Tanking Up - A trick to help your child sleep longer at night


Want your baby to sleep longer at night (um, who doesn't)? Have I got the trick for you! Let's just cross our fingers and hope
the little bugger follows along!

What is tanking up?
Tanking up consists of the dream feed and cluster feeding. I go over dreamfeeds here. I go over cluster feeds here. Pretty much, tanking up is getting more food into baby's tummy during the day**, and specifically right before bed, so she she'll sleep longer stretches at night.

Why should I tank up?
So you and baby get longer stretches of sleep at night! And so you can start feeling less like a zombie and more like a person! Tanking up is also helpful with growth spurts which are plentiful in newborns.

When do I start tanking up?
Start it as soon as baby comes home from the hospital. If baby is under 8 weeks of age and you aren't cluster feeding, then you can give it a try. If baby is under 7/8 months (sometimes later) of age and you aren't doing a dream feed, then go ahead and give it a try.

When do I stop tanking up?
You can stop tanking up with the cluster feed around 8 weeks of age. Some babies need to stop sooner (my big boys both did) and some need to do it a little longer.

You can stop tanking up with the dream feed around 7 to 8 months of age. Some kids can drop it sooner, and some need it a bit longer.

Does tanking up work for all babies?
Like most things, tanking up doesn't work for all babies. It does seem to work for most, so it is worth giving it a try. If your baby is struggling with cluster feeding and the dream feeds then I suggest you drop the cluster feeds and just work on the dream feed. Many babies will not do both, and the dream feed is the more important of the two.

Remember to give it at least a few days to work before deciding that it doesn't work. And keep in mind that there are a lot of factors that determine when a child will sleep through the night. So tanking up can help, but it can only help so much.


**By day at this age I mean between morning wake time (likely around 7 am) to dream feed time (likely around 10-11).

37 comments :

  1. Boy, I needed this when my two were younger. :o)
    I am following you from Bloggy Moms. Please join me at
    http://d-mochatraveler.blogspot.com/

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  2. I am following on twitter. Keep nursing your babies! I can see the benefits of nursing all my babies even now...

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  3. hi, dalys visiting here already your member en facebook and twitter. tks for visiting me at www.burundanguitas.blogspot.com
    rgds, dalys

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  4. What an awesome idea for a blog! Luckily I was blessed with a champion sleeper, though my totally dark bedroom and co-sleeping probably contributed to that too!
    Thanks for coming by my blog! Following you back now with GFC... headed to Twitter next!
    Angela @ First Comes Baby....

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  5. Ayy yi yi! I did everything wrong with my now 15 month old son! :) He still nurses 2 X per night!! I'm tired. All the time!

    Hi Rachel ... thanks for checking out my blog from the hop - yours is great, too! Suscribed via RSS.

    Have a great weekend.
    Tami
    http://coloradomountainmom.blogspot.com/

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  6. Thanks for the tip ~ I've never heard of this! Thanks for stopping by today too. I think I have returned all of the follows!

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  7. I never thought about feeding baby more right before bed. I will have to remember that for this one.

    Thanks for stopping by a delicious obsession and linking up at the Winter Wonderland Blog Hop.

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  8. Sure wish I had this info eleven years ago, lol!!

    Following back from the hop :)

    Have a great New Year!!

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  9. This is great information!

    I"m following you all over now :)

    Thanks for visiting.

    Happy New Years!

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  10. Hey! Following you back from Our Lovely Life..I'm currently in love with your blog! I'll be sure to pass it along to my friends that are expecting..sure wish I'd known about you when I had my little babe a year ago! :)

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  11. Thank you for stopping over to Saving and Sharing It and following me. I am now following you and look forward to reading your posts.

    Katie - Saving and Sharing It
    www.savingandsharingit.blogspot.com

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  12. Wish I'd found your site when my babies were little! I'm now following via GFC and Facebook!

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  13. Returning the love back from Forever A Teen. Thank you for the follow. :D

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  14. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I am following via Twitter.

    Any advice for kids who are 4 and 6. I'm not sure clutter feeding would work for them. But I would love it if they went to bed without fighting me to do it! :)

    Regina
    www.thecrazynutsmom.com

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  15. Crazy Nuts Mom,
    At that age, it is more about having a good routine and having a plan and sticking to it. Let them know bed isn't an option and that all their tactics will not help (but you can't give in at all and you have to stay calm about everything). And try to make bedtime enjoyable. Read books etc. Hope that helped :)

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  16. Raquel Cummings, Thanks for following! Visited your site.

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  17. Momto8,
    Thanks for the follow. And I agree that nursing is the way to go if you can :)

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  18. Burundanguitas cs,
    Thanks for visiting and following!

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  19. Thanks for visiting angela. When it comes to sleep, my kids were not born lucky at all! We had to work at it, a lot!

    Rachel

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  20. Colorado Mountain mom,
    Well, the good news is that if you decide to night wean, you will know 100%, pretty much from where ever you check, that he doesn't need the feed so you don't have to stress about that. I know that is a worry of a lot of moms :) Sorry you are tired all the time! No fun! My guess is that when you stop nursing things will improve. But I don't know when you plan on that happening. One of my friend (who is so tired all the time too) still wakes up to nurse her 3 year old every few hours---so it can go on for a long time with some kids!

    Rachel

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  21. Julia, You are welcome for the tip, thanks for the follow!

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  22. Danielle,
    It helps for most babies. With mine, not so much, but I know it has extended sleep for hours with some babies.

    Rachel

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  23. I'm so glad you like the blog april! Thanks for sharing it!

    Rachel

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  24. Mommy with selective memory,
    Thanks so much!

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  25. Wow, this is really great and helpful information. If only I'd known it when my little ones were that age. I do have quite a few friends who are pregnant or have just had babies. I will be sure to pass this on to them. Thanks for sharing. :)

    Blessings,
    ~Rosann

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  26. Thanks for stopping by rosann. I hope this blog is helpful for your friends!

    Rachel

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  27. I have a one month old and for some reason this seems to be working only every other night. I feed him at 9 pm and then do a dream feed at 10:30. He seems to be getting a full feeding each time. One night he will sleep for a 5 hr stretch, go right back to sleep and be extremely pleasant that day. The days fooled by those 5 hr stretches he eats and sleeps well and hardly cries. The following night however he usually wakes up between 2:30-3:00. After this feeding he usually will not go back to sleep until after his 6am feeding. Days followed by these nights he is fussy and doesn't sleep well. Any thoughts? I try to replicate my 9 pm and 10:30 pm routines as closely as possible and can't recognize that I'm doing differently.

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  28. Sorry.. I meant to say days followed not fooled

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    Replies
    1. Casey,
      Does he seem to nap better one dy than the other? My only guess right now is that ore tiredness is making a difference. Maybe it is making him sleep worsE which makes him super super overtired so he sleeps better the next day, or it is even possible it is making him sleep better for one day to be a little overtired but then e gets well rested and doesn't sleep as well the next day.

      I don't have any other ideas right now, sorry. And if it s over tiredness, it may seem like t is a good thing to have then. But it isn't. Think of how you feel when your overtired. Even if you slept better it wouldn't be worth it to feel crummy and have difficulty learning during the day. Regardless of what is going on, I'd work on keeping a sleep log(see index for how) to look for patterns and I'd see if an earlier bedtime helped and if waiting a bit longer between the bedtime and df feeds helped.

      Rachel

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  29. Hi Rachel,

    Thank you so much for maintaining this blog. It's so great to have all the information in one place, and your personal insights are extremely helpful.

    My baby is 8 weeks old. So far we haven't tried any sort of scheduling or sleep training. We've settled into a pattern of long morning naps, which decrease in length as the day goes on. He nurses on demand and has grown well (he's over 13 lbs now and was 8 lbs at birth). He sleeps 7-10 hours in a row at night, typically falling asleep between 8 and 10pm.

    He's a dream baby during the day, but 6-9pm is downright hellish. He screams continuously. He does cluster feed during this time. I feed him when I see hunger cues, but he often is frustrated at the breast at this time of day (has trouble latching, pounds his fists, continues to scream). Eventually he falls asleep nursing and we put him down in his bassinet next to our bed.

    A couple things:

    1. He sleeps on his stomach unswaddled (sometimes I swaddle his lower half but not his arms). I began sleeping him on his stomach at two weeks, when he had the ability to move his head from left to right on his own. While I know stomach sleeping isn't recommended, he slept much better immediately and I am comfortable with this choice. I'm mentioning it because it's why I don't swaddle his arms - they need to be out so that he can push up as needed to turn his head. Do you think his lack of swaddling is a problem?

    2. He has only successfully taken a pacifier a few times. Should I keep trying?

    3. I think he needs more afternoon naps (sometimes he stays awake 2-3 hours in the afternoon) and I was probably not recognizing his early tired cues. Also, he's been napping all over the house (in his bouncer, cradle in living room, swing in our workout room, bassinet in my room, and in his crib in his room), often while activity goes on all around him. Should I start napping him only in his crib, in a dark quiet room?

    4. I'm worried about the nursing becoming a sleep prop in the evening. Today I tried the 4S ritual (minus the swaddle) for a nap and I think it worked well. He cried for a full 5 mins while sitting. He stopped crying as soon as I stood up and walked to his crib. I put him down and did the shush-pat until he fell asleep (that took 5 mins). I am going to try the same thing tonight, but in the bassinet in our room (we have guests coming this weekend and they're staying in his room; I don't want to confuse him by putting him in his crib for a few nights and then back in the bassinet over the weekend).

    5. As mentioned, we've been doing cluster feeding in the evening pretty much by accident, but we don't do a dream feed. Should I move his bedtime earlier and do a dream feed?

    Thanks for your time and help. If we could improve on the misery that is 6-9pm in our house I'd be thrilled!

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    Replies
    1. 1) Swaddling may be an issue, but he may sleep just as well unswaddled on his tummy. You can always try full swaddle a couple days (while monitoring) and see if his sleep changes. But if he does sleep better, will you switch to a full swaddle? If not, not worth trying anyway ;)

      2)The pacifier could really be helpful during the fussy evening time. It can also be really helpful when you are out and about and during sleep times. but it can turn into quite a prop. You have to weight the negative and positives. I used it with my second but not my first. I'm still not sure what I'll do with future kids but I'm leaning towards using one.

      3)Likely he'll very soon start napping badly if there is much going on around him. Or he'll take a short nap. I think it is good to get a pre-sleep routine (see index for more on this) and solid sleep location in place because most babies seem to sleep better in the long run with this. But if he sleep well all over still and you are out and about a bit, you may be able to get away with having him continue like this for a while, just make sure you do a consistent pre-sleep routine. Look over the waketime post to see how he compares to it. Yes, I think the long waketimes may be causing short afternoon naps which can be contributing to the fussiness in the evening (in addition to it being a naturally fussy time right now--but it should start improving soon).

      4)Yes, nursing to sleep can definitely turn into a prop. He sounds like a fairly easy going baby from what you've said so that should make things easier. Don't get too stress if you struggle in the evenigns for a few weeks more. IT is the peak fussy time and many babies will not fall asleep well on their own right now.

      5)You could try moving bedtime earlier right now, but he may not do it well with the fussy evening time. If you can do it, I'd do it. It'll help eliminate some of the evening fussy time (which may also be due to a late bedtime and overtirednes). By a few months of age I'd definitely do an early bedtime.

      Rachel

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