Feed/sleep association - help please!: Totally my fault... - NCT


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Feed/sleep association - help please!

AJBee profile image
15 Replies

Totally my fault cause I've fallen into the trap of doing what's easy so we can all get some sleep, but now, at nearly 5 months, my DS (exclusively breast fed) needs feeding back to sleep every time he wakes in the night, which on a good night is every 2 and a half hours and on a bad night is every 45 minutes 🤪

Sometimes it's just a 2 minute boob suck and he's back to sleep, sometimes it's 10 mins, either way it's not a huge problem as he's in a next to me crib so it's easy enough, I just know it NEEDS to stop as it's no good for either of us in the long run.

When he gets to 6 months, if I can get him sleeping longer, I'd like to move him into his big boys cot in his own room, and I'd really like to get more sleep myself!!! But at the moment if he wakes he needs a boob to nod back off.

So, tried and tested methods please to break this boob/sleep association pleeeeease.

FYI he's a bit hit and miss with a dummy. Never taken one but recently seems a little keener, just nothing consistent yet.

Thank you!!! Xxx

15 Replies
roxannacar profile image

It's a matter of doing sleeping training ... either a let it cry approach or something more gradual and more gentle. Lots info online and some good books like the baby whisperer. I'd say be careful with the dummy re sleep. You will just create a new sleep association and some babies manage fine but some babies will need the dummy replacing each time it falls out. Speaking from experience! Only just got my 3yo dummy off her at night.

Kempton profile image

What you are describing is very normal for your baby's age. But totally understand your need for more sleep. I still breastfeed my 18+ month year old back to sleep, though it's more like once a night now, not multiple times!

What I used to do to get longer spells would do a dream feed. So I'd express milk whenever I could and give this to him at about 10 pm just before I went to bed. I wouldn't fully rowse him, just wake him enough so he'd take the bottle. I usually gave about 4-5oz and then he'd sleep for longer, but still wake up (probably around 3-4 am).

As he got older I would offer water when he woke, and just give him lots of cuddles and rock him, which worked. But I'd still feed him to sleep if he woke around 2.

I read a lot of stuff by Sarah Ockwell-Smith. I recommend having a read of this:


AJBee profile image
AJBee in reply to Kempton

Oh thank you that's brill!! Will have a good read now. I think my main issue with his need to feed back to sleep (albeit within seconds sometimes) is that his day time naps are never a second longer than his 45 minute sleep cycle! I'd love him to be able to sled sooth from his light waking periods. Anyway, it'll come I'm sure. Thank you for your advice and reassurance! Xx

Kempton profile image
Kempton in reply to AJBee

It will come! Honestly, my boy would cat nap. 20-30 mins here and there, then once in a blue moon 45 mins plus (we'd always go and check on him as it was such a shock). Now at 18 months I can't rowse him from a day time nap! I can lift him from pushchair, take his shoes and bottoms off, sing... nothing wakes him (apart from a passing siren).

With the night feeds just make sure to stick to the same routine every night, or near enough. I've been doing roughly the same routine since he was 5 months and he never fights bed time (I did tweak it as he got older). He's in his own room for the majority of the night now, bit I'm not against Co sleeping so I still bring him in with me when he wakes between 2-5.

I'm due my second very soon and must admit I'm a bit scared of dealing with 2 at night time. But I really feel like he will do a full night soon!

Good luck and hope you can catch more zeds soon!

AJBee profile image
AJBee in reply to Kempton

Oh wow congratulations!!! xxx May I ask what your bedtime routine is? I've still not mastered the order of it all. I end up downstairs cooking our dinner between his bath and bedtime, then feeding him while I eat one handed?! Recently this lasts half a meal before he kicks off (can't seem to work out if it's overtired, the beginning of teething or sleep regression, but it's new!) I just can seem to work out where my dinner fits in to it all!! Is it too early to start the bath/bed routine at 6pm?? Sorry to hound you, but you seen to have your shiz together!! 😁😁 Xxx

Kempton profile image
Kempton in reply to AJBee

From 5 months, at around half 6, I took him for bath time. Then changed into pjs and put lullabies on, and I'd feed him to sleep with the lullabies playing. He was usually asleep by 7-7:15.

Now he's older we do dinner around 6. He has a play. Then we do bath time at 7 ish. Followed by pjs (which usually involves a lot more playing if hubby is doing it! 😂), then a story, lullabies and a last feed. He's asleep by 8, occasionally just after.

Means I get an evening. We just eat dinner early to suit our toddler and then maybe have a little dessert or super after he's gone down.

Whatever you do consistency is key. Just keep doing the same thing for 10 days in a row and your baby will start to understand the cues.

AJBee profile image
AJBee in reply to Kempton

You're my hero thank you!!! 😍

kt_11 profile image

I’ve been there with the awful sleep so can sympathise and understand why you want to make some changes.

One thing I will say from my experience is that my little boy was just not ready to go to sleep independently and sleep for long stretches until very recently (he’s nearly 15 months) but I did get rid of the feeding to sleep at a similar age to your son.My boy has never taken a dummy.

To be honest I did have to replace one sleep association with another to an extent as I wasn’t happy leaving him to cry. It wasn’t quick but might’ve been quicker if my partner was consistent with what I was doing!

I basically stopped feeding him straight before bed & gave last feed about 20 mins before. I then rocked him til he was very nearly asleep, put him in the cot then gently patted him until asleep. As he got older I stopped patting before he was asleep and gave him chance to settle himself. If he got upset I’d either pat him again or if still upset I’d pick him up to settle.

If he took ages to get back to sleep with this it was usually because he was hungry or uncomfortable.

Not saying it’s easy or the best way but it a) got rid of it having to be me that got him to sleep and b) got him used to falling asleep in his cot which I think has ultimately helped when he wakes at night.

Sleep has been a major issue for me and he’s still only slept through a handful of times but he has improved loads and I never had to leave him crying (not saying this might not be right for some but it wasn’t for me), I still rock him almost to sleep then pat him but he can put himself back to sleep in the night without me now xx

AJBee profile image
AJBee in reply to kt_11

That's amazing thank you! I want to do everything I can to avoid any crying. Wouldn't be able to stand it! I'm not so much concerned yet about sleeping through, (though I do worry he's not getting enough sleep sometimes) just being able to self settle a bit better, so your way sounds fab. It's very reassuring to hear about your experiences and I will defs try your method!!! I did say to my other half that he should do the actual putting to bed bit after I've fed him, to break the association and for the smell and temptation of boobs to not even be in the room. Well, you'd have thought I'd have suggested he eat the dogs dinner the look he gave me! 😂

Can I ask, where do you pat the baby once he's in bed?? I always read about patting but not sure which bit to pat once he's laying down!! 😂😂 (I pat his bottom when im holding him obvs, but surely he's lying on that when he's in his cot!!) Thank you so much for your advice xxx

kt_11 profile image

I think I used to pat him on his tummy, but actually now I put him down on his side and pat him on his side and continue patting on his back if he rolls onto his tummy. Obviously I know you’ll probably be wanting to keep your little one sleeping on his back at the moment but you could always put him on his side and gently roll him to his back once he’s asleep...

I know what you mean about worrying they’re not getting enough sleep so hope I can help a little. I think the main thing I’ve learned is that they do learn to settle themselves in their own time. There were so many times people told me that I needed to leave him to cry, that if I rock him to sleep he will never learn to put himself back to sleep, but this turned out not to be true and he’s getting there in his own time. Not knocking those who decide to sleep train but just wasn’t for me or my baby. I got so close to trying ‘cry it out’ as I got so desperate but I’m now glad I listened to my instincts, as a combination of his natural development and treatment for some tummy issues (he’s on medication for constipation) has helped me get as close to a full night’s sleep as I’ve had in well over a year! xx

precioce profile image

My little girl would not be put down to sleep at all when small so we ended up cosleeping Ns she ate every 2 hours bang on, during the day and night. Also would not sleep longer than 45 mins in the day. She got bigger and developmentally became capable of more naturally. At 6 months she went in her own room as I was walking her when I went to bed. Now she sleeps through or just wakes once at walt 9 months d we are working on stopping that feed and Daddy resettling. I never thought this would be possible a few months ago. He will get there. Xx

AJBee profile image
AJBee in reply to precioce

Thank you SO MUCH for your reply. That is EXACTLY how he used to be. Then I managed to get him from my bed into his next to me, but I think we've recently hit the dreaded 4 month regression. It's so good to hear your experienced and totally reassuring so thank you so much xxxxx

precioce profile image
precioce in reply to AJBee

We went to the next to me as a stepping stone to her bed. Even then she went down alone and then came in with me when I went to bed. You are doing amazingly and he will get there.xx

Shafiay profile image

My son in 9 months and I've just got him off night feeds. I tried that at 6 months for a week and he was perfectly fine but then life got in the way and as you said it became easy to feed to sleep. I've regretted it since as the older he got the harder it became to get him off night feeds. Now it's just been a few days I've done the rocking to drowsiness and then patting him to sleep and he wakes up about 3 times at night. It used to be 2 or 3 hours before just like you!! I really want him to sleep 8 hours and I'm hoping this new routine might help him self settle. He takes a dummy but its pointless in night wakings!!!

AJBee profile image
AJBee in reply to Shafiay

That's so good to hear. Thank you for your reply 😊 sometimes it's so hard to stick rigidly to the same thing each day isn't it as every day is different, but consistency is clearly the key. Thank you again so much!!! 😊 Xxx

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