Do you have to quit all sleep crutches?
I am feeding to sleep my 8 month old, do I have to break this sleep crutch?
In a previous blog you have probably read about how to change the feed to sleep situation.
It is one of the most common sleep crutches people come to us for assistance with!
However you might be thinking, what if I don't perceive my feeding to sleep as a problem or anything I want to change.....
I would never encourage a parent to embark on a sleep journey they had no bye in to, or which they didn't want to be on. We all parent differently and for some of us having to feed their baby to sleep, isn't an issue, they don't have any looming deadline of maternity leave finishing, or any need or want to change the feed to sleep situation.
You do you!
Now at this point, I'm sure you are thinking, really Emma, this is going to be a short blog....
OK, forewarned is forearmed, and this is where you need to be informed to make an informed decision rather than just reactivity parent for years.
I just finished working with a beautiful 24 month old who had been fed to sleep for 24 months, and the parents were very very ready for this little girl to sleep in her own bed, and mum was desperate to wean her.
We achieved that goal, but the process took 5 weeks.
This same process at 5-6-7-8 months is likely to only take 5-7 days!
24 month-olds basically have tantrums when we take something away from them they want, when it comes to replacing feed to sleep with self settling, that is exactly what we are doing...taking away the sleep crutch they are VERY used to and VERY dependent on.
This is a 2 year old sleep habit..... it won't change over night, and these little people are in those most determined years of their lives.
Does all of this mean it is impossible to change a feed to sleep association in a toddler or an older baby?
Does it mean it will always take 5 weeks?
But what we as a team have found after helping over 50,000 parents just like you solve their sleep problems....it does get harder and harder with each passing month after the "sweet spot" of 3-8 months.
There is so much advice floating around, I get it.
It's hard to decide what to do, and when to do it.
Some people will tell you that their baby magically stopped feeding to sleep at 12 months and they never looked back, but this isn't my experience, and I think if you're hoping your sleep situation will magically change at a secret age, that is miss leading.
Clients tell me "I was encouraged to contact nap, and breastfeed to sleep for 9-12 months, and when I asked for help or suggestions I was told to continue on as my baby would stop when they were ready...."
For most babies, this isn't true. Holding to sleep, and feeding to sleep are just like any other sleep crutches, and you are teaching your baby this is the way they fall asleep. These habits become more and more deep rooted the older your baby gets. This is the only way they know to go back to sleep, 2-8 times a night. Feeding to sleep is all they know. That's not to say its "wrong", it's not.
But if feeding to sleep isn't your long term goal, this wont change overnight at a certain age or stage.
What is the answer then?
Personally I think parents need to think long term, and decide what they want to do long term, and when the right time is for them as a family to start working towards that goal.
If long term you have no need to stop feeding to sleep, 24 months feeding to sleep?
No problem, then you genuinely have no reason to change anything you're doing, don't feel pressured to change!
If long term you have to go back to work, and won't be around at nap time, or long term you're hoping this situation will change because you are exhausted already with the frequent night wake ups..... then
- Know that there is a sweet spot age wise, (3-8 months), so is delaying the inevitable actually making things harder on you and baby?
- Know that the right time is when you as a family are ready for change.
- Know that you don't have to go from feeding to sleep to CIO to change a feed to sleep pattern.
- Know you don't have to wean in order to stop feeding to sleep.
- Know that ultimately the decision to stop feeding to sleep is a personal one, and one you have to be ready to make in order to be successful.
Here are some questions to ask yourself and your partner without the input of your online coffee group, your bossy mother in law, or your perfectionist bestie.....
- Is feeding to sleep something I am happy to do until toddler hood?
- Is feeding to sleep working for me and my partner?
- Is feeding to sleep working for my baby?
- Do you feel frustrated feeding to sleep multiple times a night or do you enjoy those quiet times?
- Are we as a family happy and content with our sleep, and our long term sleep goals?
Good luck with your sleep, and remember if you're ready for a change, we're here to help!
Emma is the owner and founder of Baby Sleep Consultant, she is a certified infant and child sleep consultant, Happiest Baby on the block educator, has a Bachelor of Science, and Diploma in Education.
Emma is a mother to 3 children, and loves writing when she isn't working with tired clients and cheering on her team helping thousands of mums just like you.
Our Baby Sleep Program helps tired parents TO DEVELOP HEALTHY SLEEP HABITS BY FOCUSING ON NAPS, SETTLING AND NIGHT SLEEP.
- Empowered: Feel empowered as a Mum as you learn to understand your growing baby's needs and cues.
- Simple effective settling: Gentle, proven self settling, evidence based techniques.
- Content happy baby and parents: Better sleep creates content babies & happy parents.
- Freedom: Predictable routines and longer nights creates freedom. Solve your sleep problems for more freedom.
- Work with your babies circadian rhythm: Work with your babies biological clock for faster easier results.
- Awesome naps & nights: You'll create consistent naps and nights with our support.
Try our online sleep program, complete with FREE email support.
My baby has reflux can you help?
When your baby has reflux, feeds can be difficult and your baby can be in a lot of pain both during and after feeds. This pain can cause feeding aversions and failure to thrive. This is why true GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease) needs to be treated by a doctor. Once your baby's doctor is satisfied your baby is feeding well, and you have the right medication or formula then we can start a sleep plan and you will be successful.
My baby has colic will this help?
Colic is defined as 3 or more hours of crying per day in infants. Crying subsides in the second second trimester. If you are still experiencing colic symptoms speak to your baby's doctor about whether this could be reflux, an allergy, or over tiredness. We can help you work on better sleep with this program at the same time as your doctor investigates the pain and crying.
What if the program isn't working?
We have a dedicated help line to ensure your success. Just email our team via the details in your program and a certified, experienced and friendly sleep consultant is ready to stare you in the right direction to ensure your success!
My baby was born early, can you help?
Sleep is neurological so we always work off your babies neurological age, that is their corrected age. When you look at our sleep programs purchase the program that your babies corrected age fits into.
What if I have questions or need more help?
Our sleep programs come with private email support. You don’t have to post in any public forums or groups, just email the exclusive helpline that our team of certified sleep consultants look after and we’ll answer all your questions and help you on your way.
Can this program help with my babies night sleep?
Yes, all our online sleep programs contain night sleep plans. We will teach you how to move from multiple night feeds to 2 or 1 or none (depending on what is age appropriate and appropriate for your baby.) Don’t worry we will show you to figure this out too. If your baby is unsettled at night but not feeding, our plans will help you with consolidate night sleep and self settling when age appropriate.
My baby is cat napping can you help?
Cat napping is a very normal physiological stage that your baby goes through. At this stage (3-8 months old), cat napping can start to be a long term issue and compound into over tiredness and affect night sleep and your babies happiness. Good news, this is a great age to work on re-settling, self settling and better longer naps!
I have 3 children, can this work with my family?
I totally understand how busy life is with 2, 3 or more children! Even if you need a flexible schedule we can still work on settling regular naps (some on the go!), and better evenings and night. Flick our consultants any specific questions about your family's schedule of activities and we can help you work out what is possible nap wise.
I don't want a fixed routine, can you still help?
Yes. A fixed routine is one option, regular naps and regular awake times is another. Both are valid and you are welcome to do what works for your family. We understand you are all different and what works best for one family won't be best for another.
I'm formula feeding, can you still help?
Yes we have specific advice for formula feeding parents, and we support your decision to feed any way you choose. We even have a special video series on formula feeding and everything you need to know. Just ask our consultants about this extra if you need it.
I'm exclusively breastfeeding, can I follow your plans?
Yes! While breastfeeding babies need to feed frequently they still need quality sleep day and night. We have specific advice for breastfeeding mums and an exclusive discount on Julia Daleys breastfeeding course if you need extra help.
I'm bed sharing, can your program help me stop?
Yes. We often fall into bed sharing, we call this reactive bed sharing. Or we have simply changed our mind, and moving on from bed sharing we need some support. Our programs and consults will guide you through gentle sleep methods, which are more appropriate for most bed sharing babies who are moving towards independent sleep in the cot.
I'm feeding to sleep, can you help me stop?
Yes. Feeding to sleep is a common sleep association and one that works well for lots of newborns. Often we need to move on from feeding to sleep when it starts to cause short naps, or prolonged settling or frequent night wake ups as baby looks for their association to go back to sleep over and over again at night. We can teach you how to teach your baby to self settle and move on from feeding to sleep when the time is right.
I'm rocking to sleep, is their a solution?
Yes. These are common sleep associations, we refer to this as assisting to sleep. Let us show you ways you can develop independent sleep and settling strategies with our online sleep program, or one on one consult.
Is this program based on Cry It Out?
No. Cry it out is the common name for a sleep training method where you put baby down and don’t respond or check until they are fast asleep. There is no CIO involved in this program as we feel this should be only done under proper supervision. Instead we have included all our very gentle approaches and more mainstream techniques for you to choose from.
Is this based on Science or Art?
Both! As a scientist I (Emma) have spent over 8 years researching the science of sleep. I have educated and certified over 500 consultants around the world as sleep consultants, and have worked with thousands of clients. I love the scientific explanations of why we see the sleep patterns we see, and this science helps us to shape plans and solutions that we know will work. But there's an element of art to getting a baby to sleep, understanding the right combination of things that will work best, and this is where your instinct comes in.
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