011, 09:03 AM
 
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My opinion:  I think the experience you typed below is simply good mothering.  You can't yet delineate a babe's wants and needs, so you've been meeting both.  (And doing an excellent job!)  Sometimes it's unclear why challenges begin...  Kudos to knowing your limits and finding solutions that work for you, your babe and DH.  hug2.gif

 

And look into the tylenol...my DS is working on his third and fourth teeth and once the motrin kicks in (we use motrin) it takes the edge off and he usually falls to sleep (for those times that are really painful).
 

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I think a lot of what is happening is probably my fault, unfortunately. Since my DS was born, I just haven't been able to bear to hear him cry or fuss, so I would offer the breast pretty much every time he was upset, unless it was obvious that he needed something else (diaper change, to be held, etc.) As a result, he has never really cried much at all since he's been born, until now, and the breast doesn't seem to be the quick fix anymore. I just wonder if I've taken the concept of "nursing on demand" a bit too far- I guess I've spent the last 6 months nursing on demand plus even MORE. 

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#8 of 14 Old 07-08-2011, 10:01 AM
 
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OP, maybe there is a possibility your DS is tongue tied? He might be gaining fine with frequent offerings, but if his transfer can be optimized maybe he would nurse less frequently?

I respect you greatly for persevering and for nursing on demand. I personally don't believe you overdid it.

6 months here too and also the magic of quick nurse to sleep fir the night has turned into epic nursing for over an hour at a time each night.

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#9 of 14 Old 07-08-2011, 10:41 AM
 
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I agree, see a good LC... a baby that small who is nursing that often could have milk transfer issues.. (hugs)

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Have you talked to a good IBCLC at all? I'm just wondering if milk transfer could be "optimized" and that would make feeds more efficient, and faster, which would likely lead to baby needing to feed less frequently. Sometimes babies who gain slowly and feed often have an issue such as posterior tongue-tie that has been overlooked, and a good LC can do a full check-up, and suggest options to help if needed.



 


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#10 of 14 Old 07-08-2011, 02:36 PM
 
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PatioGardener- I didn't think about talking to a LC. Thanks for the suggestion! The only thing is that my DS was born under 6 lbs (full-term) so he has just been a small baby. Weight gain has been very normal (an ounce a week) throughout but has tapered off a bit this last month or so as he has hit the "teens" in weight. I would be very concerned about him not getting enough if he was having full feedings and still seeming hungry, but with all the snacking he was doing, I just don't think it is so much a milk output problem, but perhaps an issue of him being used to getting the breast constantly without really getting a full feed a lot of the time. But if this issue continues, I will definitely explore all the options I can.

Just checking to be sure you mean an ounce a day, not a week.

 

If he is gaining well, I'd still be worried that transfer was not ideal and he needs to nurse more often to gain well. May still be worth looking into.

 

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#11 of 14 Old 07-08-2011, 04:07 PM
 
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I second (or third or fourth? didn't read them all... haha) the milk transfer problem possibility. My DD was also born small, 6 lb full term, but is 19 lb now at 5.5 months. She doesn't even nurse as frequently as you are describing with your DS, and she isn't really a night nurser (she nurses once or twice a night a few times a week, maybe). She started sitting very well in the last week, and now that she's all about her toys, I have to try to convince her to nurse after 2 hours and she pretty much laughs at me like "I'm busy". She was driving me INSANE over the last 2 weeks with all her nursing, but I think she was gearing up for all this new stuff. She rolls over really well, and sits up really well, and I started handing her some stacking rings and wooden toys and she plays with them like she's been using them all her life. Bottom line, I think I was underestimating what she was ready for play-wise, and kept nursing her instead when she was really just bored. Anyway - a full feed for her (like 2 let downs, drain the breast, falling asleep feed) takes about 15 minutes. 45 minutes seems like such a long time for his age....? Anyway, I hope you get a break soon! I know how it feels to be "touched out" when someone is just CRAWLING on you all day long! hug2.gif

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Thank you for your replies- you have given me some great suggestions!

 

I think a lot of what is happening is probably my fault, unfortunately. Since my DS was born, I just haven't been able to bear to hear him cry or fuss, so I would offer the breast pretty much every time he was upset, unless it was obvious that he needed something else (diaper change, to be held, etc.) As a result, he has never really cried much at all since he's been born, until now, and the breast doesn't seem to be the quick fix anymore. I just wonder if I've taken the concept of "nursing on demand" a bit too far- I guess I've spent the last 6 months nursing on demand plus even MORE. I never really agreed with the concept of putting my baby on a feeding schedule necessarily, but since reading your responses and talking things over with my husband, we decided to try to keep my son from feeding less than every 2 hours. We take him out nearly every day- he is quite the active little one and is always extremely happy and occupied whenever we are out of the house. But my husband goes back to teaching tomorrow, and it is always harder for me to find things to do alone with him that take up the bulk of the day. The suggestions on distracting him in the house are helpful though. I think it is true about novelty. He is definitely bored with his toys and will crawl toward anything that he hasn't seen before, so I think if I just keep whipping out new things, that may help.

 

What is bothering me most of all is not just the constant nursing, but the fact that it takes so long now to get him to sleep. The nursing-to-sleep thing was always magic but now it seems to be working less and less and I'm so frustrated. We co-sleep part-time, since I like to start out the night without him in bed so that I can sleep a bit more comfortably (plus I find that if I move, I often wake him up since he sleeps up against me). I used to nurse him to sleep within 15 min or less, and bed-sharing at night would allow us both to fall back to sleep in less than 5 minutes. Now it can take over 30 min to get him down for a nap during the day while nursing, and in the middle of the night it can take an hour of a sucking session for him to fall back down! He always wakes up crying now, which he never did before. So, on top of the on-demand nursing throughout the day, it is just too much these days for my body to handle without feeling majorly touched out.

 

My husband did nighttime duty last night with a bottle which at least gave me some time-off when my son woke up after a 5 hour stretch (the best he has done in several days). But when he woke up again after 2 hours of going down, he brought him to me and I swear I dream-fed him every hour until he woke up. It went OK but really didn't stand out from any other night other than the 5 hour stretch of sleep he had.

 

PatioGardener- I didn't think about talking to a LC. Thanks for the suggestion! The only thing is that my DS was born under 6 lbs (full-term) so he has just been a small baby. Weight gain has been very normal (an ounce a week) throughout but has tapered off a bit this last month or so as he has hit the "teens" in weight. I would be very concerned about him not getting enough if he was having full feedings and still seeming hungry, but with all the snacking he was doing, I just don't think it is so much a milk output problem, but perhaps an issue of him being used to getting the breast constantly without really getting a full feed a lot of the time. But if this issue continues, I will definitely explore all the options I can.

 

I'm going to try to continue to limit my tendency to give him the breast every time he fusses and try to maximize the times he gets a full feeding and distract in between and see if that helps. As for the hyper-alertness at night, perhaps it is that 6 month growth spurt you speak of, or teething? We have used Camilia for teething pain and it helps, but only if I give him a double dose in one. Baby Tylenol or a teething necklace will be the next things I'll try if things get worse.

 

*ETA- I forgot to mention that, when we do take my son out of the house, he does NOT want to eat every hour and can go every 2 to sometimes even 2.5 if he is distracted enough. So, again I don't think it is so much of an issue of hunger...I just wish I could figure out what is disrupting his sleep so much at night these days.

 

 



 


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#12 of 14 Old 07-08-2011, 07:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Just checking to be sure you mean an ounce a day, not a week.

 

If he is gaining well, I'd still be worried that transfer was not ideal and he needs to nurse more often to gain well. May still be worth looking into.

 



Oh my goodness, yes! I meant an ounce a day. Oops. Sorry for the confusion...I'm so used to counting by weeks for his age and so forth.

 

I was concerned lately about his weight gain since he has always been so small, so I tallied it up day by day from his birthday until recently and, as I mentioned, he was gaining exactly an ounce a day it seemed until it tapered off somewhere in the last month or two.

 

What I've been trying to do since I've posted is to tank him up with solid food (a couple of ounces of it a day) on top of the nursing I'm doing about every 2 hours. It seems to be going well. The last 2 nights were a bit better, in that he slept both a 5 and a 4 hour stretch before waking...but then after that stretch he still wants to nurse nearly every 1-2 hours. At least these past 2 nights when I brought him into my bed he fell asleep quickly and I didn't feel that he was nursing for an hour at a time like I did before.

 

Now that I've seen so many of your responses saying the same thing, I am wondering about this tongue-tie issue and if that may be a problem. One question- do babies that have tongue-tie issues and have trouble optimizing the milk transfer still spit up a lot? Because DS has always been a heavy spitter-upper. It tapered off recently but now he is spitting up about once a day again. I still have a hard time thinking that I could discover something like a tongue-tie issue as late as 6 months, but it could be an explanation. Would I call LLL for a LC to come out and check that, and if so, does anyone know how much that may cost? I am in the DC area (Northern VA to be specific).

 

He started "army crawling" right at 6 months and sat up on his own pretty much a few days later, and this week he has been crawling EVERYWHERE (from room to room). I don't know if he was working towards something developmental (similar to what you mentioned, anjsmama) and perhaps that could explain the hyper-alertness he was experiencing. I do think it is going a bit better since I decided to try and "schedule" his feedings a bit more and distract him in between. I have noticed he is getting what seems like a full feeding more often. The great thing now is that he has figured out exactly how to communicate his need for milk and will bend at the waist and lunge toward the boobs...so if I feel it is too early for a feeding, I can try and distract him as was suggested here. But if he keeps doing it, I know he is serious and is probably hungry.

 

I'll definitely keep considering this milk transfer problem and look into how I can get that checked out.

 

 

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#13 of 14 Old 07-09-2011, 06:41 AM
 
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My DS is just turning 8 months old, and we definitely went through a period like that...well a couple of "transitional" times where he wants to be nursing almost constantly.  It's usually when he is about to reach a milestone or is teething, which means that he will typically have a good two weeks where he is a marvelous baby...and then a demanding few weeks where every nap time is a battle and we rarely sleep at night.  These episodes tend to alternate like this, and it can be exhausting! I also nurse on demand and "more", we are still EBF as well and DS has never taken a pacifier or a bottle. (he just always refused them)

I agree with pp's about the potential for a transfer problem, so if spacing out the feedings doesn't seems to help him get a full meal, then I would imagine that he is not able to get a full meal during those sessions.  And that nursing in designated places that are dim and calm helps my DS know it's time to get down to business and nurse - not play.  The issue with sleeping is likely just a transitional thing; DS goes through it too - and then he comes out the other end and will be much less dependent.  

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#14 of 14 Old 07-11-2011, 03:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well it seems DS is cutting a tooth so that could explain at some of the issue. We had a 4 month sleep regression but it pales in comparison to this 6 month one we are dealing with! I'm blaming it on the teething...

 

Trying to space out the feedings a bit does seem to help, though I've lost track the last day or so because I've been super busy and haven't really been able to keep my eye on the clock much (or remember much if I do, for that matter). DS is still aggressively letting me know when he wants to nurse by bending his body into my boobs when I pick him up and grabbing at them (in the last 2 weeks it seems he has really clued in to where "they" are in relation to me as a person). I'll keep trying to space them out to check on whether I think he is more successfully getting a full feeding.

 

 

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