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Babies are biologically programmed to fall asleep at the breast. It is a normal behaviour and is mostly due to a hormone called cholecystokinin or CCK. CCK makes baby feel full and sleepy and it is released in babies gut as soon as they start sucking.

Breastfeeding child to sleep and for comfort is not a bad thing to do, in fact, it’s normal, healthy, and developmentally appropriate. Most babies nurse to sleep and 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.

breastfeeding

What is Dreamfeed?

  • Dream feeding is when a baby feeds during their sleep. Dream feeds can be done equally well with babies who are breast or bottle fed. The process of dream feeding generally means that a baby who is already asleep is picked up gently from their cot, placed in their parent’s arms and fed.
  • Sometimes babies fall asleep while eating and you may need to find a way to burp them while they’re still asleep. Even if baby falls asleep, try burping them for a few minutes before placing them back down to sleep. Otherwise, they make wake up in pain with trapped gas.

How do we know if baby is full?

  • Baby’s hands are open and relaxed.
  • Baby’s body feels relaxed, “loose”
  • Baby may have hiccups but is calm and relaxed.
  • Baby may fall asleep.
  • Baby may have a “wet burp” (milk can be seen dribbling out mouth) Baby seems peaceful.

How to Stop Nursing Baby to Sleep

  • Separate Naps from Nursing. One of the best things to do to avoid baby developing a dependency on needing to nurse before sleeping is to create a nap routine
  • Perfect The Environment
  • Let Dad do Late Night Feedings
  • Keep a Clear Line Between Playtime and Naptime
  • Wean Off the Nipple

If breastfeeding child to sleep and/or nursing child for comfort is working for YOU and your family, that’s all that really matters! Breastfeeding is not only nourishing; it’s also nurturing.

Reference

  • The Complete Book of Breastfeeding, 4th Edition: The Classic Guide
  • Breastfeeding by William G Nueland