No Sleeping, No Eating, Only nursing

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-01-2007
No Sleeping, No Eating, Only nursing
Sat, 09-19-2009 - 11:33pm

My one year old (just turned one last weekend!) still does not sleep. She hardly naps (lucky if I get one hour total for the day - and only when I nurse her down and stay with her) and during her awake periods, she won't eat solids! Everyone (husband included) say that I need to begin some discipline/routine of putting her in the high chair to eat her meals/snacks (whatever she'll tolerate), but she hates sitting in the chair. She'd rather be walking and playing. Sometimes I can stick pieces of avocado/cheese/pancake/pear in her mouth, but that doesn't last long and she won't tolerate much! I know she's hardly getting ANY other nutrition at all but breast milk. I love nursing, but I'm just starting to worry.
She only sleeps for an hour or two at a time ALL NIGHT LONG. This can't be normal. My dr. says that she should at least be giving me 6 straight hours by this point. She has never been a sleeper, but to still be on the newborn schedule at a year old with no end in sight is a little exhausting. She starts out in her crib and then comes in our bed. Her sleeping is no different whether in her crib or our bed except that in our bed, I can quickly stick my breast in her mouth and she's asleep again for another hour.
I don't want to be creating horribly bad habits, I don't want to wean completely, but...

I want her to have more solids in her diet and I want her to sleep more than 1-2 hours at a time.

What should I do???


iVillage Member
Registered: 12-17-2007
Sun, 09-20-2009 - 2:58pm

My first DS was not a sleeper either - I would often get a nap of 30-45 minutes and that would be it ALL DAY!!! I said I was going to write a book about the myth of the 2 hour nap that others told me about. lol! I still might. He is almost 11 and still sleeps very little. Everyone has different sleep needs and your child may be one that does not have a high sleep need. My second DS woke every 2-3 hours during the night until about 19 months of age. At that age you can do some gentle night weaning, but much before 18 months it is really hard to understand for baby. Sleeping through the night (5-6 hours is STTN) is a developmental milestone. Like all developmental milestones, difernet children will reach that milestone at different ages. (just like some children start walking at 8 months and others not until 18 months there is a wide range). It also might help to look at some of the studies of NORMAL infant sleep.

"Sleeping through the night: 71.4% did this on at least one occasion by 3 months of age, but many of these relapse into more frequent waking in the 4 to 12 month period. It is not until after 24 months that regular night waking (requiring attention) becomes much less common.

Although this study did not address breastfeeding, it is relevant because a lack of understanding of "normal" sleep patterns can lead to supplementing, early solids, belief there is not enough milk, etc. The authors claim it also leads to misdiagnosis of gastro-esophageal reflux (GER) and overuse of sedative medication. A worrying 31% of 25-38 month-old children were disciplined (mostly smacking) to get them to settle. 27% of parents let their children cry, 11% at less than one month."

"Regular night waking was a common characteristic throughout the first year:
Baby's age % babies waking at night
3 months 46%
6 months 39%
9 months 58%
12 months 55%

The number of awakenings per night was a function of age. "

Obviously with over half of babies waking at night at the age of 12 months, we can't expect that to change overnight (no pun intended). more studies on normal infant sleep:

Gentle methods to encourage less night nursing:

Co-sleeping (even part-time) as you are doing is a GREAT way to maximize sleep and it is NOT a "bad habit". Most cultures around the world co-sleep, Putting baby to sleep in a separate room is a Western idea and in cultures that co-sleep, sleep issues are unknown because they have have a realistic idea of how babies should sleep. Also in cultures that co-sleep, SIDS is unknown (in Japan and other Asian countries there is not even a word for it!

For the solids, a few questions.......

How do you offer solids? Do you let baby sit in chair with solids and self feed? Or are you trying to spoon feed? Purees? or table foods? Have you tried a snack try so baby can graze? It is unrealistic to expect baby to sit down for 3 squares a day. KWIM?

How much do you expect baby should be eating? A lot of times, as parents, we have an unrealistic expectation of how much a baby (toddler) should be eating. After the first year growth is much slower and the calorie needs are lower.

Have you seen this on nutrition for Bf toddlers?
"Between ages one and five, a child's growth is in a decelerated stage; that is, they have slowed down in growth. Since growth slows down, their need for calories subsequently decreases, which in turn leads to a smaller quantity of food ingested per day. Added to the decelerated growth is a burgeoning independence which limits the variety of foods your child is willing to eat ("finicky eater"). Rest assured that toddlers do not need as much food as you might expect because of this slowing down of the growth rate. Three small meals and two snacks a day (and some will eat a good bit less) will probably be enough to fuel even the most active toddler. Please realize, too, that finicky eaters are the rule rather than the exception.

Some toddlers are eating very few solids, or even no solids, at 12 months. This is not unusual and really depends on your child - there is quite a big variation. We like to see breastmilk making up the majority (around 75%) of baby's diet at 12 months. Some babies will be taking more solids by 12 months, but others will still be exclusively or almost-exclusively breastfed at this point. It is normal for baby to keep breastmilk as the primary part of his diet up until 18 months or even longer. An example of a nice gradual increase in solids would be 25% solids at 12 months, 50% solids at 18 months, and 80% solids at 24 months.

Some children take a little longer to begin taking solids well. Some of them have food sensitivities and this may be their body's way of protecting them until their digestive system can handle more. Others are late teethers or have a lot of difficulty with teething pain. At this point there is NOTHING that your milk lacks that your child needs, with the possible exception of enough iron. As long as his iron levels are within acceptable levels and when he does eat you are offering him foods naturally rich in iron, then you have plenty of time before you need to worry about the amount of solids he's getting.

All you need to do is to continue to offer foods. Don't worry if he's not interested or takes very small amounts. Your only true responsibility is what you offer, when you offer it and how you offer it, not whether or not he eats it. That has to be up to him. Trying to force, coax, or cajole your child into eating is never recommended. Continue to nurse on demand, day and night, and trust your child to increase the solids when he's ready. As baby slowly moves into eating more solids, your milk will fill any nutritional gaps nicely."
more here:

I would HIGHLY recommend this book: My Child Won't Eat! How To Prevent and Solve The Problem by Carlos Gonzalez MD check to see if your library has it (or has it through interlibrary loan) or you can buy it through Amazon or most bookstores.

My second DS started solids around 9 monhts and did not really take off with solids until closer to age 2. Around 15 months there were days he would have one spoonful of yogurt and a strawberry and that was all he had all day long. seriously! He will be 4 in October and while he is at 50% for weight, he is at 95% for height. I would try not to worry so much about how much baby is eating for solids. Keep in mind that bf babies are less likely to be overweight. One reason is that when babies BF at the breast they can regulate how much or how little they take by changing their suck pattern. IT is thought that they carry this through to eating solids and eat smaller more appropriate amounts than their FF counter parts. (or even Bf babies that are fed solids in larger amounts via spoon feeding)

Dr Sears Picky eater tips:

Dr. Sears is baby getting enough to eat:

Continue to BF on demand - nursing is NEVER a "bad" habit and nursing to sleep is expected. BF is great nutrition and a great tool to use with toddlers. If you were to wean you would have a non-sleeping toddler that does not eat many solids - then I would worry. :)

More on what to expect with a Bf toddler:

Nursing after the first year fact sheet:

Take a look at the info and follow up with us. share the info/links with Dh too I know it can be hard or them to understand what is going on and think that baby is a year now and should be more "independent" etc. I think if you review the research etc with him he will understand better that "discipline" may create bad eating habits not "fix" habits that are not a real problem. KWIM?

I got interupted several times so sorry if this does not flow well.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 12-17-2007
Sun, 09-20-2009 - 3:00pm

One link I forgot or you on nap time nursing:

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Mon, 09-21-2009 - 4:25pm

Ugh, you are describing ds #2. Just FYI, he’s now 28 and a husband and father………YAY we survived.

He’s still a picky eater and needs a minimum of sleep.

Carol already gave you some great information. I just wanted to add some thoughts.

As far as food, I used to put appropriate food on a low table where Kevin could reach it as he played. I used to change the plate of food regularly (as it got too yucky) through the day. When we sat for dinner we’d have him sit in the high chair for a small amount of time gradually increasing the amount of time as he got older. He often didn’t eat in the chair but we made it a social time and put finger foods on his tray.

He would never eat food offered off a spoon from us. He started with finger foods and moved up to using a spoon and fork when he was able on his own.

He also rarely napped or only napped when I would lay down with him. In the beginning I would be anxious worrying about all I needed to get done. Later I just gave into it and appreciated getting my own nap with him.

At night we too co-slept and Kevin was not a good sleeper. This did not work for him but did with our younger son. Greg had a blanket that I started using to cover him when we bf when he approached one year. He later began to accept just the blanket and would sleep better with it over time. It would be ok to introduce a blanket or teddy that you have him cuddle when breastfeeding. This is called a “transitional object”. Some babies will learn to stay asleep a bit longer when using something like this to comfort them. It’s worth a try and shouldn’t cause any harm. We only used it for bf and sleep. We did not let him carry it around ala Linus. As he got older it was really nice to have b/c it allowed him to sleep comfortably anywhere.

You and your baby are ‘normal’. This too shall pass. BTW, my ds is a great young man. It’s a joy to be his mom! You’ll get through this (((HUG)))

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-01-2007
Wed, 09-23-2009 - 12:38am

Thank you so much for your reply and the helpful links. I have checked out the links before and feel comfort in knowing that I'm not the only one out there in this world with this problem -although most of the time it does feel that way!
Before I forget, since it just daughter goes down in her crib at about 8:00. We take her into bed with us when we go to bed (around midnight) and we just want her to make it from 8 til midnight, but she is NOT satisfied with us just patting her above the crib, or even with DH trying to rock her back down. She will only go back to sleep with a little nurse (literally she is completely out after just latching on...until I try to move her back into the crib). Is it crazy to expect that she can go those 4 hours without waking to nurse? I don't want her to cry, but I KNOW she can go 4 hours without nursing, especially since once she does finally get the nurse, she just wants it for a split second. She won't accept a paci, won't accept a lovey (tried many kinds of both). I know those are both ways to start night weaning. I swear if there is something to try, I have tried it and nothing works! :( So frustrating.

Back to your questions regarding solids:
I agree that it's crazy to expect her to sit for 3 square meals. I am fine with her grazing and maybe joining us for dinner just for the routine aspect. She just doesn't have much interest in the food. I've tried letting her self feed (only lasts a few minutes), she refuses the spoon (unless I distract her with the computer or tv - which I hate to do), I've tried baby foods (smooth, with chunks - both are refused), table foods too. I think she could survive on breast milk, chunks of avocado, and pieces of banana. Not the most balanced of diets.
I don't know how much to expect her to be eating. Thank you for the info on solids that you passed on. Do you know (in quantities, maybe tablespoons? not percentages) how much solids a 12 month old would be expected to be eating? I am only basing my expectations on what my friends do with babies that are younger and the same age. I know that solids don't help with sleep, but part of me also believes if DD was more nutritionally satisfied, she'd sleep better! But what do I know? :)

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-01-2007
Wed, 09-23-2009 - 12:43am

thanks for responding to my post.
I'm glad to hear that all my hard work will pay off and I will be rewarded with a loving, caring adult daughter (I hope!), but to hear that your DS even at 28 needs a minimum of sleep makes me worry! :)
i have never let DD cry it out and really don't ever want to resort to that, but having not slept for more than 3 hours straight since her birth is a little crazy. For her, at 12 months old, to still be waking every 2 hours or less?! seems just insane. I've tried introducing a blanket, lovey, anything!! (even a hot water bottle!), I've also tried a pacifier. She just has no interest in any of it. She is just as wakeful in her crib as she is in bed with us, so i don't know how to explain that either :( ??

thanks for the info on solids. I worry about Lilah being so used to taking food from my finger(s), or picking it up, that she'll never learn to use a spoon or fork. She also refuses food from a spoon. I like the idea of a plate of food, but I know it would go untouched for the most part. I also don't feel like avocados, bananas, and chunks of cheese are enough of a balanced diet (those are the main things she'll even consider eating).

Thanks for trying to make me feel 'normal' :)

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Wed, 09-23-2009 - 9:02pm

glad to hear that all my hard work will pay off and I will be rewarded with a loving, caring adult daughter (I hope!), but to hear that your DS even at 28 needs a minimum of sleep makes me worry! :)