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Question:

My little one is 17 weeks and I guess my first issue is that she loves nursing to sleep. I’m okay with her doing it for the last feed at night, but it would be great if during the day she was able to sleep on her own, because I usually find that once she falls asleep I cannot move her to her bed, so her days naps are usually lasting only a half hour because I just can’t sit there for that long and eventually have to put her down, thus waking her up. And I haven’t been consistent in swaddling her during the day, as we use the love to dream swaddles at night, but I wrap her every now and then.

I’ve tried to ‘put out’ by not nursing her, I know she’s not hungry but comfort nursing. She won’t take the dummy and there’s no one to pass her to during the day, so I just give in! And I get really sore nipples because she seems to constantly on them. It just seems easier to give her what she wants cause I’m usually tired and in need of a nap as well!

Her “routine” kind of goes like this:

At night, we usually do start winding down around 6pm, so i give her a feed, then it’s bath time then quiet time and back on the boob to go to bed. She’s been going down really well once I get her off the boob, but lately she’s been waking up at 11pm, so I feed her and pop her back in bed, then it’s up at 1-2am and then at 5.30 or so and I can usually get her back down until 7.30. When she wakes up at night, I feed her and she falls asleep and we don’t chat or move her from the bedroom or anything. I was thinking of doing a dream feed at 10.30 or so? to carry her through to 2am. Oh and we are using the love to dream swaddles at night.

Once we’re up for the day, it’s a feed and then play and then when I know she’s tired, I’ll try to put her to sleep by swaying and ssshhing and patting before eventually nursing. so another sleep mid morning, then midday and then around 3-4pm.

With her baths we are not bathing daily, every second day – should I incorporate this every day as part of her nighttime routine? And should I set a daytime routine up so she knows it’s sleep time?

my partner tends to try and put her to sleep in the lounge so the TVs going and I think that’s overstimulating her, when she was younger we could do that cause she would fall asleep easily, but now I know she needs the quiet to go to sleep.

Okay so in summary:

How do I get her to sleep better and settle her down easier during the day without comfort nursing?

How do we get her to sleep a decent stretch at night? – Do we need to have a dream feed?

How can I put her down without waking her??

Thanks in advance for your help!!

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Answer:

To teach her to self settle and to resettle then you would need to stop feeding to sleep. However instead of feeding to sleep you can teach her how to self settle and resettle in arms.

Yes, I bath my baby’s every day as this creates consistency in the evening routine

Bedrooms are for sleeping, however if you are struggling to put her to sleep in her cot and your partner is happy to do it in the lounge, I tend to cover the baby with a muslin and help close her down this way

Dream feeds do not create or encourage babies to sleep longer at night. IN my experience they can actually increase the night wakings so I would stay away from introducing a dream feed.

I tend to put a baby awake in their cots and then start self settling from there. If I need to pick them up and settle in arms I do, however they slowly learn that they go into their cots to sleep.

At 17 weeks her wake times will be approx 2 hours stretching to 3 hours by the time she is six months old

She will be having naps of a minimum of 1 1/2 hours and resettling if she wakes before this.

Her wake time will look like this

wakes, feeds, plays, top up, then daytime sleep.

DREAM FEEDS
In my experience dream feeds are controversial and need to be carefully considered before incorporating them into a feeding schedule.

They differ from night feeds in that they are parent-led – the choice of the parent and not the baby.

Dream feeds are given between 10pm and midnight and involve feeding a sleeping baby as opposed to one that wakes naturally. They are supposed to lengthen a baby’s sleep cycle to give a tired parent a reprieve. However, there is no evidence to indicate that dream feeds guarantee parents’ extended sleep.

Research shows that dream feeds are thought to interfere with a baby’s most precious and deepest phase of sleep that occurs between 9pm and midnight.

Make sure you are well informed before making your own decision, as once in place dream feeds can be difficult and disruptive to eliminate from your baby’s routine. If you do decide to include them, ideally aim to drop them by the age of six months.

Neuroscientists believe that deliberately feeding a sleeping baby meddles with digestion, growth and development and can disrupt long-term sleeping patterns.

GASTRIC EMPTYING
The gastric emptying of a breast fed baby after 120 minutes is 16 to 18% so when you are trying to put her down for naps she may be hungry. This will not cause a feed/sleep association as long as you feed, then swaddle/sleeping bag then into her bed. Also you need to be aware that she doesn’t fall asleep while feeding unless you choose to do this.

SETTLING AND RESETTLING NOTES
Settling and resettling take TACT – time, acceptance, consistency and tranquility

Sleep is a learned behaviour. Sleep is also a nutrient and walks hand in hand with food.

It takes a minimum of ten days to see any changes and the change at the end of the light is just a dim light. The first 3 to 4 days is always the hardest and to change their circadian sleep cycles it takes a minimum of six weeks

Sleep is a learned behaviour. Sleep is also a nutrient and walks hand in hand with food. It is healthy for a baby to cry/grizzle before going to sleep. When you go to bed you read a book, meditate, watch TV, or chat with your partner – a baby can only do one thing and that is cry. You are not leaving him there to cry it out; you are leaving him there to give him the ability to find his own sleep. In my experience it takes approximately 20 minutes for a baby to fall asleep, however you are not going to leave your baby to do this on their own. Ideally you will put your baby in their cot awake, close the curtains and leave the room. YOu will leave your baby for an appropriate time and then intervene with reassurance – I tend to do this in 5 minute intervals so the settling routine will look like this – and it also depends on the age of the baby. For babies under 12 weeks, I tend to do the settling in arms. IF doing in arms I never do any movement that cannot be replicated in a cot.
into bed, leave for up to 5 minutes (at her age you will probably only leave for a minute and its also about the crying/grizzling and whether it is off or on)
comfort – reassure (this is normally less that the grizzling time)
this can be repeated for up to 20 minutes and then you need to stay in the room and help your baby find their sleep – if you already haven’t. SOmetimes babies will not be able to go to sleep if they are light sensitive. I would suggest that you look at your baby’s room and if they are unable to fall asleep then try making the room darker.

FEEDING TO SLEEP
To avoid him feeding to sleep then I would suggest taking small steps.

To teach your baby to self settle and resettle then you need to be able to give them the tools to do this. I would suggest that you do this in stages so that you are pushing the boundaries a little but no so far that it is not feasible.
Step 1
Feed to nearly asleep, then remove nipple from mouth and press upwards under their chin with your finger or thumb – they will actually keep sucking using their tongue. Once your baby is asleep then transfer
Step 2
Feed to drowsy repeat above and then hold to sleep – no rocking or movement that cannot be done in a cot
Step 3
Feed, sleeping bag and hold to sleep
Step 4
Feed, sleeping bag and hold to drowsy and then into cot and stay with your baby until they are asleep.
With each of the above steps I would be working on a minimum of 10 days, but depending on how they respond.
You are going to be basically replacing the feeding with holding, cupping or a form of movement that can be replicated in the cot.
Thank you so much for your question I hope this helps, just remember you are doing an amazing job and being a Mother is the hardest job in the world.

Kind Regards
Dorothy

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