A baby’s sleep schedule can be so challenging that you may feel you’ll use just about any trick in the book to get a few peaceful hours of rest. Although it might be tempting to use feedings to put your baby to sleep, this may not be creating a beneficial habit for you or baby.
Awake but Drowsy
As you may have noticed, babies have a powerful need to suck. When you satisfy baby’s sucking urge while at the same time feeding her, it’s common for the baby to become drowsy. Although it might be tempting to allow her to drift off to sleep while feeding, this can create a difficult sleep cycle where she is unable to fall asleep independently, according to Ellen Levine, author of “The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Book of Pregnancy & Baby Care." To avoid these sleep problems, make it a practice to place baby in bed awake but drowsy.
If your baby starts to get so drowsy that she’s falling asleep in the middle of a feeding, you can conclude that she’s had enough to eat and doesn’t need to continue eating. Finish the feeding as you notice your baby starting to drop off to sleep, advises WebMD.com. Although you may wish to try to squeeze in a few extra drops of milk to try to get your baby to sleep a little longer, this technique does not reliably help a baby sleep longer.
Prepare your baby for bed once you’ve concluded the feeding. During the bedtime routine, strive to help your baby relax and feel drowsy, but the goal is not to put your baby to sleep in your arms, according to Cathryn Tobin, M.D., author of “The Parent’s Problem Solver." Change the baby’s diaper, burp him, rock him for a few minutes and then tuck him into bed in a drowsy-but-awake state. It may take a baby between five to 20 minutes to fall asleep independently.
Good Sleep Habits
By helping a baby develop independent sleep skills, this can simplify naps and bedtime, as well as helping your baby reduce the need for nighttime feedings. Even if your baby fusses some in her bed, you can comfort her and gently lead her to learning how to go to sleep without your help. By visiting her briefly, talking gently and leaving again, she’ll soon learn that she can sleep by herself without feeding or rocking to fall asleep.
- University of Maine: The Growing Years Month 2-3
- The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Book of Pregnancy & Baby Care; Ellen Levine
- WebMD: How to Set Good Sleep Patterns for Your Baby
- The Parent's Problem Solver; Cathryn Tobin, M.D.
- Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images