Dr. Sarah Mitchell
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Is it okay to nurse my baby to sleep?

Nursing to sleep must be the closest thing to heaven that exists on earth.  Getting nutrition, warmth, and love all at the same time.  What could be better?

Is it okay to nurse my baby to sleep?

Many mom’s nurse their babies to sleep for the entire length of their breast feeding or formula feeding period.  Many of these mom’s have no perceived problems with sleep.  Other mom’s (like me), end of having lots of problems with this scenario including a baby who wakes up every 3 hours at night, who can only be put to bed by mom and who will only nap 45 minutes.  This results in a frustrated and exhausted momma.   Even if you are nursing and then putting your baby down “half asleep”… but not “fully asleep”, your baby is using the nursing to relax himself into sleep.  The relaxation associated with nursing is used as a crutch to put him to sleep.  When he wakes in the middle of the night he doesn’t know how to relax himself down to sleep.

Why such variation in responses from different babies?

Some babies seem to be able to go longer stretches at night and don’t wake up every 3 hours.  The truth is… we don’t really know why some babies have no sleep issues with nursing to sleep while others do.

Another factor is that different Mom’s have different tolerance or threshold levels for getting up at night; dealing with fussy babies, and fatigue.

In those precious first 3 months of life, you will do whatever have to do to get your baby to sleep.  If this involves nursing to sleep, so be it.  You can correct it later on.

If you know you have low tolerance for frequent night wakings and dealing with fussy babies, then start your newborn off on the right path by feeding her when she wakes up, rather than right before sleep time.  There may be times when you are going to have to nurse her to calm her down, and that’s okay too.

It is a journey.  Enjoy the ride.

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