A Letter to Mommies and Daddies About Sleep

Dear Mommies and Daddies,

Some time ago I saw a promotion for a breastmilk substitute that will help your baby sleep through the night.  Sounds like magic, right?  According to the formula maker’s website  (I kind of hate to link to it) this product is “Designed to gently thicken in baby’s tummy and digests slowly for a natural way to help keep baby feeling satisfied.”  Doesn’t that sound so perfect?  If their dinner gently thickens in their tummy as they are sleeping, they won’t feel hungry and won’t wake up to eat and you, mom and dad, might actually get to sleep through the night!  Hallelujah!  Parents everywhere rejoice, you don’t have to be sleep deprived!

Wait a second; gently thickens in their tummy?  What does that even mean?

It means that there is a thickening agent in this product that actually bulks up the longer it is in your little one’s tummy causing an artificial feeling of fullness, blocking the trigger between the tummy and the brain that says “WAKE UP!  We need more nutrients, more energy, more food so start crying and get those big people to fill us up again!”  While normal infant nutrition (AKA breastmilk) breaks down quickly making it easy for the body to absorb all it’s nutrients and make quick use of the fuel needed to, well, grow, this product will keep junior feeling full hopefully for the entire night.  So with this stuff sitting in their tummies getting thicker they won’t get the signal that they need more nutrients and fuel for growing, instead, maybe they will actually let mommy and daddy get some decent shut-eye.  Instead of waking their parents to feed them they’ll sleep right through the times when they need to eat!  YAY!

How the heck can that be good?

If your baby is waking often at night to feed it is because he/she needs to, needs the comfort, needs the nutrition, needs you and needs to wake up. I know it is hard but you can do this without filling your baby’s tummy with nutritionally empty fillers so you can get more sleep.  Babies that sleep through the night have an increased risk for SIDS. A baby that wakes often avoids staying long in the deepest part of their sleep cycle where they are mostly likely to stop breathing.  The baby that wakes often is the one most likely to wake up at all.  Read more about that from Dr. William Sears in New Beginnings, Vol. 16 No. 3, May-June 1999, pp. 68-70.  Please note that I’m not saying it is a guarantee, just an increase in risk for babies that sleep through the night.

I get wanting a good night’s sleep, I really do.  When you’re just so tired that you feel sick, on the brink of going crazy and you would do just about anything for a nap.  When you worry that you can’t be a good parent, spouse, worker, friend or anything else and you question if you should even be driving or left alone with your baby due to the overwhelming fatigue.  In those times you need to get help, explore co-sleeping or bedsharing, get a sitter, take shifts but ask for help when you feel that tired.  And hear this, it will get better. Some day, not as far away as you might think, you will look back and vaguely remember the sleep deprivation like a bad dream during one of the most beautiful times of your life.  You know this already but I have to say it anyway: there are more important things than sleeping through the night. By all means, if it seems as if something is wrong such as your baby behaving as though they are in pain, then have your baby checked out and get her/him real help but don’t mask a potential problem with an artificially full tummy. Eventually they will stop waking so often and you will get the sleep you so desperately need.


Another Sleep deprived mommy,
The Leaky B@@b


  1. Azure Skyyes says

    Just to let you know, this product is the exact same product that they sell for babies that spit up a lot but the doctor doesn't think it's GERD. I think it's funny how you can market the same product that does two "different" things! If you look on the nighttime formula there is a tiny little note that says it the other product!

  2. Cathrine A. says

    My sentiments exactly! My first, and now my second are the worst sleepers in the world, with my first waking as many as 12 times in a night for several months. I can't tell you how many trips I made to the pediatrician with Baby 1, asking what was wrong with him. Never sick. Changed the foods I ate, read every book on sleep, tried every method, gave any remedy I could find. Nothing worked. Baby 2 is a bit better, with record wakings of only 8. Again, very little has helped.

    But I try to focus on several things. 1) I get quiet time alone to snuggle my little one. 2) I thank God I'm not awake because I have a very sick baby in a hospital. Things could always be worse! 3) One day they will want to sleep in on a Saturday morning and I WILL have my revenge – making them get up to mow the lawn!! 🙂

    This season of life is so short that I try not to let even the long, tiring nights hinder me from enjoying every moment that I can. One day I'll sleep through the night, because my sweet babies won't need me in that way anymore. Gone will be the snuggles, the sleepy cuddles. This too shall pass, and all too quickly for me.

    Thanks for a little encouragement that I'm not the only mom going through it. If it is any consolation to you, my pediatrician said there are studies that suggest correlation between babies who don't sleep much and higher IQs!! Full scholarship to Oxford? Harvard? Yale?!!! One can hope!!!

  3. "The baby that wakes often is the one most likely to wake up at all." I don't understand this sentence, maybe I am a little slow but could you help me out?

  4. @Anonymous: just restating the lower risk of SIDs for the baby that wakes often during the night.

  5. I hate this marketing gimmick! I understand tons of people have to give formula and I am fine with that, I am even okay with people who chose FFing over BFing just because they feel like it. But I am not okay with artificially filling your baby's tummy just so you don't have to get your lazy butt up at night!

  6. Cielo in Melbs says

    There was some research going around the other day saying that BF and FF mothers get the same amount of sleep anyway.

  7. "Gently thickens in their tummy" – Just reading this made my stomach turn! Seriously… seriously. That's the best marketing they could come up with??? I just don't get how people fall into these traps… ok, I get it, they're sleep deprived. Ok! So was I… my solution was to find a way not to get up sooo often.

    My baby needed me and wanted me so I gave MYSELF to him. We ended up co-sleeping. I made sure it was safe and I didn't just bring him into bed while I was over exhausted and wasn't thinking straight. It was a conscious decision for our family.

    Most importantly, I didn't try to find a way to trick him into not really needing me… he needs me, he's a baby, it's normal, it's what we signed up for! —- sorry for the rant, but sometimes these things just get to me.

  8. My 9 month old twins don't sleep through the night, and that's ok. The biggest thing my husband and I did to make it "better" was to change our expectations. Once we realized why the babies were waking, and that it was biologically normal, we decided we as the adults should adjust. So we did, now we bed-share, and everyone gets more sleep!

  9. that sounds NASTY!!!!
    My bf almost one year old DOESN'T nurse at night (his choice) but he still wakes up … oh well guess he's a night owl like mommay…. i try to pop a boob in his mouth lay down with him and nothing he just wants to play endless rounds of peek a boo (half covered eyes so he can still see me). I HATE IT!! But this will happen for the rest of my life with only a minor brake. 16 years from now all i'll want is for him to be home awake playing peekaboo with me but he'll be at his senior prom followed by the after party and then the after party breakfast. lol… now they need to make a "sleepy food" for teens not babies lol. MOms never sleep. If we do is because we are still pregnant with our first child after that we worry every minute even while we have the illusion of sleeping.

  10. Co-sleeping/bed-sharing rocks! I don't think I could function in the daytime otherwise.

  11. supurrkitten says

    It makes me so mad. If you don't want a baby and all that comes with it DO NOT HAVE ONE. There are ways not to get pregnant. I know getting up at night with your kiddo is rough especially if you work or have other kids, but it is not a hidden fact of parenting. You know going in what it will be like. Don't give your kiddo this stuff just to get some sleep there are other alternatives. What would happen if a parent bought this stuff and fed it more than just at night. Does it have an increase in calories and nutrition? I imagine parents trying to stretch a dollar would love this. Just like those parents who water down formula. Unfortunately, those babies can get sick and die. Unfortunately, with this your kiddo has a stronger chance of not waking at all. That night's sleep would not be worth it to me. It is irresponsible to market something like this to a vulnerable market IE new parents. I wonder what MD's think about this?

  12. A year or 2 ago I saw "artificial hands" that you strategically position on your newborn/infant. The intent was to give the babe some comfort, tricking them into thinking mom or dad were touching them, so they'd quiet down.

  13. Alicia @ Lactation Narration says

    Thanks for posting this. I totally agree.

  14. The bottom line is that parenting does not end when the sun goes down. Once you are a parent, it is your responsibility to BE A PARENT 24 hours a day. Yeah, not sleeping sucks. But you can't force adult behaviors on a child or infant.

  15. "Gently thickens in their tummy?!?" How could that ever possibly be a gentle thing? While I can't say I enjoy getting up in the middle of the night, I can say that I enjoy having more peace of mind knowing that they spend less time in the deepest sleep states, and also love knowing that I am giving nourishment at any hour–which is part of being a parent.
    On a side note, I've been following you on Facebook and am now following you here. I even decided to start my own blog (yesterday…hehe), so I'll be coming here for inspiration for sure! Love this blog! Check mine out if you get a chance (middleofmommyhood.blogspot.com)and feel free to give me any tips you have as I build it.

  16. 'Gently thickens in tummy' reminds me of an obnoxious trick I heard about once – pouring gelatine someone's toilet so it won't flush!

    I guess that's why formula constipates?


  17. Andi Crater says

    Cielo in Melbs- actually it is estimated that breastfeeding mothers get on average 45 minutes MORE sleep at night than formula feeding mothers. Doesn't sound like a whole lot, but it adds up! But when you take into consideration that you are not having to fully wake up to walk into another room to prepare and warm a bottle, then go back, console your screaming baby because it took so long to prepare the bottle, then stay awake while feeding them, it makes a lot of sense. I would dare say that most breastfeeding moms get a lot more than 45 minutes extra sleep, because if you are anything like me, eventually we get really good at feeding baby without even fully waking up!

  18. How can they even say that it "naturally" does ANYTHING?! Some parents will abuse this "sleeping" thing and I am sure there will be tons of health problems resulting from it. How sick.

  19. you could not PAY ME to feed that to my child! YUCK!