Rest and Sleep the AP Way

by sarah on September 15, 2009

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I recently came across an ad for a new kind of formula which advertises that it “specially designed to help babies feel full longer and sleep better.”

The ad also states that it “thickens gently in baby’s tummy” and that it is a “natural way to keep your baby feeling satisfied.”

In short, the message is if you feed your baby this new kind of formula, it’ll digest slowly enough that your baby will sleep for a longer period of time, which would presumably let the parents sleep for a longer uninterrupted stretch of time.  It implies that the only reason a baby awakens during the night is because of hunger.  Therefore, if the baby eats this formula, he won’t get hungry, so he won’t wake up.

I am the the very first person to feel empathy for a new mama, whether she be AP or not, who is suffering from sleep deprivation.  I’ve been there myself.  My kids are both school-age now, so thankfully those days are far behind me.  But oh how vividly I can recall those days of desperation for some sleep.  It is not a happy place to be.  There are times when the only thing you want in the world is some uninterrupted sleep.

And as such, I can certainly see why this product would sell.  When a new mama has been awake for 24 hours straight, something that promises to make your baby sleep can seem like manna from Heaven!  And how innocuous it sounds: it’ll be gentle in my baby’s tummy, and it’s natural!

It’s natural?  Did it really say that?

Is it as natural as the milk that my own body produces for my baby?  My milk doesn’t thicken gently in my baby’s tummy; my milk doesn’t thicken at all.  My milk is the exact consistency that my baby’s immature digestive system can handle.

Does my baby really need to sleep for longer periods of time?  Babies have different sleep cycles than adults; they need to awaken periodically in the night to ensure that they don’t fall into too deep of sleep from which they can’t awaken.  Additionally, babies don’t awaken just because they are hungry.  They can also awaken if they are lonely or cold, or other reasons as well.  These can be solved pretty easily by co-sleeping.  Thusly, I question the advertisement’s claim that it helps babies sleep better.  Sleeping better is sleeping safer, which means allowing a baby to awaken during the night with a parent close by to tend to him.

The ad continues with a proposed bedtime routine for baby; sing a lullaby, soothe with a warm bath, turn down the lights, feed the formula, and give a kiss goodnight.  I do agree with them on this point; bedtime routines can be very helpful in calming down a baby or child for the night.  But our bedtime routines with our babies involved cuddling, rocking, massage, and nursing.  My babies slept better with this cuddly routine than I believe they would have with a sterile, non-touching one.

This new formula, which promotes sleep, was not around when my kids were babies.  I never missed it.

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sarah (35 Posts)

Sarah has been involved with API since 2002. She is the mother of two school-aged kids.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Sofia Clark September 15, 2009 at 9:42 am

I would be careful with something like this. Babies are very delicate and maybe these types of baby formula could cause indigestion or constipation. I feel lousy when having problems with indigestion or constipation. Imagine how a baby would feel.


justine September 15, 2009 at 11:36 am

Thank you for sharing this “news” with all of us. I do not watch TV and try to skip past any formula ads in magazines, so it is likely I would not have heard of this until a client of mine asked about it. Losing sleep is certainly on of the pitfalls in the first days, weeks, months, and yes, sometimes, years of parenting. We need to promote and support a society that accepts “doing a little less” with our lives outside of our parenting duties. Paid maternity (or paternity) leave for the first year. Free in-home visits from doula’s, LC’s, and other trained postpartum/child care-support professionals. Lower expectations for keeping immaculate homes. It is amazing how much sleep you can catch up on during the day when you are not worried about getting your pre-baby body back, cleaning your house, running errands, and stressing about finances. Parents are expected to DO TOO MUCH these days, and unfortunately those unrealistic expectations will ensure that products like this one continue to be developed so that busy mom’s and dad’s can still “do it all”


Kelley September 16, 2009 at 10:16 pm

I feel sort of uniquely qualified within the AP community to comment on this, because my son actually did have thickened feeds. Since he was premature and supposedly having issues with reflux, one of his doctors recommended adding rice cereal to his bottles of breastmilk. It’d give him extra calories and thicken the milk to help it stay in his tummy and not come back up, hurting his esophagus. I’m guessing it’s something similar added to this formula, hence being able to call it “all natural.”

So, did it make any difference in his sleep once the rice cereal was gone? I really don’t think so. He did sleep well for a newborn when we first brought him home, but he slept equally well once he was exclusively breastfed, which took a month. We got way more sleep because we weren’t up all night making bottles (Daddy would feed baby while I pumped milk), and had more time for napping instead of cleaning bottles, which really pile up when you’re feeding a newborn with them! What really made the big difference in sleep quality, though, was when we ignored some other medical advice and brought him from the Amby next to the bed into the family bed. Then we could nurse all night, both drift off and wake up in the morning with him latched on, snuggly and warm – it was (and still is) pretty great.

It’s always so hard seeing artificial, inferior milk marketed to mothers in any circumstance, and it seems like a kind of low blow of formula companies to go after the sleep deprived.


Summer September 19, 2009 at 8:38 am

I find it offensive that so many breast-feeding mothers assume petty motivations in moms who formula feed. I had to feed my son formula because my milk did not come in, even after six weeks of LC visits, getting therapy for my son’s weak suckle, every known galactagogue, and even a dubious prescription medication. Here’s a novel thought for those of you who seem so eager to judge women not breastfeeding: 20% of us cannot produce what our babies need (in my case, I topped out at 3 oz/day). We just want to feed our babies and do our best by them.

I am grateful that I had a great LC who emphasized “breast nurture” even though it became impracticable to breastfeed. We shared a family bed much of the time, used wraps so that the baby was always near, and cuddled son while he bottle-fed. He is a bright toddler now, and we keep the attachment going with massage, cuddles, singing. He’s a wonderful child, we are AP parents, and we fed him formula. Formula feeding and AP are not mutually exclusive; I think these petty guilt trips against formula-feeding moms and AP are.


Jill September 22, 2009 at 7:39 am

I dont think anyone was trying to attack Mom’s who cannot BF. I think it was more an “attack” on silly products that “the man” makes. Try reading it all again and hopefully you will feel better, I am sorry you feel offended. It seemed you tried extremely hard to BF and I am sorry you could not.


Kelley September 27, 2009 at 9:45 am

Summer – I think I know exactly how you feel, because it’s how I feel when people make inaccurate assumptions and generalizations about women and babies who didn’t have a natural birth (I had an emergency c-section at 28 weeks, and my baby is the happiest one I’ve ever met). Being deprived of something we want badly, especially something like breastfeeding or a natural birth, is hard enough. It’s even harder to feel criticized by people speaking in generalizations who don’t understand your situation. It sounds like you have done an amazing job overcoming a huge obstacle, and I applaud you for it.


Elizabeth February 3, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Summer, I don’t think she spoke a single word bad about any parent in her post. The post was more a concern about a new ‘restfull’ formula is being marketed to parents desperate for sleep and how this specific type of formula can interfere with the waking mechanisms that help protect babies from SIDS.

Formula/C-sections/ect are great for their intended purpose. They save the life of mothers and babies whose bodies don’t work properly. Its not your fault if that happens just like it wouldn’t be your fault if you couldn’t walk/see/hear/ect.


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