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How am I supposed to stop feeding to sleep and is it going to be a problem?

(29 Posts)
EleanorofCastile Thu 12-Jan-17 18:11:15

I was quite happy with DDs sleep until I realised that I am doing this and it's supposed to cause problems in the longer term...

She is 12 weeks tomorrow, but a good weight and has always fed very well. Exclusively breastfed and we have been unsuccessful in attempts to feed with a bottle of expressed milk. From 9-11 weeks she was only waking once for a feed, but since the weekend she has been waking 4-6 times per night which I initially put down to a growth spurt. However, I'm now concerned that I might be feeding to sleep and that she is waking each time and needing to be fed back to sleep. I am also wondering if it's possible that she is going through the 4 month sleep regression a bit early and so waking and needing to feed back to sleep again rather than waking because she is hungry?

She has a "witching hour" most evenings just before bed, so I tend to spend an hour or so dealing with the crying and fussiness ( this is spent rocking, walking, feeding on and off, singing gentle songs and playing white noise in our bedroom) until she is calm enough to have her final feed when she falls asleep and i transfer her from my position sitting/lying on our bed to her co-sleeper. I am not sure how I would NOT feed to sleep without putting her down and inevitably crying and/or not having had her final feed! I am not sure why some days we do not get the witching hour, I have been unable to isolate what may have been different, and they are getting less severe as she gets older.

I would really LOVE to hear other peoples experiences and advice on this! She tends to have most (and possibly all recent) naps in the day in the pram as we are out and about and walk a lot. I am only worried about this due to the increased wakings for the last 5 days or so and that fact that all the sleeping experts recommend against feeding to sleep by this age.

JohnLapsleyParlabane Thu 12-Jan-17 18:15:47

Feeding to sleep has worked well for me and DD. She's now 14 months and frequently chooses to go to bed without feeding to sleep. It is however a commitment: no one but me had put DD to bed successfully since she was born until she was about 11 months.
FATEdestiny wrote a great response to this situation on another thread recently. I can't find it but basically she detailed how to get baby to sleep without milk. Also without crying.

onemumtwocountries Thu 12-Jan-17 18:22:54

Hi Eleanor, my DS used to be exactly the same. He's now 5 months and over the last 6-8 weeks he's stopped feeding to sleep (he looks like he's sleepy while on the breast but wakes up as he finishes) and has started self settling. For this reason we have been able to do a final feed at 8pm and then put to bed at 9pm with music/cuddles. I'd say give your DD time and she might grow out of feeding to sleep. Good luck!

Leviticus Thu 12-Jan-17 18:25:12

It will be fine, honestly. As you say - how on earth do you stop a bfing baby from falling asleep?

Gardencentregroupie Thu 12-Jan-17 18:32:40

My DD was (is, sometimes) a shit sleeper, she was a shit sleeper whether I fed her to sleep or DH settled her down (I did shifts finishing at 11pm from she was eight months). Her sleep improved radically when she turned 2, she was still being fed to sleep . It didn't improve any further when I stopped at 2.4. So for me I can't see any correlation between feeding to sleep and the sleep itself, and I certainly wouldn't worry about it at 12 weeks, when it's easy and cosy and comforting.

Purplebluebird Thu 12-Jan-17 18:35:53

I still feed my 2 year old to sleep :D

WhiskyAndTwiglets Thu 12-Jan-17 18:35:55

She's a newborn! It won't last long. My eldest fed to sleep for 4 months or so, my youngest fed pretty much constantly through the night until 14 months.
They are now teenage and tween and they sleep perfectly well 😂 They were 7-7 at 4 and 14 months respectively. My eldest was an oddity. The younger one much more normal!
It'll pass.
And you'll look back and miss it one day.

FATEdestiny Thu 12-Jan-17 18:36:25

Eleanor - feeding to sleep is not a problem and can be a long term solution. As long as you buy into that ethos of feeding for comfort long term and probably cosleeping for ease.

It's all about realistic expectations. Your baby probably will wake often and will want feeding to sleep. That's completely normal for a breastfed baby and night feeds are expected for the first year, night wakes for longer.

So you need to ask yourself - is that your parenting ethos? It might be and that's fine. It's not mine and that's fine too.

I favour independant sleeping. That uses oodles of props and sleep associations that help baby to go to sleep independantantly. Then over the first year you wean parental involvement in settlibg baby.

So at 12 weeks I would:
- give a full feed
- wind robustly enough so baby doesn't stay asleep, but is still drowsy while being wind cuddled
- swaddle. Making no efforts to keep baby asleep.
- dummy in. Dummy is crucial to independant settling.
- rock/cuddle while holding dummy in.
- once calm and starting to sleep, put in co sleeper cot.
- lie on my bed alongside. Head to head, eye to eye. Cuddle up. Patting stroking shushing. It Ideally just a still, calm cuddle while replacing / holding in dummy.
- extract yourself once asleep.

Daytime sleep I favour the bouncy chair for movement and for baby to sleep in it with dummy. Same principle though - relentless dummy reinserts, cuddles, physical contact, eye contact and movement.

But baby is learning to sleep independantly and seperate from you.

So my answer largely depends on what your longer term parenting ethos is.

Purplebluebird Thu 12-Jan-17 18:36:43

Oh, and he sleeps really well actually, nothing to do with bf'ing to be honest!

sebashocked Thu 12-Jan-17 18:39:14

Looking forward to hearing some answers. DS turns 3 in a couple of months and still feeds to sleep.

Cakescakescakes Thu 12-Jan-17 18:40:44

I fed my two boys to sleep for every nap and bedtime for a year. Don't let anyone make it into a problem if it isn't a problem for you. By about 6 months they were sleeping better at night (although still feeding at least once up to about 10 months) and it became easier to settle them with cuddles or for my DH to do to. Don't stress it. Enjoy all the lovely sleepy hormones that bf creates. And the sleepy dreamy milky faces. Doesn't last long smile

Cakescakescakes Thu 12-Jan-17 18:42:28

Should add both my boys started napping and sleeping independently themselves. Eventually they stopped falling asleep on the boob and I'd just set them in their cot still awake but drowsy and they'd drift off. So for us it was a very gentle gradual process. Ds1 had a dummy and DS 2 wouldn't entertain one at all.

JohnLapsleyParlabane Thu 12-Jan-17 18:46:09

Thanks FATE though it's not for me, I really like the gentleness of your baby sleeping technique.

MinisWin Thu 12-Jan-17 18:58:11

Just wanted to say thank you for starting this thread, I feel like I've found my people(!) - constantly self-doubting at the moment as we're feeding to sleep at bedtime most of the time (though on occasion she turns it down and we rock or shush/stroke/pat instead). She's up anywhere between 1-3 times to feed at night but goes down pretty consistently at about 7.30 and sleeps well and quite frankly I'm quite happy with how things are for the moment. Naps on the other hand... confused

Babyitscoldouts1de Thu 12-Jan-17 18:59:52

There is absolutely nothing wrong with feeding to sleep if it is working for you. I have been "blessed" with a terrible sleeper and at 2 now it's been the only way I have managed it. However it is very restricting for you. If you are the kind of person who likes having an evening out or just needs to spend time cooking dinner etc at that time then you can explore other options.

Ultimately you need to do what is right for your family. If it is working then enjoy the quiet cuddles and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. But when it's not right for you then stop.

Also, lo goes down fine for naps in the day with carers while I'm at work and dp covers night shifts when I need the sleep. So it hasn't caused problems for us.

Anatidae Thu 12-Jan-17 19:10:43

Fate's advice is very good. I'd also add that (in my opinion) you get what you're given sleepwise - you can certainly help them along with good habits but some babies are naturally good sleepers and some aren't.
Ours isn't and we've tried every method there is - only feeding to sleep works. It's not ideal but it works. For us.
You need to do what works for you and your baby and your lifestyle.

primaryboodle Thu 12-Jan-17 19:11:45

i too have found my people!

starting to feel like its a dirty little secret - i think the good judgement i recieve off people for breastfeeding is now turning into eyerolls and raised eyebrows now that dd is 6 months old! hmm

i cant help you op as i am stil in this cycle but my experience so far is thus:

0-3 months
- fussy/feed/sleep/repeat from 5pm onwards then a good stretch of sleep from 10pm-8am with 2/3 wake ups (cosleeper crib)

4 months plus
- started bedtime routine so dd will feed to sleep around 7pm, wake for a feed at 7.45pm (why?!?!?!), then sleep for 1-2 hours and require feeding back to sleep through the night (this is when i started cosleeping)

6months
- now dd is in a great little routine. feed to sleep after bedtime routine around 6.30 in her own room and cot, still wakes 45 mins later for a feed EVERY NIGHT!, maybe wakes for 1/2 more feeds between then and midnight and gets put back in her cot. Any wakings after that i bring her back into my bed and we cosleep/feed to sleep through the night.

This means i get proper sleep and dd is slowly and gently getting used to her own room. I live in hope that eventually she will just sleep through but at least this way i get a decent sleep in my own bed without being a sardine and i can cosleep too to get a bit more sleep.

for daytime naps she is quite happy to sleep in the pram and fall to sleep in the sling then be transferred to the cot in her room.

hope that helps!

Tabitha1983 Thu 12-Jan-17 20:03:04

Hi ladies...I am doing the same and breast feeding to sleep my 11 week old, however it's not going so well for me 😕 He is completely asleep when I transfer him into snuzpod (he is swaddled and has sleepyhead) but he will wake up 5-15 mins later and require dummy to go back to sleep. The dummy then falls out...and repeat...😩
So tonight he's cluster fed 5-7 and settled well for 10 mins...I'm currently going up and down the stairs every 10 mins to re-insert dummy! This has been going on for 2 weeks now. He seems to settle into deeper sleep and wakes around 10ish for feed.
Anyone else have this problem with the dummy?? I don't want to get rid of it as it's such a comfort for him but clearly this is a bit crazy that's he's so dependent on it to sleep 😕

Tabitha1983 Thu 12-Jan-17 20:08:58

FateDestiny...I'm totally the same thinking as you but having real troubles with 11 week old and bloody dummy lol! I breast feed him to sleep then swaddle and place him in snuzpod (with sleepyhead) and comforter...but he then rouses 10 mins later and requires dummy to settle (which is fine) other than every time he looses dummy, which can be every 5-10 mins I have to go up and re-insert! Should I be worried that he cannot sleep without dummy in??
Anybody else had this problem with dummy or do your babies stay asleep after feeding?! X

Tabitha1983 Thu 12-Jan-17 20:10:55

Sorry ladies I thought I'd cancelled 1st post and wrote again! U get the idea 😂😴

EleanorofCastile Thu 12-Jan-17 20:25:12

wow thanks everyone for responses... just typed up a long post after getting DD off tonight, but somehow accidentally pressed the back button and lost it before posting! Glad this has been helpful it's been really interesting to read for me, and I'll re-write my response later when i've had something to eat! What I will say now is that i've absolutely no problem with feeding to sleep and it's felt like the most natural/easiest/most obvious thing to do in the whole of my "parenting journey" so far and therefore one I would just carry on doing, hence my post really as I wanted to understand things better before they potentially start to go wrong!

FATEdestiny Thu 12-Jan-17 21:48:12

He is completely asleep when I transfer him into snuzpod (he is swaddled and has sleepyhead) but he will wake up 5-15 mins later and require dummy to go back to sleep. The dummy then falls out...and repeat

You might be better starting a new thread.

There are several issues:
- expecting a 11 week old to sleep upstairs when you are not in bed. Bouncy chair downstairs until you go to bed.
- being fast asleep when transferred. The idea is that baby isn't asleep when transferred. Or certainly not fully completely asleep.
- dummy falling out is "normal".
- light sleeping is an issue.

Dummies are for the purpose of getting to sleep, not staying asleep. The idea is the dummy gets baby into a deep sleep. Once in a deep sleep thr baby's jaw will relax and the dummy fall out. It's not needed at that point, the baby's body is fully relaxed and asleep.

I would generally expect it to take about 10-20 minutes to get into a deep sleep, from being awake. I would hold that dummy in place if needed until in a deep sleep.

But some babies are light sleepers. Light sleeping is a separate issue and nothing to do with the dummy. Waking easily can be down to feeding - breastfed babies sleep more lightly for example.

It's also likely to do with you moving baby once asleep. Over tiredness is also a common cause of light sleeping - so making daytime sleeps much more frequent helps.

Tabitha1983 Fri 13-Jan-17 08:51:26

FateDestiny thanks for the advise...so that makes sense! I'll try rousing him a little after his feed so he's not 'dead to the world' when I transfer him! Or
I might be better keeping hold of him for 20mins then until he is in deeper sleep maybe?
It's only this week I've started putting him upstairs at 'bedtime'. Was just trying to start some sort of routine but obvs I'm not expecting miracles. However it seems to be working- last night after numerous dummy inserts after 7pm he did settle about 8pm until 10pm feed. Thanks again for all the help x

FATEdestiny Fri 13-Jan-17 09:42:07

after numerous dummy inserts after 7pm he did settle about 8pm until 10pm feed

In that situation I would do bedtime routine at 7pm, into sleep wear and so on. The baby continues the daytime routine of short awake time (during which I'd do bedtime routine) and then daytime nap.

I'd call 8pm-10pm a nap. As soon as baby wakes I'd take him upstairs with me, feed in my bed and go to bed myself with baby.

Not only do SIDS recommendations say baby should sleep in the same room you are 24h a day until 6 months. I also wouldn't want to be up and down stairs settling.

Once baby is having to be woken up for me to go to bed, that's when bedtime routine moves upstairs for me. That's mostly been around 5 months old.

11 weeks is still tiny. I wonder if you are trying to rush his sleep development? Yes, you want your evenings back. But you are still only 3 months into having your new baby. Much will change in the coming year.

teaandbiscuitsforme Fri 13-Jan-17 12:54:15

OP Bf to sleep is not this big evil it's made out to be. However, you kind of have to be in it for the long term if you want to be really gentle about things. IME, babies/toddlers will stop BF to sleep when they're developmentally ready to do so. They won't do it forever! So if you're happy with it, BF, co-sleep if it suits you, and enjoy getting your DC off to sleep with little fuss.

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