Suddenly up all night nursing?  Welcome to reverse cycling.

March 21, 2014

asleepHave a consistently sleeping baby who suddenly wants to nurse all night?

It’s a common scenario for babies whose moms have returned to work, babies who are too busy or distracted to eat during the day, and teething babies.  And it has a name: reverse cycling.

Why does reverse cycling happen?  There is usually a reason.  Babies want food, comfort, or both at night, often because they aren’t getting as much as they want or need during the day.

A typical case is a baby who doesn’t like to take a bottle at day care, who “sips” enough during the day to make it the reunion with her mom at the end of the workday - when the all night feast starts.  Or a baby who is adjusting to having less frequent contact with his mom during the day now that she’s gone back to work, and so wants more comforting at night.  Occasionally, it’s the mom who is so busy juggling multiple kids during the day that feedings are not frequent enough, or not long enough.

So if your baby is reverse cycling, what can you do?

First, identify a possible reason why he has adopted this pattern.  Is he not eating enough during the day?  Too distracted to eat much during waking hours?

Then, address look for ways to address her needs.  Our favorite resource page is at kellymom.com, where you’ll find lots of tips for different situations.    You’ll also find some tips for making reverse cycling work (and why some moms even encourage it) on this page.  You may also want to check out our podcast interview with Nancy Mohrbacher on night nursing.

And whatever you decide to do, take heart in the knowledge that this pattern will pass in time!

Tags: breastfeeding night nursing nighttime nursing reverse cycling




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