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.
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