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LO Using Breasts as a Pacifier, Help!

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hello Moms!


My LO is almost 6 weeks old and we breastfeed as well as co-sleep. Both are going well, sort of. I love the convenience of co-sleeping while BFing but I find she likes to nurse to get to sleep, no matter what woke her. In fact, she likes to nurse if she experiences any sort of discomfort. The problem is that sometimes the nursing makes her discomfort worse - like when she has gas or other tummy problems. If I let her, she will nurse until she spits up and then continue!! So I want to discourage this practice but I'm facing several challenges:

1. She simply will scream until I give in and won't normally accept substitutes (she will occasionally accept a pacifier or pinkie but this is rare). 

2. I am not always certain in the middle of the night if she is hungry or not until after I begin (the absence of let-down is one sign she just wanted to comfort suck) as she exhibits all the signs - arching her back, same cry, etc.

She is starting to suck on her hands or fingers to pacify but this is hit or miss right now with her lack of fine motor skills so I am hoping someone can offer encouragement and/or some ideas based on what they've tried.

Thank you to all the experienced moms out there who post!

post #2 of 7

Congrats on your new baby!


If your baby is getting fussy while nursing here are some suggestions:


If the frequency of nursing concerns you you might like this link


The arching made me think maybe another position might help? http://forums.llli.org/showthread.php?47259-arching-back-away-from-breast

Mine also likes to nurse to sleep most of the time, which seems normal to me.  http://kellymom.com/bf/normal/comfortnursing/




But when he is overly tired he can get fussy while nursing.  I have found slowly walking around while nursing at the same time him helps him drift off more peacefully. 

post #3 of 7

Hi, LateNightMommy! 


Great links -- Kellymom was so helpful to me in those early weeks. 


Does your daughter only nurse to sleep? Or can she also fall asleep rocking, wearing, strolling, etc.? Do you ever swaddle her? I know there are mixed opinions about swaddling, and while you definitely don't want to do it when she's in bed with you, it might be worth a try for naps and/or the early evening before you go to bed -- my daughter loved being walked around the room while swaddled at that age -- it was pretty much her favorite way to go to sleep. If she started to fall asleep nursing, I'd carry her into the bedroom, lay her down to swaddle, and then rock or walk for a couple minutes. What works for one baby may not work for another, of course, but that was our experience. If you can find one or two other ways your daughter likes to fall asleep, it might help soften the always-nursing-to-sleep association.


As my daughter got older -- more around 2-3 months -- I read The No Cry Sleep Solution, which I would recommend. It's a good guide to infant sleep cycles in general, and has a wide range of ideas that might work for you and your little one at different ages. The thing I like is that it also has ideas for how to get better sleep while cosleeping. I think the sooner you read it, the more tricks you'll have up your sleeve for the constantly evolving mystery that is your baby's sleep :)

Two of the most important things I started doing that have really helped us in the longer term are that I established a simple pre-nap and pre-bedtime routine, and I started doing the "pull-off" -- i.e. slipping a pinkie into my daughter's mouth when I can tell she's done nursing and is on the edge of sleep, to get her used to the idea of sleeping without my nipple in her mouth.

The book has a fuller description, but basically, you start to learn your baby's signs -- for us it's closed eyes, sucking that slows almost to a stop, very relaxed -- and you repeat the pinkie-slip pull off as many times as it takes until she accepts it. If she complains at all or roots for the nipple, it goes right back in -- at first, it took multiple tries and I'd often have to wait until she was completely asleep, but after several months of being consistent with this, my daughter usually just nestles her head into my arm or rolls onto her back and goes to sleep (at night in our bed) when I take her off after nursing. These days, since she doesn't usually need to comfort suck, I feel like I have a better sense of when something is actually wrong -- i.e. if she won't give up the breast and is clearly not actively nursing, it's likely because she's overtired, having teething pain, etc.  

They do nurse a LOT at that age, though -- I'm amazed how fast the weeks and months fly by and how fast things change.

post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 

Presentmoment: She will fall asleep on us, while being carried (in our arms our in a carrier) or while being rocked - but will fuss as soon as she is put into or onto a bed, unless she is being nursed. We've had some limited success with swaddling but as she is beginning suck her hands we want her to have access to them to learn to self-soothe.


The pinkie idea is great! I'll start trying that. I like that it's not a CIO method... Also I've had that book recommended to me before so maybe I should get it :)


Also I will check out the Kellymom links, thanks :)


post #5 of 7

my daughter was a constant nurser when she was small, both for food and comfort. the only thing that would sort of work was laying down nursing and then do the pinky pull off thing (although I rarely used my pinky, usually pointer or thumb) and then carefully rolling off the bed. Sometimes she would wake up in 10 minutes. She just wasn't much of a sleeper back then. Now her super loud alarm wakes me up from across the house but I still have to go in and wake her up. :lol:

post #6 of 7
I have had similar experiences with my now 11 week old. She's gone from staying latched on most of the night to waking only once or twice for a quick snack. If she wakes and fusses without rooting, usually just patting her back helps her settle back to sleep.

She also would suck and instead of swallow, let the milk dribble out the side of her mouth. If she had to burp or spit up she would tighten her latch and squim until her burp or spit up escaped.

What seemed to help us is instilling a routine and following the R.I.E. (Resources In Educaring) tenents. I find that having her know what to anticipate during the day (which right now is mainly "free play" > nurse > nap) and especially at bedtime, she's become less interested in nursing for comfort. I pretty much took away all unneccesary toys and activities (no swing, bouncy seat, baby gym, etc.) and it seems that they were overstimulating for her.

She's been working on sucking her fingers for quite a few weeks now. Its the first thing she does upon waking. During the day I offer her a nipple when she gets frustrated and she will stop nursing to attempt to get -- and keep -- her fingers in her mouth.

I also read No Cry Sleep Solution and the pinky thing didnt work for us. No matter how long she nursed or what state of sleep she was in, she would be awake within five minutes of me taking it out. What has worked was repeatedly breaking her latch. After a few tries over the course of as many minutes she would take herself off. This is what she does now without my having to initiate it.
post #7 of 7
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