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Need help - baby can't sleep w/out being literally attached!

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  • Need help - baby can't sleep w/out being literally attached!

    if anyone is able to offer some sorely needed perspective/suggestions for us, we are desperate for feedback from others with likeminded values.

    our daughter is now 5 months old, has slept in bed with me since birth. (my husband currently sleeps in separate room due to his own unrelated sleep issues). she is a very happy baby by day, provided she is mostly in arms. our challenge, or rather my challenge, is sleep, be it naps or overnight. she has always nursed to sleep for naps and bedtime. As i was always laying with her as a very young baby, when she would stir awake during naps or overnight, i would offer her my breast. sometimes she nursed for food, sometimes just sucked for comfort. unfortunately, i didnt realize that i was setting her up to ONLY know how to settle to sleep with a nipple in her mouth, which brings us to our current problem. i am happy to continue to nurse her to sleep for naps and overnight. however, when she stirs awake, as babies do many many times, she cannot simply adjust and fall back asleep. she searches frantically for my nipple in order to get back to sleep. this means that five minutes and twenty minutes and an hour into her naps, and many times overnight, each and every time she wakes, I must immediately offer my nipple! she sucks sometimes, or simply holds it sometimes, until i manage to extract myself which can sometimes take an hour to do so, as the process often wakes her and then she is desperately seeking again! i have the pull-out as mastered as humanly possible (pushing her little chin up, or pressure in and up under her bottom lip). so, if she sleeps 15-16 hours a day, i am right there with her the entire time in order to be ready to offer nipple again for her to fall back asleep.

    i feel that i am doing her a disservice by not having guided her to fall asleep on her own after stirring awake, without having to have my nipple. she can hardly adjust her little body while sleeping without waking herself up and needing the nipple right away. this obviously disturbs her deep, restful sleeps she needs. i have tried laying beside her, soothing her while not offering my nipple when she stirs awake, which leads very quickly to whimpering, then crying, then really crying. it doesnt feel right to me to deny her the only way she knows how to fall asleep. (we have used a lovie since birth, as well as have a routine of lay down/stories while nursing/humming twinkle twinkle while nursing and she drifts off). initially when it's time for nap or bed, I cannot lay her on the bed without her starting to cry until i am down beside her nursing within 10 seconds.

    My concerns are a few: concern of this ongoing indefinitely and her always needing me for the next two years, which surely can't be good for her, right? My doula and lactation consultant, both AP-minded, are mentioning my eventual need for personal balance. She will not take pacifier/finger.

    I am optimistically hoping that there are moms out there who have been through this and have had their babies outgrow this dependence of nipple for sleep, who gradually began to wake then sleep unaided. Am I hoping for the impossible? i can keep this up for a while longer if i know that is a possibility. Thanks soo much for any help! Leanne

  • #2
    Oh my gosh! We have the exact same problem. Exactly!! I'm sorry I don't have any advice for you. I'm hoping that someone else will have a great response.

    My daughter is 4.5 months and if it makes you feel any better we've gotten to this place slowly as other methods of getting to sleep/staying asleep have stopped working. It sounds like you feel like you created this problem by starting out this way... but who knows you may have eventually gotten here anyway. I'm not sure if that makes you feel better

    The one thing I tried is Elizabeth Pantley's 'No Cry Sleep Solution'. It hasn't worked for us yet but I really didn't stick it out very long. I'm going to try it again later. In particular, check out her ideas on the 'Gentle removal plan'.

    Good luck!


    • #3
      Both of my babies were as you describe, and did eventually let me move away while sleeping.
      Have you gently introduced other soothing techniques such as patting, shushing, rocking, bouncing or babywearing? I found if you do anther soothing thing (such as patting) while you nurse for a few days the baby might come to associate both with comfort and rest. Every baby has their own 'thing'. Neither of mine enjoyed back rubs, bouncing or rocking. My first did tolerate patting. My second found 'shushing' soothing and they both responded well to babywearing (while walking) to sleep. Thease were all good breaks from nursing.
      Sometimes they would be so 'out of sorts' I would have to nurse while babywearing. Sometimes I would just nurse to sleep and roll away.
      Some babies respond to music or smell (playing or singing a song, leaving the shirt you wore today near the baby so he smells you near).
      It can be a great challenge to figure out your baby, especially when they change so quickly in the early months.
      Keep trying stuff in gentle adjustments. If you can't roll away after 1 minute, try again at 3minutes, try again at 5. Look at a clock, watch his body language and try to find another soothing thing for him.

      I know it is hard but I think you can do it!


      • #4
        No advice here really, but support, and a hope that some one will help me too! Although I feel I have written about this foreveeeeeeer! But my daughter, who is 13 mnths, will not fall asleep without the nipple... she naps well, that I have nothing to complain about. This nightly 1 -2 1/2 hr nipple ritual used to be peaceful and she'd drop back off with no crying at all most of the time or v little crying, for the first 8 - 9 mnths. Now, and especially in the past 4-6 weeks, she wakes up, suckles, usually not feeding, just comfort sucking and willl roll over and try and sleep by herself but then get really, really restless - moving all over the bed, crashing in to pillows, me, the head board etc....and although I try to pat her to sleep at this point, which sometimes, but seldom, works, she is often times now crying or yelps a little and this can go on for a while. This new development, I thought was due to learning to walk, but she walks now and is zooming around the place.
        I am concerned cos' I am TIRED!! and also b/c I want her to have a peaceful nigh at least, if we are going to wake up 4-6 (although recent nights its been about 8 times) times a night, I'd like it to be peaceful for her like it used to be. What is going on?? what can I do?
        The other thing is, I think that ELizabeth PAntely plan has kind of back fired on me. I think her advice is great and I got it to when she would roll over and sleep by herself and there was a glorious period for about 2 weeks at 9 mnths when she wld suckle for about 5 mins then fall deeply back to sleep. Teething came and this never returned. Now, she often clings to the nipple b/c of the pull-out technique, although I leave it as long as humanly possible and my nipples are red raw as a result. I wonder, is she hungry? as she has eaten less solids since wanting to run around a lot with new skill. Does she have a stomach ache? b/c new foods like eggs.... etc etc. I have been v low & anxious lately, does she pick up on that? although she seems chirpy and we have agood connection, not sure of this.
        Any help/support/advice... I hoped after walking it would change but this week, i've only had one of her 3 1/2 hr sleeps, when that was becoming more regular.

        THANK YOU Folks!
        Last edited by Reggie22; 09-28-2009, 05:05 PM.


        • #5
          Well, it sounds like the No Cry Sleep Solution hasn't worked for everyone, but it did help us immensely with exactly this problem....I believe she calls it the pantley pull off and it is described better in her book, but basically involves unlatching your baby while she's relaxed but not asleep, and then gently putting pressure on her chin to close her mouth. Baby cries, you let her nurse again, try again in a minute or cries again, you let her nurse again, try it again in another minute or two...and so on and so forth until it finally works. The book requires lots of patience, but pays off if you really follow it. I highly suggest reading the entire thing. Also, what about dad helping?


          • #6
            Update on 'literally-attached babe"

            Thanks everyone for sharing your experiences Our daughter is now 8 months old (was 5 months when I wrote the initial post). We did read the No Cry Sleep Solution. It did seem to help for a little while - while she sometimes held on tight, other times she would roll over on her own after 10 minutes or so. However, she began having her sleep disturbed by teething pain in the past month or so, and has gone back to needing to be latched as long as possible again. She has always, and continues to wake up about 5 or 6 times overnight, but just to relatch and then falls asleep there.

            I have found that staying latched, propping myself very comfortably with pillows along my back and falling asleep with her under my outstretched arm, I am able to fall right back asleep and she obviously eventually unlatches, because next time she wakes, she is not attached anymore. So, she wakes, relatches, and we both fall asleep again.

            The reason I am posting this update, however, is to simply share that when I moved away from my 'fear' about how I may be not doing what is 'right' for her, and just let her lead the way, I was able to relax into this nighttime style we now have. We both seem to get many hours of sleep, despite waking up 5-6 times albeit very briefly. We are both happy and spirited and in sync throughout the daytime hours. So, I've decided to just keep going like this, to let go of trying to 'fix' our sleep style. I know there are many other considerations for other moms, like going back to work, other children, not being able to fall back asleep easily, etcetera. I only just wanted to share that I think in my case, it was a gradual process to change my mindset about this that really helped us. i've tried to stop seeing it as a 'problem', and more as just the way we sleep. We still have our rough nights once in a while, but I think as she is growing so fast, I am taking to heart the message that I so often hear from other moms - to cherish this snuggle time as long as she wants it! Good luck to all of you and your nurslings! Thank you all so much for your warm support - it is really so very touching to have other moms reaching out to help one another, with advice or by sharing similar rough spots!


            • #7
              Hi leanne,
              That was a very interesting and insightful update, thanks for sharing!

              I'm so happy you found a way to get both your needs met. That is creative parenting at the best....books are great but in the end you and your family is who has to live it!


              • #8
                Hi Leanne,

                I know it's been a long time since you started this thread but I wanted to thank you for your post. I was going through the same thing with my then 5 month old and your comments on your perspective shift really helped me. I too decided to switch my perspective and have relaxed into our sleeping situation. There have definitely been challenging times but for the most part I have been able to really enjoy and savor all the time I have my little baby girl cuddled in my arms. She's 1 now and not too much has changed in our sleep but I do see small changes in a positive direction. In the meantime we're just cuddling and nursing, cuddling and nursing,....

                Out of curiosity, have there been any changes in your sleep scenario?

                Thanks again!


                • #9
                  Same problem - found a solution

                  Hi there,

                  I just read your post and it was EXACTLY what our son has been doing for the last 2 months. We did the No Cry Sleep Solution, and it unfortunately wasn't successful for us. He's 7 months old now. We co-sleep, and he's always slept in a sling during the day, or fell asleep at the breast while nursing. I eventually got him to nap in our bed. Anywho, during the night, he used to only wake 1-2 times, then slowly increased to literally 20x a night during and after teething. Anytime he woke, he would need to nurse to fall back to sleep. To get my rest and because we are anti CIO, I did this night and night again, until I felt like a complete zombie and was crying every day because I was so tired. I felt that I wasn't able to be the mom I wanted to be because I was so tired, and even though I wanted to do everything to make our little one comfortable, I deserved to be happy and comfortable too (and needless to say, could be a much better mom with just a little more sleep!). One night, he decided he wasn't going to fall asleep after I nursed him and he wanted to play. So, my husband and I decided that it was going to stop here. I felt nursing at night for food 2x was realistic, since he was only nursing 1x a night for months earlier. So, I decided that he could nurse 1x before midnight, and 1x after (on top of the bedtime nursing at 7:30pm). We let him play, and when he decided he was ready for bed and wanted to comfort nurse to fall asleep, I didn't let him. Of course this meant that he was going to cry because he was having to reach outside of his comfort zone and learning to do something he hadn't before. He was in between us in our bed, and we rubbed his back, his head, sang to him, and told him everything was okay the entire time. I do not consider this CIO, because we were there nurturing him, making eye contact, and giving him physical comfort the entire time. After 20 minutes he laid down and fell asleep. I thought it would have taken hours, honestly. He woke once an hour later, and I "sshhhh'd" him and rubbed his back (1 minute of crying then he fell asleep). The next time I fed him. He only woke 4x that night, down from 20!. The next night, he decided he wasn't going to nurse to sleep again, but this time played and then laid down and fell asleep with out crying. From here on out he's been up 2x a night, only to eat. Every few nights he'll wake and cry (he does this at night, but does not do it when waking from naps) for just a few seconds. I'll pat his back and "shhhh" him and he goes right back down. I found that we could lovingly break the "habit" that was not working in our household without closing the door on our son or co-sleeping. I still nurse him to sleep most nights and during naps, except when he then decides he wants to play afterwards instead for a few minutes. He now is able to fall asleep multiple ways. I wish you lots of luck


                  • #10
                    Oh, and I also wanted to say that you will know what's best for your family. In the past, I've oftentimes let other people plant a seed in my head about our parenting style, what our baby "should" be doing, etc. Mom knows best, and if your family is happy, that's obviously all that matters I just read your update post and am so glad that your mindset has changed, and that you're happy and enjoying your snuggle time! Co-sleeping is such a wonderful thing, and so is that snuggle time that will fly by all too fast.


                    • #11
                      Stella's Mommy,
                      You were wondering about our update, and here is a little share Thank you for your kind words too...

                      My daughter is now almost 17 months old, and we still nurse to sleep for naps, bedtimes and overnights. Other AP moms in my area have told me their nursing-on-cue toddlers really cut back on their own when they reached around 18 months, and a few moms mentioned one night laying beside their toddler for the regular nurse-to-sleep routine, only to find their little ones just roll over on their own. While that is a hopeful scenario, I'm not sure what to expect from my high needs little one. So, at this time, i do not have much more of an update than that. I know other moms, including my lovely, gentle AP naturopath, who have tried the approach that Motheroftheriver mentioned above, with 'success' too. While it is very attractive at times, we are personally not ready to embark on that journey, and will be keeping up our routine as is for now. Will keep you posted Best of luck with your journey too.

                      I might add that we share an incredibly connected relationship, while she is also a happy, confident little girl throughout the day and with others. I do credit our proximity to one another throughout the night partly to this lovely relationship we share


                      • #12
                        When my son was 4 months, I had the same issue. Thankfully, he did take a pacifier after I nursed him, even if I was nursing him 4 times in the night. However, I did need to try a few kinds of a pacifier until he found one that suited him. This may not be the ideal solution but it worked for me. He is 11 months and I still nurse him twice in the night and I still release him by sticking in the pacifier and, in that instant of two seconds when he isn't sucking, he cries but then the pacifier saves us both.