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Bad Habit?

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  • Bad Habit?

    Our 8-mth-old sleeps in bed with us and breastfeeds every 2 hours or so. She has done this since the day she was born. I have been led to believe that this is a "bad habit" and that she should be able to go through the night without feeding by now. Also, she falls asleep at the breast when I put her to bed, and try as I might, I am unable to put her to bed awake, as I have been told to do by all the mid-wives and health visitors.
    Why is it such a no-no to feed a baby to sleep, and why is putting them down awake so vital to their being able to self-soothe?
    Is it normal that my baby wakes so often at night, or is it a bad habit established because she is sleeping in bed with us?
    Is there anybody out there who has some ideas about this?!!

  • #2
    I think the only argument with any merit against letting a baby nurse himself/herself to sleep and feed through the night is that it can be hard on mom. This is definitely not true for all moms. Many moms find this by far the easiest way to care for a baby!

    I think it is perfectly fine for babe and have never heard of any good reason or evidence to think otherwise. In fact, I'm sure this is the way our species evolved! Baby nursing all night long cuddled up to mom. No other room to go to (no rooms at all!) and no nursing bras to get in the way of the all-night buffet. The self-soothing argument does not make a lot of sense since it is by being soothed that babies learn to soothe themselves. The Science of Parenting, a book by Margot Sunderland does a good job at describing the biology behind why it's important to soothe babies and not let them soothe themselves.

    I have been attending La Leche League meetings for over four years. At meetings I have heard of MANY babies following this pattern. I don't think it is at all unusual.

    I think medical professionals are worried about women getting over tired, run down and depressed. They think this kind of behaviour is doomed to burn women out. Their knowledge of babies' sleep is centered around crib sleeping. They may not understand that having a baby in bed with you that nurses every two hours can be easier to care for than a baby that only nurses every 3-4 hours but sleeps in a crib away from the mother.

    The most important thing is what works for you. Sounds like you have tried other gentle ways to get your baby to sleep. I assume since you are on this board that you are not interested in "cry it out" sleep training. Now you can say that you've tried other ways and that you are doing what works best for you and your baby. (If you are not happy with the situation then that is another story.)

    When your child is older you will likely teach them to go back to sleep without nursing, fall asleep on their own, soothe themself. It seems strange to me that we assume that it is better to teach a child these things when they are younger. Don't older children have better coping skills, more language, and generally increased cognitive abilities? Wouldn't these things make it easier for a child to "soothe themself" and go back to sleep? I suspect that it is only because they can protest more loudly and are better able to articulate their distress that it sometimes seems harder for them to learn these things at an older age. In other words, it is harder for us as adults to disregard they're distress when they are older.

    This is such a big topic I could go on and on! (Go on ask me to. I dare you! )



    • #3
      Thank you for the very supportive words!
      I absolutely do not subscribe to the controlled crying idea. My reading suggests that is is detrimental to the psychological well-being of the little person and I am not prepared to harm my baby.
      I actually do not mind the night feeds, as I just plug her on and go back to sleep! I love having her close to me. It is just that I have been told so often that she should be sleeping through, that I felt I had done something wrong. However, in recent days, I have spoken to several other mums who are experiencing exactly the same as me, so I am beginning to feel a little more confident in myself.


      • #4
        You are doing a great job listening to yourself and following your daughter's cues! If it helps any, my 4 year old still doesn't sleep through the night. He wakes up every night and comes in to snuggle against me.


        • #5
          Originally posted by mama4love View Post
          You are doing a great job listening to yourself and following your daughter's cues!
          Jessica, I dare you to go on!!


          • #6
            Originally posted by mama4love View Post
            If it helps any, my 4 year old still doesn't sleep through the night. He wakes up every night and comes in to snuggle against me.
            My 5 year old does the same thing! While there are some days I would like to use the restroom without waking everyone as I crawl between children, I wouldn't trade our cuddle time for the world!