Nursing baby to sleep.

Jennifer - posted on 02/09/2011 ( 9 moms have responded )

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I've seem to have gotten into the habit of nursing my 7 month old to sleep. I didn't mean to develop this as a habit but I feel it might not be a good one. She does not know how to self soothe to sleep and she sleeps with us in our bed. I would like to break the cycle of nursing to sleep before I transition her into her own bed but feel a little uneasy about the transition. I've tried letting her cry to a certain extent to sleep but she doesn't go for it. I used to rock her to sleep but even that doesn't work any more. Do you think she is too young to quit nursing to sleep? If letting her cry while letting her know I'm there is the only way to break this cycle....how long do I let her cry for? She won't take a pacifier but she will drink water out of a bottle. Will nursing her to sleep rot her teeth? My husband says she'll learn to fall asleep on her own eventually so I shouldn't worry about it. Do you think that's true? Has anyone ever had this issue?

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Aleks - posted on 02/10/2011

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It sounds like you are worried if you are doing the right thing given that every where you look everybody tells you that nursing to sleep is a "BAD HABBIT" and it should stop. Same with sleeping with you.

What do you feel and think. Forget the general "opinion". Follow what feels right for you.



Oh, and btw, nature designed bf to do many things and one of them is to soothe the baby and the mother. Certain chemicals and hormones are released during nursing that actually relax, soothe and induce sleep - in baby and mother! Yep. So, it is one of the most natural things to do. However, that being said and done, you do what YOU feel is right for you, your baby and family.

I followed the popular consensus with my 1st born and totally stuffed things up, which resulted in none of us sleeping well (me, my partner and the baby), a nervous and anxious baby then toddler (around sleep time) - which spilled over to day time. And generally a lot of stress, anxiety and battles! Needlessly.

Now, with my second, and armed with a whole lot of information I let her take charge. I am happy to bend to her, as it allows me more sleep! And that also means that my parter gets more sleep (ie, no more battles in the night with a screaming baby/toddler over sleep) and so does my 1st born. I have breastfed her on demand, which she ended up getting into a pattern of feeding to sleep. I still feed her as a 24mth old to sleep - its how she has always gone to sleep (however, if I am out and not at home she happily will go to sleep cuddled to her daddy or grandma who is babysitting). She still feeds at night on average 1-3 times. She sleeps with me. It works for us. Many bf toddlers sleep thru the night and not need nursing at night. However, most toddlers bf to "natural duration" do feed to sleep, among other things.



Now, you may not find that you are willing to do this with your child/baby for whatever reason, but you have to find out what it is that YOU feel happy about doing.



As for rocking her to sleep, she may no longer accept that because may be she is sensing that you are wanting to pull away from her during this time and her only response would to to cling harder out of fear. Just a thought. My 1st born did the same thing - the more I fought against his needs to be soothed by me the more he wanted to cling to me.



Oh, btw, nursing to sleep will NOT rot teeth!!!



There is a book you may want to look up: "The No-Cry Sleep Solution" by Elizabeth Pantley. I am sure it will help you some what. It has more gentle approaches to sleep for babies rather than the "popular" method of letting babies cry.



Good luck :-)

Aleks - posted on 02/10/2011

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Oh Jennifer, one other thing:

Your baby will not require you to breastfeed her to sleep when she is 10 or 15. LOL so don't worry :-)

She is nothing but a very little baby. Enjoy the beautiful snuggle and the amazing thing you can give to your baby - ability to put her to sleep. Trust me, in a few years time you will so cherish those memories, and wish you could still do that. Our children grow up soooo quickly ( I know that it doesn't feel like this for you now, but believe me, it DOES go all so quickly). Enjoy every moment that she is a baby and doing all those baby things, they don't last long (in perspective of time of their lives)....

We all are (as 1st time parents) focusing so much on doing things "the right way" that we forget that there is another little human being involved in that equation and s/he too has wants and needs. And THAT has to be a big factor in consideration of what works for one family and not another. I wish I was told and explained that when I was 1st time mum. Unfortunatelly I had to learn it the hard way.

Oh, and my 1st born, still has some sleep issues, he is now 5. Generally he is pretty good sleeper, but like Amy, my son still would prefer to sleep with me and in my bed than his own (though at times he does make the distinction of wanting to sleep in his own bed, yay!). So I am hopeful that in not too distant future he will feel confident and "secure" enough to sleep on his own because he wants to :-) and not because we need him to or want him to.

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Jennifer - posted on 02/12/2011

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Thank you ladies for all the support. I bought that book "The No-Cry Sleep Solution" that you suggested Alek and I love it. I'm halfway through and I started the sleep logs today. I want to give this book to every mother I know. I love love love the fact this book is soooooo against the cry-it-out method and the author who did the research breast fed and co-slept like us. Thank you so much for suggesting it. You all gave such wonderful advice and support. I can't thank you enough.

Larissa - posted on 02/11/2011

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Sounds like everyone has given you some good info. My 2 1/2 year old nursed to sleep until he was 22 months. He slept with us until he was about 27 months, then decided to leave our bed on his own. He still visits our bed occasionally though! :)

Anna Marie - posted on 02/10/2011

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As others have said - this will pass. My 4-year old nursed to sleep forever...or so it seemed. He night-weaned around 2.5 b/c I was pregnant and couldn't nurse for very long at night. He still likes to snuggle with us and co-sleeps, but does not nurse at night. We struggled with bedtime for awhile, ended up driving him to sleep many nights, but have gotten into a good spot where he is able to fall asleep with a book and 10-15 minutes of snuggles with papa. He was always a mama's boy a tnight, so I never thought my husband would be able to put him to sleep. But, it happened!
You're doing a great job, and helping to teach your little one that mama loves them tons and is there for them :) Way to go! Good luck, and listen to your gut!

Amy - posted on 02/10/2011

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Jennifer my son who is 5 has always had sleep issues. I only nursed him till about 6 months old because I work full time and he preferred the bottle. His crib was in our room till he was a year old but he never slept in bed with us till he was about 2. At 2 he was allowed to get into bed with my husband in the am so he could get an hour or two more of sleep since he doesn't get home from work till 3 am. As time went on it got more and more difficult to get him to fall asleep in his bed, and you couldn't leave him till he was asleep. By 2 1/2 his imagination took over and there were people living in his closet who would tie him up at night and tell him to go to sleep (maybe I should of actually done that), but we just gave up for our own sanity purposes and let him come into our bed. Last year we moved him back to his room because he was waking up when his sister woke to eat and it was too much. Like I said he now starts in his room but comes into ours in the middle of the night, it works for us but I know a lot of families couldn't deal with it. I guess some of his sleep problems could be because my husband and I were first time parents but I honestly think personality is a huge factor, I can't even get him on a bike because he's afraid he's going to fall off and he's never been seriously hurt by anything. When my daughter was 2 weeks old I remember trying to rock her to sleep and she was so fussy I put her down to get something for my son and she was asleep within minutes, so from that moment on we never rocked her. Even now if I try rocking her to sleep she'll push me away and I'll put her in her crib, she'll grab her blanket and drift off to dreamland!

Jennifer - posted on 02/10/2011

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Amy did you nurse your 5 year old to sleep and co-sleep? Did her sleep issues start when you stopped nursing to sleep and co-sleeping?

Jennifer - posted on 02/10/2011

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Thanks for your suggestions ladies. I am a first time mom and I sometimes struggle with what's right for me and what's right for Violet and if they are one in the same. I was very nervous when she was born to the point I thought she would die if I let her cry too long. I don't mind nursing her to sleep but I just don't want her to have issues in the future. Her daddy has tried to soothe her at night but she screams for me. He works and I stay at home. From the beginning I took over everything with Violet because I wanted him to get adequate sleep for work. He does take over when I tell him to but I still have a hard time letting her scream. I can stand her crying but she has a certain cry/scream when I know enough is enough. I will definitely check out that book you suggested Alek. I agree with you that the "popular" methods are not our methods. We are perfectly happy with her in our bed and bfing on demand. Thanks for the support ladies.

Amy - posted on 02/10/2011

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I can only speak from my own personal experience and that is all children are different. My now 5 year old still has sleep issues, he will not fall asleep by himself and if we can get him to sleep in his own bed at night 90% of the time I wake up with him next to me in our bed! My 10 month old never wanted to be held as a newborn when it was time for bed she would actually be really fussy until we put her down and then she would fall asleep on her own. Even now she prefers to nurse and then go into her crib but some nights she does fall asleep.
My opinion is that you should do whats right for you and your family. If it bothers you then try and stop it, if you're concerned only because your afraid of what family and friends say your baby should be doing then let it be. I would think though if it's something you really want to change it would be best for hubby to take over bedtime for awhile because you're baby is going to be looking to you for comfort! Good luck in whatever you decide to do.

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