Sleeping on the breast

Rasha - posted on 02/01/2010 ( 49 moms have responded )

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Hi ladies, I need some tips please. My 4.5 month baby will only fall asleep if he's breastfeeding. I try to take him off the breast once his sucking movements slow down but he fusses and won't calm down unless I put him on the breast again. I have to put him in his crib only after he's fallen into a deep sleep. I have no complaints about his sleep patterns, he sleeps for 8 hours straight during the night and takes a couple of naps during the day. But the problem is I don't know how else to put him to bed other than nursing. I've tried every type of pacifier and also putting him to bed and letting him cry it out but it isn't working. Any ideas???

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Cassie - posted on 02/08/2010

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I can tell you why your baby will only sleep while nursing. It's pretty simple.... it's in the routine to get him to fall asleep. I'm going to guess you nurse your baby when he cries because sucking sooths him.... that's the biggest reason he wants to nurse to fall asleep.
There are many reasons a baby cries and if you can narrow down the reason he's crying and can fix the problem and you'll see your baby is happier often times. If he's got a dirty diaper, hurt, uncomfortable, tired, or hungry... you can fix those problems easily. For a dirty diaper, you change him... hungry, feed him.... etc. Well, if you're baby is crying because he's tired, instead of letting him nurse, give him a passifier or something else to suck on. You don't need to let him use you as his suckie. If you know he's not hungry, there's no need to nurse him. It only puts stress on you physically and emotionally because you're in demand and it's so tiring (I've been in the situation myself... not fun).
Babies also just need to cry sometimes so if you can't figure out why he's crying at all... it might just be that he needs to cry a bit and express his emotions that have been building up.... everyone needs a goo cry every now and then. What works best for me is laying my baby in his crib where I know he's safe and let him cry for a few minutes (never longer than 15 or 20 minutes). You can start out with 5 minutes and just see if he calms down and falls asleep on his own. If he keeps crying, pick him up and calm him... then lay him back down and try for another 5 mintues. If this doesn't work for about 3 rounds or more, check him again and see what the issue might be.
I can almost garauntee that the biggest reason babies cry for long periods of time is because they're sleep deprived and can't put themselves to sleep. Both my boys have gone through that at one point or another (my eldest did it for the first 4 months). It really tuckered me out and caused me to get only about 1 hour of sleep every night for months on end. When I realized my baby was crying because he was tired and I was interupting his natural sleep cycle by picking him up and cuddling him to fall asleep, he was finally able to relax and get into his own routine to put himself to sleep. I tuck my youngest (6 months) into bed and he instantly knows what to do now.... sticks his thumb in his mouth and mumbles. He doesn't cry when I lay him down anymore... he doesn't usually make any noises until he's awake, actually. My oldest started to be able to put himself to sleep, but he ended up attaching himself to a special blanket... that was his soother.
Anyway, I know it's hard, but you'll pull through one way or another. :)

Sarah - posted on 02/05/2010

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my 1 month old does this too but i chuck him in bed with me nd feed him nd we both fall to sleep if he wakes up again he finds my breast nd has another fedd but will only suck for at least 2mins its great coz im 15 nd need my teenage sleep lol

Evie - posted on 02/22/2010

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Sometimes this can be a sign of over tiredness and its only when feeding that they relax enough to fall asleep. I used the book Save our sleep and taught my first born to self settle when he was about 6 months. I have a 3 month old now and applying same principals and its working great. Does he have a comforter that could help too. Good luck

Katherine - posted on 02/03/2010

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If your son is with another family member and you are unable to nurse him to sleep, perhaps a car ride would do the trick? That often worked for my kids if they were inconsolable and wouldn't sleep... just put them in the car seat, and after 5 minutes of driving they would be out like a light! Just keep trying - every child is different, and sooner or later you'll figure out some little trick that will always get him to sleep, with or without nursing. Good luck!

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Jessy - posted on 02/09/2010

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my worries with breast feeding to sleep at this age are; bottlerot, it is not good to have their teeth sitting in the sudar of breast milk when they fall asleep and it will stimulate suliva to break it down which in turn will break down the protective coating on his teeth. do you know when you plan to cut down on the sleep eating? and the other paet is learning to sleep on their own is a skill that needs to be taught. i know it is difficult but i started to slowly ween away night time feeding and for about a week it was resisted then she was fine with it and never went back we replaced it with brushing her teeth, jamis, prayers and a book. now she sleeps instantly after i lay her down. i would encourage you to be consistant when you do decide to end the behavior. this will make the transition much easier in the long run. i tried the seperation technique it worked wonders. in the crib after the routine, 5 min cry while i sat in the room with no eye contact. if still crying get up check if he is needing to burp (no talking) then put him back out of the room for 8 min. pick him up a min then right back no talking. then 12 nins same thing and longer and longer he will realize you are there and calm down eventually right to bed at sleep times. sometimes crying can be a munipulation tactiv to get to sleep with mommy. the older he gets the harder this will be

Dee - posted on 02/08/2010

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My son was and is still the same way. He's almost 18 mos and I still breastfeed him for him to fall asleep. Sounds like you have it pretty good already, with him sleeping 8 hrs a night. If you really want to break him of the breastfeeding to sleep, try having someone else(your partner, family member) assist with a new nighttime schedule for a week and see how that works out. Like instead of you putting him to bed, see if someone else can rock and sing him to sleep without you in the room. It's hard being the bottle, but I know I haven't given it up yet, because its worth every hard minute!! Although it does feel good sometimes to know that no one is relying on you for food, lol. Good luck!!

Kristin - posted on 02/06/2010

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I've heard this is common. If the nursing takes a long time for him to fall asleep and causing sore nipples then I would try rocking and singing. That worked for my daughter, but if I could help it it's just easier to nurse them to sleep, why stop what's already working?

Mae Richell - posted on 02/06/2010

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Hi there Rasha! I have the same experience, and imagine my child is already two years old and I'm a working mom. It did not bother me though. If it happens that your baby will not suck the dummy nipple, just like what happened to mine, just don't think a lot about it. The closeness that will develop between you and your baby as he grows older will be incomparable. I always think that babies like the smell of the breasts of their moms. My two-year daughter tells me that every time I feed her. She would often smell me and say "mmmm ". Whenever she does that all my worries and tiredness would just vanish literally...

Tiffany - posted on 02/05/2010

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Lisa Moreau
February 1, 7:39 am Nursing to sleep is natural and normal. If it's easy to get him off to sleep that way why not continue it? He won't need this forever.

Still happily nurse my 15 month old to sleep for every nap and three to four times a night.



--Ha ha that sounds like my 15 month old daughter. She will not go to sleep for me without being breastfed. But if she is with anyone else like her daddy or grandparents they can just lay with her or rock her to sleep. She just smells the milk or something so she wants it.

April - posted on 02/05/2010

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girl girl, this sounds like someone telling my story verbatim!!! First of all let me say... one day it will all be over and youll almost forget those days, so do treasure your time (which it sounds like you do) It doesnt bother you now, but depending on how long you plan on breastfeeding.. it will get to be a problem. My son finished breastfeeding Jan 29th (his 18month b-day) and for the longest time.. when he was younger we were the same way, and I enjoyed it.. but I say if youre both happy.. go for it, just try to introduce him to coaxing himself to sleep.. (i fewll like Ive rambled and been no help, but this is our story to a T) please feel free to contact me if you want to

Kristi - posted on 02/05/2010

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You might just have a little co-sleeper on your hands! Practice side-lying nursing positions and do a little research about co-sleeping safely. Dr. William Sears and Martha Sears, RN have great information about this topic in most of their books, and La Leche League International www.llli.org is also a wonderful resource. Considering most of the world sleeps this way, including most other developed nations, we have something to learn! You will both get much more sleep and stop worrying about when he will sleep through the night. It doesn't matter because you won't have to get up anymore. You can try when he's a little older to nurse him to sleep and snuggle him into a crib near your bed to get a few hours of sleep on your own. This is nice when they get a little kicky as toddlers, but while they are teensy, enjoy!! You will never get your baby at this sweet time again. Good luck!

Kim - posted on 02/05/2010

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Are you following an eat/play/sleep routine. Simply, when your little one first wakes you breastfeed, then allow to play before observing tired signs (ie rubbing eyes, yawning, arching back etc) then put him down for a nap. It's good to follow a bed time ritual too ie closing blinds, singing a song and placing baby in the cot awake. This should teach baby to fall asleep unassisted. I gave my little girl a snuggly (soft toy to sleep with) I slept with it against my chest for a few nights to get it smelling like me and my little girl holds on to it everytime I put her to bed. This was instead of a dummy. She was still falling asleep on the breast at night but I've just recently got her out of that habbit and she's almost one. There is a hormone in the milk that makes mum and baby drowsy so it's natural for baby to fall asleep on the breast, just do what your comfortable with.

Angelinah - posted on 02/04/2010

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I have that same problem with my 2 month old.

He wants to have the nipple in his mouth the whole time hes sleeping and sometimes i have to slowly pull it out. My nipple gets so sore from that. I've tried pulling out and replacing with a pacifier but then all i'm doing is wakin him up.

BARBIE - posted on 02/04/2010

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my son is 8 weeks old and he does the same breastfeed while sleeping thats the only thing that will make him go 2 sleep he will not use a pacifier at all. He spits it out hahaha...ummmm i say let him feed til he is really sleep and remove your breast from his mouth but not quick they can feel the movement hahah..and lay your baby down slowly...hopefully this helps..

Sarah - posted on 02/04/2010

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Someone else putting him to sleep is a whole other thing. My daughter is the same way. She is 18 months now and if I'm home she wants to nurse to sleep. Every saturday her dad has had to watch her while I work since she was about 6 months old. It was very hard for him (AND HER) to learn how to go to sleep without me. They had several bad nights, but eventually they found their way. Rocking, walking, singing, driving, they tried it all. The way she went to sleep changed through various stages of development too. Anyhow, most likely your baby will not want to go to sleep any other way if you are in the house right now. Eventually he'll fall asleep in other ways, but I don't know when. All depends on the baby. Good luck.

[deleted account]

I had the same issue, but I came to terms with the fact that I simply wouldn't be away from my baby at nap times. I did that for 1 year and 10 months, until I had to find a job when my husband's hours were cut. At almost 2 years though, my son was plenty old enough to be weaned.

I think you just need to make a commitment to never be away from the baby at nap times. Schedule everything around nap times. If you want to go on a date with your hubby, nurse the baby to sleep and go out after that. Make your personal appts. so they won't run into nap times.

Never ever let a young baby cry it out. It will raise his brain's cortisol levels to an unhealthy level if done continuously for extended periods of time.

Susan - posted on 02/04/2010

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My husband used to dance our kids to sleep. He put on a cd that he liked and bounced them to sleep.

Audrey - posted on 02/04/2010

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To Sarah Davis: PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do not let your newborn cry it out for an hour and I'm completely freaking out that this was advised to you by a pediatrician. A newborn has only a few needs - to be fed, held and clean. If a newborn cries, it's for a reason. Please, I beg you, do not subject your child to this. Even advocates of CIO would tell you not to do that until a child is at least six months old.

Anita - posted on 02/04/2010

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My son was the same way, I found that feeding him a bit then letting him get sleepy and then putting him into a warm swaddle and laying him down did the trick. There were times when the fussing went on after I put him down, but the swaddle eventually comforted him enough that he'd fall asleep within 10 minutes.

Amy - posted on 02/04/2010

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Don't worry about it. Ridiculously, I've actually got my almost 20 month old daughter falling asleep breastfeeding as I'm typing. Once the sucking has died down and she's more soundly asleep, I'll be transferring her to her cot. She's never taken a dummy - always preferred to use me as one - but I'm not complaining. It's a lovely, calming, bonding time with her and something that I'm sure I'll miss once I've finally managed to wean her. I too have tried the "crying it out" method to no avail...and I also know that it can make life difficult as far as babysitting is concerned, but overall I am much happier to continue to let her do this for the moment. Also, if I was getting an uninterrupted 8 hours of sleep, I'd be very happy (lucky you!) as I'm still giving her a feed once or twice a night most nights! :)

Allison - posted on 02/03/2010

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I just started sleep training my 3month old girl to sleep in her crib. I nursed her in bed with me. I sit on my exercise ball, and nurse her after her bath, and when she pulls off I'll gently bounce her gas out, and put her to bed groggy. If she wakes fully when she lies down in her crib, I just lean over the crib and keep nursing her until she's groggy again. I let her wimper a bit, or toss and turn until she's comfortable and leave the room. When she wakes in the middle of the night, I bring her to bed to nurse so I can dose too, and then put her back in her crib to sleep. I plan to nurse until she's 1-1.5 years old. Good luck

Neshamah - posted on 02/03/2010

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So what's the problem? If you don't have a problem with it, it shouldn't be imposed on you that it is a problem.

My son could fall asleep eventually on his own especially if he nursed first then went to bed sleepy, I think he built an association and learned to put himself to sleep. I just let him take it at his own pace and never wondered if it was 'wrong'.

Don't worry. He won't be a baby forever.

Jennifer - posted on 02/03/2010

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My 11 month old is the same way. I keep his pacifier in warm water next to me so that when he slows I drop in the warm pacifiers and he goes back to sleep. I won't lie, there is occasion for him to be awake and cry. The rule we go by is to let him cry for 15 minutes, go into him, change him if he needs it (all that crying usually means wet diaper), readjust his bedding, turn on either his music or his sounds system (rainforrest/ocean), give him a hug and lay him back down. In the beginning he would cry for two or three sessions of the 15 minutes, but now he goes right back down. I admit I sat outside his door and cried all 15 minutes, but we are all happier now. Good luck.

Becca - posted on 02/03/2010

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With my son I wasn't able to tolerate my son pacifying on the breast because of a lot of pain and discomfort from cracked nipples/yeast infection in the first few weeks. What I found worked was to stick my little finger in his mouth and let him pacify on that and then when he was older I would carefully slip the pacifier into his mouth while still keeping his nose and cheek against my breast. That was the only way to get him to take it at first and it allowed us to have the same closeness as if he was still nursing without me becoming sore again. Now he takes it no problem and bedtime is easier.

Jenny - posted on 02/03/2010

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I had exactly the same problem with my daughter - who is 16mnths now and still breastfeeding...ha,.ha,ha,ha nevertheless, what did work for me, is once the sucking movements stop, put him straight from the breast into his crib onto his tummy and gently pat him till he calms...it worked for me. Hope you come right. I see alota moms have sent in help suggestions... :)

Michelle - posted on 02/03/2010

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Your already doing it right.. your baby's happy to continue feeding and isn't rejecting you, he's sleeping for longer than most babies do which shows his contentment,.. if you werent in tune with his needs he would be awake and screaming because that's the only way babies can tell us that they want something we aren't picking up on.
Health Nurses and Doctors and "know it all parents" will argue that you need to put him to sleep in his own cot in his own room with intricate sleep rituals that promote a more settled baby and mother..blahblah.. try trusting your instincts and keep up the good work. I think your a great mum :)

Rasha - posted on 02/02/2010

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Great advice everyone, I guess I just need to stop stressing about everything and enjoy the moment. Oh and about the 8 hours of sleep...seems like I spoke too soon. For the past couple of nights he's been waking up several times. I'm hoping it's just a growth spurt but I'm determined to get him back on track!

Anahy - posted on 02/02/2010

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ok ladies, my son is 3 mths 1/2, he was the same as yours, and the truth is that it hurts because they just suck the nipple faster instead of eating, but what i stared to do is to give him a fake nipple, i dont know how its call in english but in spanish is call (chupon) it realy work to get him to sleep faster, cuz they just want to be suckin to fall sleep.... you just have to buy one in AVENT accesories for babies.... really is going to help you a lot............ trust me ladies!

Katherine - posted on 02/02/2010

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At 4.5 months, I would not worry about it. Some babies need the security of being close to their beloved Mama more than others. My one year old son still wants to snuggle-nurse for bedtime, but I know he won't do that for much longer. I had no problem weaning daughter at 2 yrs when we talked about how that's for babies. She needed the assurance that it wasn't b/c of the divorce... All babies are different. Snuggle with him while he will snuggle with you!

Precious - posted on 02/02/2010

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I agree with a lot of the other mothers. Both of my children were the same way. I just let them breastfeed until they slept. When other people got them I kind of looked at it as a test but the only people I ever let baby-sit were family. My mom, dad, and sisters were the only people to really baby-sat for me. I believe that if someone wants to baby-sit for you then they should want to build their own bond with your child which they would have to do whether you breastfeed or not. Like one of the other posters said, mommy will always be mommy and no one else can replace that for a baby even if you don't put him to sleep on the breast.

Besides you need to enjoy the time you have because as he gets more independent, the more you'll miss lying next to him and breastfeeding.

Daniele - posted on 02/02/2010

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When he's changed from really nursing and swallowing to butterfly sucking, try removing your breast gently and patting him on the back or gently rocking him to sleep. Or, if he will take a pacifier, try sticking that in his mouth at the butterfly sucking stage.



Good luck!! I think nighttime is the most challenging part of being a mom!

Marcy - posted on 02/02/2010

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Let him fall asleep that way. As long as you are okay with it...its natural, secure and he obviously finds peace and comfort in it. You wil be surprised to find that when he has to fall asleep at daycare or school he will figure out another way comfort himself. If you are getting 8 hours of sleep you are way ahead of the game. My son nursed to sleep and then got up every other hour at that age. I wouldn't sweat it,

Cinda - posted on 02/02/2010

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I'm also still happily nursing my 14 month-old son to sleep for naps & to bed & 3-4 times a night. Nursing is calming & relaxing for babies & is why it works so well to get them off to sleep. My view is, if it isn't broken, don't fix it. He won't want to nurse forever. As he gets older, he'll start to self-wean & will slowly not need it anymore. I'm told the before bedtime nursing is the last one they give up though.

Megan - posted on 02/02/2010

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My daugfhter was the same way at that age. She is now 7 months and can fall asleep other ways, but she prefers the breast and we generally do the breast b/c she likes it and it is easy! I think it is very natural and is not a bad thing at all. It will change as they get older, so I am enjoying getting to love and hold her now. I think it is excellent that your son sleeps 8 hours at a time! Mine at 7 months still will not do that. :)

Rachel - posted on 02/02/2010

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Nursing to sleep is about comfort and safety and feeling loved :) If that's what a baby needs, I'm 100% for filling that need and my older son got to nurse to sleep until he felt ready to sleep without it. My current nursling still nurses to sleep at 8.5 months and I imagine he will go much longer :) When it comes to other people soothing a baby down to sleep, they will never be able to do it the same as mom because they simply aren't mom. Whether you nurse to sleep or use some other method, another person still isn't mom! When someone else is putting your little one down for a nap or to bed, its a learning curve. They have to try different things to see what works for them and the baby--they have to find that thing that comforts babe. It may take a little time but they'll find their special thing with the baby as well :)

Melissa - posted on 02/01/2010

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I have the same issue with my 2 month old. I think at such a tender age your little one just wants mommy, and boooy they are smart. They know there's a BIG difference between mommy and some rubbery yucky pacifier! :-P
Since it seems he needs to pacify and the only thing that he'll accept is the breast since you have exhausted other options i would say you have two choices:
#1- Let him cry it out
which in my opinion is kind of sad. eventually they give in and stop crying because they realize you wont respond to it- and crying at that age is their ONLY way of communicating with you! Imagine being a helpless baby and having no way of communicating very real and sometimes scary emotions to your mommy and learning not to seek comfort from you, his mommy. Sad sad sad :-(

OR

#2- Just give him what he wants.
You'll be surprised how much you'll miss him needing you so much when he gets a little older. My toddler (almost 2) is so independent, i miss the days of cuddles and love. It's really worth the effort to show your little one that mommy will always be there when he needs you- he'll be more emotionally secure. And from experience with a needy BF baby, it may really just be easier and a quicker way to let him nurse to sleep.

Good luck!

Aliza - posted on 02/01/2010

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Im still nursing my seven month old. He never took a pacifier or a bottle and I dont want to let him cry. If he sleeps well after he nurses why make him stop? The only time I dont feed my son is when he wakes up within an hour of going to slepp- than I just rock him.

Karlie - posted on 02/01/2010

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Rasha, dont worry about if someone else has your bubs and is trying to get them to sleep. he will fall asleep when hes tired. i would make sure they give him lots of active play then when hes really tired give him the bottle and see if he will go to sleep with that. if not they can try a paci and rock him or let him cry it out a bit. it wont hurt him to cry for a little bit

Yvette - posted on 02/01/2010

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Hi there
I do what Nancy mentioned, exchanging the breast with the dummy once my 3.5mth old falls asleep while nursing (once she has slowed right down and starts getting her falling asleep twitches :)) Now she falls asleep with rocking and her dummy in all the time.

Sarah - posted on 02/01/2010

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my new born does this too.and i but her down after she has eaten and is asleep.yeah she wakes up and crys but my doc says let her cry but if she crys over an hour than try it again.(feed than back to bed)i have been doing that two nights now and she cries for abt five to ten mins than is fast a sleep for like 4 hours but she is getting better.i also use a nukie.and that helps she just likes sucking on something

Nancy - posted on 02/01/2010

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Have you tried to exchange the breast with the dummy once he fell asleep (when you try to take him off and he fusses)? That worked for me and after somew time he even falls asleep only with the dummy..little steps at a time :0) sonn he will only fall alseep with the help of me singing to him...

Also where are you breastfeeding him to sleep? Our bubs bed is attached to ours that makes it easy for me to feed him and get up once he fell asleep...I am trying now to get up a little bit earlier every time so that he starts to realise that I go when he is just not deeply alseep yet to get him used to the idea of me leaving...works pretty well...

all the best...

Rasha - posted on 02/01/2010

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it's very reassuring to know that it seems to be a normal thing and that i shouldn't worry about it too much. I have to admit that I love spending time with him and nursing him to sleep is comforting to us both. But Dana, my problem is that when I'm not around know one else seems to know how to put him to sleep. Even if he takes the bottle he wants the boob afterwards...I just want to know that there's an alternative in case I'm not around. Karlie, I'll try your tip about the pacifier. Thanks ladies!

Dana - posted on 02/01/2010

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My son does that on occasions, other times he refuses because he's just too full and prefers to be carried around! i'd rather he'd fall asleep while nursing than have to walk around, sometimes i'm just too exhausted... As long as he's sleeping well i don't mind it, i feel happy giving him this safety and cozy feeling before sleep... A couple of times he had to fall asleep without me around, taking the bottle was as good... so as long as he manages to go to sleep without me on occasions i'm fine with it.

[deleted account]

My girls did tat & my son now do it... I say im their human pacifier cause nw of them sucked a paci

Karlie - posted on 02/01/2010

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my son is the same and hes is almost one. once he gets to the point of being asleep but only nursing a little i pull my boob out real fast and replace it really quick with a pacifier then hold him close to me til he falls back into that dozey sleep. maybe you could try that? i agree BFing to sleep is easy and less hassel than letting them cry it out etc but whatever works for you girl. and congrats on the 8 hours straight a night! im lucky if i get 4 hours straight!

[deleted account]

My daughter does this too. She is 3 months old. I always end up just sleeping with her so we both end up falling asleep while she is on the breast. I want to break this habit now before it gets to the point that I can't do it. My first daughter was bottlefed and I never gave her a bottle right before bed for the same reason.

Minnie - posted on 02/01/2010

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Nursing to sleep is natural and normal. If it's easy to get him off to sleep that way why not continue it? He won't need this forever.



Still happily nurse my 15 month old to sleep for every nap and three to four times a night.

April - posted on 02/01/2010

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my son is the same way and he is almost 14 months. I tried rocking him and singing to him. it does work...BUT the catch is that is takes a long, long time for him to fall asleep. Sometimes, it will take 2 hours of rocking and singing.



Needless to say, i stopped the rocking. Nursing gets me back to sleep in 5 minutes to 20 minutes.

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