There’s nothing more detrimental to your sleep-training efforts than allowing him to become a snacker!
In fact, we’d say that HALF of all questions we get at PPB are remedied by eliminating the snacking…so yes, it’s a big problem, but fortunately it’s also a very easy fix.
HAS MY BABY BECOME A SNACKER?
Here’s what the vicious snacking cycle looks like:
Your baby doesn’t come close to finishing a feed at his scheduled feeding times, on a consistent basis (and by not coming close, we mean he takes less than half of the ounces or minutes offered to him) because you are feeding him off-schedule, because he refuses to eat at feedings, because he shows signs of hunger at other times.
WHY IS SNACKING BAD?
For two major reasons:
1) You will end up having to feed your baby small amounts roughly every hour, round-the-clock, versus every 2 1/2 to 3 hours (see PPB Schedule Birth-3 Weeks). When you do the math, he’ll end up getting the SAME AMOUNT of breast milk or formula in a 24-hour cycle that he would have had, had you fed him fully at just his scheduled feeding times. We believe that feeding your baby on-schedule is MUCH, MUCH wiser, easier on him (and you), better for his metabolism, sleep habits, demeanor, and overall health than feeding him on-demand!
2) Your baby’s sleep-training will completely suffer because of his snacking. Good sleep habits are taught through scheduling and sleep-training techniques (like our 15-Minute Rule). If your baby is snacking, he will become hungry off-schedule like when he should be napping! Basically, a full feeding = a baby that is much more able to get in full naps.
WHY ARE FULL, SCHEDULED FEEDINGS BEST FOR MY BABY?
No matter how your baby is feeding (breast, formula, or both), he needs you to regulate his metabolism for him so that he can sleep better during his naps and eventually during his longer night-time sleep stretches. The consistency of scheduling creates a regulated metabolism and you can then trust that when your baby is crying, it’s because he’s something other than hungry — and you can attend to that for him instead. Without the kind of consistency scheduling creates, your baby will have a hard time learning how to adjust his body clock. What he’ll learn very quickly instead is that every time he cries, he’ll be fed — and that of course leads to a snacking, unhappy, confused, and overly needy baby.
If you are breastfeeding your baby fully at each feeding, he will first get the lactose-rich fore-milk and then the fat-rich hind-milk. So if he eats only small amounts as short snacks, he may end up only getting the fore-milk. This can upset his stomach because of the high levels of lactose he’ll be receiving. Plus he won’t get the fatty hind-milk he needs to gain weight and to sleep through his naps.
HOW TO GET YOUR BABY BACK ON TRACK:
1) Only feed him at his scheduled feedings. Period. Read why and how, here.
2) Work to keep him up during his feedings. This can be especially tough when he’s a newborn, so get our best tips, here.
3) Work hard to keep him up during his activity time. Here are our favorite playtime activities for your baby.
This 1-2-3 punch will very quickly get your baby back on track. And it will save you from the perils of an exhausted, confused, snacking baby!
Related Posts: Why Won’t My Baby Eat More Ounces?, Baby’s Nightcap, Breastfeeding, Formula Feeding, Combination-Method Feeding, The Feeding Dilemma, Waking Early from Naps, Napping No-No’s, Troubleshooting Naps, Baby Colic, Baby’s Witching Hour, Baby Gas, Sleeping Milestones, Reading Your Baby’s Signs, Get All PPB Schedules, Overtired Baby