What is wrong with nursing to sleep? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 38 Old 07-20-2007, 05:54 AM - Thread Starter
 
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OK, so I am a naive FTM with a 4mo. We have been co-sleeping since DS was born and so far things are going great. I nurse him to sleep and then about 4 times a night he wakes up to potty (we EC) and then I nurse him back to sleep. I usually fall asleep before he's finished. Following this routine, neither of us needs to fully wake up and we get plenty of rest.

Now that we have reached the 4mo mark, I've been hearing/reading about the need to "teach" the babe to fall asleep on his own without falling asleep at the breast. Well I've tried it a couple of times and it just seems like more work! Instead of nursing to sleep, I tried bedtime reading to wind him down and then playing lullabies. Of-course he doesn't fall asleep and doesn't want to be left in the room alone so I end up laying beside him trying to soothe him to sleep. Two hours later (at 11 pm), he's still awake and hungry so I nurse him again and he finally falls asleep while eating! : How is that better? Why does everyone warn against letting babies nurse to sleep?

(Sorry if I'm being dense. )
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#2 of 38 Old 07-20-2007, 06:49 AM
 
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There's nothing wrong with it at all

People warn against it for various reasons. Mostly, because there is an entrenched belief that we need to "sleep-train" our children. Well, as far as I can see, if you *aren't* nursing to sleep, if you *aren't* co-sleeping, if you are trying to get your young baby to sleep alone in a cot.....then yes, you probably DO need to train them to do that. lol.

Another reason is that only you can nurse your baby to sleep. What if you want to go out - what will the babysitter do? This may or may not be a consideration for you, and although I've never been in this situation (I just take my baby out with me), I do think it's helpful when baby learns to nod off without the breast. My dd can easily be danced or walked (carried) to sleep - assuming she's tired of course!
But I didn't train her to do that, she just does it

People generally believe that we need to teach our babies independance, and that falling asleep alone is a skill we need to teach them for their own sake. I say thats baloney, when my dd was about 16 months she started pulling off the breast awake and then making herself comfy before going back to sleep.

Oh, there is another line of thought I've come across......whatever they use to go to sleep at the start of the night, they kind of remember that and if they wake they want exactly the same thing again to get them back to sleep. So, if you don't want them to be nursing back to sleep through the night you have to use a different method to get them to sleep in the first place. If that makes sense. I'm not sure about this either though.......I've never heard of any mums who get their non-nursing, non-co-sleeping babies back to sleep in the night by repeating the bath, milk, story routine
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#3 of 38 Old 07-20-2007, 10:27 AM
 
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I nursed my dd to sleep for as long as I could. One day it will stop and then that's when you deal with other ways. And then that's when you miss how easy it was.
FWIW, my dd is a great sleeper and falls asleep within minutes of hitting the pillow! Mind you she did nurse before bed till she was 4yrs, but falling asleep on the boob stopped much early on (can't remember when)

I did find that out of sight was out of mind, for dd and my boobs. If for some rare chance I wasn't there when dd was going down for the night, around toddlerhood, dd could go to sleep without nursing beforehand.

mom to 14yr dd and 4yr dd
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#4 of 38 Old 07-20-2007, 10:43 AM
 
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Absolutely nothing wrong with it.

When I received similar comments, I'd answer with something like the following: she's only four months old ... for crying out loud, she hasn't even been out of the womb as long as she was in it. So I don't know why ANYONE would expect a baby of that age to be able (or for that matter, want) to go to sleep without cuddling and nursing on mama.

This is a wonderful time for you and your son ... enjoy those sleepy nursing moments, every one of them.
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#5 of 38 Old 07-20-2007, 10:46 AM
 
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It's non-sense, of course. I nursed my dd to sleep until she was weaned at 3.5 years old. She sleeps in her own room, doesn't fight going to sleep and stays in her room (for the most part!) all night. Disclaimer: we had our share of sleep issues, too, over the years so don't think we always had it this easy! It just goes to show that you won't ruin a child in the long run by nursing him/her to sleep all the time.
However, if you'll be using a babysitter often - due to work, outings, whatever, then you might want to consider nursing AFTER naps during the day so that you eventually have a cycle that runs like this: wake up, nurse, play, nap. As your child grows older and naps less, you'll spend more time doing other activities like outings, reading, etc. The idea is to still nurse on demand, but without having your child associate nursing with sleeping. Night time nursing would stay the same as always.

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#6 of 38 Old 07-20-2007, 10:55 AM
 
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I totally understand your stress. My DD will only go to sleep nursing and will only go back to sleep nursing and stay asleep if I am next to her. This is only a problem if I need to be somewhere (like work) or do something (like care for my older child), so it occasionally stresses me out.

We have trained our children to sleep at the breast & sleep next to us. Nothing else makes sense to me and I do not struggle with the arrangement. I try to remember my DS, who is now eight, was the same way and is a wonderful, healthy sleeper. Your baby will decide when it is time to change your arrangements and it will be sooner than you think!
I know it seems like you need to "do" something, but you are doing exactly what you need to do to "train" your baby to sleep. When it is time to change he will tell you and you will miss your former arrangements. I promise.
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#7 of 38 Old 07-20-2007, 11:00 AM
 
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I personally don't believe there's anything "wrong" with it. I think people (including doctors) say things because it's not how society believes a baby or young child should be getting to sleep. For them, it's all about CIO, and have your baby fit into your lifestyle and schedule, not the other way around. I breastfed my son down to sleep for three and a half years. He's 7 and a half now, and I can quite honestly say that those years of breastfeeding went by so quickly. My son actually said to me last month, "Do you remember how I used to sleep with you and nurse like my sisters do now?" When, I said yes, he went on to say "Those are my happiest memories and I can't wait to have babies someday so I can do that with them and my wife."
I thought it was sweet.

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#8 of 38 Old 07-20-2007, 11:03 AM
 
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Tumblebeee, our kids must be around the same age! And I nurse him to sleep too. We don't co-sleep (we tried, it doesn't work for us), but I'll usually cuddle and rock DS and nurse him until he falls asleep and detaches from the breast of his own accord (which generally happens well after he's unconscious). He wakes up once or twice during the night to eat and we'll repeat the process. There's nothing wrong with it at all.

My DS does not wind *down* when read and sung to. He loves to be read to! He wants to pat my face and put his hands in my mouth and he loves it when I make silly faces. This is not a sleepytime activity. He adores singing! More with the silly faces, please, mama, and then my squirmy giggly boy is wide awake. Maybe when he's older, we can read him something soothing to help him go to bed, but clearly not yet.

As a first time mom, my opinion is that any system that gets you and the baby enough rest, while letting you cope with your other needs, is a good system.
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#9 of 38 Old 07-20-2007, 11:15 AM
 
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If you are comfortable with your choices, then go with it.
I see nothing wrong with it mama.
This is your child.
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#10 of 38 Old 07-20-2007, 11:37 AM
 
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I've been nursing my babes to sleep for 20 years. It's worked out really well & I love it!

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#11 of 38 Old 07-20-2007, 01:42 PM
 
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Oh, wanted to add:

The theory about making your baby independent by not nursing to sleep is bull. Assume that your four month old baby is as independent as he can possibly be, meaning, basically, that he is cared for by someone besides you during the day during the week. (This is basically the situation for my kid.)

Under these circumstances, you want the baby to nurse as much as possible at night, to keep your supply up and remind your body that you're feeding a baby, so that you can pump enough milk during the day for someone else to feed the baby while you're gone.

Plus, the snuggle is too sweet to pass up.
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#12 of 38 Old 07-20-2007, 02:03 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichelleS View Post
My son actually said to me last month, "Do you remember how I used to sleep with you and nurse like my sisters do now?" When, I said yes, he went on to say "Those are my happiest memories and I can't wait to have babies someday so I can do that with them and my wife."
I thought it was sweet.
: cutest thing ever...

Mama to 3 year old DS and awaiting #2 in June
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#13 of 38 Old 07-20-2007, 02:16 PM
 
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One problem I've had with it (my DS ONLY falls asleep while nursing) is if another child needs my attention during the time that DS is trying to fall asleep. It takes him awhile to settle even with the breast before I can slide away and leave him, and if either of my DDs needs me during that time, we're left with an awkward situation.

But that's really only a problem if you're alone with other very young children; I have three under 3 and no help during the day. Otherwise, I'd RELISH nursing DS to sleep. Some days it's the only chance I get to lie down and crash for awhile, and it's cozy, and I like that he has such positive associations with sleep.

And in the middle of the night, geez I'd ten times rather lie down and nurse a baby and drift off together that way. I can't imagine going through all the shenanigans some parents have to go through, rocking and walking them and even driving them around, if nursing would work just as well.

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#14 of 38 Old 07-20-2007, 02:23 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mama in the forest View Post
I've been nursing my babes to sleep for 20 years. It's worked out really well & I love it!
What do their college dorm roommates think??
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#15 of 38 Old 07-20-2007, 02:26 PM
 
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There's is nothing wrong with nursing a baby to sleep. They will eventually learn to sleep without nursing.

Sure, you can plug them with a paci, but this "self-soothing" crap just leads to more problems than it's worth, IMO.
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#16 of 38 Old 07-20-2007, 10:04 PM
 
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There's nothing wrong with it. Your instincts are right! And it's calming for both mother and baby. Nursing my baby to sleep is one of my favorite parts of the day. And his too!

Wendy, mama to Benjamin (1/4/07) :
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#17 of 38 Old 07-20-2007, 10:47 PM
 
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there is nothing wrong with nursing your baby to sleep. it's the best thing for her. however, as a mama to an 18 month old i will say that i do sometimes wish i hadn't started this cycle. it's impossible for her to fall asleep unless she is being nursed or dh is rocking her (and that takes forever and is often without success) and sometimes i have to combo nurse/rock her and she's getting really heavy for that! in addition, i can't ever go out at night with friends. even if dh is the one home with her he can never get her back to sleep if she wakes. the two times i have gone out i had to come back home within a half an hour to put her back down. this isn't really a big deal to me because i don't need to go out, but i could see how this may bother some people. i don't at all care for the term "sleep training" and i think the idea is quite silly. i do, however, buy into the idea that it may be hard for a child to fall back asleep in the middle of the night without being nursed if they are accustomed to being nursed to sleep. however, at 4 months old it is expected that your child is going to wake up frequently at night. fast forward 14 months and you kind of start to wish that wasn't happening so much. with my next child i would consider nursing dc to drowsiness, but not all the way to sleep. this may be hard as cosleepers, but it would be a good experiment to see if there was a difference between sleep of dc1 and dc2.

okay, this is by far my longest post ever!
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#18 of 38 Old 07-20-2007, 10:52 PM
 
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Nothing on earth wrong with it! My DD (16 months tomorrow) still nurses to sleep.

~Marie : Mom to DS(11), DS(10), DD(8), DD(4), DD(2), & Happily Married to DH 12 yrs.!
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#19 of 38 Old 07-20-2007, 11:11 PM
 
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I also agree that there is nothing wrong with it. What could be wrong with meeting your child's needs? DS nurses to sleep for every nap and every time he goes to bed at night, and I'm fine with that.

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#20 of 38 Old 07-20-2007, 11:18 PM
 
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I think the only reason not to nurse to sleep is when you wind up with a baby who NEEDS a nipple in his/her mouth ALL NIGHT to sleep, and then mama is not getting enough rest. If you're happy and getting enough rest, have at it!

If it ain't broke...

But, just sayin'... my baby slept fine at 4 months but now is a wreck in the sleep department and I'm working on having her nurse to *almost* asleep to help... because she's waking hourly needing a nipple and I am *tired.* But I'm sure that doesn't happen with all babies!
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#21 of 38 Old 07-20-2007, 11:20 PM
 
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You're being a great mom by nursing to sleep!!! Read Dr. Sears' books or website, and you'll feel better.
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#22 of 38 Old 07-20-2007, 11:34 PM
 
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Originally Posted by sofiabugmom View Post
Absolutely nothing wrong with it.

When I received similar comments, I'd answer with something like the following: she's only four months old ... for crying out loud, she hasn't even been out of the womb as long as she was in it. So I don't know why ANYONE would expect a baby of that age to be able (or for that matter, want) to go to sleep without cuddling and nursing on mama.

This is a wonderful time for you and your son ... enjoy those sleepy nursing moments, every one of them.
I totally agree with this momma. Also my 4 month DS nurses to sleep with me but rocks to sleep with his dad. So either of us can put him to sleep just different ways.
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#23 of 38 Old 07-20-2007, 11:47 PM
 
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Yup nothing wrong with it mama, DD is 21mo and can totally fall asleep by herself, but we usually still nurse to sleep at night. As long as you and baby are happy and healthy.
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#24 of 38 Old 07-21-2007, 12:05 AM
 
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I don't think there's anything wrong with it at all. I nursed my son to sleep for naps and bedtime until he was 2. But, at 25 months old, I had a medical condition and had to wean him in less than a week. Because of that, we had MAJOR sleep issues for about a year (he was never a born sleeper though).

DD on the other had doesn't really nurse to sleep. She prefers to be put down and falls asleep on her own - she's only four months old, but every nap and bedtime is so EASY for me. After a 5-6 hour stretch of sleep, though, she will nurse for the rest of the night (every two hours or so).

I think that if it's right for you, and it's right for your child DO IT.
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#25 of 38 Old 07-21-2007, 12:31 AM
 
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Originally Posted by tumblebeee View Post
Now that we have reached the 4mo mark, I've been hearing/reading about the need to "teach" the babe to fall asleep on his own without falling asleep at the breast.
There is a theory popularized by Dr. Richard Ferber which says (basically) that when babies wake in the night, they experience terror if they do not have the same environment/situation that put them to sleep. So if you put them to sleep by rocking, they panick when they wake up and find they are not being rocked.... ditto breastfeeding, apparently.

This is not a theory that many on this subscribe to, I feel is safe to assume. I just wanted to explain that it is possible this is the source of this bias you are encountering. And that knowledge is important, because then you know exactly what system of thinking surrounds these beliefs, and it is easier to know why you reject them for yourself.

You could google Dr. Ferber or do a search here in these forums, I'm SURE you will find more info about him here, if you are curious.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tumblebeee View Post
Following this routine, neither of us needs to fully wake up and we get plenty of rest
This is all that really matters in regards to sleep issues, right?
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#26 of 38 Old 07-21-2007, 12:41 AM
 
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Nursed my kids to sleep for years...and wished desperately at one point or another that they'd just fall asleep on their own. It was very draining for me after a couple years.
With ds, I suffered in silence. With dd, I used the pantley pull-off and it worked like a charm.
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#27 of 38 Old 07-23-2007, 04:32 AM
 
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THERE´S NOTHIN WRONG WITH IT! as long as you have no problem with it.

if you are ok with it, then why change or worry? it´s great for them, they fall asleep much softer...i love it. but if you are tired and can´t do it anymore, then it´s not ok cuz the babe feels it and i would think they get confused, right?

i still nurse my son to sleep with almost 17mo. but at night, no breastfeeding for him! it was driving me crazy...did i noghtwean him? he started and i helped alon, never let him cry, rocked him to sleep. now, after supper and a little playing, we go into his bedroom, he drinks a bit of juice or rice "milk" and falls asleep on my lap, no rocking, sometimes singing!

I am much more confortable with this at night, but i love nursing him to sleep for his nap! nthing wrong with it!
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#28 of 38 Old 07-23-2007, 12:08 PM
 
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It's only a problem if it's his only sleep association (can't sleep any other way) and you need an alternative (b/c you can't be there every time, for example). So yes, if you foresee a time when you're going to have to be away at bed time, you might want to try other sleep associations so someone else can put baby to bed. But there's nothing wrong with nursing to sleep, per se. Or any other gentle method of going to sleep for that matter--baby doesn't need to learn to be independent. That part is nonsense.

DD 01/2007, DS 09/2011

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#29 of 38 Old 07-23-2007, 12:20 PM
 
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BEWARE OF BABY TRAINERS!!!
Nursing your baby to sleep is normal and natural. yes there are times when it can be hard, after 10months I know it can be a challenge. In the end you will be happy you did it. If you are unhapppy there are some great resources available to you through LLL and kellymom.com

:CLC,Doula :Mama to 2
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#30 of 38 Old 07-23-2007, 12:41 PM
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I don't know why it's a big deal. My son is 2 1/2 and still nurses down for every nap that I'm home, and for bedtime. If I'm not home for nap, he will let his father or grandmother rub his back and sing, and that will put him out. He never just falls asleep on his own (except occasionally in the car), but we know he will eventually. You're doing fine!
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