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Breastfeeding and Naps

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 

I quickly scanned this particular forum for this issue so I wouldn't be at risk for reposting a recent thread topic. If there are comments or advice on this issue I would gladly appreciate anyone redirecting me. To make a long story short my 4 month old does not take very long naps - the naps range from 20 minutes to 25 minutes. I am aware of the variances between children ranging from extremely easy to spirited but this child is obviously tired and NEEDS sleep. I know it is quite common for breastfed babies to arise more often than formula fed babies but I'd like to know how common it is. I figured by now he'd be consolidating his naps. He often breastfeeds to sleep, I am worried about a breastfeeding to sleep association. I am currently reading Rowena Bennett's "Your Sleepless Baby" and finding it helpful but I would like to know from breastfeeding mothers first hand- How did you help your baby sleep for daytime naps?

Edited by mamamayhem - 11/25/13 at 8:33am
post #2 of 33
Hi mamamayhem! I moved this thread to the general breastfeeding forum because it is a better fit here. I don't think your baby is waking up because he is hungry. It sounds like he is having trouble staying asleep as he goes through sleep cycles. I often nurse my baby to sleep. He is 5 months old. He will also sleep when I am wearing him. Can your baby sleep when you are wearing him? Being able to give him a little jiggle may help him transition between sleep cycles. We also use a white noise machine to block out household noises. I haven't read the book you mentioned, but I am reading The No-Cry Nap Solution by Elizabeth Pantley, and she had suggestions specifically for babies who nurse to sleep.
I thought my LO would be consolidating naps by now as well. It can be difficult. When I am home with him, he will nap for about 45 minutes and wake up and I can't get him back to sleep even though he is still tired. When I am at work, he will nap for an hour to 3 hours at a time. Obviously, he can't nurse to sleep at these times. He gets drowsy when he eats, and the nanny puts him in bed and he goes to sleep. The goal is to get him to go to sleep on his own and he seems to be learning it, but I don't know if it was because of something we did specifically. It just seemed to happen. My LO's sleep changed quite a bit in the last month. Your baby will change too. The one big thing I got from the books I've read is that something isn't a "sleep problem" unless it's bothering you. If you don't mind nursing your baby to sleep, don't worry about changing it.
post #3 of 33
I just started reading the no cry sleep solution with same questions. We're still figuring it out and will share anything I learn. My "problem " is that my daughter sleeps well during the day only if she has motion, which makes it pretty difficult to do certain activities or for her to sleep places where she can't have motion (like in a pack n play at grandmas during a day visit).

I wore her for naps since she was born with great success, but eventually my back started hurting and she evolved into a light sleeper, so I felt trapped when I wore her.

When I started doing is actually nursing her to sleep in bed, and slowly getting her out of the swaddling blanket habit. After a few days of this where she only slept for 5-10 minutes, just slowly started being able to sleep like that for 40 minutes of time. I don't really think its anything special that I did, besides provide a quiet environment with no artificial light ( sunlight, yes)

The other thing I am trying when she is tired but not interested in nursing is wearing her to sleep in a wrap or ring sling, then gently unwrapping her onto the bed so she can continue sleeping there.
post #4 of 33
Above posters made good points. I just wanted to add that 4 montbs is a tough sleep age all around, so try not to stress too much. My babies have trouble staying asleep when they are overtired, so if you have an "ace in the hole" so to speak, try that to make sure baby is well rested. If there are things you want to change doing so with a well rested baby usually works better. Some things will take time. Sometimes that time allows the baby to get used to the new routine and sometimes that time just allows the baby to reach a place in their devopment that the changes make more sense. Sometimes you don't need to change anything at all and baby just gets to a place where they sleep better. And once you figure it out, your bay's needs will chanhe again. Try not to stress too much about what *should* be happening or comparing to others and just focus on nuturing your specific baby's needs. Also don't worry aboutother people getting your baby to sleep, they will find their own ways and it will likely be different than yours and that's okay. Sorry for typos smile.gif
post #5 of 33
I don't think my baby napped well at four months either. He didn't start napping well until maybe5 or 6 months? Haha he's only 13 months and i already forget! Just keep nursing baby to sleep they will sleep when ready. Maybe try to lay down when not totally asleep but almost asleep ( if baby doesn't start crying) sometimes this helps with me! Sorry it's hard to give advice bc every baby is different when it comes to sleep but I can say what your baby is doing is unfortunately normal!
post #6 of 33

I hear you! :) I was worried about my baby (4.5 mos) falling asleep while nursing, too.


The only sleep book I own is Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Weissbluth - my aunt & uncle gave it to me when my LO was a newborn, and I've had a love/hate relationship with it haha. I'll read it until I started feeling stressed out, then put it down for a week... then pick it up again...
Overall, it's helped me learn more about how important sleep is for your child, no matter the age. It has some helpful advice, and a whole bunch that I tossed out the window, too. But one of the "comforting" things I read was that babies who breastfeed to sleep rarely have issues with this as they age. This from a doctor who advocates CIO (he calls it the "Extinction" method lol) and who has done a ton of research on infants and sleep.


Anyway, I figured if a guy who's ok with putting your baby down and letting him cry for 2 hours is ok with letting your baby nurse to sleep, that's good enough for me... maybe that's twisted logic, now that I actually type it out... but it's what worked for me lol.

One of the other main things I took from the book was to keep baby up no more than 1-2 hours at a time!!! And another was also just to be consistent with how you soothe to sleep as your baby gets older. We used to hold our baby pretty much all day long and since we cosleep, he's always right there by us. This was great when he was tiny and could sleep like a log in the store, in class, doing dishes, etc. but he got to the point where he wasn't sleeping well. Like you said, my baby was only catnapping all day long, and obviously craving more sleep. If we tried laying him down though, he'd just wake right back up again...aaah!


What we used to do:
Hold baby (in arms or sling)

Bounce/walk/sing/rock/jiggle/shush/nurse/give binky/repeat! to get him to fall sleep - sometimes all of the above and he STILL wouldn't be asleep. We'd also have to do this in the middle of the night and be up for 1-2 hours @ a time...killer when he's been up every 2 hours to nurse for his first 3-4 months anyway.
Constantly play Pandora/lullabies station if it's during the day or have our air purifier on full blast for white noise in the bedroom
Plus we had lots of meals whispering the whole time until a fork clinked too loudly, then it'd be back to jiggling and shhhh'ing
Bathtime right before bed

What we do now:
Naps (only when baby is starting to look/act sleepy, generally at the 1-1.5 hr point) - nurse, read 4 books in the same order, swaddle in muslin, kiss good night, lay him on side facing away from me with pillows wedged beside, give him binky (which he usually spits out as he's falling asleep), pat bum and shhh til he falls asleep.. if he's good and tired it only takes a bit of fussing, then he's asleep in less than 5 minutes...

Night - bath, nurse, he falls asleep, lay him on side with pillows wedged beside.. generally, he wakes up 2-3x and requires more bum-patting and shh'ing, or for me to pick him up and rock him back to sleep, or @ least til he's sleepy enough he doesn't protest much (a couple minutes of light fussing) until he's out again.

Gosh, that seems really complicated when it's all written out, lol. And truthfully, it hasn't been easy! My LO gets MAD...! But he's been sleeping sooo much better and is such a happy boy because he's been getting more rest. AND I can actually do stuff while he's asleep.. (we're moving in 2.5 weeks and have almost nothing packed!! I need to get stuff done!)... so while it's been hard, also it's been wonderful having this new method. Seeing great results within the first couple of days really helped DH & I to stick with what we started. :)

I would have loved to completely avoid the whole pacifier thing, but I was his pacifier for his first 2 months, and it was wreaking havoc on my poor boobies (I really struggled with oversupply..among other things). Thus, the little binky... and I would've loved to have been able to continue wearing baby for naps til he was too heavy any more... but it just wasn't working for him to be around me/DH as we went about doing things that had to be done... homework, laundry, etc. He wasn't sleeping well during the day and consequently, wasn't sleeping well @ night.
Haha, as
Weissbluth says, "Sleep begets sleep!" :p It's so true, tho - if my LO doesn't nap well during the day, he has a crappy night, too - which makes all of us cranky. :)

Hope that helps a little.. sorry for the boatload of details, haha. But that's what's working for us!!!

post #7 of 33
Thread Starter 

Happy New Year everyone!  I hope your holiday was great! Just wanted to update this forum. The situation has been getting worse and at this point I've bought a crib mattress vibration system hoping it might work. We decided to visit a pediatric neurologist with a specialty in sleep medicine at the end of the month. Hopefully it isn't something serious I'll let you guys know as soon as I can.

post #8 of 33

I'm sorry to hear things have gotten worse.  I hope everything is ok with your baby.  Hang in there, Mama.  I hope you get some helpful answers soon.  :Hug

post #9 of 33
Are you able to nap with him or wear him in a sling?
Infants will wake and have fractured sleep cycles when they are seeking security. Feeling your body and knowing he is not alone should help to get him into the next sleep cycle. It is normal for an infant and young child to wake between sleep cycles and seek security and nourishment. Are you able to stay with him for one infant sleep cycle and nurse him into the next sleep cycle?
post #10 of 33
Thread Starter 

Hi Asiago! I've tried nap nursing which does seem to help a little but it can take up to 90 minutes before he's deep in sleep. He seems irritable with the sling. I've read Weissbluth, Hogg, and a even done a sleep consultation over skype with a woman called Rowena Bennett. The real problem is getting him down to sleep for naps and night when he's exhausted and his behavior during the day. I'm the only one who does the majority of the care for him. My SO works and goes to school he's already stretched so thin. We don't have help from family. My mother can't be trusted after an incident and his mom is unavailable. I would like to hire a babysitter or feel comfortable dropping him off to daycare but he can't be soothed by anything except for breastfeeding. I'm frightened that if I leave him with a caregiver they might get annoyed and neglect or hurt him. Most of my family who have came to visit express a general irritability and crankiness around him. I've even been told it was my fault that I  "spoiled" him. We've tried all kinds of methods including CIO which I couldn't continue because he'd go on for hours. I believe this may be his personality. He has always been difficult and anxious since birth. It's been incredibly hard being sleep deprived and exhausted. I had a rough, emergency C section and then had complications of a dehiscence ( wound reopening ) which lasted for 4 months. I don't feel like I've been able to really enjoy being with him because of pain and exhaustion. I feel like I'm at my wits end and feeling very depressed about motherhood. At this point I want to make certain that there isn't a medical issue causing him to act this way.

post #11 of 33
I'm so sorry mamamayhem. That sounds very difficult. I'm sorry you aren't able to enjoy motherhood and your baby. Have you had the appointment with the pediatric neurologist yet? Do you think you are experiencing any postpartum depression due to everything that is going on? If so, I would encourage you to find help for that. If you are feeling ok, you can take better care of your baby. It sounds to me like you are trying everything and it is not your fault at all that he is having problems. I'm glad you continue to look for a cause. I hope you find some answers and relief soon.
post #12 of 33
Thread Starter 

Thanks ACPokey, in particular, for understanding because I know I've been a bit of a grouch on another thread argue.gif. We're just waiting for his new insurance to kick in Feb before we can proceed with the appointment. I think I am experiencing PPD. I definitely feel more drained these days. For now my partner and I partition our shifts  between him when one of needs to get something done. I've thought about seeing a therapist for coping. I've also tried to look into a an AP group looking for parent with high needs children but there is none in my area. I was shocked jaw2.gif. I guess SF isn't an AP friendly place. I'm definitely looking for answers, we've even thought about moving him into his own room. It is a possibility that we disturb him due to our noisy bed and he isn't getting the sleep he needs to recharge. I hope the neurologist can help or at least make sure he isn't suffering from some unknown cause.

post #13 of 33
Mamamayhem, where in SF are you? Feel free to PM me. I am in the Bay Area, mid-peninsula, and your baby sounds like my first!
post #14 of 33
I loved the days where I could lay down and nap with DD as she nursed the entire nap. Sometimes she would unlatch and that's ok, but it got her in the habit of taking much longer naps.
post #15 of 33
Originally Posted by mamamayhem View Post

Thanks ACPokey, in particular, for understanding because I know I've been a bit of a grouch on another thread argue.gif
. We're just waiting for his new insurance to kick in Feb before we can proceed with the appointment. I think I am experiencing PPD. I definitely feel more drained these days. For now my partner and I partition our shifts  between him when one of needs to get something done. I've thought about seeing a therapist for coping. I've also tried to look into a an AP group looking for parent with high needs children but there is none in my area. I was shocked jaw2.gif
. I guess SF isn't an AP friendly place. I'm definitely looking for answers, we've even thought about moving him into his own room. It is a possibility that we disturb him due to our noisy bed and he isn't getting the sleep he needs to recharge. I hope the neurologist can help or at least make sure he isn't suffering from some unknown cause.
I have family in SF and they have told me it's not a very big "family" place. So maybe that's why you are having trouble finding groups. Probably have to look more towards suburban areas.
post #16 of 33
Oops, I took SF to mean San Francisco.. After browsing her member info, I think OP means South Florida. Sorry, OP, I can't help you there!
post #17 of 33
Haha I thought the same thing lol
post #18 of 33
Thread Starter 

Oops I recognized it only after  I posted that. Yeah south florida is ok. Not surprisingly, where I live is kind of filled with grandparents. I used to live further south but the general area isn't really family friendly unless you're talking about Disney.

post #19 of 33
No worries, mamamayhem! Not sleeping would make anyone grouchy. I'm glad your partner is doing his share too.

I found a Holistic Moms Network group that might be near you. Here is the link.

Moving him into his own room is worth a shot. Friends of mine have triplets who were 6 weeks early. One has been sleeping very poorly, waking every 2 hours and being grumpy all day because he is tired. They recently put him in his own room and his is only waking up once a night now. He is 11 months old. I don't know if this will work for you, but it seems worth trying. If you can find a caregiver you trust, it might be worth trying that also. Babies often sleep differently for other people when mom is not around and they can't smell the milk. My baby used to only nap in my lap, arms or in a carrier. With the nanny, he slept in a bed right away and he sometimes naps for 3 hours. He never naps that long for me. Again, it's one of those things that might or might not work, but you never know.
post #20 of 33
Thread Starter 

Hey everyone!


I have a few updates, so we saw the pediatric neurologist and he said everything looks normal. They decided to schedule him for an EEG in March. We've made a few adjustments to try and accommodate the babes. The first thing we did was throw away our creaky box spring. I think it was causing him to wake up more frequently than he usually did. I try to wear him in the sling more often and that usually helps to placate him. I occasionally cosleep with him but it's usually uncomfortable for my back so I can't do it as often as I would like to. The last bit we did was buy another book - The 90 minute Baby Sleep Program. I feel silly for sharing this because I already own two other sleep books but I think this one is on the money. The author, Dr. Polly Moore, has a phD in neuroscience and specializes in sleep disorders and has two kids to boot. I'll update in a week to share my results.

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