Breastfeeding to sleep

[deleted account] ( 42 moms have responded )

Is there anyone else breastfeeding their baby to sleep at night and for most naps??? So many moms frown on this, but I do it because nothing else works so well with my 4 1/2 mo. old daughter, and it seems such a natural and peaceful way for her to end the day and go down for naps. She always conks out. She is sleeping through the night 9-7, doesn't cry at night and can put herself back to sleep if she wakes. She will nap on her own if in her carseat driving or in the stroller. If you are breastfeeding your baby to sleep this way or have in the past I would like to hear your opinion of pros and cons. Personally, I really enjoy the cuddle time and realize she will expect it from now on...I am just wondering how easy it will be to get her to go down for naps and sleep at night when she's being weaned. Your opinion?

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Pauline - posted on 03/04/2009

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It sounds to me like you two are doing great!  I wouldn't change a thing.  My daughter is 1 and I still nurse her to sleep at night and for naps when I'm home.  I work full time, and despite the fact that I do this, my nanny and husband can still get her to sleep when I'm not there.  Enjoy this time.  It is absolutely natural to nurse her to sleep.  I nursed  my son to sleep for naps and bedtime until he was 11 months old.  He weaned fine and now has good sleep habits.  (he's five).  I think it promotes healthy bonding and helps you maintain nursing longer (which is really good for her immune system). 

Massiel - posted on 03/03/2009

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Andrea- you sound just like me lol.  i nursed my first for 14 months.  i nicknamed myself the human pacifier because my son loved to nurse himself to sleep.  i loved the alone time, no one in the world could sooth him the way mommy could.  i had friends frown upon it but i learned that unless you are raising my child you have no say in how we coexist.  if you and your little one are happy with your arrangement then it is perfect and natural.  as she gets older she may wean herself from that routine (girls are more prone to do so than boys) and if not you can try to slowly changed her routine.  i began offering him differnt kinds of mommytime when it was time to nurse ourselves to sleep and it required alot more holding and cuddling and reading and bathing and massaging but eventually it worked.  the key was not to shock him with a cold turkey situation. i eliminated one nursing session at a time, and it took a total of 3 months to completely wean him.now  he is 2 and every once in a while he slips his hand between my breasts for comfort when we are having cuddle time.  trust that you are doing a great job- good luck

[deleted account]

You said she sleeps 10 hours at night and can also put herself back to sleep w/out nursing, correct?  Keep doing what you are doing.  It sounds great.  I nurse my 11 month old son to sleep (unless he falls asleep in the car).  A lot of nights now he is not falling asleep at the boob, but can get to sleep in his crib w/in 2-30 minutes.  Unfortunately he still wakes frequently in the night and will NOT go back to sleep unless I nurse him.  Count your blessings. :)

Allison - posted on 03/05/2009

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Hello Andrea,



I too, do this. And sometimes I also worry too much about what other mothers think, but at the end of the day, you need to do what feels natural and best for you. It sounds to me like it's something you both really enjoy...(as do I!), and as long as she's getting enough sleep and it sounds like she can put herself back to sleep, which is so good. Don't worry about what other mothers 'frown' upon, because she's your daughter and while everyone feels like their way is best...only you know what is working for you and your sweet baby. I say to heck with everyone else! I get really sick of other people judging other moms. Just go with what feels right and what is natural for you! ;) I love the time I spend nursing my son, and just try to cherish it all, because honestly there will come a time when it's over. It sounds to me like it'll be something she'll outgrow...my son is 6 months and always needed to nurse to sleep and is slowly getting away from that, on his own. I wish you the best, and if there's one thing I can reiterate, is not to fret over what other moms are doing. Just trust your instincts and enjoy every moment :)

Itsamystery - posted on 03/05/2009

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There are so many anti-breastfeeding books out there that unfortunately which undermine mothers natural instincts and have created a bunch of urban myths including the 'if you don't train them young you'll never get them sleeping alone/through the night/weaned/in a routine' blah blah blah. I don't think there is anything wrong at all with breastfeeding to sleep, it's the natural, best and easiest way to get your little one to sleep! Keep it up! Most people who wean at an appropriate age (ie when the child is ready) find that it's not a problem to find other ways to get them to sleep.

It is good to have some back-ups up your sleeve so that others can get baby to sleep when they are babysitting or when it comes time to wean. I think if you keep giving her the opportunity to fall asleep in the stroller every now and then to keep her in this habit, you won't have too much trouble weaning her off feeding to sleep.

I also think having a bedtime routine that includes things like a bath, a book, singing, cuddling, or whatever other relaxing things you like to do with your little one, AS WELL AS feeding is also good, because then when you want to wean off breastfeeding to sleep, you still have all the other activities to signal that it's time to wind down for sleep.

You're doing a great job. Trust your instincts, breastfeeding is the greatest gift you can give your child.

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April - posted on 03/14/2009

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Don't let people make you feel like what you are doing is wrong. She will probably only go to sleep for you and it can be a bit over whelming for some women, but if you are enjoying it, then you go girl. I still nurse my daughter at night. She is 11 months. Resently I have been able to nurse her for a few minutes and lay her down awake. She can go to sleep by herself. The only reason, I believe, people say negative things about nursing your baby to sleep is because it is more demanding on the mother. My son, 2 1/2, sleeps threw the night and always has. My daughter is getting there. If you have the energy to give it all to them they will love you more for it, and they will get there in time on there own. When you start weaning her, you may need some help. You won't be able to put her to sleep. It is an easier transition for them if you are not an option. With my son for one week, and that's all it took, my husband would put him to sleep. He would read him a story and kiss him goodnight, and walk away. It is hard to stand outside and not be the one to put them down, but think of it as daddy's turn. You are doing a great job!! Do what feels right. It always worked for me if I went with my gut.

Lala - posted on 03/14/2009

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I did this the entire time until he weaned himself off. My opinion is what works for you works for you and it may not work for others I tend not to care what and how other people perceive what I'm doing with my own child. My son weaned himself off by 11.5 months, he had no teeth but he did start walking at 9 months. So he wanted his independence sometimes I wish he hadn't weaned himself because the night routine can become a chore some days. And the boob was an automatic sleep button lol. Good luck! And everyone is different we have to find what works for us.

Lisa - posted on 03/14/2009

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I sure agree that the No cry sleep solution was great for me.  I nursed both of my kids past a year, and did try to develop some alternative soothing methods other than the nipple so they would be able to get to sleep and I could get some sleep, I don;t think you need to worry about that until you are a bit older, though.  Right now, you are the food source and nursing is so important.  I tried to nurse at night time, but NOT for naps so they developed another way to go to sleep.  I actually used a exercise ball ( both of my kids were colicky)  and settled them on my shoulder and gently bounced.  Sure brought up the burps, and was easy on my.  They loved the genle bouncy motion and would drop off to sleep. 

Emily - posted on 03/14/2009

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We usually staggered their bedtimes a bit, or just had a slightly different routine for each of them. When they were both nursing at night, our nights usually went something like this: mommy bathes everyone, daddy dries and gets jammies on, mommy brushes everyones teeth and hair, we all read scriptures, say prayers, then daddy reads stories to the older two while mommy nurses baby to sleep. Once baby is sleeping, mommy nurses #2 to sleep while telling #1 a story. Then lights out and we're done! The whole routine took about 2 hours start to finish... but we could do it in only an hour if we skipped the bath portion.

We moved just before #2 weaned and our routine got thrown out of whack for a while. Then it went something like this: after prayers, daddy would take baby out to hold her and play with her a bit, while mommy nursed #2 for a bit and told #1 a story. Then when #2 was asleep, or when #3 REALLY needed mommy, I'd leave and daddy would finish story time while I nursed #3 to sleep.

The nice thing about nursing a toddler is that they can wait a bit, and they can understand more when someone else needs a turn. They're not always happy about it, but they can usually be reasoned with, and will accept other substitutes like daddy reading a story, or cuddling.

On several occasions, when nothing is working right, I have nursed them both at the same time. We did this a lot when they were really little. Usually I'd nurse baby in the side-lying position, then have #2 kneel behind me and lean over to nurse from the other side. When they both got bigger I was able to lay on my back and nurse with one laying on each arm.

Tandem nursing is certainly an adventure. :) But I think it's totally worth it. :)

Carla - posted on 03/14/2009

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I don't see anything wrong with what your doing! My son is almost 6 months and acts the same way. Babies know what they want!!! A happy baby= a happy mommy!!!

Jane - posted on 03/14/2009

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Firstly, do what works for you and your baby (you are unique and no book will tell your story unless you write it).



Secondly, I come home from work tired and drained.  I love that the first thing I can expect is my two year old wanting "booboo" and I get a quick power nap and some time to switch between work world and home.



Thirdly, if you want to start weening (only if you want to or your baby wants to), try to use a substitute that is equally as nurturing; snuggling, rocking, singing, etc.  If all else fails, I'd go with the car, the stroller, or the carrier (not facing your boobs obviously) they always manage to fall asleep there.

[deleted account]

That's great...I would love to know how it worked for you to nurse an infant and an older child to sleep.  My hubby and I want more babies and I want to keep nursing my daughter as long as she wants it, but I am concerned about juggling nursing her AND an infant down for sleep at night.  It sounds like it worked for you...how did your nightly bedtime routine work out?  Oh, my daughter will not take a bottle, so it could be challenging getting her daddy to get her to sleep that way.

Emily - posted on 03/11/2009

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First, check out the "No-Cry Sleep Solution" by Elizabeth Pantley. I have loved all her books and found them extremely helpful with my three kids.

Second, My 14 month old is currently nursing to sleep at night and for all naps. My almost 3 year old nursed to sleep for bedtime and naps until she gave up naps at 2 1/2... and then continued to nurse to sleep at bedtime until we completely weaned at 2 years 8 months. This doesn't mean that I'm strapped to my kids at all times. DH, grandma, and several aunts can also get my kids to sleep without nursing (obviously), but when I'm around, they'll only accept the real thing. :) BTW... My second gave up her pacifier around 18 months, but nursed for more than a year past that... and my third has never had a pacifier. Neither of them has ever had a bottle.

Colleen - posted on 03/09/2009

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My little guy is 11 months, and lately he hasn't wanted to nurse for naps.  He still nurses at night to drowsiness, but not completely out.  I miss that he won't nurse for naps, already!  He has never had a bottle and won't take one.  Just recently his dad has been putting him down for naps and he hasn't complained.  He just plays in his crib for 10-20 mins and then goes to sleep.  I find I have to catch him in the perfect "sleep window" - not too tired yet and just getting sleepy, and then he has no problem.



It sounds like your daugher is doing so well and sleeping wonderfully!  I bet she will quickly figure out what to when she is weaned - especially if she already puts herself back to sleep during the night.  Try not to worry about it - you'll both figure it out when the time comes!  :)

Angie - posted on 03/09/2009

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If you are both happy, and your daughter is able to fall back asleep on her own, I personally wouldn't see a problem with it. I do the same thing most of the time, although it's rare that my daughter will actually fall asleep nursing anymore-it still relaxes her and gets her drowsy!

[deleted account]

If she is sleeping through the night and it works for you, then by all means keep doing it! If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

However, the reason why people say not to is because babies can start associating it with sleep, and it becomes a problem when they can't go to sleep without it. I would just be weary of that happening. I used to BF to sleep, but now I BF before bed but not to sleep, and after he wakes up from naps. It works well for us, although I did have to find other ways to settle him before sleeping. Wasn't too hard to do though.

In the end, do whatever your mommy instict tells you is right : )

Allison - posted on 03/09/2009

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Yes. And no. :-) My son is 2 and still nurses to sleep for naps, but about 4 months ago we stopped nursing to sleep for bedtime. He was at a point where he was nursing for over an hour, switching sides several times, and it was actually interferring with him going to sleep. So I set a limit: once he's nursed on both sides once, we turn the light off and go to sleep. It worked great - he was able to nurse and I was able to stay sane, plus he got use to the routine and it works very well now. He doesn't nurse in the middle of the night anymore - he was ready to stop that about 4 months ago, too. Every once in a while he needs it, but normally he just cuddles up next to me or holds my hand and goes back to sleep.

For naps, he falls asleep very quickly, so he nurses on one side and goes to sleep. Then I leave. When he wakes up, he nurses on the other side and typically goes back to sleep for a while longer.

He's always been able to go to sleep with other people when I wasn't around - they just developed their own routine. I'd have to nurse him down, but my mom and husband can rock him and he'll fall asleep. Makes me jealous a bit, though ;-)

WRT weaning - because it happens gradually over time, you'll find they'll drop off as baby is ready. Like I mentioned above, my son was/is able to nurse before bed but not need it to actually fall asleep or get back to sleep. Even the morning nursing sessions that my son used to need a lot get skipped depending on how he feels in the morning (sometimes he's so excited to get up and start playing). If you follow her cues, it'll all happen naturally without a fight.

Leslie - posted on 03/09/2009

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Hi there, My baby girl just turned 1 last month and she will only sleep in the bed if she is breast feeding. She will fall asleep in the car seat or stroller without it but I do worry about when it's time to wean her. She doesn't really like bottles either but I do love the bond we share and wouldn't change anything. Good luck :)

Kim - posted on 03/09/2009

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I always do this with my 6 week old, I never knew anything was wrong with it. But then again I am a new mom. The only probolem I have is when I am done feeding I have to burp my son and that sometimes wakes him up.

I do not see anything wrong with this and dont know why anyone would.

Odette - posted on 03/09/2009

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My baby is almost 4 months and I do nurse her to sleep and I truly enjoy the connection I have with her. However, I am going back to work in 2 weeks and she still wakes up every 2 hours at night after 12-1am to feed. She sleeps the longest only from 8pm to about 12-1am. So, our plan is to have my hubby take over one feeding at around 3am, then I do the next one at 5-6am and get ready for work. I do have to be alive and alert during work hours since I'm in the healthcare field. So, although I'm totally in love with my baby, I have to get her used to daddy feeding her and putting her to sleep in the middle of the night.

Katie - posted on 03/09/2009

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It's the most natural way possible for your baby to go to sleep! You are giving your daughter the most beautiful start in life: she's going to sleep wrapped up in security and love! Just think of all those neurons firing and connecting, setting a blue print for an emotionally stable, confident, happy young woman of the future. Hurrah!!

Such a shame society seems to place such emphasis on getting babies to be 'independent' sleepers, and self-comforters long before they're biologically or psychologically equipped. Nice easy bundle to see and not hear... So glad you're letting your baby be a baby!

Robyn - posted on 03/08/2009

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I do as well with my 10wk DD. We are working on other ways of napping but the BF to bed at night seems like it will remain part of the routine. She's done a lot of the nap time weaning herself preferring to be held and rocked or walked. I try to remember this time is short and will be one of the things I'm sure to look back on teary-eyed in the future. It's only been 2.5 months and I can already think back on the things I miss.

When my dad says I'm going to spoil her I just say, "I'm ok with that."

Cynthia - posted on 03/08/2009

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First do what you feel is right. I BF my first until he was a year old. He would always be put to sleep & naps through breastfeeding. Around 10 months of age I would pump my last feed and give Daddy a bottle to feed him so when I went back to work someone else besides me could put him to sleep.



We transitioned by Daddy feeding him with me beside the both of them, then after a few nights, I would leave the room as soon as they were settled to feed then finally I would have pumped and give the bottle to Daddy and Daddy would feed him without me present at all. it worked great.



To wean our first born we ended up mixing all foods with breast milk..(solids and liquids) so it all tasted familiar to him (worked great for introducing everything from spinach to squash). mixing breast milk with cow's milk also helped our weaning from the breast.



SO feed away and pump all your extra (if they fall asleep early in a feed pump the rest) and freeze all the extra for weaning for later.

Rebecca - posted on 03/08/2009

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If she can put herself back to sleep, she isn't dependent on the breastfeeding to go to sleep.  It is your routine and if you are both happy with it, there are No problems!

Aphie - posted on 03/08/2009

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At ten months my son still dives fr the boob when he wants to sleep or nap. It's working for us right now, so I ignore the nasty comments. :)
In the meantime we've implemented a bedtime routine, so hopefully an eventual transition will be easier.

Tamara - posted on 03/08/2009

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I still nurse mine down to sleep at almost 18 months. You're right. It's such a nice gentle way to transition them to sleep. As long as you're both doing well with it, there's no reason to stop.

Michele - posted on 03/05/2009

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i dont see how there is any more harm in nursing a child to sleep then stuffing a nuk in their little mouth.  i nursed my 9 y/o unitl he was 1 with no cereals or other solid foods, after that he had what ever he liked with no food issues. then nursed him for naps and bedtime till he was 2.  after some time it was just at bedtime and one day he went sleep without and that was it.  anyway she's your baby, do as you see fit. dont let other people make you feel like what you are doing is wrong. they are only babies and only know what they need from you.

Pauline - posted on 03/04/2009

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It sounds to me like you two are doing great!  I wouldn't change a thing.  My daughter is 1 and I still nurse her to sleep at night and for naps when I'm home.  I work full time, and despite the fact that I do this, my nanny and husband can still get her to sleep when I'm not there.  Enjoy this time.  It is absolutely natural to nurse her to sleep.  I nursed  my son to sleep for naps and bedtime until he was 11 months old.  He weaned fine and now has good sleep habits.  (he's five).  I think it promotes healthy bonding and helps you maintain nursing longer (which is really good for her immune system). 

Susan - posted on 03/04/2009

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Hi there. Ive been breastfeeding my daughter for naps and sleep since she was born! She is now 9.5 months old and Im still doing this. The only hard part is that I have to put her to sleep each and every time. And when we have sitters, if she wakes in the middle of the night its hard for them to get her back down and usually Ill have to put her to sleep before we leave for the evening. Other than that, she sleeps pretty well and goes down so easily. I love this time with her and I think its a beautiful way to get baby to sleep. People may frown upon it, but if it works for you and baby and everyone in the home is happy...then why not? Especially since she is sleeping through the night! Just hope that stays that way for you. My daughter was until around 4 months and then just now is starting to sleep longer stretches at night again. Good luck!

Shelly - posted on 03/04/2009

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I nurse Melody to sleep for her daytime naps, at bedtime and if she wakes at night. I enjoy the peaceful time with her and she just loves falling asleep that way. It's easiest and most enjoyable for both of us.



One thing that I've been trying lately is breastfeeding her as the first step during the bedtime routine, then putting on PJ's and reading. I think the change in order will make it easier to drop the nursing -to-sleep pattern down the road when we're weaning. Otherwise, she'd only be comfortable being 'attached' to me as she falls asleep. We'll see what happens!

Lise - posted on 03/03/2009

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I should add we are still nursing, I'm just trying to introduce her to other methods of falling asleep as well.

Lise - posted on 03/03/2009

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I was really relaxed about it too while my daughter was a good sleeper. But she suddenly switched to waking every 2 hours and only napping in 20 min increments when I went back to work part-time (around 4 months). That was when I realized that maybe it did matter that I was creating a bad habit. I've been working with the No Cry Sleep Solution which has some great ideas of getting a few methods of falling asleep into a baby's repetoire.



So far she is napping great without nursing down. Nights she still wakes frequently, but she is now taking a pacifier for some of them so I have hopes its working and a four hour block of sleep might be in my not-too-distant future!



My daughter was not sleeping as long as yours is even before she switched and only slept in her swing or our bed, so your situation might be entirely different. Still, it can't hurt to get a couple more methods gently into her skillset for when the time comes to wean.

[deleted account]

Thanks everyone for your insights...oh, and nope, she will not take a bottle...or a pacifier.  (Who wants that when they can have the real thing, right?) I tried and tried and finally just gave that up awhile ago.  I guess every baby is different and whatever works the best for each baby helping them be happy and healthy is what mommy needs to do.  I just have trouble with my mother telling me that I'm spoiling her lol...and I hear a lot of negative feedback about nursing to sleep.  I figure that this time is so precious...someday I will look back and have wonderful memories of cuddling her close and nursing her to a peaceful slumber.  One concern I have as well, is if I have another baby and she isn't weaned off sleepy-time nursing sessions yet...then what'll I do...I guess I have plenty of time to work that out. You all made me feel more reasurred...thanks! :)

Monessa - posted on 03/03/2009

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I nursed my older son for 13 months and sleep times were the last to go! I co-slept with him for 6 months and I believe it's natural for a child to fall asleep nursing. I now have a 3 month old that nurses non-stop at night. I'm sure it's a stage (he's a big baby) and that he'll outgrow it. The only con I have is when DH and I want some "alone" time, and the little one is unable to sleep without me. This is such a short and amazing time in their lives though, so it's worth it to do what you think is best!!

Stacey - posted on 03/03/2009

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We nurse to nap and sleep here, too. Lucy can fall asleep other ways but, frankly, it's the easiest and quickest. It's a great way to spend time together, too.



I return to work in a couple months and I'm a little concerned about her napping at the daycare. But they don't seem worried about it.



People can say whatever they want but it's your family and your decision. Keep doing whatever works and makes you all happy.

Sunny - posted on 03/03/2009

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Wow, it sounds like this really works for your baby. Basically if they associate feeding with sleeping and that is the only way they can get back to sleep and wake in the night etc to feed it could be a problem but it sounds like it is working for you!

Corinne - posted on 03/03/2009

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Don't get me wrong...I love the connection we have, but it would be nice to be able to have someone else get him to sleep if needed.  I cannot leave him overnight and I'm worried now since baby number 2 is coming in August.  I will have to leave him with Grandma and grandpa while we are in the hospital and I worry about him not being able to get to sleep.  Does she take bottles?  My son won't take a bottle so not even daddy can get him to sleep. 

Emily - posted on 03/03/2009

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I nurse my 8 mo old to sleep most of the time but he can go to sleep with Daddy or Grandma and we try to do that every few days so that he practices sleeping sans boob - I really think it's fine and so does Dr. Newman so I'm sticking with it!

Anna - posted on 03/03/2009

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I have been nursing my 5 month old son to sleep for naps and for bedtime his whole life.  I have other parts of the nighttime routine like saying "nite nite" to every family member (including pets), rocking in the rocking chair, and kissing him on the forehead right before bedtime.  I think this has helped the 2 times others have had to put him to bed.  He can also put himself back to sleep and I don't worry about when we will wean, because things have worked out pretty good so far, so when we get to that point I am confident we will work it out too.  I will dearly miss the quiet nights of he and I in our rocking chair, but I am sure it will be replaced with another special something!



He is in daycare now and they do struggle with him to nap, but when he's with me it works and it's hard to try other methods when I know it works.  He also will sleep in the car or the stroller for naps, but those are also not options for the daycare.  Just like I mentioned above, I'm sure we will figure this out too as time goes on, but for now, I will give him exactly what he needs!

Melinda - posted on 03/03/2009

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I did it until my daughter was 20 months old and enjoyed it to the fullest. She is almost 3 now and I miss it dearly.  I had no problem weaning her when it was time and have no regrets at all. I don't think there are any cons to it. It depends on how hands on you want to be with your child. If you have an active lifestyle it may cause some minor problems but if you are usually home at those times anyways you shouldn't have a problem

Corinne - posted on 03/03/2009

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My son is 21 months old and I can't seem to get him weaned from nap and bedtime.  It's the only way I can get him to sleep!  In my opinion (now) it's not a good idea because it becomes the only way they can fall asleep.  Maybe mine is not the norm, but he will sream for hours if we try to put him to bed without nursing.  It's very hard to not do it with a small baby since they are so sweet and enjoy it so much.  Good luck! 

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