A baby typically has irregular sleep patterns until he is about six-months-old. This irregular sleep pattern can be prolonged by baby’s reliance on nursing to fall asleep. When you feel that it is time to wean your baby from relying on nursing as a sleep aid, there are ways to transition the baby to fall asleep with other parenting methods, as well as some self-soothing methods. Making nursing less of an option for a baby can be a difficult time for both the baby and a nursing mom, but with patience and time, your baby will learn to fall asleep without the activity.
Nurse more frequently during the day to keep your baby from being hungry in the night. If your baby currently nurses every four hours, offer the breast to your baby every three hours.
Offer baby a substitute, pumped breast milk in a bottle, for example, fed by your partner. When your baby continually refuses the bottled milk before bed it could be a sign that the baby still needs a parent to put him to bed. According to author and parenting expert Dr. Bill Sears, MD of the University of California, Irvine, some babies need to be "parented" in order to fall asleep and will not drift off to sleep on their own.
Rock the baby in a rocking chair or glider before bed time. Withhold the breast if you are attempting to wean the baby. Have another family member, including your husband or the baby’s sibling, take turns rocking the baby.
Increase the amount of time you spend holding your infant during the daytime, recommends Dr. Sears. The additional touching time could be included in additional nursing during the day, added cuddle time on the couch, or wearing baby in a sling or carrier to keep him physically close.
Establish a quiet and comforting night time routine that could include a bath, quiet play time, reading time and cuddling time. Nurse before your baby’s night time routine, with activities between nursing and bed time. Keep both the routine and baby’s bed time consistent.
- When a child catches a cold or illness, she may backslide from her newly learned self-soothing skills at bedtime.