Nursing to Sleep...What's the big deal? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 16 Old 10-16-2008, 07:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi all,
I have a 6 month old son and I am worried that I am setting myself up for future meltdowns here. I read way too many books and too much on the internet about healthy sleeping habits. Everything says that you shouldn't nurse to sleep because the baby will expect to be at the breast everytime he wakes up.
Well, my LO won't nap unless I nurse him down. Actually, he will EVENTUALLY nap, but only after crying, wriggling and me trying to "pat him down". Sometimes it's only a few minutes, sometimes I get to the 15 min mark and I think this is stupid - I'm wasting his precious nap time just so he won't develop a habit I don't even know for sure he will get.
As for bedtime, I used to nurse him before the bath, story, singing, just so I could separate the nursing from the sleeping. That worked 50% of the time. Sometimes he would drift off, other times he would just cry and cry. Friends have been telling my husband and I to try and let him cry it out. It's awful and I feel horrible about it. And even though he did sometimes drift off on his own, it did not mean he slept through the night. His sleeping is still erratic (averages 4 hr chunks, sometimes 3 or 6, once for 8, and he wants to party at 5 am no matter what anyway) SO...last night I moved the nursing to right before the book and singing. I figured I could "top him off" that much later. Well, he passed out after nursing, I tried to read to him a bit and sing, and I believe he was a bit awake after I put him down. Well, he slept really well - 3 hr stretch then 6 hr! And no one had to experience any crying.
Deep down I think now matter how I put him down, he will sleep they way he will sleep. When he is ready, he will sleep on his own, the whole night.
I think I just want to hear from other people that I'm not doing the wrong thing, setting myself up for problems later on, blah blah blah. Do you ever have to break the habit of nursing to sleep? Will they outgrow it on their own? Is it better to wait until you can at least sort of explain it to them?
Sorry, this is coming from someone who knows people with good sleepers or who have used the CIO method and swear by it.
THANKS!!!!
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#2 of 16 Old 10-16-2008, 08:18 PM
 
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Oh my... he's six months old! Of course he still wants (and needs, and deserves!) to nurse to sleep. Parenting (and nursing) our babies to sleep doesn't make for bad sleepers; to the countrary, it helps them learn that falling asleep is a pleasurable, easy thing (well, more than the alternative, anyway!).

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Deep down I think now matter how I put him down, he will sleep they way he will sleep. When he is ready, he will sleep on his own, the whole night.
This is so true.

Nursing is a need of young mammals, nursing to sleep no less a need. Like all needs of the young, by fulfilling it, we are helping them to mature and grow to their best potential. They WILL grow out of it, and they will be better off for our having provided it for them!
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#3 of 16 Old 10-16-2008, 08:19 PM
 
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Nursing to sleep is natural and normal.

Silly to fight IMHO.

They will outgrow the need on their own. Around 2.5yrs dd outgrew that need and started going to sleep on her own.

-Angela
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#4 of 16 Old 10-16-2008, 08:43 PM
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It's hard, I know. My DD just doesn't settle down easily, and nursing to sleep works - she gets more sleep, we get more sleep! I have friends who swear by CIO - but you know what? They put their babies on a strict 3 hour schedule from the beginning, and let the baby sleep in the bedroom furthest away from the parents. However, both their children went to sleep nicely in the cot when tired (as newborns) - but DD tried to claw herself out of the bassinet at the hospital screaming bloody murder whenever we tried that (I had a difficult labour, and found it difficult to pick her up, arms like lead etc.), and was only comfortable in my arms.

I think their babies are just easy sleepers, mine isn't. (However, their eldest was really difficult to get to sleep as toddler/preschooler. He'd just stay awake, and they kept asking me for advice on how to get him to sleep. So doing CIO doesn't necessarily mean that your baby will turn into a well-sleeping toddler!!! )

Remember, children eventually wean anyway (child-led or mother-led or both). I know that my daughter won't always want to sleep in our bed either. And while, at the the moment, she hates to be put down (unless we entertain her, and she is allowed to get into EVERYTHING she sees), one day, (not long from now) she'll be walking, and I suspect, will insist on doing it herself. I think it is the same with the other things.

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#5 of 16 Old 10-16-2008, 09:30 PM
 
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I still nurse my 16 month old dd to sleep at night and for all her naps. I can't imagine trying to do it any other way at this point. Nursing is such a valuable mothering tool at your disposal right now. If it works, why limit yourself and not use it? If you feel like something is wrong for your child, in this and any other circumstances, always go with your gut. You know your baby better than any book or friend or neighbor.

Another thing to keep in mind is that all those people swearing by CIO may have babies with very different personalities. When I was a baby, I would sleep anywhere anytime. I didn't care if I was nursed to sleep or not from birth. With my dd, on the other hand, if I take 30 seconds too long to pick her up when she needs me, she's likely to cry so hard that she hyperventilates. If anyone ever tried to make her CIO, I'm not sure if she would survive the ordeal.
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#6 of 16 Old 10-16-2008, 09:47 PM
 
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I still nurse my 19mo to sleep, and imagine I will be doing so until around 2.5, as Angela said above. In my opinion, it's a HUGE advantage at this age - he's still so easy to put to sleep! I know toddlers this age who already aren't napping, and I have a feeling it's in part because their parents expect them to just lay down and go to sleep without a nurse...and many toddlers will fight that. I can't imagine working against such a natural and easy way of putting to sleep. Don't waste your time trying another way. Just be ready to let your babe nurse like this for a while yet.
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#7 of 16 Old 10-16-2008, 10:14 PM
 
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I nurse DD to sleep still, as well, and she's 26 months old...DD now nurses until she's finished then rolls over and goes to sleep. No crying, no sadness, just a good, healthy sleepiness that she gives in to...
I suspect those toddlers who are no longer "good sleepers" like they were at 6 months are so because they were forced to sleep when Mom and Dad scheduled it and not when they needed it...
you know, like they never learned how to ease into it...anyone who's ever been awake in the wee hours knows you just can't force sleep to happen. It just don't work that way...
Momma OP...give your babe the boob with no compunction.

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#8 of 16 Old 10-16-2008, 10:17 PM
 
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I nursed my daughter to sleep when younger. She is 18 months now and she can fall asleep without nursing too. I don't know if it's her personality, or she is starting to grow out of it. Yesterday morning my husband woke her up, she babbled and talked a few minutes, rolled around and I rubbed her head. She rolled on her stomach and fell back asleep for another hour. A few months ago, she would fall asleep lying on my husbands chest, she was just comfy and she passed out. We didn't work at breaking her of it, it just happened. Now she is back to nursing more before bed more than she used to. I just go with the flow. I can't and won't ever let her cry, she throws up if she cries too hard.

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#9 of 16 Old 10-16-2008, 10:17 PM
 
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Yep, I'm on a farm and animals do this all the time. They get addicted to falling asleep nursing and it NEVER stops. Full grown cats chasing their moms down to nurse so they can go to sleep.
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#10 of 16 Old 10-16-2008, 10:27 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcp1998 View Post
Hi all,
I have a 6 month old son and I am worried that I am setting myself up for future meltdowns here. I read way too many books and too much on the internet about healthy sleeping habits. Everything says that you shouldn't nurse to sleep because the baby will expect to be at the breast everytime he wakes up.
Well, my LO won't nap unless I nurse him down. Actually, he will EVENTUALLY nap, but only after crying, wriggling and me trying to "pat him down". Sometimes it's only a few minutes, sometimes I get to the 15 min mark and I think this is stupid - I'm wasting his precious nap time just so he won't develop a habit I don't even know for sure he will get.
As for bedtime, I used to nurse him before the bath, story, singing, just so I could separate the nursing from the sleeping. That worked 50% of the time. Sometimes he would drift off, other times he would just cry and cry. Friends have been telling my husband and I to try and let him cry it out. It's awful and I feel horrible about it. And even though he did sometimes drift off on his own, it did not mean he slept through the night. His sleeping is still erratic (averages 4 hr chunks, sometimes 3 or 6, once for 8, and he wants to party at 5 am no matter what anyway) SO...last night I moved the nursing to right before the book and singing. I figured I could "top him off" that much later. Well, he passed out after nursing, I tried to read to him a bit and sing, and I believe he was a bit awake after I put him down. Well, he slept really well - 3 hr stretch then 6 hr! And no one had to experience any crying.
Deep down I think now matter how I put him down, he will sleep they way he will sleep. When he is ready, he will sleep on his own, the whole night.
I think I just want to hear from other people that I'm not doing the wrong thing, setting myself up for problems later on, blah blah blah. Do you ever have to break the habit of nursing to sleep? Will they outgrow it on their own? Is it better to wait until you can at least sort of explain it to them?
Sorry, this is coming from someone who knows people with good sleepers or who have used the CIO method and swear by it.
THANKS!!!!
I have a 4 month old who naps in my arms every single day. I nurse her to sleep, I nurse her while she's sleeping, I nurse her when she's awake, I just nurse her whenever I think she needs it and whenever she asks. I did the same thing with both of my older boys. Guess what? Both of them left my bed, both of them weaned, and both of them are fabulous sleepers.

And your deep down feelings are right. Some people are blessed with babies who sleep through the night at 1 month, some have kids that climb into bed with them at 8. No matter what, they will either take credit for it or blame it on whatever sleep "training" (or lack thereof, as it were) method they used.

So do what makes you and your sweet baby happy. I would stop talking to friends and family about his sleep habits, though...just safe yourself the stress. When people ask me how Shelby's sleeping, I say, we all get great rest! And it's true! Even if I do have to take a nap with her during the day or go to bed with her at 8 pm to get it.

Stay strong!!

Misti, mom to DS (12), DS (9), DD (3), and Mr. Man (October '10)!

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#11 of 16 Old 10-17-2008, 01:13 AM
 
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Ignore the babywise and mainstream crowd with all your might. Listen to your motherly gut. It is unnatural to ignore it.

I couldn't imagine Johannes doing CIO. He'd probably have an asthma attack and die from it. He has always had so much trouble with his breathing, even as a young baby. This reason alone makes me to feel it is not natural or right to do.

I am married to my soul mate and best friend, and I am truly blessed.

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#12 of 16 Old 10-17-2008, 02:29 AM
 
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For hundreds of thousands of years since the cave man days, mamas have been nursing their babies to sleep. Then in the last hundred years in western culture they've decided that for some unfathomable reason it's bad to nurse babes to sleep. I think I'm going to go with tradition.
It sounds like you're following your instincts and doing what you know in your bones is best for your babe. Keep it up, and welcome to MDC.

Jen, journalist, policy wonk, and formerly a proud single mama to my sweet little man Cyrus, born at home Dec. 2007 . Now married to my Incredibly Nice Guy and new mama to baby Arthur.
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#13 of 16 Old 10-17-2008, 12:12 PM
 
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Thank you so much for this post - and for all the responses. I've been nursing my 8-month-old down from the beginning, and never questioned it until a recent visit to the in-laws. I don't need to tell the story, we've all heard it before.

Mama to DS1 (2/08) and DS2 (9/10).
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#14 of 16 Old 10-17-2008, 01:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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THANK YOU TO EVERYONE!!! This is the support I have been looking for. Good luck to all.
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#15 of 16 Old 10-17-2008, 02:28 PM
 
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My almost 20 month old still nurses to sleep for naps and often for bed. I guess for me the "big deal" is that dp can't do it. I would like to have a night off from bedtime from time to time.

That said, I started working on a bedtime routine whereby I could phase out the nursing to sleep, and didn't follow through with it. What I did follow through with to give me a little break is night weaning between the hours of 11pm and 5am. That has given me the relief I need to be able to happily nurse her to sleep.

Nursing to sleep is great. It works like magic.
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#16 of 16 Old 10-18-2008, 03:13 AM
 
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I WISH my daughter would still nurse to sleep! Well, I guess she does kind of. But first I have to walk her down for 5-20 minutes, slip her out of her carrier, then nurse her until she settles in bed. I would gladly go back to the days when I could nurse her down and slip away.

If you're really worried about "bad habits" (that term just irks me -- they're babies doing what babies are built to do, it just doesn't always fit with our fast-paced, individual-oriented society) check out Pantley's _No Cry Sleep Solution_. It will give you some ideas that do not involve CIO.

Most importantly, do what works for you and your family. It's nobody's business but your own if your baby nurses to sleep and if you're all happy then there is no problem.
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