Remember the sleepless nights? Remember waking up every few hours to feed a newborn? Remember feeling like a zombie the next day because you’re so sleep deprived?
Maybe you do remember this. Or maybe you have blocked it from your memory for good. Or maybe you are currently living these newborn nights right now.
We are. We are living them right now. But not because we actually have a newborn in the house.
We’re living it with a four year old. He wakes up every few hours and claims “I’m starving momma. My tummy is starving.”
What do we do? Do we feed him? Do we send him back to his room?
I think a portion of this hunger is that he likes the independence of getting up by himself and helping himself to whatever snacks he wants without mommy and daddy telling him no. Some nights we don’t even know he has woken up and gotten his own snack. Some nights he has to come and ask me to help him open the packaging of a particular snack.
Last night he went to bed around 8pm. He read books in bed and didn’t fall asleep until after 9:30pm. He was awake by 1am asking for a snack. I brought him back to his room and explained why we don’t eat in the middle of the night and explained that he needs his rest to grow. He was up again at 3am wanting a snack and wanting to play.
We’re exhausted. We’re not sleeping through the night. And we don’t have a cuddly, snuggly newborn. We have a temper-tantrum-throwing 4 year old instead. One that talks back to us throughout the night.
What do you suggest? Should we feed him and allow him to snack in the middle of the night? I’m afraid we’re creating a bad habit here by allowing him to do it. Kind of like a newborn trying to wean them from their middle of the night feedings. If he truly is hungry, I don’t want to deprive him of food.
How would you handle this situation? What should we do?