Should I give my baby formula at night?
"Will she sleep better at night? Maybe longer?"
"She wakes up so many times overnight and night after night, it's just not sustainable for me."
"Can my baby tolerate formula though? Is it going to be too gassy for her compared to breastmilk?
There are so many articles online that educate us on the pros and cons of breastfeeding and formula-feeding at night. But we still get confused about what the right thing to do is.
To feed or not to feed formula at night?
When we talk about younger babies ranging from newborns to 3 month olds, I honestly don't think formula is going to make a difference in their nighttime sleep. With my #1, I had to supplement with formula in her first month. So, I decided to feed her formula at night to fill her tummy up so she could sleep for longer. Well, that's the idea, right?
With formula, I thought she would wake up every 3-4 hours instead. No chance - she still woke up every 2 hours to feed. And she continued to wake up every 2-3 hours until she was 4 months old (that's when her sleep cycle would stretch out to 4-5 hours).
When it came to my #2, this time round, I had enough breastmilk to feed her. For the first 3 months, she would wake up every 2-3 hours to feed. I tried switching from nursing her at night to bottle-feeding her expressed breast milk instead, more so to assure myself that she had a sufficient amount of milk at night.
I have to say that the switch from nursing to bottle-feeding my baby helped her sleep for longer. I don't know if it's due to the latch, but she's always been a sleepy baby on the breast. After we switched to taking bottles of expressed breast milk at night, I noticed that she didn't fuss as much. But she would still wake up every 3 hours like clockwork.
And that's completely normal right for such young babies. Waking up every 2-3 hours at night is their normal sleep cycle, and no matter if it is formula or breastmilk, it won't change that! What did I expect?
"I was told that formula would keep baby feeling fuller for longer with my first, but I actually found that when my babies drank my milk they slept longer through the night than when I gave them formula. With my baby #4 I have no intention of giving him formula at all." - Kristen
"I'm not sure about breastfed babies as I've bottle fed both, first (who's now 3) never slept a whole night until about 6 months ago! and my little one (4 months) has slept all night from about 2 months old. So i think each baby is different and it doesn't really have anything to do with what/how they feed" - Jen
"I have discussed this with ladies at my postnatal group and to be honest those who formula feed generally have babies who sleep longer at night, my 2 kids who are formula-fed both slept through from around 6 weeks and only had 1 night feed before this." - Donna
My personal experience
When #2 was 4 months old, she was still waking up every 3 hours. I was getting really exhausted by then chasing after 2 under 2 in the day, and not getting enough rest at night.
So, I told hubby to give her a bottle of formula at night (10PM) and surprisingly, after a few nights of having formula, she started sleeping for 4-5 hour stretches.
Was it pure coincidence? I don't know!
Curious, I told hubby to switch back to giving her expressed breast milk instead. We noticed that when she had expressed breast milk at night, her sleep cycle would usually last up to 3-4 hours.
We then decided to continue feeding her formula at night, hoping that it would stretch out her sleep until she could eventually sleep through the night.
Would formula be too gassy for my baby?
If you're concerned that formula is too heavy and might make your gassy baby feel worse, try these 3 natural home remedies:
1. Burp baby mid-feed and after feed
2. Stir or gently swirl your formula to minimise gas bubbles pressure build-up
3. Use anti-gas bottles and nipples
Being a mum is hard work. Whichever you decide for you and your family, we wish you and your family all the best of luck!
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