putting them to bed at night

Sherree - posted on 03/11/2009 ( 37 moms have responded )

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The common school of thought now-a-days seems to be to put the baby in the crib while still awake so they learn on their own how to fall asleep. This was never the way my parents did it. They co-slept with their 5 children and my Mom breastfed us on demand during the night. So if I ask her how long it took for us to learn to sleep through the night, she shrugs and said she has no idea because it was never an issue. If we woke up and wanted to latch on, she would roll on her side and keep sleeping and feed us. She said it worked out so well for her that way, she was never tired and we never woke up crying in the night.



Now I'm not co-sleeping mostly because my husband isn't happy with that idea. But I am breast feeding my daughter to sleep every night and laying her down only when she's solidly asleep. Whenever she wakes, I go back into her room and breastfeed her back to sleep.



I feel oddly guilty about this since all the books and all the mothers I know seem to be able to put their babies down in their cribs awake. It seems like the only accepted ideas are the cosleeping one and the put them in the crib awake one. Why is everyone so negative about feeding them to sleep (letting them fall asleep at the breast)? I mean, I know the reasoning, but I guess I just wanted to know if anyone else is doing it. I argue that it's natural. I don't have any crying at bedtime - she's happy. It takes a lot of my time, but she's worth it.

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Melanie - posted on 03/16/2009

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I was doing this until my baby was about 7months...then I started letting her fall asleep at the breast but then sitting her up to burp her...that way she's sleepy but still going to sleep on her own. Helping your baby learn to sleep without you is healthy and prevents possible problems down the road. I was still getting up at night for feedings but read that once they hit 6 months they don't need to eat at night and only wake because they are rewarded. This made sense so when my daughter cried at night, I'd wait at least 10 min b/f going in to feed her and eventually she started going back to sleep in that time and now at 8 months, she's been sleeping through the night for about a month!!

I really don't think it's BAD to feed them to sleep but it'll get harder to wean them from that as they get older...

Lolly_loulou - posted on 03/16/2009

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i generally let my little girl who is 3 months and 1 week old, go to sleep in crib, but if she is a little of colour and a bit clingy then i do let her feed till she falls asleep. i only co sleep now in the mornings as she wakes up at 4 am for a feed and will have another by 7am so it gives us chance to sleep in a while.

Katie - posted on 03/16/2009

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I couldn't agree more.  I ask myself these same questions.  I often nurse to sleep and still feed my son when he wakes up in the middle of the night.  He is almost 10 months old and he does sleep in his crib.  He wakes up usually once a night, sometimes twice.  I have never understood sleep training (well, as long as I have been a mother myself) only because I don't understand the desire to forceinfants to behave in adult fashion and become independent before they are capable (just my opinion).  I I feel like we train them for our own convenience.  I will say, however, that I am a stay-at-home mom who can sometimes recoup sleep during the day after a particularly bad night.  I can understand how families who work would be anxious to get a baby sleeping through the night. 



Our pediatrician said that at 6 months they do not "need" to nurse at night.  But, I feel that whether it is for nourishment or comfort, I would like to be there for my son.  I think their desires are primal and they desire to feel safe and secure.  Where are they more safe and secure than in your arms, at the breast?



I am a big fan of bed sharing, but felt that if I continued to co-sleep or bedshare it might negatively impact my marriage.  Though, we do bedshare with our son for naps and in the mornings often times.




Anyway, I'm not saying that sleep training is wrong, but I don't think that our way is wrong either.  Curious to hear other peoples thoughts...

Emily - posted on 03/16/2009

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Quoting Brittany:


You don't want to become a human pacifier..... then they'll have problems falling asleep any other way or with any other person.





This is what my mother told me when my first was born. Since then, I've realized that a pacifier is just a fake boob... I'd rather my kids have the real thing whenever possible. And while my kids will only accept the breast when I'm putting them to bed, they have no problems falling asleep with daddy, aunts or grandmas with stories & cuddling instead of nursing. 

[deleted account]

I feed my bub to sleep ever night. Try to ignore what everyone else is doing...you'll drive yourself crazy. Whatever works, works!

Brittany - posted on 03/16/2009

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I think it's just fine to nurse a baby to sleep.... if their hungry & tired.... but if it's just used as a way to get them to sleep I think that could lead to problems. You don't want to become a human pacifier..... then they'll have problems falling asleep any other way or with any other person.



 

Kathy - posted on 03/16/2009

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Glad to hear I'm not the only one! I think it's cruel to let babies "cry it out" so they "learn" how to sleep. I think that is only teaching them apathy - they learn that no matter how long or hard they cry and want mom, she's not coming. My baby is now 17 months old and I could use more sleep, but she is totally worth it. She's secure and knows mom is always there for her.

Emily - posted on 03/16/2009

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I have to say Jess, I LOVED your post. I have discovered more and more that mothers should do what they feel is best for their family. It's great to get other tips and opinions from other mothers... but what works for me may not work for others as well... we should definitely find what works best for our own situation and stick with that.

We do co-sleep, though not for 3-4 years (though my 3 and 4 year old are still welcome in our bed if they choose), and we also enjoy our space as a couple, so our baby is in a side-carred crib... as long as we're all sleeping well, and all enjoying our sleep arrangement, we stick with it. Once we get to a point where someone isn't happy with the arrangement anymore, we tweak it to find something else that works. About a year ago we realized we didn't sleep well with three kids in a queen size bed with a side-carred crib... so we moved the two older ones to their own room. We've all been better sleepers ever since.

Jess - posted on 03/15/2009

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As a rule I do not nurse mine to sleep unless it is the middle of the night and they just happen to fall back to sleep.  From the beginning I have made a habit of putting them to bed awake - that's not to say we don't have the occasional drift off while feeding where I just put them to bed (although if it starts becomming a habit I start changing their nappies to wake them up before putting them down).  We don't co-sleep for two reasons, I just don't sleep well with kids in the bed and we like to have our own space as a couple - but that's not to say that I haven't fallen asleep while feeding in bed at night or deliberately tucked them in with me when they were unsettled, unwell or just because I felt like it!  But as a rule, they are in their own bed in my room at least until they are sleeping through when they move to their own room.



Does that make me a better Mum than my girlfriend who is a passionate co-sleeper and was still feeding her oldest to sleep when she was two and a half?  Certainly NOT!



I do things my way because that's what works for me.  Amongst my four there have been good sleepers, not so good sleepers and the odd stage of REALLY BAD sleepers (one went through a stage of wanting to play between 3 and 6am once :S  He was over one at the time though). I have breast fed the older three until they self weaned at between 13 and 16 months and adored feeding them (my youngest is only 8 weeks).  The more kids I have, the less I believe that there is a particular way of doing things that makes me a good or bad mother and the less I care what other people think!  Having my kids able to drift off without me there works for me - others prefer to do things differently.

Emily - posted on 03/15/2009

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Teresa - Check out the "No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers & Preschoolers" by Elizabeth Pantley. She's got some great suggestions that have helped all my kids become better sleepers. Good luck!

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I used to nurse my son to sleep every night.  It used to be easy, but as he got older (he's almost one now) it wasn't working so well.  After nursing him 4-5 times w/in an hour for too many nights in a row I couldn't do it anymore.  I put him in his crib and sat on the floor next to him til he fell asleep.  It took about an hour.  Now, some nights he falls asleep while nursing, but most nights he is still awake.  As long as I sit by his crib he doesn't cry and it takes anywhere from 2-30 minutes for him to fall asleep. 



In the middle of the night is another story.  He still wakes 2-4 times a night (has slept 8+ hours only a handful of times).  I nurse him back to sleep cuz it's a lot faster and easier.  Twice now I haven't nursed him and it has taken around 20 minutes for him to fall back to sleep, but he just wakes up again 1-2 hours later.  I'm at a loss of how to cure that w/out missing out on any MORE sleep which I definitely can NOT afford to lose.

Rachel - posted on 03/15/2009

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I don't belive in crying it out so I was always involved in some way or another in getting my son down to sleep when he was little. Sometimes he nursed, sometimes we cuddled, sometimes we rocked--it depended on his mood and needs that particular bedtime. If I was away at bedtime, he might grump a little but whoever was watching him could also rock/cuddle him down to sleep. He's three and a half now and has no problems getting into bed and laying there until he falls asleep.

Carly - posted on 03/15/2009

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You have to do what is right for you and your family. My only concern would be if your little one falls asleep on the breast she may have milk sitting in her mouth while she sleeps and could end up with cavities.

Krista - posted on 03/15/2009

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i think if you don't mind and it works for you then don't worry about what anyone else thinks!! i did the same thing. my only regret is that my son is 19 months and STILL can't fall asleep on his own, and i'm ready for him to be able to do that! i think it's probably easier to get them used to it earlier (after 6 months but before a year). my pediatrician and every other "wise" mother on the planet was urging me to do so and i didn't listen. now, i have full blown tantrums at bedtime unless i stay in the room for 2 hours. it's also difficult b/c now i'm the ONLY one who can do bedtime. this makes going anywhere past 8pm impossible.

Krista - posted on 03/15/2009

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i think if you don't mind and it works for you then don't worry about what anyone else thinks!! i did the same thing. my only regret is that my son is 19 months and STILL can't fall asleep on his own, and i'm ready for him to be able to do that! i think it's probably easier to get them used to it earlier (after 6 months but before a year). my pediatrician and every other "wise" mother on the planet was urging me to do so and i didn't listen. now, i have full blown tantrums at bedtime unless i stay in the room for 2 hours. it's also difficult b/c now i'm the ONLY one who can do bedtime. this makes going anywhere past 8pm impossible.

Whitney - posted on 03/14/2009

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I used to nurse my daughter to sleep but found that when she would fall asleep and I would put her in her crib, she would wake up. I would pick her up, she would go back to sleep, put her in her crib and she would wake up. I eventually had to let her cry it out (at 7 weeks) because there was no other option. She is now 7 months old and is sleeping through the night and if she does wake, she puts herself back to sleep. But, if you are able to nurse her and put her down and she stays asleep then don't worry about it!

Emily - posted on 03/13/2009

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I nursed my second daughter to sleep for naps until she gave up naps at 2 1/2. I continued to nurse her to sleep at bedtime until we completely weaned at 2 years 8 months. This included 13 months while I was nursing my second and third at the same time. My third daughter is now 14 months and still nurses to sleep for every nap and bedtime, unless we're driving somewhere. We do co-sleep, and enjoy it quite a bit and haven't really noticed a major lack of sleep (which is probably why we're expecting baby #4 now... and our oldest is not quite 4).

I really enjoyed the "No-Cry Sleep Solution" by Elizabeth Pantley, which does emphasize helping babies to self-soothe (without crying) and putting them down awake... eventually... but as long as nursing to sleep works and they don't have excessive night wakings, I see no reason to change it. :)

Kristel - posted on 03/13/2009

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I don't think you should feel guilty at all. We co-slept with DD until she was 10 or 11 weeks old, and since she has been in her crib, I nurse her to sleep almost every night. If she does not fall asleep while nursing. I rock and sing her to sleep. We did a few nights of putting her in the crib awake and letting her cry for 5 minutes before going back in, but that was not for me. She's happier this way, I'm happier, and I actually enjoy that time with her. She sleeps 8-9 hours each night, and when she wakes up, she does so peacefully and doesn't freak out to find herself alone in her crib. So I don't see that it's doing any harm.

Geneva - posted on 03/13/2009

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I nursed/rocked my son to sleep until he was about 9 -10 mos old, & I'll tell you why I stopped. As he got older, he actually seemed to be waking more frequently. We never had any problem getting to sleep in the first place, but he'd wake up in the night not wanting a feeding but desperate for attention & unable to fall back asleep without being rocked. Once in a while was ok, but then it was every night, & then it was 2-3 times throughout the course of the night. I had to do something so he wasn't relying on me to fall back to sleep during every light sleep cycle. Once we settled on a sleep training method, part of which for us, meant separating nursing & bedtime, the night wakings stopped almost immediately (he now wakes between 4&6 for an early feeding, & only wakes in the night when he is sick or teething). I'd say if you are comfortable with your current situation there is no reason to change it. I loved the book sleep solutions for your baby toddler & preschooler b/c it outlined all of the sleep "schools of thought" that are out there & weighed their pros & cons, & above all else, emphasized the fact that there isn't one sleep method or idea that works for every child or parent. You & your child are unique, & only you can decide if you even have a sleep problem, or what to do about it if you do. Sounds to me like you have everything under control!

Tamara - posted on 03/13/2009

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I nursed all my kids (8, 3 and 11 months) for the first year. When my first was born, I ended up co-sleeping w/ him.  He slept better, and it was easier to nurse in the night.  This went on for about 4 1/2 months.  After that, I had to rock him to sleep, which often took about 2 hours.  I had to hear that deep sigh that meant he was sound asleep.  (You know the sound!)  Finally, at about 6 months, I tried letting him cry, but my heart couldn't take it.  At 7 months, however, I did it, and it worked within 5 days.  While I felt guilty, I had to remind myself that I was teaching my son how to learn to sleep and sleep well throughout the night.  I also needed to have some moments in my day where I could get something done or even just spend a few minutes with my husband before falling over asleep myself.  I did feed my son throughout the night up until about 8 months old when I figured out he didn't need to eat.  He just woke because he was used to it or to me giving him a binky.  I just bought more binkies to put all around him in his bed so that he could find one on his own wherever he was in his bed.   Eventually he started sleeping 12 hours.  My daughter, 3, was a different story.  I put her in her crib on her back around 10-12 weeks just to see what happened, and she fell asleep on her own.  There really was no "teaching" her.  I felt guilty that I didn't rock her all the time like my first son, but she was quite a happy little baby who was easy to put to bed and seemed to enjoy that time to herself.  My baby, 11 months old, has been a totally different story!!  Maybe it was me who treated him differently thinking it was my last chance to do the mommy of a newborn thing???  Anyway, we had rough nights of him crying, but once we made it through that patch when he was about 7 months, it's been wonderful! He nurses...I brush his teeth...Then he's put to bed w/ his blanket and drifts off to sleep on his own.



Some facts from the pediatricians that helped us with our decisions.....



*Babies shouldn't "cry-it-out" until about 6 months old.  That's when their brains are "mature" enough to understand demanding/needs, etc.



*Unless there's a medical issue, babies don't need nourishment in the night after 6 months.  One dr. said a baby can sleep through the night once they reach 12 pounds.  (Not sure about the weight thing, but....)



*Sleeping through the night doesn't mean 10-12 hours....6 hours is a full night, so to speak, for a young infant. Older babies can go longer.



I've done a little bit of co-sleeping, rocking to sleep and crying it out.  I do believe every baby needs to learn to sleep on his/her own.  It makes for more peaceful nights for everyone as there's less waking during the night.  It also helps us parents, too, for we haven't exhausted all our energy on bedtime.  Nor does bedtime for baby mean bedtime for us.  It gives my husband and I some great couple time (or allows us to go out knowing our kids will go to bed easily for a sitter).



My babies are worth all the time and energy I've spent on them, but I'm worth it, too.  They have a happier mommy if I've been able to get them to bed and have time to do my Bible study, spend time w/ my hubby, finish a task needing done or simply going to bed myself.  I'm more rested and refreshed and able to handle whatever they throw (literally, sometimes!) my way.



 



 

Allison - posted on 03/13/2009

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Quoting Martina:


On the other hand, it is good that they know how to fall asleep on their own so they don't rely on you to put them to sleep. See what works for you. 


I agree with most of what you said, except for the above. I think they eventually are developmentally able to fall asleep on their own and it's not something you need to teach or train or push. So, yes, it is good they can fall asleep on their own, but for babies and toddlers I don't think it's necessary nor developmentally appropriate and the pressure we as a society put on moms to get their babies to "sleep through the night" is silly. Very few children over preschool age can't get themselves to sleep - and it's a process. Developing a routine - doing the same things every night that cues the body to prepare for sleep - is very important and can start as an infant, but since so many things change for kids between birth and age 3 or so, I think sleep and routine consistency is just so hard. We make too much work for ourselves as parents! 



I honestly believe if we support sleep, follow our babies/toddlers cues, and just relax that they will get to a point that they don't need us as much anymore. Sleep happens! It may be more work for us in the short term, but it's really only a short amount of time in our lives and our children's lives.

[deleted account]

I've read that if you're nursing to sleep but your baby is sleeping well, then you shouldn't have to stop what you're doing. I think the problem arises then the baby starts associating nursing with going to sleep, and can't fall asleep without it. With many babies when you put them into their crib when their sound asleep, they become disoriented when they wake up and upset because things are not the same as when they went to sleep. Then they cry to be nursed and for things to be returned to the way they like it.



I say do whatever works for you and your baby. I've read so much on babies and sleep (mine does not sleep well), and it does seem that everyone has something different to say. I use the info I find works for us and ignore what I think is silly. But everyone is different. If your baby has no problem going to sleep without nursing, then you shouldn't have to worry about it. On the other hand, it is good that they know how to fall asleep on their own so they don't rely on you to put them to sleep. See what works for you.



Good luck!

Eleanor - posted on 03/13/2009

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I do the same thing.  We don't co-sleep for the same reason but the crib is in our room and I nurse my guy to sleep as well. I've had no luck with putting him in awake and letting him go to sleep on his own.  I really don't have a problem with it either, and I know a few mom's who do the same.  My guys a very happy healthy and active guy.  I'm also of the school that every baby's different and most of the books and theories are written by men and/or don't apply to most babies.  I've pretty much ignored most books as they contradict each other anyways.  And I'm much happier for doing that, and my baby's happy and well-adjusted.

Allison - posted on 03/13/2009

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Yes, I nurse my kids to sleep. Neither of my kids have been the type that would fall asleep if put in bed drowsy - it just caused them to scream and wake up more. My son night-weaned on his own at about 20 months, which was when he was ready (and after his 2 year molars came in). Several years earlier, I forced my daughter to nightwean at 19 months, and she still woke up several times a night until those molars arrived, so I really didn't see the benefit of nightweaning. I honestly think that nursing to sleep will work just fine until they are ready to stop on their own.

Devonie - posted on 03/12/2009

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Quoting Devonie:

...he wakes up far less often, and gets himself back to sleep much quicker... But he still doesn't know how to get himself to sleep...






To clarify:  He gets back to sleep much quicker.  He does not get himself to sleep. ;)

Devonie - posted on 03/12/2009

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My son will turn 1 next week. He has always been breastfed to sleep before naps and bedtime. He slept in a bassinet next to our bed for 4 months, then moved to his crib. When he would wake at night, I would go in and BF him, then put him back in his crib once he was sound asleep. Two months later, he started to wake up when he would be laid back down, and he's just naturally a puker (cry hard=vomit city). In order for either of us to get any sleep, he started sleeping in our bed. He hasn't slept in his crib in almost 6 months. It is definitely easier, and there are far fewer tears... but I have recently stopped feeding him during the middle of the night. The problem I have found with BFing during the night is that he had grown to expect it, and would therefore awaken more often. Since I have stopped nursing mid-night, he wakes up far less often, and gets himself back to sleep much quicker. Of course, he's almost a year old, not a newborn. But he still doesn't know how to get himself to sleep. We do what works for us.

[deleted account]

Sherree, I totally understand how you feel about being the only one to BF baby to sleep and everyone else not doing it. I guess people are now focusing so much on themselves and not on the baby. They feel its too demanding and easy to let them cry to sleep as all they have to do is shut the door and walk away! BF is natural and less stressful but I guess it maybe be harder to change it as the baby gets older and used to fall asleep in the breast, thats my case with my 18 months. I would suggest that you also make sure your partner or someone else can put baby down to sleep every now and then so you know baby can also fall asleep with someone else by rocking for instance. If baby is too upset than BF and try again another time.

Good on your mum for doing it with 5 children! Thats a great inspiration and help for you, good luck!

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Go check out "The Breastfeeding Book" by Dr. William Sears and his wife (ISBN number: 4467780110). AMAZING book.

Until recently, I had been 50% co-sleeping, 50% bassinet by the bedside. I had nursed him to sleep until he turned 7 months, when I began weaning him off the night feedings (I have a 2 and 4 year old, and the sleep deprivation was really starting to get to me). After 6 months, night feedings are not nutritionally needed.

Dr. Sears has suggestions, but also says that if you ENJOY it and it is working for you, then do it. However, if you begin to resent the time it takes to get baby to sleep, or need to get a full nights rest, then look into other options.

Darci - posted on 03/12/2009

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They say you can't spoil a baby.  My daughter had no problem with putting herself to sleep in her bassinet from the day she was born.  I had no problem nursing her and putting her to sleep in her bed awake; she'd happily put herself to sleep.  But, my son was a completely different person.  He "needed" me from the day he was born.  He is definitely a mama's boy.  He liked to be right next to me to sleep and get to sleep.  So, I nursed my son on demand and usually until he fell asleep.  We co-slept for a while, but it wasn't long before I'd put him in the bassinet to sleep after he was already sleeping.  I slept better when he wasn't right next to me.  He was about 9 months old when I put him to sleep in his crib (in his sister's room), and I did let him cry it out, but within a couple days he was putting himself to sleep without a problem.  He still woke up at night to nurse once, but he's go back to sleep/bed quite easily.  He nursed until he was about 17 months old.  He is currently 23 months old, and a very well adjusted little guy.  We moved him into a twin bed (with rails) when he was about 20 months old, and he does great and sleeps through the night.  My two children share a room.  They are both great sleepers!  Do what you feel is right!  Each baby is different and has different needs at different stages in their life.

Elyse - posted on 03/12/2009

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I nurse my son to sleep. He is now 7 1/2 months old and I'm running into a lot of sleep problems. He still wakes up in the night to eat... I'm wondering if the nursing to sleep is causing it...? Either way, I know that it won't last forever. He wants to be with me. He loves to nurse. I will continue to nurse him until he doesn't want it anymore. It doesn't hurt me to be there for him whenever he needs, so I don't see any problem with doing so

Chani - posted on 03/12/2009

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I am in the exact same situation. I nurse my seven week old on demand day and night.  I also cosleep with her and I wouldnt have it any other way. Its what feels natural to me. And like your mother,  My daughter NEVER has cried in the night since birth. If she wakes and is hungry, I simply roll over and nurse her back to sleep. I see nothing wrong with this. She is still able to fall asleep not on my breast but its just a nice way for her to fall asleep.  It is very time consuming to nurse on demand but I feel its the most natural way. If you look back in the olden this is what people did and if you look at any other species, this is what they do. So do what feels best and whatever makes you and your baby happy! Good Luck Mama!

Alison - posted on 03/12/2009

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I've always nursed my son to sleep and never had any sleep issues at all. He's happy and I'm happy and I don't see any potential problems with that. Of course it may change when he gets older than his four months.

Tracy - posted on 03/12/2009

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I too nurse my son to sleep - and I see nothing wrong with it. I will also agree that it's only natural to do so. My son is almost 4 months and I nurse on demand, so during his night feedings ( if he does feed ) I feed him to sleep in my bed then put him in his crib - this routine works for me. I also cosleep with my son sometimes ( not too often though as he is getting older and is now starting to sleep through the night) Everyone has a routine that works for them, I say keep on doing what you're doing ( as long as the routine works for you )  You'll know when change in the routine is needed.

Michelle - posted on 03/12/2009

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I co sleep with my 3 month old, she can fall asleep on her own tho, she did use my breast to fall asleep but i didnt like her doing it all the time so i just give her a dummy now if she wakes and that does the trick. I dont think there is anything wrong with it tho, just do watever works for you. My oartner doesnt like our daughter bein in bed with us bu i just tell him to suck it up! After all its not him that has to get up every time she wakes.

Dana - posted on 03/11/2009

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Wow, good post. While I don't co-sleep with my son, his bassinette is in my room for on-demand feeding. The only time I put him in his bassinette is when it's time to sleep (long nap time and night time). So he associates the bassinette with sleeping and nothing else. Our routine in the evening is his bath, massage, and then a good feeding. Sometimes he falls asleep while I rock him, other times I put him in his bassinette still awake (but drowsy). He eventually falls asleep without any fuss.

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