Breast milk is the most complete food for your baby. It’s classified as a superfood
because of its many benefits for babies and mothers. It helps with forming bonds but
also helps mothers calm and soothe their babies. But not everyone is able or willing to
breastfeed their baby.
Breastfeeding is so instinctive and comforting that it’s only natural for babies to fall
asleep at the breast. The good news is breastfeeding is totally compatible with
healthy sleep habits. This is one of the most common questions from parents, so
you’re not alone if you have doubts.
During the first months of your baby’s life, it’s normal for them to fall asleep while
breastfeeding. They need to eat and sleep in short bursts to grow and develop so
naturally there is some overlap.
Your baby develops their circadian rhythm after four to five months. But by this time it’s
quite normal for a baby to fall asleep and stay asleep still breastfeeding.
Is breastfeeding at night a problem?
No, breastfeeding is natural and a healthy way of helping your baby fall asleep. And it
is above all a personal choice.
But if breastfeeding at night disrupts mother and baby’s sleep too much then consider
These changes are advisable only after your baby is six months old:
- Introduce complementary food if there’s no medical reason not to.
- Start to cut out night feeds. Your baby can sleep for 11 or 12 hours uninterrupted.
Fully weaning your baby isn’t necessary. You only need to change the breastfeeding-
sleep pattern your baby is used to. Breastfeeding can continue to be the main source
of food during the day for the first year of their life, gradually increasing the amount of
complementary food as they grow. This combination will be perfect for your baby’s
growing nutritional needs.
When you stop breastfeeding at night, you can help your baby learn healthy sleep
habits and teach them to fall asleep independently so that mother and baby can get
deep, restful sleep.
How can you help your baby get restful sleep without pining for the breast?
Just like any other sleep prop, it’s only normal for your baby to resist change when you
try to remove something from their routine. It isn’t always easy and will depend on your
baby’s character and how long they’ve had the habit. If you’ve decided to change habits, you can follow the Lulla Method steps.
We would also recommend the following:
- Try to avoid your baby falling asleep at the breast either during the day or for their last
bedtime feed. Get into the habit of reading a bedtime story after their feed so that they
learn to stay awake.
- Stay close to your baby’s cot during the first few days until they fall asleep on their
own. Be a loving, comforting and patient presence at all times.
- You can breastfeed your baby if they wake up at night, but try to keep them awake
while feeding. Your baby will need fewer feeds over time. Or you can begin to cut down
yourself if you prefer.