Please watch my video below on why you shouldn’t feed your baby to sleep.
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To ask a question about your child’s sleep, just leave it in the ‘Comments’ section below! I’ll choose one and create a new video answer each week!View the Video Transcript
Hi! I’m Dana Obleman, creator of The Sleep Sense Program. If you’d rather read than watch, I’ve transcribed the text of this video below.
This week’s question comes from Ivy:
“My baby is almost nine months now. I breastfeed him, and he always drinks himself to sleep. I wonder why this is not good for him. Why should he be awake while he’s eating?”
That’s a great question, Ivy. You haven’t said whether he’s up in the night for feeds. My guess is that he is, although I occasionally get an e-mail from a parent that says, “I nurse her to sleep every night and she sleeps straight through the night until morning.” If that’s the case, then that’s great. It’s really fortunate that somehow she’s figured out some skills on her own and manages to get herself back to sleep in the night without your assistance.
So, in those cases, until you have a problem, don’t bother trying to fix it. You might find that when you’re ready to wean, or if she doesn’t sleep through the night anymore at some point, then you might have to reevaluate this situation. If she’s waking up now, then you need to go back to the beginning and realize, “Okay, I have to break the association between feeding and sleep. I’m going to stop allowing her to fall asleep with the breast, and then I’m going to teach her how to do this on her own without my help,” which you might have to do anyway down the road. I suspect that when you’re ready to wean is when you have to do it.
It’s not that it’s bad for a baby; it’s just a strategy. If a person convinces himself that in order to get to sleep, he must bridge the distance on the breast or bridge it with the bottle or use the soother or get rocked to sleep, then that’s how he wants to do it most every time. So what tends to happen is, if the baby nurses to sleep, then two hours or four hours down the road, he’s awake and crying because he’s tired and wants to get back to sleep but needs you (or thinks he needs you) to come in and do all the things that you did initially to get him to sleep.
So when you’re ready to make changes, I think it’s important to eventually teach children how to do this on their own so they feel confident and capable and feel that they have the power to do this on their own. Eventually you want the child to happily crawl into bed, be on their own, fall asleep, and sleep through the night. That is what every parent wants for their child, and that’s what I want for every child, so those skills carry on into adolescence and adulthood. You need to have a strong foundation of good sleep habits and good sleep hygiene, so that it continues on with you through your life.
So again, Ivy, it’s not a bad thing. I don’t want you to feel bad about it, and if your baby is sleeping relatively well while you do this, then for now it’s fine. Just know that when you’re ready, it is something you can change and that it’s completely possible for your baby to learn a new way to get to sleep. And when you’re ready, come find me.
Thanks for your question, Ivy, and sleep well.
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