Anyone Nursing Baby to Sleep?

Updated on May 19, 2008
K.J. asks from Altamonte Springs, FL
16 answers

Ok, I know most Mom's (and my ped) say that nursing baby to sleep is a "no no" but long story short, I do and I enjoy it. We really only nurse at bedtime, my 7 month old daughter has no problem taking her naps at her caregivers or even here at home with me without nursing. During the day I can lay her in her crib half asleep, sometimes her eyes are open and she drifts off. But at night it's a different story. If we are on a good night, we nurse once and she's down, only waking once or twice for a feeding. On a not so good night, she may wake every 15-30mins for an hour or more until she is finally down. Then there is the waking every 2-3 hours, like the newborn days. And yes, nursing almost each time. Usually a few days of one pattern then a week or 2 of another, just no real consistency.I heard of the milestones like rolling over, sitting etc...or teething (which she currently is) can make them wakeful. But does anyone who is also nursing to sleep have a similar situation and can make suggestions? Thanks!

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T.B.

answers from Jacksonville on

K.,
I can relate to you so much. I would nurse both my girls to sleep ( one is 4 now and the other is two, I am still nursing the 2 yr. old). What helped me to break the cycle of them getting up to nurse ever few hours, once they where about 9 months or so was for my husband to get up with them. They got use to dad coming in and decided it was not worth getting up if mom and the breast where not coming in. If your baby is teething she will be up more and want to nurse. i think i read that it is soothing to them while teething. So i would suggest waiting til the teething has subsided to try letting dad help out.

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N.L.

answers from Phoenix on

Same problem w/ my son. Every time I went in to help him go down he attacked me wanting to nurse. Finally, just like the your other response, I finally started sending dad in. What happens is they recognize you as food a.k.a. comfort and go for the boobs. When dad goes in, it breaks the cycle 1) b/c at that age they can make it thru the night w/o eating and 2) it gives dad the opportunity to have the important bonding time.

Give it a try and Good luck!

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C.S.

answers from Daytona Beach on

Hi! I'm sorry I don't have any suggestions for you. I had the same "problem" with my little one. She was a terrible sleeper and would wake every couple of hours. Nursing was the only thing that got her back to sleep. This continued until she was about 15 months old. When she was about 15 months old she started sleeping through the night. She now sleeps about 12-13 hours a night straight through. It will get better! I promise! As she grows and needs less, she'll start sleeping more. Hang in there!

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A.M.

answers from Daytona Beach on

I am not in that situatin any longer but wanted to remind you that breast milk does not make them as full as the formula. It stomach will not feel as 'full' and thus she will wake frequently to try to obtain that 'full' feeling. You may try giving her 2 oz. of formula and then nursing OR nursing some, give 2 oz. of formula, finish nursing.

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L.L.

answers from Jacksonville on

My daughter and I sleep together all night through. She is so happy because everytime she wakes she snuggles up to me and nurses a bit. I think it is more of a comfort factor than actual hunger. She wakes about 2 am and then again around 6 am and she is 4 months old. It is worth her smiles in the morning. I know she has had a good nights sleep. Dad on the other hand is sleeping in the bed in our office.

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B.P.

answers from Orlando on

What they really mean is to not let your baby fall asleep and stay asleep at the breast. I exclusively nurse our son but before I put him down for bed I wake him up a bit so that he knows that Mommy's putting him down. I've never had a problem and my Ped says it's a loving, bonding thing to do just as long as I wake him up a bit before putting him down. Honestly, go with your Mommy instinct and read your baby. If it's working for you and baby then throw the book, and sometimes the Doc, out the window! As far as the continuing waking Teagen was doing that and I did a modified version of the Ferber method. He was waking up every 3-4 hours to nurse so every other day I waiting a bit longer before going in to get him and when I did go in I just loved on him in his crib and told him it was "nite nite" time because I knew that he wasn't hungry. After a week he stopped waking up for that 3-4 hour feeding and after two weeks he was only up once a night if that (Teag is 5 months old). It worked great for me and it allowed for me to let him know that I was still here without letting scream for hours on end (some people actually recommed that)! Good luck...just listen to your gut!

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K.E.

answers from Orlando on

Hi K.,

Honestly, I followed what felt right for me and my 3 children in regards to sleep and nursing. I always nursed on demand for the most part, whether it was for nourishment or comfort. My first baby stopped nursing at about 13 months, my second at about 9 months, and my third at about 12 months. It is a special bonding time for both of you. We are social beings and our babies need to know that we will be there for them from day one. If you want them to come to you later when they are in need, it starts now. She's only 7 months old, the night waking will pass. Enjoy the special time you have with her now. I always night nursed. We also co-slept so it was really easy. I'd wake up in the morning and not really remember how many times they nursed during the night. If they stirred, they could basically nurse on their own and we'd both be back to sleep in minutes. Since she is teething, she needs extra comfort from you and the nursing will do that, too. Don't worry so much about what other people say, you know what is right for you and your baby. If it feels like the right thing to do, it probably is.

I got a lot of comments from friends, family, and the pediatrician about co-sleeping and night nursing. I worried about it a lot with my first baby, but later realized that I was so glad that I just followed my own instincts and did what felt right for our family. My children are 8, 5, and 3 yrs old now. We have very strong relationships, they are well adjusted, they sleep well, and they know that it is always ok to come to me for anything.

I hope that helped to ease your mind. :)

Kat

http://www.workathome-united.com

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V.A.

answers from Tallahassee on

Hi K.,
I have 4 children and all of mine nursed when they wanted to (including to go to sleep until they were a year old (15 months for my 3 child), and my 4th child just turned a year last week and still nurses. It's normal them to go through phases where they have a harder time going to sleep or wake up more in the night, but they usually get through it fine. Nurse her as much as she wants to nurse. If she's crying a lot, and seems uncomfortable, you say she's teething, she might need some tylenol to help her with the discomfort to sleep better. Without really knowing what she's doing and seeing her(you're the better judge of that being her mother, it's hard to tell you exactly what to do, especially since all children are so different. But if you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me and I can suggest somethings based on my experiences. Take care!
V.

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M.P.

answers from Orlando on

K., I struggle with that too. I also have a 7-month old girl and I have had issues with her sleeping. Nursing was the easiest thing to do, but I try to switch it up by putting her to sleep after nursing but at times I try to sit her up and read her book "Goodnight Moon". Most times she's still half sleep and drowsy and when I put her in the crib she'll roll over and go to sleep; she might cry for a minute but then she's off to sleep for the night.

My routine is feeding her when we get home from work @ 5:00-5:30 and then I feed her solids (vegetables and fruit, then we go for a walk, change into her PJ's, read a book, nurse her and then either her last book or I put her to bed. Once she started eating the solids she started sleeping through the night. I had to play around with her schedule to see what would work; but nursing her, feeding her solids and then nursing her again seems to get her belly full enough to sleep through the night. She's probably just waking up because she's teething - my daughter did the same thing, but hang in there she'll evenutally sleep through the night. Get her belly nice and full and she'll be fine. You can also supplement with formula during the day - either give it to her straight if she'll take it or you can express your milk and mix it half and half with formula. I've had to try all kinds of things with my baby, so just keep trying to see what works and do what feels right to you. Follow your gut and maternal instinct - it's always right!

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C.B.

answers from Pensacola on

My daughter did the same thing to me. I nursed her to sleep every night until she was a year. At three months she started sleeping through the night then all of a sudden from 6 - 9 months she would wake up and cry and fuss. One week she would be good and the next would be sleepless. I didn't know what to do. I would rock her and nurse her until my husband said to let her cry it out. (This is the hard part) I slowly started letting her cry for longer amounts of time until she realized that I wasn't always going to rush to her. Now she sleeps all night at 14 months old. Do you always go and pick her up when she cries? do you nurse her then too? because they will cry for you knowing that you will come. Once they realize you are not going to they will learn to sooth themselves back to sleep. Sure my daughter still cries every now and then but she falls asleep by herself 98% of the time. Even at 7 months they know how to manipulate. I don't want to sound mean because I spent many tearful nights listening to my daughter cry but it paid off. Now she sleeps like a baby. :) I hope this helps.

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M.C.

answers from Daytona Beach on

Honestly, I've never heard that. Since I nursed my first child I was told to nurse them down and to co-sleep.

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J.S.

answers from Ocala on

I have a 2 yr. old that I STILL nurse to sleep. He went through stages like you are talking about off and on. I think he may have stopped around like 18 months. I remember days of being so tired I couldn't stand it... but I made it. Just like you, I enjoyed it... and still do. It was just pleasant to do, I feel really close with him, and it is SOOOOOOO easy to get him to go to sleep now, when it seems like everyone else is complaining about their children not wanting to go to sleep at the age he is at. I don't know what I would do without nursing him to sleep. He got over all of the waking up to nurse as he got older and sleep seemed more appealing. One thing that I did to help nudge it along was I stopped sitting up to nurse him. I stay laying down and it doesn't seem to be as comfortable to him so he gradually woke less and less and when he does wake up it is only for a couple of minutes. And he really only wakes up a couple of times when he is almost ready to be up for the day. Unless he's sick... then it is a whole different ball game. But, the only thing I can caution you on is that at this point I don't think there is ANY way I would be able to get him to sleep without nursing...so when it is time to wean I have no idea what I'm going to do. So, that is the only drawback. Other than that I have never really seen any problem with it.... And I tend to think that will just work itself out just like all of the little problems that I've combatted with him since he was born. I ignore all the pressure from everyone who thinks I should do things differently, and just remember that I know my child better than anyone else. I know what the doctors say.... but, of all the things there are problems with you doing to your kids, how bad is this one really? I think psychologically it actually benefits them quite a bit. Just do what comes naturally to you and I don't think you can go wrong. Sorry for being long winded, but I do hope I've helped at least a little.
J. S.

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B.E.

answers from Orlando on

Hi K.,
You have to do what you are comfortable with...but also take care to know that YOU set the pace and have to power to stop any "bad habits" per se. If you are comfortable with the amount of milk that your baby girl is getting throughout the day...then I would suggest to slowly elimate the middle of the night feeding. What is happening is that you are setting a pattern/habit and she knows that if she wakes up, she'll get fed. It may take a couple of weeks, but after you elimate the middle of the night feedings...she will eventually sleep through the night. If you are co-sleeping, this is also a wonderful opportunity/time that she can now sleep on her own in her bed. Get a monitor (if you don't already have one)...if she does wake up...just quietly rub her back w/o talking, do not "wake" her more than that...just comfort her and she will be able to teach herself then how to fall back asleep. You will be amazed how quickly all this may progress...and your little girl might be sleeping through the night in a month! Good luck, God Bless & be consistent. Love, B. (A little about me: I've been married 14 years and I'm a Mommy of 3 1/2 year old twins that have slept through the night since they were 11 weeks old :)

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T.S.

answers from Panama City on

K.,

Yes, nursing to sleep is a no-no. I did it too, but more for the reason that it was the only way I could get a lick of sleep. However, here's the deal. When you nurse to sleep, the milk kind of lingers in the baby's mouth and can strip the enamel off of her teeth causing them to decay.
Not to mention that it is one of the hardest habits to break. You just have to be willing to do the hard work when the time comes to stop. Such as, wipe her mouth out as soon as she falls asleep and maybe you could SOMETIMES nurse her to sleep and sometimes not. That way it won't be such a hard transition for her. Whatever you feel most comfortable with.
We ended up having to go cold turkey off of nursing because the weaning just wasn't happening, but not until she was 2.
She is very healthy today at 9 years old and has been as strong as an ox. But those transitions were SO hard!
At 7 mos. old, she is going through changes with the teething and such. She will naturally have sleep disturbances.
My suggestion is to sleep whenever she sleeps and don't worry about housework and so on not getting done. You said you are single, so this is an especially hard challenge for you since you can't rely on someone else to offload you. You only get to go through this time once, so just enjoy her and do what you can handle and what you feel is best for the two of you.
Take Care,
T.

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D.A.

answers from Jacksonville on

It is my understanding and experience that a breastfeeding baby will periodically eat how you are describing to activate your breasts to produce more milk. I am breastfeeding my second baby and come from a big family of breastfeeding women and we all call it a "growth spurt." It just seems to be part of the process. My little one is 3 months and recently eating quite a bit. Normally she wakes once to eat in the middle of the night but has been waking every 2 hours or so recently. You've probably noticed that your milk supply seems to cycle from seeming to be too much to too little. This is due to baby's needs. She is just trying to get you to produce more when she nurses like that. If your breasts feel over-full before she nurses, then your body will start to produce less.

Also, with my first, breastfeeding was very comforting (my second seems to take it or leave it) so she would nurse a lot if she was sick or teething.

It's nice to hear that you are enjoying breastfeeding. I breastfeed my baby to sleep at night. I lay with her and love it when she looks up at me and smiles while she is breastfeeding. I wouldn't trade that experience for anything! With my first, I transitioned her to the formula at 9 months and she had a bottle before bed. I just made sure not to let her lay with it for hours on end and to take it away when she was done. At 1 year I transitioned her to a sippy cup with milk. Later, it was a sippy cup with water. It worked out fine with no problems. She is 7 now and still likes to drink water from a cup with a straw before bedtime which is no big deal. I get thirsty at night, too!

Anyway, good luck to you!

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B.M.

answers from Tallahassee on

I never nursed my babies to sleep during the day. I tried really hard to put them both down when they were drowsy, but still awake so they would learn to put themselves to sleep and they did it, for the most part (my oldest was a thumb-sucker so once he could get his own thumb in his mouth, we were fine). Despite that, I always nursed them to sleep at night. I mean, it seemed natural -- the last thing you do before bed is feed them -- what are you supposed to do, wake them up after you feed? That makes no sense. Just wanted to let you know that I think it is perfectly natural to nurse them to sleep at night! God bless you as you seek His best for your child!

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