Co-sleeping Nightmare!

Help! My 6 month old son sleeps in our bed and nurses continually throughout the night, I feel like I’m a prisoner to my own bed. I used to be able to nurse him to sleep at night then get up and do chores. This is getting more and more difficult. He wakes quickly and can only be consoled by nursing, even though he is not hungry. Often if I get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom he wakes within seconds of me leaving the bed. I’m not sleeping well because he is nursing so often (every 1-2 hours). Daytime naps are similarly difficult, he only falls asleep at the breast and if I am able to lie him down he only sleeps for 10-20 minutes. He only gets a good long nap if I let him continue to lie in my lap after breastfeeding, letting him nurse when he stirs or begins to wake. His nighttime nursing/attachment is getting worse by the week. Should I start putting him to bed in a different bed? (Just some background, he has been on pureed foods since 4.5 months, and I try to feed him something substantial 1-2 hours before bed. He does get a decent amount of sleep, he goes to bed around 8 and wakes around 7. I have tried giving him a pacifier while lying next to him at times when he was full but just wanted to continually suck. This has worked ok before but doesn’t work at all anymore, he just screams and screams. I stay at home with him and wear/carry him often.)

This desire not to nap alone is certainly not uncommon. Many babies nap while mom wears them and goes about her business. Some moms are able to lie baby down while still in backpack, sling or carrier and they’ll continue to have that sense of being held, and not wake up. An electric swing might not sound totally green and natural but some babies sleep wonderfully in one, in lieu of a village elder who can rock baby throughout his naps. These options may work in the evenings as well, before you turn in yourself.

For nights, frequent nursing is also quite common. There’s nothing bad about nighttime attachment and nursing. They are good things, yet, they become a challenge when mom can’t fall right back to sleep, or sleep through the nursings. Nighttime parenting can be tiring. I doubt that a separate bed will work but there’s no reason not to try it. Just don’t allow him to get frantic. Do you have a sleeping partner who can try to be the snuggler and consoler some of the time? You can try covering up more or at least turning your back on baby at times, so that he doesn’t smell and feel his milk supply as much; maybe not being aroused as much during his lighter stages of sleep.

As babies get older they become more active and more distracted by activities during the day and may thus reduce their daytime nursing considerably, making up for the reduced milk, snuggling and comforting at night when mom is totally available and there’s nothing better to do. You might be able to encourage more frequent daytime nursing and this may, in turn, reduce his nighttime needs. Greater physical activity, especially after his last nap of the day, might lead him to sleep a little more deeply during the night.