When the first rays of the sun hit your face as you breastfeed your baby into the wee hours of the morning, the realization of “I don’t know if I can do this much longer” hits you like a hurricane. That doesn’t make you a bad mother. Continuous all-night feeding sessions can get very exhausting and even make you wonder whether at all it’s normal for your baby to be so demanding.
Is there no end to this?
First of all, relax. You’re not alone. It’s pretty normal for an infant to want to feed all night through certain phases of their growth. But rest assured, it’ll end. Let us walk you through the whole phenomenon.
The Wonder Week – The Most Plausible Cause Of Breastfeeding All-Nighters
Okay, for starters, your baby is not demanding to be breastfed all night because they’re hungry and are not getting enough milk. There are signs you can check to be sure of that (1).
Now that that’s out of the way, as a parent you know that your baby goes through phases of extreme crankiness and clinging nature, which may result in them wanting to be latched on to your breast all the time. These periods are known as Wonder Weeks.
Although science hasn’t been able to discover why babies go through this phase of a Wonder Week, one possible explanation is that every such week marks a change in your infant’s mental development, which makes them anxious and actively seek security and comfort (2).
Since as a mother, you are their primary caregiver, they turn to you and get all the protection and comfort they need via breastfeeding. So, for example, when your baby learns how to make new connections at lightning speed, it wants to be breastfed as the closeness feeding provides helps them comprehend everything better.
What’s The Average Duration Of A Wonder Week?
Generally, a Wonder Week can be as short as a few days to as long as a few weeks, varying from baby to baby.
It can seem very challenging to go through this phase but you can be sure it’ll end, and that too soon enough.
When Do Wonder Weeks Take Place?
Wonder Weeks follow a predictable pattern, occurring every time your child takes a major a leap of development. The following is a chart stating these leaps and their coinciding weeks, which can, again, vary depending on your child-
- 1st Leap: Week 5 – When your child learns sensations
- 2nd Leap: Week 8 – When they realize patterns
- 3rd Leap: Week 12 – When they experience smooth transitions
- 4th Leap: Week 19 – When they experience events
- 5th Leap: Week 26 – When they learn about relationships
- 6th Leap: Week 37: When they begin to categorize things
- 7th Leap: Week 46 – When they comprehend sequences
- 8th Leap: Week 55 – When programs begin
- 9th Leap: Week 64 – When they get their first grasp of principles
- 10th Leap: Week 75 – When they begin to understand systems
Leap nos. 4, 6 and 10 are often the longest and occur at the same time as the baby’s motor developments (which they practice when sleeping and hence get disturbed). Apart from Wonder Week being the major reason for your baby to demand an all-night breastfeeding session, there are other reasons too. These include uncomfortably hot weather and a day full of activity which allows your baby to feed well only at nighttime.
Wonder Weeks can be very exhausting, which is why you should prepare yourself for them so it becomes easier to handle. Develop your own coping strategies and make sure you get some time off to yourself. Also, remember that it’s not your fault and this is only a passing phase.
If you have more queries or doubts or things seem unusually abnormal, be sure to consult your doctor.