Is it OK to nurse my baby to sleep?

17 Aug 2016

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In the first few months of life, it's practically impossible to keep a nursing baby awake who is satisfied with a full belly. Once babies get older, however, most doctors advise against nursing a baby solely for the purpose of getting him or her to sleep. Doing this regularly may prevent your baby from learning how to fall asleep on his or her own.

At nap times and bedtime, try to put your baby down slightly awake so that he or she will get used to falling asleep without having to nurse. Make breastfeeding sessions more about nourishment and less about pacifying.

If your baby is sick or has been separated from you, you may want to nurse for comfort, but try not to make it a habit.

If your baby has trouble falling asleep, consider giving him or her a pacifier. Experts recommend giving babies under 1 year old pacifiers at nap time and bedtime to reduce the risk of SIDS — but only after breastfeeding has become established, so no sooner than 3 weeks of age. But if your little one doesn't want a pacifier, don't push it.

Try to encourage your baby's sleep by establishing a bedtime routine that will be familiar and relaxing. Bathing, reading, and singing can soothe babies and signal an end to the day. Be consistent and your baby will soon associate these steps with sleeping.

Sources:
Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD. Breastfeeding FAQs: Sleep - Yours and Your Baby's.Kids Health Online. 2015; [cited 2015 Feb]; [3 screen]. Available at URL: http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/breastfeed-sleep.html?WT.ac=p-ra#

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