Feeding or nursing baby to sleep can quickly become a sleep association because it’s a natural way of putting them to sleep.
However, as baby gets older, it becomes the only way they’ll sleep which can be quite stressful because you will always have to be available to feed baby to sleep.
This also means that if baby wakes up in the middle of their sleep or naps, they will need to be fed in order to be able to go back to sleep.
Here are some ways on how you can make baby sleep without feeding:
- Have a routine in place. Babies need routines in their lives, in order to be able to to learn a habit. It makes sense as they will learn with the repetition. So, for bedtime you should have a series of activities in place that you will repeat every night that don’t involve feeding. These activities can include giving them a warm bath, massaging them with some lotion, putting on a fresh diaper, dimming the lights and so on. Make sure to feed them before you start the routine and not during it so they don’t consider it a sleep association.
- Make sure baby is not overtired. Babies have to take enough naps during the day depending on how old they are. Keep them up during the day in the hopes that they will fall asleep on their own at night will not work. Having an overtired baby on your hands will resort to you feeding them to calm them down, which is something that we don’t want.
- Feed them after they wake up from naps or sleep. This will ensure that they see feeding or nursing as sleep association. Instead they will look at it as a way to start their day. It will also mean they won’t be hungry by their next nap window.
- Don’t let them fall asleep on the breast or while they are feeding. As tempting as it may be, don’t let them fall asleep while they are nursing. If you notice them getting sleepy, unlatch them and then put them to bed. If they get upset, you can re-latch them till they finish, but ensuring that they don’t fall asleep. Repeat this as many times you think necessary to teach them that they can’t fall asleep while feeding.
- Use a pacifier. Most babies use feeding as a soothing mechanism in order to sleep. You can replace the bottle or breast with a pacifier when bedtime comes.