How to stop feeding to sleep.
“I know it’s a bad habit but I feed my baby to sleep” ⠀⠀
Nothing makes me sadder than hearing a mum speak these words ⠀
⠀It’s never a bad habit to feed your baby to sleep! Ever! BUT what I will say (as a baby sleep expert) is.. if it’s the ONLY WAY you can get your baby to sleep you may have a hard time if/when you decide that you don’t want to feed to sleep anymore, you little one may not be on board with your decision and you could have a serious protest on your hands.⠀
Feeding your baby to sleep is a normal and natural way of settling your baby. That time together releases hormones that calm and relax both you and your baby. Breastfeeding is not just about nutrition. It’s calming, soothing and connecting with your baby. And breastfeeding is probably hands down the fastest way to calm an angry, tired, worried or fretful baby too.
So what can you do to prevent feeding to sleep becoming the only way to settle your baby to sleep? ⠀⠀
1.Practise other ways of calming/helping baby get to sleep. Such as cuddling, babywearing, practising putting the baby down drowsy but awake. The first few times you attempt this your baby may wake up but that’s ok. It’s all about practising settling them and responding to your baby if & when they need you. The more you practise the better your baby will get at going down in their cot drowsy but awake.⠀
2.You could (when you’re ready) feed to calm and relax your little one and then removing the breast from their mouth, help them finish falling asleep by rocking/cuddling them or just holding them. Laying beside them and sharing a sleep surface till they fall asleep and then transferring them safely to their cot/Moses basket is also an option.⠀
3. Layer up on sleep associations whilst you feed to sleep. You could feed to sleep in the dark or dimmed light. Doing this regularly in the evenings will help to regulate their circadian rhythmicity. Or you could feed to sleep whilst playing white noise or a lullaby. ⠀
Another option is to only feed to sleep in your baby’s room so they associate their room with going to sleep or feed to sleep whilst loosely swaddled at night.⠀
By creating lots of different positive sleep associations and using them at the same time instead of just using one or two, you can make the transition away from feeding to sleep easier and easier for your little one. Having 3 or 4 sleep associations instead of just the one (feeding to sleep) means removing one association gently and overtime is less stressful for you and baby. Even though one thing they’re used to having at bedtime is no longer present all the other sleep associations they become used to are still present. ⠀
Feeding to sleep is not a bad habit! What other sleep associations do you have for your baby?
What other sleep associations could you create for your baby? Adding more now will help you when you decide to transition away from feeding your little one to sleep.
If feeding your baby to sleep, suits you and you are happy to and want to continue, that’s what you should do. You don’t have to teach your baby another way of getting to sleep if you don’t wish to. Remember how you settle your baby to sleep or how you sleep train or don’t sleep train is completely your choice. Don’t let your peers or experts or family tell you you have to if you don’t want to!!!
Lots of love and sound sleep