Nursing baby to sleep

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Nursing baby to sleep

Post  amylou on Wed Aug 13, 2008 9:46 am

I was wondering what everyone does to put their babes to sleep at night. I have been letting my 7 wk old nurse until she falls asleep, but was just reading how that might not be a good idea and that I should start letting her fall asleep on her own without "props" i.e. boobie, bottle etc.. Have you all found this to make a difference later on? I like nursing her and she goes down quite easily this way, but am I setting us up for problems when she is older?
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Re: Nursing baby to sleep

Post  kat on Thu Aug 14, 2008 1:22 am

Amy, I was totally going to write a post about this.

I nurse Jake to sleep every single night. I don't even remember when this began. At first when he was real small it would ALWAYS put him to sleep at every feeding but then somewhere around the seven week mark all of a sudden he needed a bedtime of 7:30pm, so I would just lay down with him and feed him to sleep. Nice and easy and I particularly love that time of night to just take a rest and connect. Nice thing back then was, he would pretty much sleep 5 to 7 hours in a row without waking up....that all ended at 12 weeks.

The problem with nursing to sleep for us is that Darin doesn't have boobs....hmm, what I'm saying is that now that Darin is in charge of daytime parenting, the only way he can get Jake to take naps is to carry him around in the ergo. We also co-sleep on the floor on futons so if we just left Jake in there to go to sleep, he'd just crawl around everywhere and play with his toys. He's also too alert and the only way to get him to sleep now is the boob or completely covering his vision with the ergo sleep hood so he can shutdown.

So I started reading Elizabeth Pantley's book 'No Cry Sleep Solutions'...looking for answers. The thing is I'm not ready to sleep train Jake to go to bed at night without the boob - I enjoy it too much. BUT that being said, it makes it hard for Darin and me too because I can't just go out for the night....ever. Ten months has gone by so quickly though that I really don't mind - he won't be this small forever. Many books, like you say, will tell you that the boob is a negative sleep association (which makes you feel bad), but other sites like kellymom.com will tell you that it's all very natural. I like the Dr Sears suggestion of not doing the same thing EVERY single night (like I do), so maybe you could try and get Pud to rock her to sleep sometimes and then nurse every other night. I don't know if that would work but it's worth a try and then you will have options later.....
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Nursing baby to sleep

Post  amylou on Thu Aug 14, 2008 8:15 am

Thanks Kat, you make alot of good points here- that was the info I was looking to hear. I have been trying to get her to take her naps during the day without always nursing her, and that has been going pretty good. She will go to sleep by rocking or walking her around for awhile esp. when I watch for her cues that she is tired. I have even laid her down a time or two when she was still quietly awake and she was able to go to sleep on her own, which was what one of those books recommended, but this usually isn't that successful. We have started her on a little routine with a bath before bedtime- mainly because she absolutely loves it and it calms her down. But I am going to heed your advice and try to mix up the going to sleep part a bit when we can. How is Darin's back holding up with all that Ergo'ing? At least you know that it is a comforting, close way for Jake to fall asleep...

BTW: After my post on babywearing- I sold my Ergo! I bought a Beco Butterfly- I am hoping we will like it, haven't gotten it yet..I am a little crazy/obsessed with baby gear, but then I saw that you have 3 strollers so I don't feel so bad Laughing Smile


Last edited by amylou on Thu Aug 14, 2008 3:32 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Nursing baby to sleep

Post  putyourflareon on Thu Aug 14, 2008 2:43 pm

I nursed Max for 12 months before he weaned himself. I would always nurse him before bed even after he was eating solids. He never really fell asleep at the breast. He would get sleepy but usually pull off when he was ready to sleep. He sucks his thumb. That his way of telling me he was ready for sleep.

I read a book called Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby. It worked great for Max. In the book, they talk about not depriving your baby of the breast but encouraged it as a comfort item. I added a doll that played the same night time song every night with the combo of that and the bedtime boob as my husband called Max learned his bedtime cues.
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Re: Nursing baby to sleep

Post  amylou on Fri Aug 15, 2008 12:30 am

Thanks Aimee, I haven't read that one- I will have to check out it out as well..
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Re: Nursing baby to sleep

Post  floatingworld on Fri Aug 15, 2008 4:11 am

Hey there,
I think introducing some other ways of falling asleep earlier on is a great idea - I would definitely try to do that next time.
I nursed Ali to sleep until he was about 7 months old, which was great at first - he would fall asleep at around 6.30, and then I'd transfer him into the cot. But as he got older he wouldn't fall asleep until 8 or 9, and then it suddenly stopped working and I panicked what to do because I had no other way of getting him to sleep - he always either fed to sleep or dozed off in the car or the stroller.
On advice from some other mums I tried a bedtime routine, and so far it has worked really well. Every night he has dinner, then a bath, then a bit of a play and a story, then I put him in a sleep sack and feed him, and sometimes he falls asleep on the boob and if he doesn't I put him in the cot and usually he just rolls over and goes to sleep. Sometimes he'll grizzle for a few minutes, but most nights he's okay. I vary the start time depending on how tired he is and how much he slept during the day, but I think doing the same sequence of things helps him know that it's bedtime. The downside is that it makes things less flexible - I used to take him out to dinner with us a lot, but I find now if I do that it messes up "the routine" for a while. When I was pregnant I was determined I wasn't going to be on a timetable, but for now at least the inflexibility is worth it - he is a much happier baby and I get to have quiet time in the evenings. Now he's getting close to 1 I am hoping to gradually phase out the feeding, hopefully the other cues will still let him know that it's time to sleep.
I just wish that I could do something about the night waking - he still wakes up once or twice a night and it's making me feel like a zombie!
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Ah, the night waking...

Post  putyourflareon on Fri Aug 15, 2008 5:18 am

After we weaned we dealt with that for a few month and it is zombie ville isn't it? Because he wasn't taking the breast anymore we had to bring him something else to sooth him. My husband I would get and take turns making a bottle of milk and bring that to him. It was hard at first but after a couple weeks it worked. Does Ali have other bed time cues other than breastfeeding? We introduced this doll that sings to Max when he was just a new born and have played it since and it cues him right up to sleep time. Babies can fall into habits fast, I think... and they can be bothered by breaking their routine but if you start a new habit for Ali, I'm sure he'll catch on quick.
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Re: Nursing baby to sleep

Post  metalmom on Mon Aug 18, 2008 10:30 pm

Both of my girls developed a strong "suck-to-sleep" association very early on. With Lucy, we were living in Japan and had her sleep in our king sized bed with us because we had a hard time regulating the temperature in the tatami room her crib was in. It was just easy for me to nurse her to sleep every time. It was a nightmare when we'd travel back to Canada to visit family, though, and had to deal with the jet lag from hell. She'd nurse and nurse and nurse because she was so tired but couldn't sleep. I remember feeling like she was sucking the marrow out of my bones because she'd surely sucked every bit of milk out of me! It wasn't until she was 15 months old when I weaned her that she started using the bottle as her "prop" instead of the boob. The problem is I put cow's milk in her bottle and I think she might have developed brown spots on some of her teeth because of it (an early sign of tooth decay?). I switched to putting water in it instead when our dentist got after me.

We decided to sleep train Lily about 2 months ago (6 months old) because I was beginning to feel like I was being held hostage by all the nursing, and I'd sometimes be nursing her until 9:00 at night before she'd fall asleep. Also, my MIL tried to babysit for us a couple of evenings but could not put her down and had to deal with her screaming until we got home and I nursed her to sleep. I decided to set a bedtime routine and stick to it until she was trained: dinner, bath, oil massage, BF (but NOT to sleep). The first night was absolute HELL. She only cried for about 5 minutes when I put her down the first time, but when she woke up at about midnight she cried constantly for about 2.5 hours! I sat in a chair beside her crib and rubbed her back occasionally and repeated phrases like "Shh, go to sleep", "It's bedtime, baby" but I didn't give in and nurse her because I knew she wasn't crying because she was hungry - she just was used to using the boob as a way to put her back to sleep again. I wanted her to learn how to fall back asleep on her own. Anyway, it took about a week and a half of hellish nights before she finally figured it out. Most of those nights I had my husband talk to her to calm her down because I felt that if she heard my voice she'd expect some milk. I Now I do the bedtime routine starting at 6:30 and she falls asleep in her crib on her own at 7:05. Her naptimes are at the very same time every day as well and it's a breeze putting her down. I make sure she sleeps with the same blanket and stuffed toy all the time too.

I have to admit that we had a bit of a setback last month as we were camping in a trailer with my parents and I didn't want Lily's crying to wake anybody up, so I went back to nursing her in the night whenever she woke up - not to sleep, but just until she was settled and could fall back asleep on her own in the play pen we had her in. Now she's back to waking up a couple of times in the night and I'm nursing her briefly before putting her back down. We'll have to re-train her to sooth herself back to sleep , which probably means another few nights of crying spells, but it'll be worth it in the end. There were nights there before the setback where she'd sleep from 7pm to 6:30am without waking us up once...heaven!
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Re: Nursing baby to sleep

Post  pnksweater on Mon Sep 08, 2008 11:42 pm

There's so much pressure to train your child, but right I'd have to say "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". Olive usually sleeps through the night (8pm-6 or 7 am) with only one nighttime nursing around 4 am. She stopped falling asleep on the boob around 3 months and we've had to put her in the baby carrier to get her to sleep. Now she associates the Pikkolo with sleep so strongly most nights it only takes 5 minutes or so for her to fall asleep. The up side of this is that anyone can pop her into the carrier and get her to sleep. The down side is that my child weighs over 20 pounds now. I do this for her two naps in addition to bed time.

I'd love to pop her into the crib and have her fall asleep, but we co-sleep and she'd crawl right out of bed. I don't feel the urge to get her to sleep in her own bed, so I figure there's no big rush. And I love getting decent sleep most nights. My mom keeps telling me I'm shooting myself in the foot with this. But never having to get up in the middle of the night and comfort a screaming baby- priceless.
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