How To Stop Nursing Baby To Sleep Effectively
I’ve always thought breastfeeding babies as they drift off to sleep is perfectly alright. I mean, that alone is comforting and one of the perks of nursing.
Think about it, you wake up in the middle of the night, and the little one is crying then, of course, you feed them to lull them back to dreamland.
Let’s be honest; it’s convenient. Besides, for the baby, your milk has a sedating effect.
However, there’s a downside to this. The baby could get used to the feeding so they can go back to sleep. Chances are, you will end up exhausted.
Also, it can become a routine and most likely; the infant will end up associating milk with sleeping which isn’t beneficial in the long run.
And the tough part is when you child reaches toddlerhood, and even if they can just snooze through the night, they might wake up every few hours to feed. And it’s going to lead to poor sleeping habits.
So you see, as a mother, you need to know how to stop nursing baby to sleep. It has its benefits for both of you. As the kid grows up, it will result in a healthy lifestyle too.
What You Need
- Patience: Like in any training, you will need a bucket load of this. For the most part, because you cannot ‘instruct’ the baby the same way you can with adults.
You cannot communicate directly to them what you want to do. So you have to ease it out. You wouldn’t want to get visibly annoyed or irritated.
But I guarantee you, once you accomplish this successfully, it will be worth it. And you’re going to feel like you’ve done something big.
- Consistency: Some steps can be challenging, and you may want to give in especially when the baby starts crying. No mother can find it easy to resist this, and it just breaks your heart when you have to stop yourself from immediately nursing them.
Being consistent is important because it’s going to propel your little one into forming a habit – a good one at that.
It’s something that is beneficial for you (no more exhaustion) and them (undisturbed sleep throughout).
- Other sources of soothing: It’s common for babies to find comfort in breastfeeding. Nature made it that way. But just so they won’t rely on that alone, you can add other means of soothing or support like a love object – it can be a fluffy plush toy or comfy blanket.
For some, security comes in the form of their favourite pillow. You just want to provide an alternative way other than just nursing.
How To Stop Nursing Baby To Sleep?
- Develop a routine for them. As a mum, you know the cues if they’re tired or hungry or they might establish a pattern (like wanting to feed every 3 hours), and this is how you can tailor your routine.
A regular nap time without nursing is challenging to implement but a big MUST if you don’t want them always to nurse before sleep. Most mums agree that it’s easier if the little one is still young, say less than four months old.
Don’t forget to keep the lights down so they can fall back asleep faster.
- Ask your significant other or any trustworthy person at home to attend to the baby whenever they wake up. They can do all things to put them back to sleep such as rock and cuddle the little one, sing lullabies or just lie down beside them.
It is so the infant won’t depend on nursing to drift off to sleep again. However, this step is possible assuming the baby isn’t hungry because you might end up feeding them depending on need.
Also, this may not work for younger infants because they often wake up due to hunger.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment. Some babies can settle for pacifiers during naps while there are those who prefer mums rocking them to sleep.
In my case, my little one wanted to thumb-suck which is okay too. Do whatever works for you.
If they cry (not out of hunger), you can co-sleep instead of nursing them again. This way, they won’t feel abandoned and still get the comfort they need.
- Avoid stimulating activities before bedtime. Instead of playing with them (jumping or giving them toys), provide something relaxing like bathing, reading stories or listening to lullabies. It will serve as a cue that it’s almost time to sleep.
Don’t do anything that will make them feel all energetic and excited.
Nursing baby to sleep may have its benefits, but ultimately, your goal is to create healthy and normal sleeping habits. You can do this by avoiding the sleep-feed association.
As a result, both of you can get a good night’s sleep and much-needed rest. It’s important for mothers to avoid feeling overly exhausted during the day. And as your child grows old, sleep training impacts their health, so you need to start early.
Have you tried any of these methods? Which one worked best for you? Share it with me!