Breastfeeding and Your Sleep Patterns


We often hear about all of the benefits of breastfeeding. Research tells us that breastfeeding can provide your baby with the exact nutrients that she needs, when she needs them. It isn’t so much that bottle-fed babies are guaranteed to grow up with problems; rather, breastfeeding helps boost your baby’s immune system and growth in ways that it’s just impossible to do synthetically.

What we don’t often hear about is the downside to breastfeeding. While it might seem counterproductive to talk about, the fact is that breastfeeding means making some sacrifices. One of the sacrifices for breastfeeding you’re going to make is about a year of irregular sleep patterns.

According to some new research, parents of babies that are breastfed can forget about those long, restful nights for quite a while. The study from Australia, involving more than 4,500 babies, discovered some interesting data:

  • Babies who are breastfed are about two thirds more likely than babies who are bottle fed to wake up during the night at the age of six months old.
  • Breastfed babies can expect to wake up about every four hours during the night to feed.
  • During the first year, an infant’s sleep and waking pattern is much shorter than it is for older children. That’s true for bottle fed babies as well as breastfed babies.

The research concludes that parents need to adjust their thinking. Many parents simply expect that by six weeks, 18 weeks, or even six months their baby will be sleeping through the night. For many babies – especially breastfed babies, that thinking simply isn’t realistic.

This raises a number of concerns for the breastfeeding mom. The mom who goes back to work after a couple of months may find that she’s not getting enough sleep, which can dramatically affect mood, relationships and work performance.

In the same way that the breastfeeding mom may pump her breast milk at work to be used for her baby during the day, partners need to step up and do some of the nighttime feedings, as well.


So, what was your experience like? Did you breastfeed or bottle feed, and how did that seem to affect your baby’s sleep patterns?




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