Parents of older children who fed to sleep when they were babies

(59 Posts)
darksideofbuttonmoon Tue 22-Jul-14 09:32:09

DD is 6 months and has always fed to sleep. When she was a newborn it honestly never occurred to me to get her to sleep any other way, and now it's a habit that she doesn't seem in a hurry to break.
She feeds asleep for naps (which she takes on me), she feeds asleep in the evening and then goes into her cot asleep, and she feeds back to sleep if she 'wakes' at night. I say 'wakes' because she doesn't wake fully just kind of whinges in a half sleep that turns into a cry if she's left.
I keep reading that it's a bad habit but the thought of trying to break it makes me feel a bit ill! DP has tried to settle her, for example, but she screams the place down and it's difficult to listen to when I know she'll settle with a feed. Likewise, I'm not loving the idea of pacing up and down with her for hours when a five minute feed will see her (and me!) back to sleep.
Can anyone offer reassuring stories of their own feed-to-sleep babies who just grew out of it on their own, or am I REALLY going to have break this habit myself [has a little tantrum] ?

noblegiraffe Tue 22-Jul-14 09:48:41

Both mine grew out of it on their own, however they were over a year old. One was a sleep fighter and needed it replacing with other sleep props - music, patting, shushing etc. The other just started going into their cot and putting themselves to sleep without any fuss or help.

With both of them I didn't break the habit, they just started being awake after feeds.

BrieAndChilli Tue 22-Jul-14 09:56:12

I breastfed all of mine and mostly they would feed to sleep. I fed the, until they were 1, once breastfeeding had decreased to just a comfort suck to get to sleep we did a week where dh did bedtime and all the night wakings. It was awful listening to them cry for me but after a couple of nights they settled down and started sleeping through.
They are 3,6 and 7 now and all sleep though and go to bed fine so no lasting damage to having been fed to sleep!

Iggly Tue 22-Jul-14 10:21:15

Ds is nearly 5. He was fed, rocked, cuddled.

He is able to fall asleep without assistance. We stay in his room though while I sort out his younger sister.

Dd was also fed but I used to have to wind her after every feed due to terrible wind from tongue tie. So she didn't get used to it. She was cuddled and rocked instead.

She lies down and goes to sleep. In fact she's better than ds ever was mostly.

I've realised they go through phases, they need you more they need you less depending on circumstances.

I did find that as they got to around 6 months occasionally they just wouldn't settle after a feed so I would rock and cuddle then put down on their tummies and they'd settle themselves with me out of the room. If not I'd go back and cuddle and try again. Just giving them a chance was enough.

Dd also certainly didn't settle for DH at that age. Nor ds. It wasn't a big deal - as they got older they were fine.

FreckledLeopard Tue 22-Jul-14 10:23:17

DD now 13 so obviously it was a long time ago, BUT, she never really got past feeding to sleep. I fed her til she was 2.5 years, but it took until I weaned her fully for her to fall asleep on her own (and as it was, she still didn't sleep through the night til she was 3).

Now the issue I have is trying to wake her up before lunchtime

Graciescotland Tue 22-Jul-14 10:42:10

A bit like freckled I fed my eldest till weaning around two, he slept through the night at three. Still BF my youngest to sleep at 20mo he's either sleeping through or wakes up for a midnight snack and then sleeps through.

I've tried sleep training but I'm a bit soft and think they're only little for such a short time and they will sleep through eventually.

PenelopeGarciasCrazyHair Tue 22-Jul-14 10:47:40

I fed all of mine to sleep. Once I stopped BFing (about 8 months with all of them) suddenly the night time feed didn't seem quite so interesting and they started sleeping through. They had warm milk in a sippy cup before bed for a year or two, but then just grew out of it except DS2, who is 9 and still likes warm milk before bed!

blueshoes Tue 22-Jul-14 10:51:37

Both mine fed to sleep as infants but after they got older and more alert (past 9 months?), feeding to sleep no longer worked. I then relied on the other crutch which is wheeling them to sleep in the buggy. It was easier when I could still feed them to sleep!

They were both terrible sleepers but now both sleep like a dream. They are 10 and 7!

NickiFury Tue 22-Jul-14 10:53:30

I've never really seen the problem with feeding to sleep. Perfect way to get them to drop off, they just kind of stopped as they got older, I never had to do anything.

drwitch Tue 22-Jul-14 10:53:35

dd (breasted until 3.5) fed to sleep til the age of 2 from then would sometimes want a feed and sometimes not. Now is 5 and half and very happy to go to sleep and be alone in her room. ds breastfed until 1, did control crying with him at 6 months and still is now a bit scared at night and wants me with him while he goes to sleep even at the age of 9.

DalmationStripe Tue 22-Jul-14 10:56:29

I night weaned DD when she was 18months so she had to fall asleep by herself.

I intend to do the same with DS when he's 18minths too.

She's only 6 months. If it's working for you, I really wouldn't worry about it. It will eventually sort itself out. i used to think my DD would never fall asleep by herself so I know how you feel. smile

MadMonkeys Tue 22-Jul-14 11:16:44

I fed DD2 to sleep until she self weaned at 13m. She got the hang of settling herself to sleep at that point with no problems. I didn't feed DD1 to sleep as she was bottle fed. Instead I rocked her to sleep. It was much easier to get fed-to-sleep DD2 to self settle than rocked-to-sleep DD1.

TreadSoftlyOnMyDreams Tue 22-Jul-14 11:53:17

I think 6 months is a little early to stress about it, but there is no doubt that it makes life a little easier if you can teach your child to self settle by stages rather than getting to 10 months or whenever you crack at the 2 hr bedtimes and try control crying.

Try starting with the day time naps. Read a story, or use a musical mobile/light show to distract them from the fact that they are not lying on you to go to sleep.

As someone who had a pfb who often fed to sleep, I think it made the weaning process very hard as it also coincided with my return to work. If it's not a huge issue for you but you are concerned with the "rod for your own back" commentators then I'd just enjoy the snuggles for now.

darksideofbuttonmoon Tue 22-Jul-14 12:06:10

Thanks for all the replies, they're very reassuring! Honestly, I've never questioned and second-guessed myself as much as I have since becoming a parent.
I think I was just trying to get my head around what perspective the 'don't feed to sleep' advice comes from. I.e. my DM will say that it would be nice for me if DD napped in her cot. And she's right it would be, it's not like I enjoy her napping on me when I've got stuff to do, or feeding her every couple of hours when she's having a bad night (which isn't often). But I know it works and I know it won't last forever. If, on the other hand, the advice is there because what I'm doing is 'damaging' DD then fair enough I'll have to change what I'm doing.
My gut tells me I'm not doing her any harm and to keep going as we are, even if it means she won't sleep through for a while yet. I was two, apparently, so it could just be karma grin

TreadSoftlyOnMyDreams Tue 22-Jul-14 12:43:00

Nah - you are not damaging her in any way.

Damaging your ability to have a social life and a decent nights sleep, possibly but that's a subjective view grin

If you are planning a DC2 though - bear in mind it could take a long time to break the habit especially if you plan to BF for quite a while longer. It's best if the two don't coincide.

ChunkyPickle Tue 22-Jul-14 12:52:13

DS1 was always fed to sleep (coslept too) - now at 3 we take him to bed, read story, turn the light off and close the door and he sleeps till morning - he's not scared of the dark or anything. He was waking in the night for a feed until 18 months, and took till he was over 2 to get to this easy bedtime/sleeping through.

DS2 (10 months) I'm feeding to sleep again, but he's a better sleeper and feeder than DS1 was (even at 18 months), and he'll also happily fall asleep on DP's tummy, or being rocked by MIL (sometimes he actually prefers it). I don't anticipate any issues with him when it comes to going into his own bed at all.

I think just like everything else, it all depends on the child, and what you do or don't do really has very little to do with it.

SaveTheMockingBird Tue 22-Jul-14 12:53:26

Gosh, feeding them to sleep makes for an easier life...that's why I did it! No problems with them going to sleep when I'm not there either. 2min feed and asleep ASAP or half an hour of faffing around with holding hands/stroking back ec....I know what I'd choose!

Shedding Tue 22-Jul-14 12:57:24

I found that feeding to sleep in the evening stopped working at about 8-9 months old. They were just so efficient that they were still awake having drained me dry. Dd1 had a dummy and dd2 her finger and a blanker, all grown out of at an appropriate time and they slept though with no intervention some time during their second year. Dd3 still occasionally wakes at nearly 4, not sure what went wrong there?!

Marcipex Tue 22-Jul-14 13:04:16

I never did it but DD did. DGS is seven now, goes to bed without argument, likes his door shut, and passes out for eleven hours exactly every night smile

Just do what you feel is right. It probably will be.

flipflopsonfifthavenue Tue 22-Jul-14 13:14:47

I fed DS to sleep for naps and at bedtime til 13mo. Then I night weaned and he learnt to put himself to sleep (took about two weeks of gentle sleep training). I still bfed to sleep for his naps for a few more months though. If that didn't work I'd often rock to sleep (much harder when they're 18months than when they're 6mo - ooooof it's hard on the arms!)

He's now 2 (I stopped bfing at 18mo) and I still nap him in his buggy sometimes as he's always been a bit of a cot refuser for day time naps.

Bedtimes are generally fine, but he still goes through periods of having to hold his hand/sit by the door etc. I think he's just a little boy who will always need a bit more help/comfort at bedtime. Am sure as he gets older this will change into "one more book/cuddle/wee/teddy" tactics.

When I was bfing to sleep, and people would say "ooo rod for your own back" etc, and talk about 'negative sleep associations' I read something that was a real eye opener. Negative association for who exactly?? The baby is warm, safe, and falls asleep with warm sweet milk, cushioned against its mummy. What can be negative about that? Really changed my outlook, and I felt much better for it.

Like others have said, if it works for you, don't change it. When it stops working - or DD stops falling asleep this way - you'll figure a different way.

Having just flown back from Canada on a night flight where DS was almost INSANE with tiredness but couldn't get comfy, I LONGED for the days I could just feed him to sleep ;))

Did we feed to sleep? I can't remember. DD always had a feed just before I went to sleep, but whether she went straight to sleep or gurgled for a bit, I have no idea. Cosleeping can be like that.

What I do know is that she now doesn't need feeding to sleep, but is happy with a glass of water put by the side of the bed when I tuck her into her own bed.

We have never had any sleep issues.

MrsKCastle Tue 22-Jul-14 13:28:26

Dd1 is almost 6. I stopped bfing her at around a year (although she still had a bottle at bedtime) and that got her out of the habit.

DD2 was very hard work as a baby- she would sleep in the sling of after a feed but you couldn't put her down or she would wake again. In the end we had to co-sleep and she bf whenever she woke. I stopped bfing at around 2 and she was fine.

Now my girls are 6 and 3 and they both sleep through, no problems at all- bedtime is lovely, stories, cuddles and sleep.

PrincessTheresaofLiechtenstein Tue 22-Jul-14 13:32:14

I got fed up with feeding to sleep when dd was around 7 or 8 months and tried various gentle strategies to stop but it didn't work so I waited it out. I don't think she was much past 12 months when things got a lot easier and she was settling herself much more in the night. She was bf till nearly 2 but certainly wasn't feeding to sleep by then. They do grow out of it naturally IMO.

Showy Tue 22-Jul-14 13:36:58

Mine outgrew it gently and naturally. Really useful tool ime.

Dontforgetyourbrolly Tue 22-Jul-14 14:17:09

I don't know what's wrong with feeding/ cuddling/ rocking to sleep. It's lovely and they are not babies forever - they will soon be door slamming teens saying they hate you ! Lol - these moments should be cherished

However, OP, try to get your lo to nap somewhere else - cot/ buggy whatever , so you can have a well earned cuppa and do something for yourself for a short while :-)

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