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5 Tips for Getting Your Baby to Sleep Without Nursing

5 Tips for Getting Your Baby to Sleep Without Nursing

Circle of Moms member Stacey has no problem getting her eight-month-old to nap – as long as she nurses him to sleep. The problem is, Stacey works full time and this situation is becoming a real problem for the family members who help care for her son while she's at work. "He won't take the pacifier, and only wants to nurse to sleep. During the day it makes it awfully hard for others to get him down for a nap without a bottle." Has anyone ever successfully gotten their baby to go down for a nap without breastfeeding?" she asks.

Many Circle of Moms members who breastfeed come up against the same frustration. It's very easy to fall into this pattern, and it's very difficult to sustain it, because it means that no-one else can put baby down. Jeramie I. posts, "How the heck do you get a child to nap without nursing? "It's the only way to get my daughter to sleep, other than driving her around in the car when she is really tired. I know she is sleepy, cranky and whiny and clingy and begging to nurse. It is hard to get her back on schedule."

Here, Circle of Moms members share ideas for weaning baby off the nurse-to-sleep routine.


1. Start a Nap Routine That Doesn't Involve Nursing

Many Circle of Moms members suggest that the younger you start, the easier it is to establish a nap routine for baby that doesn't include nursing. Renae K. says she's glad she started with her baby at 12-14 weeks old. "Good routines take time to establish and it pays to start early." She adds that it works best if you tailor the routine to your baby's individual internal clock. "I believe that your routine should be based on...when your baby is naturally hungry and tired. Your baby will almost always be hungry after a similar amount of time of not being fed, and tired after a similar amount of time of being awake, so you can simply watch your baby and develop your routine around what they naturally do.


The consensus is that strictness and dedication to the task will pay off. "You have to be super strict with them for [it] to work," says Krystal M., who established a regular nap time for her nursing baby when he was three months old. "Babies love routine."

(Note that not everyone believes strict routines should be imposed on babies. "Are routines really for a baby or the mother?" asks Circle of Moms member Belinda E. "I believe the best parenting style is listening and responding to your baby and their cues...Sometimes [babies] are hungrier than others, sometimes they are just extra thirsty, sometimes they need more sleep and other times they don't.")

2. Set the Mood for Sleep

Dimming the lights and quieting down the house help babies ramp down for sleep. Lisa D., who struggled to get her baby to sleep after establishing a pattern of nursing him on demand, says she found that "keeping it dark and quiet helped." (She adds: "I've always been a stickler for bedtimes and nap times because I need the sleep!")


3. Experiment with Different Ways of Soothing

Some Circle of Moms members suggest giving your baby a pacifier at nap time, when you formerly would have nursed. Every baby is unique though, and if your baby, like Megan K.'s, won't take the pacifier ("he only wanted the breast before naps"), experiment to see what works. Megan eventually discovered that "rocking him in the glider calmed him down to where he fell asleep on his own."

4. Don't Play Before Naps

Being careful not to over stimulate your baby right before nap time also helps wean him from the need to nurse to fall asleep. "Instead of playing, try holding him and swaying to soft music," says Stina B. "By playing with him before bed, you could be over stimulating him... making it harder for him to settle down. "

5. Don't Be Afraid to Reinvent the Routine

For older babies and toddlers, several Circle of Moms members suggest re-inventing the nap time routine. "We started a new routine of sitting in Mommy's lap (in a different place than where we used to nurse) and reading books before nap time," says Lori A.  "Then I'd sing a few songs. It didn't really take that long for my daughter to get the idea that she doesn't get to nurse anymore, but she still gets cuddle time with Momma. If it doesn't work one way, try something else. Maybe instead of a story listen to a favorite song on a CD or MP3 player."

Image Source: via iStockPhoto

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

YvetteDuBois67209 YvetteDuBois67209 5 years
I think we sort of lost sight of what Stacey's issue is, and I dont believe Shirelle is selfish either...She HAS breastfed for 16 months,as Aparna said.My daughter is 22 months old and she still breastfeeds. It had gotten to the point a few months ago where family members (her fathers & mine) would look at me oddly when I would begin to feed her, and they would ask "When are you going to stop, when she's 4?" Haha. But it began to make me feel awkward. Either way I began wanting to wean her because it was getting to the point where she too would not nap for anyone except me..(or my milk jugs rather ^.^) So I decided I would wean her. She still nurses once a day or so, but I determine when. Such as; when I begin to see signs of fatigue and I know she'll be ready for a nap in about an hour, Ill initiate the nursing and she begins to wind down her energy after that. Then its easier to make her fall asleep by rocking her, sometimes laying with her and humming songs she likes to sing with me. Sure she still shows signs of wanting to nurse as shes falling asleep, but I just tell her in a nice comforting tone "No, my love, not right now" she fusses about me saying no for a few second but before I know it shes fast sleep. I have been practicing this method for bedtime too and not only does it work well, but she no longer wakes up in the middle of the night looking for it. She sleeps more soundly and in her own bed as well, which was another bad habit easily fallen into that had begun but seems to be receding now. So, in the long run, I was also told they will stop on their own, but what I found to be the big problem was, honestly, my own will power. It was just so easy to put her to bed by nursing, and I had to restrain myself from taking the comfortable way out each time. I began to wear pajamas that were near impossible to nurse while wearing, and that helped TREMENDOUSLY! ^.^ As for Stacy, I know you work full time and it is a relaxing moment to lay down with your baby and nurse him/her to sleep, but if you really want to stop, you need to start with you. Find other ways to get your child's attention away from nursing when you notice they are searching for it. I would sing lullabys, do random weird puppet-type things with my fingers, and create little characters with my fingers and sing to her in a low monotone voice, she responded well to that technique. I hope the both of you can find what works best in each of your situations. Good Luck! :)
LisaRichards13558 LisaRichards13558 5 years
mine have grown out of feeding to sleep (except for the o/n resettle) from 5weeks and 7mths, but my boy likes to wake often at night, so i have started taking him off the boob before he comes off, once he changes sucking pattern, and cuddle in glide/rocking chair, then into cot. he now sleeps a bit longer, but that could also be an age/development thing
AllysonStewart89223 AllysonStewart89223 5 years
I don't think she's being selfish at all. She could have phrased it a little better, but every mom needs alone time every now and then. I would suggest setting up a bedtime routine and following it every night. Mom's have needs too, if you're not taking care of yourself, you're not going to be able to take care of your children the way they deserve.
KimberlyMoebus KimberlyMoebus 5 years
Good Night Sleep Tight: The Sleep Lady's Gentle Guide to Helping Your Child Go to Sleep, Stay Asleep, and Wake Up Happy by Kim West. Get this book! It's all about sleep training. I have twins that are 5 months old, exclusively breast fed and they sleep w/o nursing to sleep. Other moms...don't be so judgmental. We are ALL doing the very best we know how.No need to wean.  Good Night Sleep Tight: The Sleep Lady's Gentle Guide to Helping Your Child Go to Sleep, Stay Asleep, and Wake Up Happy by Kim West.  Get this book!  It's all about sleep training.  I have twins that are 5 months old, exclusively breast fed and they sleep w/o nursing to sleep.  Other moms...don't be so judgmental.  We are ALL doing the very best we know how.
SirenaCampbell SirenaCampbell 5 years
I feel that if you don't want your child to get attached and have a hard time with weaning then you should start to wean when they are old enough to eat food and don't wait until they are almost 2 but on the other hand if you want your child to have the best health they can have then you should breast feed at least a year but it is even better to go until they are 2 in some countries they breastfeed there kids until they are 7 years old it is normal it is all up to the parents and the child breast feeding is awesome and kids are amazing
CoMMember13615063579234 CoMMember13615063579234 5 years
Wow Shirelle Copeland you sound like an extremely selfish person. I understand a working moms problem with not being able to nurse on a regular basis but that is why they make pumps. As for you, you just want "him to go to sleep and not bother me". It sounds as if you might want to stop having children if you get so upset about them "bothering you". As for the little one you already have, I suggest you put your selfish needs aside and nurse your child as much and as often as he/she needs. This is the best thing for healthy immune systems for all growing babies.
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