Sucking to Sleep

breastfeeding to sleep


I want to talk about sucking to sleep.  I comes from me wondering how long my little guy is going to want to do this for but not really wanting to stop something that is so inbuilt in all of us. (Feel free to have your say at the bottom of the page!)

I think western society has really encouraged mothers to make their children so independent by getting them to "fall asleep by themselves" and "settle themselves overnight" and it makes me wonder what caused us to stop listening to our children and start imposing our thoughts on the subject (could it be the feminist movement again, getting us to be free and independent ourselves?!)

Anyway, my little guy made such a mess of my nipples at the beginning that I couldn't even consider breastfeeding to sleep.  It was all I could do to keep him fully breastfed, so we introduced a pacifier/dummy. He uses that to suck to sleep.

My husband and I have been discussing when it will be time to "take it away" and my feelings on it are really mixed.

This is made worse by seeing a 3 year old at work today who is still sucking her thumb to get to sleep.  This hormonal drive to suck something (which also happens in all other mammals by the way) seems to be something we're avoiding as a community.

It seems somewhat stupid to me to want to remove his sucking aid (be it breast or pacifier) before he's ready because a finger will surely replace it and that would be so much harder to stop (and more damaging to his teeth and where they sit in the long run).

Presumably it comes from us knowing instinctually that we'll need our mother around to protect us while we sleep and to feed us when we wake.

Now in saying all of this I totally recognise that to have the "attachment parenting" thing done to the letter of their code you can't survive unless you have a huge amount of support. I mean really, it's all well and good to look at those untouched tribes from somewhere so remote they haven't seen a white person before - but as a society we just do not live that way where everyone supports you as though you are family and the tribe is just one big support network.

So is there a middle ground? Can we comfort our babies without burning ourselves out in the process?

It seems to me that a lot more talk needs to go towards solutions for parents who aren't coping rather than just saying one way of parenting is good or bad.

I'd love your thoughts on this one, it's a pretty emotionally charged topic and I don't think anyone has the right answer for everyone else so I know there will be some pretty differing opinions, but I really do wonder where the whole thing came from and whether all of us are comfortable with trying to stop it happening or if we do it merely from a desire to go with expectations.

Other pages you might like:

Pacifiers? Perhaps a Good Option

Nipple Soreness - What to Do About It

The Feminist Movement - Good/Bad?

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