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Feeding to sleep: Is it really such a bad thing?!

(14 Posts)
ExistentialistCat Tue 14-Dec-10 17:20:56

After 12 weeks of DD2 sleeping only in my arms, we've bought a bedside cot and I now feed her to sleep in the evenings and tiptoe away. It's working very well so far.

My only worry is of the rod-for-own-back variety. On the one hand, I think it's quite reasonable, from DD's perspective, to want the warmth and comfort of a bf before drifting to sleep and the reassurance that it's still there in the night when she wakes. On the other hand, I don't particularly want to be doing this much beyond the age of 6 months.

What are other people's experiences of feeding to sleep? A sanity saver or saving up problems for later?

GiddyPickle Tue 14-Dec-10 18:47:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

stickersarecurrency Tue 14-Dec-10 18:56:58

In No Cry Sleep Solution there's a technique to discourage feeding to sleep. Basically gentle unlatching every time but allowing more feeding if that wakes them up. In itself it's not a problem, generally the alternative of a howling baby is much worse. I fed mine to sleep for ages and he's a dream at bedtime now. Different story when he's coming into my bed at night but that's not a feeding thing, just habit and security I think!

thehumanpacifier Tue 14-Dec-10 20:21:46

I have always fed DS, now 7 months, to sleep. At first, up to about 2 months, it was the only way he would sleep day and night. Now he will sleep without being fed, by a little rocking, or in the car or buggy during the day. Night times, he used to be permanently latched, now I do feed to sleep, and he has couple of feeds, but can normally cuddle him back to sleep if he wakes any other times.

I used to worry about rods and backs, but my conclusion is if it works and everyone is happy, just go with it. They change all the time, and as others have said, nothing is forever. For me it's the most natural and special thing, and doesn't bother me anymore smile

NapWhatNap Wed 15-Dec-10 09:27:01

I agree with thehumanpacifier, it is a special time. Now that my dd is 10 months old, I can see the end in sight (I plan to stop feeding when she's 1), and while I will enjoy the freedom, I am starting to treasure our bedtime moments more.

I tend to make sure I put her down awake but sleepy. If I put her down asleep she usually wakes up after her first sleep cycle and cries (with surprise I guess!). This has worked a treat for us.

In my experience the association between sleep and feeding lessens as they grow older, eg when they no longer need night feeds (we weaned dd off night feeds at 7mo, and it wasn't too hellish at all), when they come through that "sleeping like a stone" newborn phase (there used to be no waking my dd when she fell asleep at the breast, now she either doesn't fall asleep totally, or rouses when I stand up to put her in her cot), when you no longer feed to sleep for naps.

FWIW I have fed dd to sleep or to an almost-asleep state at bedtime since birth and now she generally sleeps through the night (self settling when she wakes), can self settle for naps when she's not being a monkey, and is down to two breastfeeds a day. Life has changed totally and I wish I'd spent less time worrying about rods and backs when she was tiny.

I say don't sweat it. In fact, enjoy it!

Fifilottie Wed 15-Dec-10 10:12:49

I fed my DD to sleep up until a few days ago(she is nine months now). I didn't decide to stop the feeding she decided by herself and just refused to feed so I put her down to sleep. However at about 6 months we did CC so she can now just get to sleep by herself without depending on a feed so I think that has helped. She doesn't need the bedtime feed now anyway as she is on enough solids and food in the day. I agree with Napwhatnap and so I say, feed your LO to asleep, enjoy it and don't worry about it. She is only 12 weeks...Worry about all that kind of stuff later on. . Good luck !!!

InmaculadaConcepcion Wed 15-Dec-10 19:27:11

I fed to sleep and it was great for a while, but eventually it got to the point when DD didn't want to unlatch, which made it impossible for me to sleep.

At about 7.5months I did a little sleep training (for all of three days) so DD would learn to self-settle after being put down still awake. It worked surprisingly quickly and easily (no meltdown crying, only intermittent protesting which didn't go on longer than about 25mins).

Now I still feed DD before bedtime and when she wakes overnight, but in general she'll settle herself back to sleep in her cot (sometimes takes a couple of goes, but she does it).

So even if it does become a habit you need to break, it won't necessarily be a major trauma to do so.

In many ways, feeding to sleep has been a sanity saver. It relaxes me, too.

Lotkinsgonecurly Wed 15-Dec-10 19:46:20

I fed both mine to sleep, worked for me. Didn't have a problem with them feeding to sleep and later settling themselves.

When they were a bit bigger 6 months onwards, they seemed happy to have a feed and then just go straight into their cot to sleep without being asleep first.

Or I may have just blocked out the horror of it!

But ds was always and still is a great sleeper, dd has ever since she was born 3 years ago woken at 5 am and most mornings ever since. But going to sleep is not an issue.

ExistentialistCat Wed 15-Dec-10 20:13:57

Oh thank you, all. I've just spent an hour feeding DD to sleep and feeling desperate. It's good to be reminded that this is a tiny phase in her life. And it's reassuring to hear of people's experiences that fed-to-sleep DCs can still learn to self-settle eventually.

Do you think substituting the bedtime bf with formula would help at all?!

JessieEssex Wed 15-Dec-10 21:43:55

I was about to write pretty much exactly the same question! My DD is 17 weeks old and we fell into feeding to sleep by accident/chance. Until a few weeks ago, she would be awake but drowsy when I put her down most nights (straight after her last breastfeed of the day), but the dreaded sleep regression seems to have hit, and the only way to get her to sleep is to knock her out with milk! I was worried re rod/back etc, but my mindset at the moment is that it works at the moment, it is getting her to sleep and we'll deal with it at a later date if it causes problems!

ExistentialistCat Thu 16-Dec-10 09:11:33

Hello Jessie! At least you had some weeks of being able to put DD down drowsy but awake. We've never even managed that. At this rate, when the sleep regression does hit in a few weeks' time, DD2 won't have very much to regress from!!

thehumanpacifier Thu 16-Dec-10 11:22:40

ExistentialistCat in my experience formula makes no difference, it is just a stage in their lives, and as they grow they get less and less dependant on the boob to sleep, they just love the comfort! smile

Iwasthefourthwiseman Thu 16-Dec-10 15:30:31

I don't know how you stop them falling asleep at the breast at this stage? Without being really mean.

I feel like our whole day revolves around feeding and trying various ways to get DD2 to sleep at the moment!

DD1 stopped feeding to sleep eventually, though I don't remember doing anything to encourage it.

AngelsfromtherealmsofgloryDog Thu 16-Dec-10 21:45:17

I would have been tempted to throw DS out of the window if he hadn't started feeding to sleep at bedtime at around 10/11 weeks. He started doing it for naps around 15 weeks.

I was gutted when he stopped being able to be bf to sleep for naps at 8 months, but he's still going at nighttime at 11 months.

He can be rocked to sleep though so he isn't totally dependent on bf.

I think if it works for your family, it's not a problem. We did have a phase around 6/7 months where he woke after every sleep cycle because I was bf'ing him every time he woke, but I used ideas from the No-Cry Sleep Solution and within a couple of weeks he was only waking for one feed a night.

He wakes far more than that now, but it's to do with needing help to go to sleep, not to do with needing feeding to sleep IYSWIM. I've not been able to put him down awake but drowsy since he was a couple of months old - he either goes mental or just gets up and plays.

Iwasthefourthwiseman, I remember those days and it does seem like everything revolves around sleep. They seem such a long time ago for us now though - hang in there and I'm sure you'll be saying the same thing soon.

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