I often hear from new moms that their babies often or always fall asleep nursing. These moms are usually quite worried that they are creating bad habits or doing something wrong. They are afraid that their babies will never “learn” to fall asleep on their own.
If you want to read about my personal experiences with nursing to sleep, I’ve written a post in the past about the Joys of Nursing to Sleep, and I recently wrote a post about how my 2 year old who has always been nursed to sleep has recently been sleeping long stretches on his own.
The Kellymom website provided me with some extremely helpful information when I was a new mom and unsure about nursing to sleep. Kelly’s words made me feel good about my decision to continue to nurse my son to sleep, despite hearing from various well-meaning friends and family that what we were doing was WRONG! My heart told me that what we were doing was natural, and the info below helped me strengthen my convictions.
I highly recommend that every breastfeeding mom read Nursing to Sleep and Other Comfort Nursing. Kelly believes that nursing to sleep is completely natural:
Many moms feel guilty for nursing their baby to sleep. Nursing your baby to sleep is not a bad thing to do! It’s very normal and developmentally appropriate for babies to nurse to sleep and to wake 1-3 times during the night for the first year or so. Some babies don’t do this, but they are the exception, not the rule. Many children, if given the choice, prefer to nurse to sleep through the second year and beyond. Nursing is obviously designed to comfort baby and to help baby sleep, and I’ve never seen a convincing reason why mothers shouldn’t use this wonderful “tool” that we’ve been given.
Kelly answers a number of common questions in her usual reassuring and non-judgemental way. These questions include:
- Am I creating a bad habit by allowing baby to nurse to sleep?
- What about letting baby “cry it out?”
- I’ve been told that baby will NEVER learn to go to sleep on his own if we don’t teach him.
- How will baby go to sleep when I’m not there to nurse him, or after he weans?
- How can I gently encourage baby to fall asleep without nursing (and without crying)?
- My baby sometimes nurses for comfort, when she’s obviously not hungry.
Is this a problem?
- My baby wants to comfort nurse the entire time he’s napping!
How can I slip away without waking baby?
- My toddler wants to comfort nurse forever when he’s trying to fall asleep.
Kelly includes an inspirational quote from Paula Yount, one of the moderators from the Kellymom forums. I hear from so many moms that they feel like a human pacifier after many hours of nursing. Paula explains her views on this:
You are not a pacifier; you are a Mom. You are the sun, the moon, the earth, you are liquid love, you are warmth, you are security, you are comfort in the very deepest aspect of the meaning of comfort…. but you are not a pacifier!
It’s not surprising that so many moms feel guilty about nursing their babies or toddlers to sleep when there is so much information out there from so-called sleep experts about sleep training. I hope that other moms receive the reassurance they need from the Kellymom site. Nursing your baby to sleep feels natural and normal because it is! It can even be joyful.
What have your experiences been with nursing your baby or toddler to sleep?