Breastfeeding is one of the best things you can do for your baby. It nourishes not just her body but also her soul. And it can help her sleep well at night. What can be better than that?
But do you use breastfeeding to put your baby to sleep? Now that is something up for debate! It may be an easy thing to do, but is it the right choice?
Like everything else in life, this question has no clear answers. So, let’s look at the pro’s and con’s of breastfeeding your baby to sleep.
Benefits of Breastfeeding Baby To Sleep:
Here are some of the good you can get from nursing your baby to sleep:
Breastfeeding your baby to sleep will comfort her as nothing else can. This will mean less fussiness and less time spent fighting sleep.
[ Read: Advantages Of Breastfeeding ]
Feeding your baby breast milk when she fusses is just convenient. No costly accessories needed. If you are co-sleeping, it’ll also mean better sleep for you.
3. Extra Nutrition:
Extra feedings equal extra goodness. That cannot ever be a bad thing.
Breastfeeding your baby to sleep is a great bonding experience. Nothing can beat midnight cuddles that come with the territory!
[ Read: How To Know Baby Is Getting Enough Breast Milk ]
Studies show that breast milk contains a hormone called cholecystokinin, which induces sleep. So, your instinct knows that breastfeeding will help your baby sleep better (1).
6. Helps Establish Circadian Rhythm:
Breastfeeding your baby to sleep also helps her establish her circadian rhythm (2).
Drawbacks Of Breastfeeding Baby To Sleep:
So, where’s the reason for debate? Everything seems fine with breastfeeding your baby to sleep. But wait! There are drawbacks associated with it too!
All of us – adults and babies – wake up a number of times at night. Most of us go back to sleep without a problem. But if your baby is used to nursing while she falls asleep, she’ll need the same pattern each time she wakes up. It is a known fact that breastfed babies wake up more often than formula fed babies (3). So, there’s recipe for sleep deprivation right there! Here are some more cons of breastfeeding your baby to sleep:
1. Sleep Deprivation:
The first point is a no-brainer. Interrupted sleep is the first step towards sleep deprivation. If your baby needs to nurse to sleep, she’ll need you each time she wakes up. That’s not good news for your sleep routine!
[ Read: How To Avoid Baby Biting While Breastfeeding ]
2. Not Feasible For Working Mothers:
If you are a working mother, nursing your baby to sleep is illogical. It may work for night times, but what about naps? She’ll be unable to nap during the day while you are at work. This will a problem for the people (nanny or daycare) looking after her.
3. May Indicate A Problem:
You may think your baby is full when she falls asleep while nursing, but the true reason might be different. Many children struggle to breastfeed and when they get tired they fall asleep. So, it is possible your baby is not getting enough milk! Get her checked if you are worried. If she is gaining weight, no problem. If she isn’t, she may need some extra feeds to make up for it.
4. Won’t Teach Your Baby To Self Sooth:
The one thing you need your baby to do is learn the art of self-soothing. But she can’t learn this valuable lesson because for her breastfeeding means sleeping. If you want your child to have a healthy relation with sleep, you may need to rethink your strategy.
[ Read: When To Start Sleep Training A Baby ]
5. Strain Relations:
After some time, you need to divide time between your baby and the rest of your family, including your partner. If you are always busy nursing your baby to sleep, you’ll not get enough time for other relations. This can cause friction in some families. If you have an older child at home, you need to make time for him too!
Breastfeeding your baby to sleep is not a bad thing. Far from it! But it can wreck havoc in your life. If you want to change things, help is at hand. Here are some easy tips to help your baby fall asleep without breast-feeding:
- Start a bedtime routine. No, you don’t have to wait until your baby is a particular age to kick start a routine. You can start as early as 12-14 weeks after giving birth. Let your baby dictate the time she wants to sleep. And make sure not to make breastfeeding a part of this routine. Breastfeed her before you start putting her to sleep. This will stop your baby from associating breastfeeding with sleeping.
- Be particular about naps. Your little one needs to sleep during the day to sleep well at night.
- Create the perfect environment for sleeping. Make sure it is quite and dark when you take your baby to sleep. A blaring TV is not conducive to sleep! This way, your baby will realize that darkness and quite equals sleep.
- Your baby needs comfort when she sleeps. Pacifiers are great tools to induce sleepiness in babies. You can use other tools too!
- You may think you are tiring your baby out but when you play with her before sleep time, you are doing the exact opposite. Your baby needs to be calm to sleep. Playing will stimulate her and make sleep difficult to come.
[ Read: How To Get Baby To Sleep In Cot ]
If you are used to breastfeeding your baby to sleep, it’ll be a difficult habit to break. But it can be done. Just stick to a routine and stay consistent. And if nothing works, cuddle her and feed her. Doing so once in a while is not a problem! And remember – they remain this small for a flash of time. Enjoy each moment without guilt.
Do you breastfeed baby to sleep? Is it working for you? Share your experience with us in the comments section below!
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