You would think that after 3 kids I would have all of the “basic” things down. Well, you’re wrong.
I have recently discovered that my 12-month old, baby L, has been thirsty. A thirsty baby = a fussy baby = a baby that wakes up 46 times during the night to breastfeed because she needs liquids… because she’s thirsty… because she didn’t get enough from her mother during the day to quench her thirst. Yes, I know, I deserve the mother of the year award.
My first 2 kids weaned when they were between 4 and 5 months old (that’s a story in itself), but once they were consuming only formula (and no more breast milk), there was a routine set in place which involved giving them both formula and water throughout the day. My kids were never thirsty, always slept well, and were generally “calm” babies.
Lana has been solely breastfed up until now (no formula), so things have been a little different. I would say that she was a “decent sleeper” (in comparison to my 2 older kids)… but that all changed several months ago. Her night wakings, which used to be 2 times per night, had increased to COUNTLESS wakings in the night – some wakings lasting an hour or more. She was waking more than a newborn, and I had no idea what to do! I thought it was a growth spurt, but when one month, two, three had passed, there was no way I could write off this behavior as a growth spurt (unless she was on her way to turning into the jolly green baby giant). Something else was up – I just didn’t know what… yet.
Since we’ve moved to the U.S., my mom has been helping me out with the kids and giving baby L a lot of water to drink during the day. I still nurse her about 2-5 times during the day (and until recently about 89 times during the night), but my mom noticed that she looked thirsty and started offering her water more. I had been giving her water here and there, maybe a few sips each day, but I never really pushed it because I had read numerous times that breastfed babies don’t really “need” water (until much later on) because the “first milk” that comes out during a nursing session is actually very watered down and is used to quench their thirst.
Well, whoever wrote that should have put a disclaimer on there that once babies reach a certain age, the water in your breast milk isn’t enough. Every.single.time my mom would offer baby L water, she drank an entire little cup… this happened a couple times a day. Baby L was seriously thirsty! And guess what? Since we’ve increased her water intake during the day, she has been sleeping the ENTIRE night – not waking even once for a feeding!!!! NOT ONCE! This has been going on for about a week, and I really hope that I don’t jinx myself with this post, but the only conclusion that I’ve come to is that she was thirsty and that’s why she was so ravenously looking to nurse at night.
While I know baby L wasn’t dehydrated (because she nursed whenever she wanted to and seemed satisfied during the day), babies are like adults and have the need to quench their thirst. Breast milk is thick, and although the first milk that comes out during a nursing session is watery and is supposed to quench a baby’s thirst, at a certain age (some time after 6 months) this liquid gold simply isn’t enough – liquids like water should be supplemented. When a baby is 6 months old, it is recommended to start supplementing with solid foods, so I don’t know why I thought the same wouldn’t be true for liquids.
It makes me sad that it took me this long to figure it out, but I am so thankful that I finally did because I saved both baby L and myself further heartache and sleepless nights.
Have you ever had a similar issue?