Is there really anything wrong with nursing baby to sleep?

Sarah - posted on 04/01/2010 ( 12 moms have responded )

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Hi, I have a darling little 3 month old girl who I am breastfeeding exclusively. She has been able to settle herself to sleep independently for about a month now, which is great (I just pop her in bed, she may fuss for a few minutes, but will eventually fall asleep by herself, as long as I catch her tired signs in time).



However, some days she just seems to decide she doesn't want to go to sleep by herself and I usually end up nursing her to sleep because I don't like to see her crying and getting upset. She calms down immediately and falls asleep easily when I nurse her.



I have heard a LOT of advice about the whole feeding to sleep, most of it negative. But really, what's the big deal about it? Isn't nursing to sleep completely natural? That's what breastmilk is designed for after all. And I'm only going to be breastfeeding her for a short period of her life, so I don't see what's so bad about it.



I don't feed her to sleep all the time, just whenever she's having trouble falling asleep by herself. But whenever I do, I feel a bit guilty about it because of all this negative advice that plays on my mind.



So, I'm really just curious to find out what you guys think about it. Am I really the big bad mum if I feed my daughter to sleep? Should I be worried about "negative sleep associations" or whatever? Do YOU feed you little one to sleep??? I'm just wondering....



p.s. I've tried giving her a dummy, as she seems to be a very "sucky" baby, but she refuses to take one. I've tried several different kinds, but we usually end up playing see-how-far-the-baby-can-spit-the-dummy, so I've given up!

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Lisa - posted on 06/08/2010

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I said this on a similar thread, and I'll repeat it here - picking your nose is a bad habit. Providing your child with comfort and nutrition - at whatever time of day/night - is parenting. Enjoy:)

Katherine - posted on 05/29/2010

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I still nurse my 21 month old to sleep for almost every nap, and once or twice a week for night time sleeps (my husband has taken over getting him to sleep at night.) I look at it this way...he's certainly not going to do this forever, and now that he's a toddler, this is the longest time I have to I get my baby cuddles in for the day. If it works for you an d your daughter, absolutely do not feel bad for nursing your child down to sleep at any time. If people ask how she's sleeping, beam and say, "Fantastic!" Most people just don't need to know the details. ;)

Marcy - posted on 04/05/2010

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Sarah I have a 3 1/2 year old son who I still nurse down at night. He goes to sleep just fine when he is at school or with his daddy but when he is with me, he wants to nurse. I remember when he was a few months old thinking the same thing you did and I kept asking myself over and over again if I was doing the right thing. Finally, I just got so sick of questioning my parenting style I decided to just stop. I beleive that eventually all kids find their own way, they will eventually fall asleep on their own, sleep in their own rooms, drive our cars, hopefully graduate from college etc etc. For those of us who choice a more gentle child led way of parenting it just takes a little longer to get there. Keep doing what you are doing.

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Pauline - posted on 07/01/2010

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I don't think there is anything wrong with nurturing your child to sleep. I am nursing a 3.2 and 1.5 year old and I still nurse them both to sleep. Sometimes my 3 year old will go to bed alone but I usually end up nursing him. Listening to your child's cues and making her happy makes you a good mom :)

Aicha - posted on 06/26/2010

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I nurse my daughter to sleep it is easy and she will only be nursing for a short time it helps her relax

Rachel - posted on 06/14/2010

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If your baby could talk, she wouldn't call it a negative sleep association. In fact, she would say thank you very much mommy for the lovely milk and cozy snuggles every night. :)

I look at it this way. She's not going to come home from the prom and nurse to sleep. In the meantime, I'll enjoy her being a baby.

Ryan - posted on 05/12/2010

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I still nurse my two year old at night. When I'm at work and she's with her NeeNee, she falls asleep on her own. Don't we all have nighttime routines that help us slow down and go to sleep? I am so tired of people telling me my daughter will never go to sleep on her own. Trust your instincts. I think the parents who want their babies to self soothe just don't want to feel guilty about having them CIO. I think you are doing the right thing!

Sherree - posted on 05/07/2010

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It is completely natural. Of course you're not a bad mom. I hate that this is what the literature makes us feel. That is just so twisted. Of course it's not a negative sleep association. It's natural and soothing. The reason for all the negativity is because if you are trying to "train" your baby to fall asleep on their own, then by breastfeeding to sleep, you are not doing that. But for those of us who are less interested in training our babies to make life easier for ourselves, and more interested in doing things naturally and (dare I say) lovingly, then breastfeeding to sleep is the way we do it!

Candice - posted on 04/19/2010

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I usually nurse to sleep my 6 month old son. It's just how it is. Sometimes he just wants to cuddle other times i can just put him in bed and give him his suckie. it depends on his mood and when he ate last. i see no issue with nurturing your child to sleep...breastfeeding is soo much more than just feeding your baby.

April - posted on 04/13/2010

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I nurse my son to sleep for naps AND bedtime. Also, whenever he wakes up in the night, which is about five times (yes, really). For me, we've been night nursing since he was about 4 months old (he's 15.5 months) and I've always felt that his body must need the milk! I really don't like to try to force a baby into doing something because I need the sleep or I need this or that. I figure that his body must know what it needs!

Leighanna - posted on 04/07/2010

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Hi Sarah, I agree with Marcy as well. My daughter is like yours she will go to sleep by herself but sometimes she also needs a cuddle. I don't see any harm in letting your baby tell you what makes her happy, if that's how she settles best then as far as I'm concerned that's what is good for her. I have never worried about what other people think but have had some very rude comments about my choice to let Saffiya lead the way but at the end of the day she's a happy child so I'm a happy mummy, with lots of cuddles :)

Sarah - posted on 04/05/2010

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Thanks Marcy, I appreciate your comments. I think I've come to the same conclusion as you, just to stop worrying about what other people think/say you Should be doing and just do what feels right to me. After all, my own Mum nursed me (and my brother and sister) to sleep when we were babies, and it didn't do us any harm!! As for my wee one, she is able to fall asleep on her own, but sometimes I guess she just wants the comfort of being in Mummy's arms and in her "happy place", as I call it, and that's fine with me.

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