Is it ok to nurse your baby to sleep every night?

Sarah - posted on 03/10/2010 ( 19 moms have responded )

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My 5 month old daughter is exclusively breastfeed and will not go to bed much earlier than 10pm and more often around 11.30pm every night. Nursing her to sleep seems to be the only way I can get her to sleep. Is it ok to nurse her to sleep every night? Is it ok that there is such a long period with her awake? (Basically from 6-11.30pm give or take she can be awake)

She has 3 two hour sleeps during the day and sometimes a one hour sleep around 7pm. After the 11.30pm feed she often sleeps until 5.30am. She settles herself to sleep throughout the day so it is only the 11.30pm feed that I nurse her to sleep.

Naturally, I just want what is best for her - and don't want to create a situation that we have problems rectifying.

Your collective wisdom is appreciated
S.H.

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Sara - posted on 08/02/2011

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I am still nursing my 19 month old to sleep including nap times.. she can't sleep without it... and i'm pregnant with number 2 oh the joys... but I know she will stop eventually

Tama - posted on 03/16/2010

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Sounds like your baby is doing great and you are doing just fine!

I nurse my 5 yr old before bed when it's my turn to put him in. :) Not all the way to sleep anymore (unless he's sick or something and is just exhausted and he crashes out!) but both of my kids were nursed before bed. As babies, they'd naturally fall asleep on the boob. As older kids, they'd nurse and then fall asleep on their own. It was a gradual process and they did it on their own.

I'd recommend NOT trying to cut out naps for your baby in the evening. Though I don't love his suggestions for letting babies CIO, I did love the info in the book "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" by Marc Weissbluth. He explains how babies sleep better the more sleep they get. Overtired babies wake more frequently and have trouble going to sleep. I learned a lot from his book and from Dr Ferber's book about sleep, though I don't necessarily agree w/ their methods for just letting babies cry.

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Yep. It's fine. I find it pretty much impossible to not nurse my daughter to sleep. How could you not fall asleep being cozied up with your mommy and breastfeeding? My daughter is 10 months and she usually nurses to sleep. Recently, she's been waking up a little while I'm transitioning her to her crib. Now that she's older I don't have to pick her back up and start over. She lets me rub her back and she goes right back to sleep. It's really fun for me to watch how she changes and matures. She also used to go to bed really late. At around 8 months I got a better bedtime routine established and she now goes to sleep between 7-8p. Sounds like you're doing great. Babies sleep habits/patterns change frequently so don't worry too much about the months to come. Just do what you feel is best for her right now and if it stops working you can always change it!

Minnie - posted on 03/16/2010

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It's no coincidence that soporiphic hormones are found in milk and that the rhythmic motion of suckling is soothing and relaxing. Nursing is a normal and natural way to put your baby to sleep.

I still nurse my 17 month old to sleep for every nap and whenever she wakes during the night.

Everyone always assumes that nursing to sleep creates problems, that the child will 'never put herself to sleep' if nursed to sleep. But consider this- do you know of any adult who still needs to nurse to sleep? Of course not :). That's because everyone grows out of that need. Our children DO grow up and do become independent. It doesn't have to be on a time table though.

I remember at about five months old my daughters were both staying up pretty late. Sleep habits change all the time, and will progress to something more manageable. Just be patient.

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19 Comments

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Kate - posted on 08/09/2011

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Yes yes yes of course it's completely natural and wonderful for you to be able to feed her to sleep, until she's at least 9 months old she will need feeds through the night, our daughter is 13 mths and she feed about 5 times last night, on a good night we get a sleep through of about 5 hours.
As your daughter grows and starts solids I can highly recomment Baby Led Weaning, where you offer small bite size pieces of food for her to pick from. Once you know she doesn't have any allergies you can pretty much offer her what you're eating and she'll give you a clear indicator that she's had enough - it is messy, but I believe in the long run you will help her to recognise the signals of I've had enough and don't want anymore.
As far as sleeping goes check out Elizabeth Pantley in the USA for gentle ways to soothe your baby to sleep. Set up bedtime routines Like a deep warm bath, maybe a massage although this can wake up babies too and then a good long feed and wrap her up and off to bed. IF she falls asleep in your arms then wonderful, she's only going to need you like this for a few years and I truly believe if she knows she can get you now when she needs you, then as she grows that confidence will continue and she will know you are always there for her no matter what! Good luck and if you find you're tired too have a nap when she does xx

Keri - posted on 08/01/2011

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I am still nursing my daughter to sleep most nights and she is almost 2 and half. If it works for you then there is no problem with it. Non of my babies would ever go to sleep if I just paid them in their bed. They were all rocked and nursed to sleep.

My daughter is now almost 2 and half and will now sometimes fall asleep with just rocking, but I still have to be holding her. I still can't put her in her bed and have her fall asleep by herself yet.

Tasha - posted on 03/17/2010

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If she is not on a pacifier,it is normal. Babies that use a pacifier suck until they are sleep so the breast is the same way. If you think its a problem than you can introduce a pacifier.

Nicole - posted on 03/16/2010

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I nurse my 8 minth old to sleep for every nap and at night. If you would likea better sleeptome routine and want your baby to wake up when the sun rises and go to sleep when the sun sets... Google babysense.co.za buy the book, it helps you understand your babys needs and how to better comunicate what you want from her.

Other that a 5 min feed @ about 3 am my son has been sleeping through for months now, thanks to this book

Nicole - posted on 03/16/2010

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I nurse my 17 month old to sleep. She also nurses at least once in the middle of her sleep. For most naps, she nurses to sleep other than the odd times she crashes in the moby.

Candise - posted on 03/16/2010

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My daughter is nearly 2 and she is nursed to sleep every night (all night) - I am sooooo frustrated I wish I had stopped breast feeding ages ago!!!

Ally - posted on 03/11/2010

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I think it is fine and my advice is go with your instincts. You know your baby best and what works for you may not work for anyone or everyone. My son is exclusively breastfed at 5 months old and I nurse him to sleep every time. You are lucky she is sleeping so long from your 11.30 sleep - ENJOY the bonding time and the sleep and do what you think is right for your family - you are doing great!

Niki - posted on 03/11/2010

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i let my son fall asleep on the breast every night, and every nap time - but later on when it came to weaning him i really regretted it, it took ages for him to learn how to fall asleep on his own, weeks of crying. and he totally gave up afternoon naps - which really sucked! so i'd suggest at somepoint not neccessarly now but well before you plan on weaning, that you get him into the habbit of putting him down after his feed, while hes groggy but before hes totally asleep so he learns to fall asleep on his own (that also means that if he wakes during the night he'll be able to fall asleep again without you)

Jillian - posted on 03/10/2010

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for five months old that is great sleeping!!! i nursed my daughter to sleep until she hit 8 months, then all of the sudden she would only sleep if i was awake holding her, i finally had to sit next to her crib and read to her while she settled down and went to sleep, i really wanted to be as attached as possible with her but i happened to give birth to a very willful and independent baby. she wanted to go to sleep on her own when she was 8 months (took me a while to figure out that that was what she was trying to get across) now she just weaned herself at 11 months (im pretty upset about that one, but she seems fine with) it is totally okay to nurse your baby to sleep, especially at 5 months, most pros don't recommend any kind of sleep training until six months (they usually still need the nutrients of a night feed), preferably not until 8-9 months. we tried to do it but it just didn't work for us.

Zoe - posted on 03/10/2010

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I also nurse my son ( 3months 5days) to sleep, he often falls to sleep on the breast during daytime hrs, and when he wakes in the night I just pop him back on the breast

April - posted on 03/10/2010

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i hope it's ok because my son is 14 months and i still nurse him to sleep

Chaya - posted on 03/10/2010

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My daughter (now 23 months) has NEVER slept that much......I'm not exaggerating, the midwife said she had never seen a baby stay awake so long after being born! So don't worry about the length of time she is awake, I would say to be grateful for the napping that she does! I haven't had that kind of time to myself since she was born! I still nurse her to sleep at night, and it is frustrating sometimes that my husband can't put her to bed, but I remind myself that I will miss this time when she has outgrown it! I would say if you want her to go to bed earlier, see if you can cut the last nap of the day (if she won't be too cranky), but be prepared for her to wake earlier to nurse again in the night. Hope this helps!

Jenn - posted on 03/10/2010

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My daughter is 12 weeks, and she does the same thing. She wakes up at 6-7 am, has a few cat naps in the day, and has a feeding frenzy between 8 and 10, then falls asleep while nursing around 10-11. Back up at 6-7 again, so thankfully we're getting lots of sleep at night. If your daughter can put herself to sleep during the day, that's great, she'll be able to use that at night at some point. I don't see anything wrong with what you're doing.

Courtney - posted on 03/10/2010

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my little girl is the same way! im lucky if i can get her to bed before 12:30! im hoping to break her out of it tho....and she gets nursed to sleep....if she dont she wont sleep

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