I recently wrote about breastfeeding to sleep in my blog and I think it's worthy of having it's very own permanent page on my site. (See later in the page after the visitor contributions for some ideas about how to stop your newborn breastfeeding to sleep)
My current interest in sucking to sleep 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.
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.
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.
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.
There are so many of us out there who breastfeed our little ones to sleep, just knowing that there are other older babies who do it too can be reassuring for mothers who aren't in touch with other mothers who do this.
I'd love to hear from you about your breastfeeding relationship!
If you're really worried about breastfeeding to sleep, this is a method I've come up with since reading Elizabeth Pantley's The No Cry Sleep Solution.
The main thing is to make sure that your baby hasn't just fallen asleep at the breast only to wake not very long after still hungry. To do this Use the breast compressions technique to make sure they've had all your breast has to offer. Once you see that the compressions don't cause your little one to wake so much then it's time to detach them and see if they'll go to sleep without breastfeeding. If that doesn't work go back to breastfeeding. (try each time, as it does change over time)
If that works then you can try putting them down to fall asleep. If that doesn't work pick them back up again, breastfeed if necessary and so on.
Back to Breastfeeding Questions from Breastfeeding to Sleep