How do I stop nursing to sleep and co-sleeping?

Susan - posted on 09/26/2011 ( 10 moms have responded )

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My son is 5 months old. The only way he will fall asleep is while nursing and he will only sleep in our bed. If we try to move him, he wakes up immediately. We have tried moving him to a pack 'n play in our room but he cries right away. He used to sleep in a bassinet in our room, but he outgrew it a few months ago. In the past, we occasionally were able to move him while sleeping to the bassinet or crib, but no longer. Do I try to change both things (nursing to sleep and sleeping in our bed) at once or one at a time, and how?!? I really can't just let him cry.

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[deleted account]

At 5 months he is still very young. It's comletely natural and normal for him to want to nurse to sleep. No, it won't cause him to have to do this forever, no, you're not spoiling him, etc. etc. I know people will tell you that everything you're doing is wrong. I wish I had listened to my gut more with my first. If *you* are ok with nursing to sleep and co-sleeping then keep doing what you're doing. If it's not working for you or your family then there are a few things you can try. I definitely would not to both at one time. Too much change for baby. Sleep with one of his blankets for several nights then wrap him in it while you nurse him to sleep. When he's in a deep sleep then try laying him down. If he can smell you he may stay asleep. As far as nursing to sleep, I've heard good things about the No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley. I've never used it personally, but I've talked to other breastfeeding moms who say it works. If you wait until he's ready then it will be a much smoother transition. My 2 year old won't let me put her to sleep at all let alone nurse her to sleep. Her daddy has to be the one to put her to sleep. I miss the snuggles and I hate not being in control of her bedtime. If daddy is in the middle of something then he'll do that first even if she's clearly tired and it's so frustrating to me. Point is, they're only little for such a short time. Enjoy your baby! :)

Janice - posted on 09/27/2011

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I began co-sleeping with my daughter due to colic but ended up finding it so convenient for night feedings that we continued until she was 9-10 months. At that point I did stop nursing at night.

I agree with Sara, many 5 month olds do still need to eat during the night and you aren't spoiling him by doing so.

As for stopping, the method I used is really only for babies 6 mo. and over. My daughter was only eating 2x (over 10-11h) in the night so I began by continuing to co-sleep and cuddle her but I didn't nurse her. For her she really needed the cuddles way more then a minute or two of nursing. It was tough and she did fuss a bit but only for a few days. Once she was not looking to nurse in the middle of the night we began the crib transition. She actually had already been spending the first 3rd of the night in her crib (8-11/12) so we stayed with the bedtime routine but instead of bringing her in bed when she awoke, I would just go to her and comforted her while she was in the crib. My daughter could pull herself up so I would often hug her over the rail. I just used my voice -humming and rubbed her back. If she got extremely upset I did take her out and rocked her. The first few days were rough but after a week she was not only sleeping in her crib but also sleeping through the night 8-6.

I don't know if this helpful considering your sons age but good luck. :)

User - posted on 10/01/2011

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I agree you can't just let him cry :) When mine were little, there was one priority in my life - sleep. I actually didn't ever feel sleep deprived with either of mine because I co-slept and nursed to sleep for as long as it took. With my son, it was 9 weeks when he decided that he needed more room. With my daughter, it was 6 months.

I never put my baby to bed in my bed after the very early days (up to about 6 weeks) And they always went in a cot for naps (or left in the pram if they'd fallen asleep there). But once they woke in the middle of the night, I'd go get them, plug them in and go back to sleep.

Once they got to about 9 months and I was confident they didn't need a nighttime feed, I became distinctly boring during the middle of the night, offering comfort and only feeding if it was clear that was what was needed. Sometimes mine were thirsty and just wanted the foremilk (the watery stuff that comes first).

As a start I would suggest nursing to sleep during the day and putting him down either into his cot, or next to you on the sofa or into his pram so that when he awakes he is not in your arms. When he awakes, allow him to wake up and if he is happy don't immediately pick him up. Obviously, if he's crying, I'd pick him up straight away.

One other thing, some children who nurse to sleep, actually fall asleep before they are full. It's very tempting to stop feeding once a baby has fallen asleep. If he's not getting 10 minutes at least each side, I would strongly suggest, changing position, waking him up a bit and making sure he really is getting a really good belly full! It might take a bit longer but he could be waking up crying because he didn't get enough food to eat before he fell asleep. (My mum told me that! And things got a lot more settled once I started doing this).

Nesa - posted on 09/30/2011

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i agree with these ladies. I absolutly loved and still do love nursing my daughter. She is turning 2 in a week. She was a co-sleeper for the first year and i got her to wear i could nurse her to sleep then i would lay her in her crib as soon as she let go of me while my husband would pick up one end of her crib and gently rock her side to side to keep her alseep. It sounds kinda silly i know but it worked. She got very sick around 14 months old and her breathing was scaring me so i brought her back into my bed. She has been there up until a month ago when she asked to sleep in her big girl bed. She nurses at night time most of the time but alot of the nights she will ask for her bed and for just bedtime stories and a song instead of nursing. I have found that letting the children do it on their own time is alot easier on them and on mommy and daddy. If it becomes a problem then of course you must change it but he is still pretty young. Im not sure if the babies need the cuddles or if mommy does sometimes but either way do one at a time and above all stay within yours and your baby's comfort zone. It makes it better for the both of you .. hope everything works out for you guys good luck

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After I nurse him, my son naps in our shared bed by himself (most of the time; sometimes I zonk out next to him). We have a low bed anyway, but we have a Snug Tuck barrier pillow on his side, and I place my head pillows on my side when I'm not there. He's never fallen/crawled off, but then he's not a hard-charging kind of baby. He sits up in bed, make noise, and waits for me to come to him.



He's 12mo now, and he's been learning to scoot off the bed by himself.

Janice - posted on 10/03/2011

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@ Susan I co-slept and in the first few months I also let my daughter nap in my arms. She had colic till 13 weeks and any sleep was welcome. I was a SAHM except for classes 2.5 hours 2x a week. Sometimes, I typed papers as she slept in my arms other times I napped with her. However, as she got older she began napping in her crib. I would nurse her to sleep and then lay her in her bed. She also napped on the couch or in the pack n' play at my moms sometimes. We stopped co-sleeping (and night nursing) at 10 months.

Grace - posted on 10/03/2011

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Our son wouldn´t sleep until we bought the MamaDoo Kids mattress topper. The play yard hard board was way too hard for our son. He finally sleeps fine and I recommend it. We love this mattress topper because it folds in 3 so we take both items when we travel.

Susan - posted on 09/30/2011

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I have no problem nursing him in the middle of the night or having him in bed with me part of the time. When he was in the bassinet, I had been bringing him into my bed to nurse and sleep from about 5am until 8am. That was fine with all involved. Three of us in the bed all night is a little uncomfortable and his refusal to be in his crib at all will make naps a challenge when he is more mobile. I don't really have a problem with nursing him to sleep if he would just stay asleep! Even when I think he is really asleep, he always wakes up when moved.

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