What if we’re doing breastfeeding all wrong?


The central conceit of natural parenting is that the key to healthy, happy babies is recapitulating what our “primitive” black and brown sisters did in nature.

That’s why natural childbirth advocates claim that the best birth is an unmedicated vaginal birth.

That’s why attachment parenting advocates claim that carrying an infant in a sling and sleeping in the same bed lead to a happy child.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Prelacteal feeding is practiced from Africa to Southeast Asia, to Central and South America.[/pullquote]

That’s why lactivists recommend prelacteal feeding, supplementing early breastfeeding with a variety of substances like water and honey.

Wait, what? For lactivists and breastfeeding professionals, supplements are absolute anathema.

It is an article of faith among them that formula supplementation interferes with breastfeeding, dooms exclusive breastfeeding and causes dangerous alterations to infant gut flora. What if they’re flat out wrong? And what if babies are being injured and even die because we aren’t recapitulating nature?

Prelacteal feeding occurs in nearly all cultures.

In Egypt:

Sixty per cent (89/149) of study infants were prelacteally fed sugar-water, teas, or both. Lack of milk in the mother’s breast (74 per cent), and maternal exhaustion or illness following labour (29 per cent) were the two most commonly stated reasons for prelacteal feeding.

In rural India:

A total of 44% of the mothers initiated breastfeeding within 30 minutes with home delivery and 38% with Caesarean section. There was a delay of 2 to 3 hrs in feeding. A total of 19% of the mothers in our study didn’t breastfeed even after 24 hours after the delivery. They were given pre lacteal feeds and discarded the colostrum. A total of 13% of the babies were fed with sugar water alone for more than 48 hours. Honey (6%) and ghee (3%) were also commonly used pre lacteal feeds.

In Ghana:

… [C]olostrum was referred to in Kusaal language as “ first milk, yellow milk, dirty milk or dense milk” interchangeably. During in-depth interviews, the similarity between colostrum and pus or blood was often noted. Breast milk only became pure or clean after it had changed from yellowish to the whiter color of mature milk. While waiting for “clean” milk to flow, women would use a wet nurse to provide breastmilk to their babies or give water with herbs…


Colostrum avoidance has been reported across the globe, in varied places such as India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Indonesia, West Java, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Bolivia, Guatemala, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria and Tanzania. Using the term ‘delayed breast-feeding’, Morse et al. found that fifty of 120 cultures described in the Human Research Area Files ‘withheld’ colostrum.

In other words, our “primitive” black and brown sisters were convinced that colostrum was harmful and that supplementation was critical to ensure infant survival.

So why have lactivists discarded this “ancient wisdom”? I suspect it is for two reasons. First, it doesn’t comport with the belief in the near magical properties that lactivists accord to breastmilk and breastfeeding. Second, studies have demonstrated that prelacteal feeding is associated with higher infant mortality. That’s not surprising since the supplements are often contaminated with harmful bacteria, and therefore compare unfavorably with exclusive breastfeeding for women who produce enough breastmilk.

But as far as I can determine, no one has investigated why a practice that breastfeeding advocates see as harmful to both breastfeeding and infants gained such wide currency. Prelacteal feeding is practiced from Africa to Southeast Asia, to Central and South America, suggesting that a variety of peoples independently believed it to be beneficial.

Obviously we cannot know the original reasoning behind the practice, but odds are high that it reflects the fact that 5-15% of women (or more) have insufficient or delayed production of breastmilk. Without supplements, those babies would have died of dehydration. With pre-lacteal feeds, babies lived who would otherwise have died. Over time, that observation was transmuted into a belief that colostrum was harmful and supplements were lifesaving.

We’ve ignored those insights about supplementation, ascribing them to ignorance, in favor of our preferred belief that women in indigenous cultures breastfeed early, exclusively and for extended periods of time. But maybe we’re the ones who are doing it wrong.

We have a huge advantage over indigenous women. We have access to a clean, safe source of supplementation: infant formula. But instead of replacing contaminated prelacteal feeds with formula, we’ve banned prelacteal feeds and the results may be deadly.

Dr. Christie del Castillo-Hegyi has been working tirelessly to alert both women and healthcare providers to the dangers of insufficient and delayed breastmilk production. She has created an excellent presentation.

Dr. Castillo-Hegyi’s first child was profoundly injured by breastfeeding induced dehydration and hyperbilirubinemia. She started reading the scientific literature on breastfeeding and brain injury:

In the September, 2015 issue of Hospital Pediatrics, an article was published describing 11 exclusively breastfed newborn babies who developed profound hypoglycemia between the second and fifth day of life from insufficient breast milk intake…

They subsequently developed long-term neurological disabilities including seizure disorders, motor weakness, visual impairment and feeding difficulties requiring speech therapy.

As a result:

I believe we may be inducing hypoglycemic brain injury to many newborns by asking mothers who may not be producing sufficient milk for their newborn’s physiologic need to exclusively breastfeed. We are potentially putting ourselves at odds with the protective natural instinct to respond to a baby’s cry by telling mothers that their colostrum is enough (which for many it may not be) and by making them fear failure by giving their child supplementation when they need it.

Are we actively and aggressively ignoring what indigenous mothers have known for centuries, that a significant proportion of babies cannot survive without initial supplementation? Are we risking babies’ lives and brain function because lactivists and breastfeeding professionals have become obsessed with the process of breastfeeding, privileging it over the outcome of healthy babies?

I’m not aware of even a single term infant whose life was saved by exclusive breastfeeding, but I’ve read and heard about quite a few whose lives were destroyed by the emphasis on exclusive breastfeeding. At a minimum this obsession with process over outcome is causing terrible suffering for babies who are starving and their mothers who endure their cries of hunger.

Prelacteal feeding is common worldwide, but we’ve chosen to ignore that in favor of a fantasy created by lactivists that breastfeeding is always perfect for every baby. How ironic that lactivists invoke indigenous women as justification for banning supplementation while ignoring one of their central insights … that many babies need and benefit from supplementation.

94 Responses to “What if we’re doing breastfeeding all wrong?”

  1. CitrusMom
    June 29, 2016 at 12:14 pm #

    Fact: Even if you have a stillbirth or never put your newborn to the breast, your milk will come roaring in around day 3-4 anyway. I saw my formula feeding mom go through it with my younger brother, wrapping bandages around her sore, full breasts. So why does everyone claim you need to be putting the baby to the breast for the milk to come in? I think it’s good for the baby to practice, but with all of mine I gave them formula, after a try on the breast, until the milk came in. I had no problem at all with adequate supply despite supplementing in the first 4 days.

  2. Jasmine
    June 23, 2016 at 8:51 pm #

    Lactivists support and encourage prelacteal feeding? Can someone provide sources? This seems like a ludicrous accusation.

    • Heidi
      June 23, 2016 at 9:11 pm #

      “Wait, what? For lactivists and breastfeeding professionals, supplements are absolute anathema.”

  3. NewMom
    June 20, 2016 at 4:19 pm #

    It’s interesting how these people can pick and choose which modern innovations they will accept or reject. Many of them wouldn’t consider living without modern plumbing and public sanitation. Even though Cholera is naturally occurring, and the hospital is “only 10min away”.

  4. AirPlant
    June 20, 2016 at 12:37 pm #

    You know, when I was a little girl and someone told me that there was a gap between the birth and the milk coming in I just assumed that the gap was put there on purpose to give the mother a break. Like the milk coming in is a signal that she is recovered enough to take care of the baby and until then someone else needs to take that responsibility.
    Imagine how surprised I was when I found out that the party line was the exact opposite.

    • Roadstergal
      June 20, 2016 at 2:00 pm #

      When I was a little girl and someone told me that they can cut the baby out of you instead of you having to push it out, I thought it was the best thing I had ever heard of. Even at a very young age, I knew what part babies came out of, and I knew that wasn’t a part of me I wanted a baby coming out of… and even at a very young age, I was enthralled by videos of surgery and what precision the surgeons had.

      Little did I know that it I was actually Wrong About All Of That. :p

      • AirPlant
        June 20, 2016 at 2:30 pm #

        There are times when I just cannot figure out the logic of the NCB community. Why would you want to feel pain if you do not have to? Why would you risk starvation for your baby and pain for you if you don’t have to? Why would you want to risk complications or your nethers being torn stem to stern if you don’t have to? The science path promises me a minimum of pain, surgery as a backup for a healthy live child and a food source for my baby where biting and twiddling are not things that I need to worry about. Sign me the hell up…

        • Daleth
          June 20, 2016 at 2:50 pm #

          Me too! Science for the win!

        • CSN0116
          June 20, 2016 at 3:54 pm #

          Because martyrdom is real, yo.

          • Allie
            June 21, 2016 at 10:51 pm #

            Nailed it.

        • Platos_Redhaired_Stepchild
          June 23, 2016 at 12:38 am #

          They want to be Birth Warriors. They call themselves that a lot. Apparently they are not content with just being healthy and having a healthy child, they need to be Warriors who “won” a battle..or something.

  5. BeatriceC
    June 20, 2016 at 12:15 pm #

    Wait! You mean humans may have used their evolutionary advantage of having a large brain to observe that something isn’t quite right in the first couple days of life and tried to do something about it? Huh. Amazing.

  6. CSN0116
    June 20, 2016 at 11:39 am #

    Lactivist Logic 101:

    Cry it out sleep training = abuse, torture, permanently damaging, bad mothering

    Cry it out starvation tactics = OK, necessary, admirable, the kid will get over it

    • Amy Tuteur, MD
      June 20, 2016 at 11:45 am #


      • Tori
        June 20, 2016 at 7:32 pm #

        This is a huge reason of why I abandoned attempts to maintain my low supply – knowing that if I removed him from the breast when the formula supplement ended he’d cry thinking there was more milk there. He wouldn’t cry if I took the line of the SNS away first, and knew there was no more milk. It was heartbreaking when I realised he knew the difference. Now he has a tiny bit of breastmilk, a large amount of formula in a bottle, and a full belly.

    • Jules B
      June 20, 2016 at 12:31 pm #

      I once got into an argument with a fellow Mom about that exact contradiction. She was so so mad at me when I said, “But won’t a baby feel just as neglected if their main source of food (mom) ignores their cries of hunger?” She called me a name, even!

      • CSN0116
        June 20, 2016 at 1:07 pm #

        The truth hurts.

        And fwiw, we now know that letting a kid cry from hunger and eventual dehydration *can* actually cause brain damage …unlike sleep training. Win one for Ferber 😛

      • Daleth
        June 20, 2016 at 1:33 pm #

        Sounds like you hit a nerve. Maybe you made her start thinking…

    • June 20, 2016 at 2:45 pm #

      My first actually cried *less* once we started sleep training. He would scream for literally hours – no rocking, nursing, bouncing, singing, driving, white noise, pacifier, or other “soothing” technique would help. He needed sleep, and he needed to be left alone so he could settle down to it. I only regret that it took me so long to cotton on to that.

      • Jules B
        June 20, 2016 at 4:36 pm #

        Same! My girl would scream her head off for hours while I tried every kind of soothing technique known to humans. Nothing worked even a little bit – all of it just made her more agitated/overstimulated. Finally, I said to myself “If she is going to cry for hours regardless, might as well just have her cry in her crib.” And once I stopped interfering – like, stopped even going in to check on her – she was fine! I mean, yes, she cried for maybe 4-5 nights. But again, she would have been doing that anyway. But it tapered off in intensity almost right away. She was very clearly much happier to be left alone to put herself to sleep. I mean, who needs Mom at 6 months old anyway ;-).

        • June 20, 2016 at 8:18 pm #

          Yes! And you try and try and try, because your baby is screaming and you want to help them and it’s what you’re supposed to do, but in the end you just need to back the hell off sometimes. I suspect this is a parenting lesson I am going to need to learn again and again.

          • Jules B
            June 20, 2016 at 10:09 pm #

            My daughter definitely needs me to back off a lot of the time. I swear she was one of those babies who hated being a baby, ya know? She is four going on 24 now – highly independent. Knows it all too, hah.

            But yes, when she was a baby, she didn’t act like the Attachment folks said “all babies” act like. You know, all babies love being held all the time, love to sleep near you etc. She was not like that at all, so I honestly thought something was wrong with her! Even now, the last thing she would ever want is to share a sleeping space with me…she’d be like “Mommy! Move over, ugh!!”

          • J.B.
            June 21, 2016 at 9:09 am #

            Independent little ones are fun but don’t want to snuggle anymore.

      • niteseer
        June 20, 2016 at 7:49 pm #

        None of my kids would ever go to sleep if there was the slightest thing of interest going on. They had to be in their rooms, with the door closed. I would sneak back to open the door for the night after they went to sleep, and if they weren’t asleep yet, they’d pop up like jack in the box. Trying to get three kids to sleep was like playing whack a mole……..you get one down, and two more pop back up. But after they resigned themselves to sleep, they slept soundly for 10 or more hours.

        My son was ADHD, and as a baby, he could stay up easily until 2 am, and then sleep only a few hours. After he was put to bed, he’d literally jump up and down in his crib (not crying, just enjoying himself) until the instant he fell asleep. I always said that if we had a camera recording this, we’d see him falling asleep in midair. Once he got used to this routine though, he’d go to bed just fine, jump until he fell asleep, and sleep soundly all night.

        • June 20, 2016 at 8:16 pm #

          Whack a mole! I am dying over here. That’s perfect. And mine is the same – he will wake up if anyone in the house even thinks about something interesting, I swear.

        • Kelly
          June 20, 2016 at 8:29 pm #

          We were having that problem with the older ones since they share a room. We just put a camera in their room that we can talk through. Now, I put them to bed, show them the camera, and tell them I am watching them. So far, it has worked but it really only been a week so we will see if it continues.

          • Who?
            June 20, 2016 at 8:59 pm #

            We ended up separating our two about mid-primary school as they would chat half the night and wake up tired and grumpy in the morning.

            He slept better after they were separated, she didn’t.

        • Old Lady
          June 20, 2016 at 10:33 pm #

          Yes! I noticed this with my twins from a very early age, at around four months I had to leave the room of they wouldn’t sleep. However, my now three month old will be woken up by her siblings unless she is being held so I have to do that sometimes when she has to nap and it’s not quiet. A technique I’ve figured out to get her to sleep not on me is to close my eyes and act all sleepy in front of her and she’ll always doze off if she is sleepy. Walking away is not usually successful with her.

      • KeeperOfTheBooks
        June 20, 2016 at 8:45 pm #

        My first was the same. I felt bad about leaving her to cry for 25 minutes or so the first time I CIO’d for naptime…until I texted DH and told him about it, to which he replied, “So, given that she usually screams for 45-60 minutes when you rock her, you’re saying that she cries 50% less even on the first day…sounds like a win to me.”

    • Chant de la Mer
      June 20, 2016 at 4:17 pm #

      ugh the whole sleep training = bad evil parent is so annoying. I have several friends that are struggling with toddlers and sleep, and it’s driving me nuts because I just keep thinking TRAIN THEM TO SLEEP! They must learn how to sleep in order to actually sleep. One of them has a toddler that is still nursing several times at night and has a crazy reversed sleep schedule. Kid goes down for a nap at 7PM, that’s not a nap, that’s bedtime!!!

      • CSN0116
        June 20, 2016 at 4:31 pm #

        I know people with situations like that too, and it’s like either fix your problem or stfu. Hearing you complain about an issue you don’t need to be having is annoying as hell. While you’re at it, break your leg, refuse to have it set and casted, refuse pain meds, and come bitch to me about that shit too… Grrrr.

        • Roadstergal
          June 20, 2016 at 4:38 pm #

          I may be overly cynical, but I feel like there’s a lot of humblebrag going on. “Oh, it’s definitely a lot of work, but I can’t _torture_ my kid just to make my own life a little easier…”

          • Charybdis
            June 20, 2016 at 5:11 pm #

            Well, seeing as how the breastfeeding mother has CREATED that situation for herself by following the NCB/Attachment Parenting/Breastfeeding at all costs edicts, I don’t really feel sorry for them when they start with the complaining. Like, “you didn’t see this coming when you started feeding on demand and offering the breast for Every. Little. Thing. and co-sleeping?”

            You made this bed…now lie in it.

          • Cartman36
            June 20, 2016 at 5:14 pm #

            Yes to this. One thing that struck me in dr. Amy’s book was an AP mother who was jealous of her sisters in law because they could hand off their kids to grandparents and go out. I left my first with grandma to go out for sushi when he was less than two weeks old and have taken two child free week long vacations (he is 2 and a half). I don’t understand people who brag about having never left their kid even for an evening. I’m like “really?”

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            June 20, 2016 at 8:19 pm #

            I wish. We don’t have any family locally, so never had the chance to leave the kids with Grandma while we go away.

            We use local friends and neighbors kids for babysitting, but no one who we would ask to take the kids overnight. That takes someone who wants to have the kids, not someone who is willing to watch them

          • guest
            June 21, 2016 at 9:57 am #

            We have a loose system set up with another family where we trade overnights. We take their kids when they want a free night and then set it up to have them take ours in exchange. This way I don’t feel guilty about foisting my kids on another family. The kids love it and it is not as much hassle having extra kids to care for as I thought it would be.

          • demodocus
            June 21, 2016 at 10:30 am #

            that’s pretty much what my parents and my aunt and uncle did. Later, i’d be in charge and all the parents got a few hours off

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            June 21, 2016 at 11:19 am #

            Now that the kids are older (5 – 7), they will do sleepovers at a friend’s house, and he sleeps over at our house.

            We do it because they are all buds. But that means they are old enough to be buds. Until they were that old, we didn’t have that opportunity.

          • Kelly
            June 20, 2016 at 8:27 pm #

            I have let my 4 year old go on a cross country two month long trip with her grandparents. I know I did the right thing when she was talking about things she saw such as geysers and buffalo she saw. It is so good for them to be with other people.

          • Cartman36
            June 20, 2016 at 11:25 pm #

            It takes a village.

          • J.B.
            June 21, 2016 at 9:06 am #

            Well, we did go out for dinner when little one was 8 weeks old. She screamed the whole time, but I didn’t hear it 🙂 It was kind of hard to leave her with someone until I was pretty sure she would not scream so much for them. (Feisty little person!)

          • StephanieA
            June 23, 2016 at 3:35 pm #

            I do not get that at all. Like, I would go crazy if I didn’t have breaks from my kids. My son started staying at grandma’s when he was only 3 month old. As a result, he’s completely comfortable there and does not care when I leave. I left him for two weeks when he was only a year old. I felt bad, but there’s no way he remembers that now and I highly doubt it affected our relationship in any significant way. We are going on vacation for a week in July, and it will be the first time I’ve left the baby overnight. I’m not worried about it at all and am looking forward to a week with my husband and no kids.

          • Heidi
            June 23, 2016 at 4:10 pm #

            So a few weeks ago since we were going on a mini-getaway, I googled leaving infant with grandparents. I don’t really know what I hoped to find. I guess I just googled it because it was on my brain. I stumbled upon the world of the sanctimommy. “I wouldn’t dare leave my kid overnight until they were at least three years old! I mean, I do leave them at daycare while I’m at work, but you are worse for leaving a child overnight even if you are a stay at home mom because REASONS!” is a lot of what I found. From what I could tell, it was more about them than their true concern for their child. It was pretty transparent. They were more afraid their baby would do absolutely fine without their presence for a night or two than their child being truly distraught. I still left my baby with my in-laws for 2 nights and he did just fine.

          • Who?
            June 23, 2016 at 7:15 pm #

            People are crazy, is the issue.

            I went for 2 weeks overseas when our kids were 6 and 4. They had a nice time with their Dad (and grandparents, and aunts and uncles, and friends, all of whom rallied around to help the ‘helpless’ one, eyeroll), and when I came back I saw that they all did fine without me. The house had not burnt down, no one had lost weight, or any limbs or digits. Win! My reaction? Go and get a job. Only part-time, but I felt that if they did so well with me absent I needed to be encouraging that.

            Would not have occurred to me to feel bad about them being fine.

          • Monkey Professor for a Head
            June 23, 2016 at 5:35 pm #

            Next year we’re planning on travelling to see our families in Ireland, and we’ll probably leave minimonkey with his grandparents for a few nights whilst we have a parents-only holiday somewhere in Europe. We’ll have a break, minimonkey will be pampered, and the grandparents will be delighted. Seems like a win-win situation.

          • Erin
            June 23, 2016 at 6:32 pm #

            In my case it’s not so much attachment parenting but a lack of people to leave him with. Neither set of parents are willing to take him overnight as “that’s not what Grandparents are for”. I’m an only child and my husband’s siblings either live too far away or work nights. So in 17 months, he’s spent roughly 10 hours without either of us (1 theater trip, 2 cinema) and he was asleep for most of that and didn’t notice.

        • Gatita
          June 20, 2016 at 4:58 pm #

          Argh, just have to say sleep training doesn’t work with all babies. We tried it and it was a miserable failure. Believe me, we wanted it to work. I hate to see moms blamed for yet another thing of their control.

          • Inmara
            June 20, 2016 at 5:18 pm #

            You tried. That’s the difference.

          • Jules B
            June 20, 2016 at 5:44 pm #

            Agreed – sleep training fails occasionally…just like everything baby-related, there are always exceptions to every rule.

            Most of the folks I have talked to who have non-sleeping older children never tried sleep training in any form, though (much less cry-it-out). They just seem to shrug their shoulders in helplessness from the get-go…which is odd to me, to say the least.

          • Allie
            June 21, 2016 at 11:09 pm #

            I tried. I’ve tried everything, and at some point you do have to shrug your shoulders just to maintain your sanity. My LO is 3 1/2 and typically will sleep 7.5 to 8 hours at most per night. I keep reading how bad it is for her health, etc., and I want to do something about it, but no one will tell me how. The advice is always circular – “like put them to bed earlier,” or “have a consistent bedtime.” If I could do either of those things, I wouldn’t be in this mess!

          • Jules B
            June 22, 2016 at 9:55 pm #

            The best online resource I ever found for baby sleep issues (which you could apply to a degree to older kids) is this site: https://www.preciouslittlesleep.com
            I believe the woman who runs the site does (paid) sleep consultations, which might be worth paying for, since all the free advice I got from her site when my daughter was a baby ended up working out for me pretty well (I did not have a “naturally” good sleeper). Her advice is very down to earth and common-sense IMO.

          • swbarnes2
            June 22, 2016 at 11:26 pm #

            Yeah, its a good site. Not updated as much as one might like, but a very practical, humorous, and grounded in what the research actually says.

            A representative bit:

            “By 6-8 months your baby is fully ready and capable to be completely done with eating at night. Dr. Sears suggests that some parents really enjoy feeding their babies at night and will happily continue offering night feeding sessions until the child stops waking up on their own. If you are one of these mythical “I love waking up in the middle of the night” parents, best of luck to you. Personally I don’t know any people like this. And I think they’re really rare. Like unicorn rare.”
            I had Weissbluth from a friend, and I thought this site was more helpful. I felt like Weissbluth had too many success stories in there (once you’ve read one, you’ve read ’em all) and took a super long time emphasizing over and over against how important good sleep is. I already have the book, I don’t need to hear the pitch, I just want to be told what to do at each stage. Weissbluth does cover much older kids, which some people might find helpful.

          • Jules B
            June 23, 2016 at 10:28 am #

            Yeah, I agree that the site’s content needs more regular updating – I think she is likely focussed on her consulting now. The comment threads are where I found some of the best info, actually. It is easy for “sleep experts” to preach X and Y, but it is good to hear what actually worked for those in the trenches. For me (when my daughter was a baby) it was white noise, a very very dark room, and not interfering. For others it might be using the swing or a pacifier (neither of those things worked for my girl).

            I think the key message, though, is to keep trying (even if it is exhausting) and give each method a good college try – don’t do something for just a day or two and then throw up your hands. Instilling good habits takes time. I understand the impulse to give up, especially if everyone is exhausted, but you gotta keep at it, IMO.

          • Sarah S
            June 20, 2016 at 9:25 pm #

            Same here. My oldest just cried until he vomited when we tried. And we didn’t give up until he was 2. He stumbles into our bed 5 nights out of 7 but 4 months ago it was every night. He’s 4 now, and seems to be outgrowing some of his wakefulness.

            The baby is a bit easier and will go back down at night on his own if his needs are met. He’s typically just thirsty. I can just lay him down once he’s had his water and he goes back to sleep.

      • Jules B
        June 20, 2016 at 4:43 pm #

        Living in a crunchy type area the way I do, I talk to people all the time around here who have 7, 8, 9 year olds who get up at all hours of the night and have totally bizarre sleep schedules. What floors me is how these parents talk about it, like it is just a fact of life no one can do anything about. Like “Oh yeah, well you know kids – they wake up all the time in the night, it sucks but ah well.” Um, NO! It is not healthy at all for your 7 year old to have a completely disrupted night of sleep! You as a parent need to fix that issue! Not to mention your own health and well-being, which matters too. All I can do is just shake my head when I hear folks talk that way.

        • Allie
          June 21, 2016 at 11:04 pm #

          “You as a parent need to fix that issue!”

          Step-by-step instructions, please… I’m serious Please help. Mine is only 3 1/2, so the sooner I can learn some strategies, the better.

          • J.B.
            June 22, 2016 at 9:18 am #

            I’m sorry, that’s rough. I think that structure is great, but there are some kids who are way off on their own plane. I do know some people who have consulted sleep experts and got a specific plan for their situation. I also have friends who are taking the long view and encouraging kiddo to sleep alone but if it doesn’t happen one particular night it doesn’t.

          • Jules B
            June 22, 2016 at 10:00 pm #

            I replied to your other post to me with a link – hope it helps. I had to work long and hard to get my girl to become a “good sleeper.” She did not come out of the box (pun intended) that way, that is for sure! So there is hope – hang in there (and again, pls let me know if that site I linked to before is helpful or not.)

      • Cartman36
        June 20, 2016 at 5:10 pm #

        I’ve never understood that either. Sleeping through the night and self soothing are life skills. What will they do when the child goes to college and gasp must sleep alone in a dorm room

        • The Bofa on the Sofa
          June 20, 2016 at 8:15 pm #

          Yep. Note that, in fact, no one really “sleeps through the night.” Not usually. Everyone wakes up here and there, and the key is that we fall back asleep on our own. That’s what babies need to learn to do to sleep through the night: fall back asleep when they wake up.

          If a baby has to be soothed when they wake up, they’ll never make it through the night in their own.

          • CSN0116
            June 20, 2016 at 9:07 pm #

            My infant sleep specialist (aka Mother Goddess):

            “The way in which a baby is put to sleep is the way she will need to be put BACK to sleep when she inevitably wakes up prematurely throughout the night. Do not ever get your baby accustomed to feeding, rocking, holding, bouncing, or requiring a pacifier to sleep, because if you don’t want to be replicating it at 2:00 am 6 months from now, then it’s a bad idea, trust me.”

            Words of a genius.

          • Who?
            June 20, 2016 at 9:09 pm #

            Exactly. I learnt that the hard way with number 1, did not repeat my mistake with number 2.

          • Angharad
            June 21, 2016 at 12:27 am #

            As with everything else, I think it depends on the baby. I did all the wrong things to put my daughter to sleep (holding, feeding, rocking, and swaddling) but she was sleeping through the night by 2 months. I attribute it to good luck.

      • Megan
        June 20, 2016 at 6:14 pm #

        Seriously, sleep training was the best thing I ever did for my child.

        • StephanieA
          June 23, 2016 at 3:27 pm #

          ME TOO. I had that baby that woke up 8+ times per night wanting his binky back in his mouth. It was awful. At 6 months we let him cry and has been an awesome sleeper ever since. At 2.5 he goes to bed without a fuss and sleeps in his crib for 12 hours. I’d like to keep him in his crib til he’s 4 since he sleeps so great.

      • Kelly
        June 20, 2016 at 8:23 pm #

        I have one of those friends too. They allow the children to decide when they will sleep and not when they need to go down.

        • Who?
          June 20, 2016 at 8:50 pm #

          And when and what (from the organic, biodynamic range) they will eat?

          How those kids will ever fit into regular school etc if they don’t have some experience of fitting in at home, I’ll never understand.

          • Kelly
            June 21, 2016 at 8:43 am #

            We have a bunch of people who want to switch church times because of their child’s nap schedule. Our church is three hours long. It will be hitting your child’s nap schedule at some point in that range. Church is hard with little ones but it is one day a week and after the first hour, they go to their respective classes. I do have times when I really hate going to the store because it is hard with kids but we still have to have a life at some point. My kids can’t dictate every single aspect of my life. They will have to learn to deal with their schedules getting ruined every now and again. We also had one family that would pull their daughter out of nursery early in order to get her home to get to bed exactly at noon. She could not be 30 min to an hour late once a week. If you needed or wanted to do something with her, it was always on her schedule. It drove me nuts.

          • J.B.
            June 21, 2016 at 9:02 am #

            For some kids during the baby/toddler years that is a very reasonable thing to do. A kid who really needs sleep and turns to screaming fits when you try to stretch makes life miserable for everyone. If your kid is more flexible it might be easier for you to stretch.

            Signed, someone who chose which church service to attend based on kids ages and nap needs. And not a 3 hour service either.

          • demodocus
            June 21, 2016 at 10:26 am #

            i agree. We’re there for 2 1/2 hours because of choir practise. Fortunately, we lived close enough that we could usually get him home before he fell asleep. Now he’s an afternoon napper mostly

          • Kelly
            June 21, 2016 at 8:21 pm #

            I have a very unflexible child and it has taken time to push her through it. The first hour is often miserable but there is not much I can do about it. There are a lot of parents who are in the same boat and yet we still get up and go and make adjustments as needed. There are many places in which you can still hear the service but not be in the service and I have used it often to not bother the others. Unless you child is the outlier in which they will never recover from a change or your situation is special, they are being whiny and don’t want to deal with it. These are the parents who feel that their entire life and everyone else has to fit around their child’s schedule.

          • J.B.
            June 21, 2016 at 10:18 pm #

            Alright rereading it seems like people want to move the timing of the church service around? No I wouldn’t try to change the schedule of the service. I chose among the different services at my church for the one that better suited my child’s biological need to nap. Now I would not be attending a 3 hour service to begin with, that is INSANE with young kids. And I’m not sure what the point of going to church is if you’re constantly leaving the service.

            I am fortunate to have found a lovely church that loves kids. They do enjoy my monkeys 🙂

          • Kelly
            June 22, 2016 at 9:28 pm #

            It sounds insane but it is broken up with each hour you have something different. After the first hour, the kids are either in nursery (starting at 18 months) or in primary where we break it down even further with lots of movement. You get used to it after awhile. My daughter loves nursery because she can run around and play. We just have to make it through the first hour.

          • Guest
            June 21, 2016 at 9:13 am #

            I get that, actually. I work so Sunday is one of the few days I have off with my family. If I keep my 1 year old up 30 minutes past his naptime, he will fall asleep in the car, sleep for the 10 minute drive, and that will be his normally 3 hour nap (I have never been able to get him out of his carseat and up to bed without him completely waking up).

            Then I have to wait through 2 miserable hours with a very cranky baby till he resets and I can lay him back down again. It ruins a huge chunk of that day for us, he’s off his schedule, and, in our particular family – the benefit is not worth the cost. Other people with more flexible kids might have a different analysis. In addition, we recognize that this will last a few months before we can start pushing his naptime back to a more traditional afternoon nap, so it’s not too crazy to me to work around his nap schedule for a finite amount of time.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            June 21, 2016 at 9:26 am #

            And I get that part. What I don’t get is that they think everyone else needs to accommodate their precious kiddo’s nap schedule.

            Your child needs to nap? Fine. Take them home to nap. Your problem, you deal with it. But don’t expect everyone else to change to accommodate you.

            Snarky answer: these people think that God needs to change to suit them, instead of them changing to suit God.

          • Guest
            June 21, 2016 at 9:56 am #

            Yes, to clarify, I meant leaving early makes sense to me. Changing church times permanently to accomodate a transient period in your child’s life is kind of nutso. Although, I suppose it might depend on how big your church is. If it’s a tiny church and a high percentage have tiny kids, then maybe. But a typical 100-200 person congregation with a small amount of babies, that’s just an entitlement attitude. (My church has maybe 20 under-2 kids out of 3-400 people, so asking them to change service times to accommodate my kid’s schedule would be…bizarre).

          • Inmara
            June 21, 2016 at 10:55 am #

            I have scheduled my daily routines and attendance of events around baby’s nap schedule since his birth. If there is a possibility to plan around our needs then I’m grateful, but in no way I would expect a big event like church service to be changed because of our private schedule! If there are both parents, they can alternate between Sundays, or one could leave early… And what if there are two entitled families with different nap schedules?

        • CSN0116
          June 20, 2016 at 9:04 pm #

          The only way I know about people who parent like this is because they bitch about it ALL. THE. TIME. People with properly slept kids don’t talk about it. Like, duh…

        • Allie
          June 21, 2016 at 10:58 pm #

          Please tell me what to do. I’m that friend, and it’s not by choice. I desperately want to put her to sleep, but short of tying her to the bed, I just don’t know how. She’s 3 1/2 and has always been a terrible sleeper, and now she’s too big to keep in anything – except maybe a dog crate, and I’m pretty sure that’s even worse than the tying-her-to-the-bed option : /

          • Kelly
            June 22, 2016 at 9:35 pm #

            I am so sorry. My friend does not even try. She just follows his lead. I feel bad for parents who have tried everything and I know I am very lucky to have overall good sleepers. I have found that with my two year old, the best way to get her to take naps and go to bed quickly at night is to make sure she has run around for at least an hour of more. If we are at home all day, she never sleeps. I don’t know how to help you and once again, my annoyance is only with parents whose kids do not have issues with sleep. They just want us to accomodate them.

          • StephanieA
            June 23, 2016 at 3:23 pm #

            My friend had a 3 year old like this. It sounds awful, but they locked him in his room. They installed a latch type lock on the outside, told him it’s bedtime, and locked him in. There was a lot of hollering the first few nights but he adjusted.

      • Anne Catherine
        June 21, 2016 at 7:20 am #

        I had a friend that pretty much made me put my baby in the crib and let him cry it out. He cried for about 7 minutes, and went to sleep. The next night it was 5, and if I remember correctly, then it was about 2 minutes.

        It was really hard for me —I’m such a pushover mother–(thats why couldn’t stick with EBF–I think I caved and gave him a bottle on day one!)—
        I’ll always appreciate how my friend got a little bossy with me!!!
        For me this worked well—
        (not that crying it out is always the solution for everyone/all the time).
        Haha –not that this is a great way..but I also used to go for a lot of car rides for the express purpose of having my kids take a nap .

        • StephanieA
          June 23, 2016 at 3:22 pm #

          How old was your baby? We did cry it out with our older son at 6 months. It was hard but he sleeps like a gem and it was SO worth it. My baby is 4 months and I’m having a harder time letting him cry, I have no idea why. I had no qualms about doing it with older child. We let 4 month old cry for 10 minutes the other night and he showed no signs of giving up (he has bad sleep associations- needs bottle to fall asleep, and at 17 lbs does not need to wake up at night to eat but he does). Maybe I’m trying when he’s still too young?

        • baileylamb
          June 23, 2016 at 11:12 pm #

          You are lucky, cio worked for our daughter (not at 6 months she cried the whole not) but sometimes she still cries for 2 hrs.

      • Steph858
        June 23, 2016 at 12:42 pm #

        I’m sick of people giving me the evil eye when they see me out with my (one-and-a-half yo) son at midnight. “Why isn’t he in bed yet?” Because I’ve trained him to be on MY timetable; SOME of us work late shifts, y’know! I’ve actually had people say I’m an abusive parent because I don’t (tell his grandparents to) make him go to sleep while I’m still at work so that he can wake me up at 6am (which, as I finish work at 11pm, is like my 2am) like a ‘normal’ toddler. I’m not depriving him of sleep; he’ll sleep from 2am till midday (I’ll sleep 3-11am) and have an hour or 2’s nap in the day. So for him a nap at 7pm would be normal, or perhaps a little on the late side, but not excessively so. So just because a young child has a nap at 7pm doesn’t mean they aren’t sleep trained!

        • Charybdis
          June 23, 2016 at 3:53 pm #

          True, this can and does happen. But, it works for you, your schedule and your baby, it is not a case of never putting the child down to sleep, co-sleeping, nursing on demand, etc. Not everybody works a 8ish-5ish schedule and those that don’t certainly can (and do!) adjust their baby’s schedule so that it does not majorly disrupt YOUR schedule. As long as you are happy, baby is happy and getting adequate sleep, who cares?

          Although I would be sorely tempted to answer with a withering retort to such things.

          • Steph858
            June 24, 2016 at 8:22 am #

            I would love to respond to them with a witty retort, but I haven’t thought of one (well, none better than the “SOME of us work evenings/nights, y’know”). Any suggestions?

          • The Computer Ate My Nym
            June 24, 2016 at 8:43 am #

            “But how is he going to learn to stalk the innocent and drink their blood if he spends all night sleeping”?

            “Thank you for your advice. I will give it the consideration it deserves”?

            “Is this some weird human thing? Um…I mean, being out late nights is better for his entirely natural skin that he grew himself.”?

            I don’t know. Maybe one of these will inspire an actually witty remark.

          • Charybdis
            June 24, 2016 at 11:46 am #

            He’s a vampire changeling and will burst into flames if he is exposed to the sun.

            Sunscreen and sunblock are SO last year. The hip new way to prevent sun damage is to sleep when the sun is out.

            There is always free swings and no waiting on the slide when we hit the playground at 11:00 pm.

            I want the bats to teach him to echolocate.

            We are working on a moon tan.

            All the better to breastfeed him naked under a full moon while fairies dance around us.

            It’s too hot to do anything during the day. Everybody is happier when it is cooler.

            How’s that?

          • Steph858
            June 26, 2016 at 7:23 am #

            I like #s 1, 3 and 4. #s 2 and 5 might work if there’s not enough street lighting around for the subject of the retort to notice that my son already has a lovely natural permatan, courtesy of his daddy (who is from Bangladesh). #7 doesn’t really work in Britain (hot in the day? HA!). I’ll keep #6 in mind for if I have any more kids while I’m still working lates, but my son’s far too old to breastfeed now. At least I hope he is – please don’t tell me there are lactivists out there who would actually breastfeed a toddler who is 1 and a half and fast coming up to 2? Thanks for the ideas!

          • Azuran
            June 26, 2016 at 7:57 am #

            There are lactivitst for whom breastfeeding up to 2 years old makes you a bad mother. If you aim for anything less than 4, you shouldn’t even bother being a mom :p

          • Steph858
            June 27, 2016 at 10:12 am #

            Wow, and I thought the midwives and health visitors in the UK were wootastic lactivists. This makes them look positively reasonable; the same health visitor who gave me the standard lecture on the importance of exclusive breastfeeding told me to transition to cow’s milk (to top up his baby food) when he turned 1.

          • Charybdis
            June 26, 2016 at 10:03 am #

            Yep, there are lactivists out there who actually breastfeed toddlers (on demand,even!) until the child is 4+ years old. They frame it as “normal”, “mothering through breastfeeding” and “breastfeeding until natural term”. They find it perfectly okay for toddlers and older children to come up to their mother, start rummaging around in her shirt to expose a boob and help themselves. Because babies breastfeed for a myriad of reasons *other* than hunger: thirst, boredom, in pain, uncomfortable, comfort, security, upset, angry, snuggles, etc. The answer to *everything* is a boob in the child’s mouth.

            I must admit, I will occasionally hate read Milk Meg’s site, especially when breastfeeding crops up in the news, just to see what the rabid EBF’ers are bouncing around their echo chamber. If, and I stress the IF, you want a look at that side of things, check her out. She will cause near rage-strokes for me with what she shovels; like the time it was her oldest son’s birthday (13, I think) and she turned her “Happy Birthday, Son!” post into a paean to HERSELF(He was my first baby and started me on this wonderful, magical path of breastfeeding!!! I can’t thank him enough for giving me that gift and allowing me to breastfeed him and his siblings. He taught me how to breastfeed, co-sleep, babywear, AP, etc, etc, etc. *gags*) and her breastfeeding prowess.

            It’s maddening.

          • Steph858
            June 27, 2016 at 10:14 am #

            Reminds me of this


            Milk Meg and her fans do realise that this is supposed to be satirical and not instructive, right?

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