Nursing to sleep, naps and schedules (LONG) — The Bump
Attachment Parenting

Nursing to sleep, naps and schedules (LONG)

Okay, bear with me because I have a few questions. I'm a mostly-lurker, but occasional poster. First, I want to disclaim that I know that my baby is still teeny in the grand scheme and I don't have any sort of expectations that he's a perfect sleeper, on a perfect schedule, etc. But DS is approaching the 4-month mark which is when it seems conventional advice is that baby should be put down "sleepy, but awake" and should be self-soothing, so I think I need to hear from some ladies aren't or don't do that, but also aren't having to hold their 3-year-olds for naps.

DS is a great overnight sleeper. He goes down around 9 or 10 (I'd like to start getting this a little earlier, but I'm fine with it for now) and sleeps in his crib until 4:30 when he gets up to nurse and sleeps again until 7 or 8 (he actually started sleeping infinitely better when we moved him out of our room and into his crib). I nurse him or DH rocks him to sleep every night. During his middle of the night/early am feeding, he always falls asleep nursing. I'm perfectly fine with this arrangement and love snuggling with him, but am getting outside pressure that I'll need to start sleepy but awake soon or else he will be dependent upon me to sleep forever. Thoughts? If you nursed to sleep, how hard was it to break that habit? Did you nurse to sleep until you weaned or did you stop that earlier?

As for naps, he's always napped in his swing on on me. He is a long boy and is quickly outgrowing the swing in length, but still loves to sleep in a wrap. I am generally fine with this as I still love the snuggly time, but also don't think I will be wanting to carry my 2-year-old every day for naps. Is this just a case of "do what works until it doesn't work."

Finally, as for schedules, DS has none. I'm not looking for a hardcore schedule where he has to be down at x time, awake for x time, eating at x time, but it would be great if I could have a tiny bit of predictability for the purpose of making plans (for example, will a 10 am storytime ever work for us or will he always be sleeping, etc. I don't mind him sleeping on the go, but for things like storytime, playgroup, swim lessons or whatever that are for his benefit, obviously I'd like him to be awake for them). What gentle methods have you used for creating a little bit of order/routine in your life? I read a lot of people doing the EASY method, but that seems so structured - but maybe just the idea of doing things in order will help create a bit of a routine. 

Anyway, like I said, the outside pressures I'm getting are making me feel like DS will never nap on his own, will always need to nurse to sleep, etc. I KNOW that is not true and I need to go with my gut on what works for us now, but I'm also feeling like I'm starting "bad" habits now that will be impossible to break later. I'm totally in the camp that I'm not going to look back on my life and think "gee, I held my baby too much), but I think I need to hear from you ladies that doing these things now, aren't going to result in some awful transition later.

Thanks and sorry so long. 

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Re: Nursing to sleep, naps and schedules (LONG)

  • We still nurse to sleep at night, so no help there.

    But, we used to have to hold LO for naps and there was a point where we had to drive her in the car every.single.naptime to get her to sleep. That lasted about a month when she was 6 mos old. Now she hates sleeping in the car.

    I think all babies go through stages, and you are perfectly fine nursing/wrapping for naps. You LO is so tiny right now and it's fine to hold them. That's what they need and are used too. They will grow out of it. LO is getting to the stage now where she will nurse and then push me away so she can try to fall asleep on her own.

    I'm just kind of following her transitions right now - at this point I feel like she wants to fall asleep on her own but just can't get the hang of it. I think LO's let you know what they need/want. It's just figuring out what the heck that is that is the hard part. 

    It sounds like you are doing great - esp with the overnight sleep! 

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  • Regarding schedules, I feel like 3 month-olds still sleep a lot during the day to worry about a schedule.  I realize there are hard-core schedule keepers out there who do EASY and other methods, but it's certainly not a requirement.  At 3 months I think DS would wake, nurse, be up for maybe an hour, then fall asleep.  And repeat.  It was more of a pattern than a schedule.  I think when they start staying awake longer, and when nursing and sleeping no longer go so hand-in-hand, making a schedule makes more sense.  Or you could have an LO that falls into his own schedule :)


    **I know my "pattern" is similar to EASY, but I never actually paid attention to the clock, which I think EASY is centered around. 

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  • We didn't have a predictable routine that didn't change until 9 months when she went down to one nap. Now it's bed at 8, up between 6 and 7, nap at 11.

    I held her for naps until she was 8 months. I liked the excuse for awhile because she'd nap 3 hours and I could search the boards and catch up on the DVR as much as I wanted without guilt :P Once she was too big to be comfortable I started putting her in the crib with no problem at all.

    We nursed to sleep until very recently. About 3 weeks ago she stopped nursing for nap on her own. The way our activities fell she was either falling asleep on the way home from somewhere or in the stroller during our jog and I'd transfer her to the crib. Since then I rock her for nap and she doesn't ask to nurse at all (and the rocking takes maybe 5 mins). Just this week she has been staying awake after her bedtime nurse, so I put her in the crib, pat her bum a few mins, and leave. She cries when I walk away, but goes quiet as soon as I shut the door.

    I had all the same fears as you when she was younger, but was doing what felt right for us and so stuck with it :) It's astounding to me how far she has come and how independent she is in such a (relatively) short amount of time. STTN was something else she did on her own at 12 months, I think I was most proud of that one, lol.

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  • we nursed to sleep until she weaned at 2.5 years old (just a couple weeks ago).  it was a super duper easy transition into snuggling to sleep instead.  we were able to talk about it for days beforehand, play it out with dolls, etc, and bribe her with her new pet fish.  LOL.  but it involved zero tears, and i never thought that could happen for us!

    keep in mind that it feels like a lot of work now because he sleeps so much (and nurses so much), but as he gets older he will need less naps.  so even if you choose to continue nursing to sleep (your call), it won't always be as often.  my DD went down to two naps around 8ish months i think, and then one nap at about 14-15 months old and so at that point we only nursed morning/nap/nighttime.  three times a day was not a big deal for me!

     some kids transition really well to sleeping in a crib/PNP, so maybe you'll have no problems as LO gets older... but mine never did.  you could try a floor bed or futon mattress on the floor, in a very-baby-proofed room, for as he gets older.  we didn't do that but i know some other people have.

     overall the ONE thing i've learned from being a first time mom (and mostly AP) is that i dont over-share with people.  i'm generally a very open person, but all the pressure from everyone else (some well-meaning, some not so much) was too much to take when i was already questioning every single thing i was doing.  i started just doing my own research, i've read tons of parenting books etc, and got confident in my own choices.  people will give you advice no matter what you do, but try not to let it get to you.

    oh and i would recommend the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child - it changed my life when i read it when DD was about 3 mos old.  he is a hardcore cry-it-out kinda guy so i ignored those parts, but the "schedule" parts were very helpful for me.  just how long each awake-period should be per age of the child, it all held very true for me and helped with knowing approximately what time things would happen each day.  (although every day was different, so sometimes i would have to wake her from a nap to go to an appt etc... there is no getting around that!)

  • Thoughts? If you nursed to sleep, how hard was it to break that habit? Did you nurse to sleep until you weaned or did you stop that earlier? My kiddo stopped wanting to nurse to sleep at around six months. We'd be nursing at bedtime, he'd be sleepy, but he'd finish up and NOT be asleep. So now I still nurse at bedtime, and put him down/pat his bottom/back until he sleeps. I know not every kid will necessarily do this, but its possible. Also, I think part of the concern with the nurse to sleep association is when it prevents the child from sleeping longer periods because when they 'wake' during their normal nighttime sleep cycles, they aren't able to go back to sleep on their own. Your child sounds like he's sleeping AWESOME through the night, so I wouldn't necessarily change anything for now.

    As for naps... Is this just a case of "do what works until it doesn't work." YES. :) At least in my opinion! Linus was (and still is) constantly changing what works for him regarding naps. He used to only nap on me, and he hated his swing. Then he would nap in his bouncy seat. Then at some point, he started liking his swing, and I could put him in there when I knew he was sleepy, and he'd fall right asleep. Now, he's back to hating the swing and looks at me like I'm crazy when I put him in there. So basically, I'm a "roll with it" kind of parent. I just do what works.

    Finally, as for schedules, DS has none. Ha. Neither did my kiddo for a long time. Especially at your sons age. We had no set nap times, bed times, eating...  I just watched for him to seem like he was tired/hungry/etc. For the most part at that age, he was relatively predictable, but not always. Now at 7 months, we've kind of fallen into a schedule/routine. I know that he'll be ready for his nap about 2-2/12 hours after we wake in the morning, for example.

    So yeah, I don't think you're ruining your kid. ;)

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  • I'm also a lurker on this board so you can take what I say with a grain of salt.  Your night schedule/routine sounds very similar to how ours has been.  I was somewhat concerned about the sleepy but awake thing since our DS would fall asleep eating at bedtime but then one night he just hadn't fallen asleep yet so I just put him in his crib to see what would happen.  Totally just went to sleep on his own.  Now that he is 6 1/2 months he is usually still awake when we put him in his crib and goes to sleep beautifully.

    He only began to develop some semblance of a schedule/routine in the past month or two.  We usually start bath around 8 so he's usually in bed by around 8:30, still wakes up around 6 to eat and then goes back to sleep until sometime between 7:30 and 8:30.  He now has 3 definite naps - morning, afternoon and evening.  Generally they around 9/10, and then sometime around 1 (anytime from 12:30-1:30) and then usually another around 4 or 5 (this one is becoming less defined the past week or so and I think he might drop it soon).  Honestly, I just watch his cues.  He almost always starts yawining and rubbing his eyes when tired.  If it is about time to eat I will usually offer his bottle and if he ate within an hour or so I give him his pacifier and we read a short story and I put him in his crib for his nap.  Naps were a struggle for us though.  We swaddled until he was 5 months old and after we stopped he no longer had that reminder/signal that it was time to sleep. 

    However, I think you have to do what works for you.  If you are okay wrapping/holding for naps then do that.  But, if you know this will eventually be an issue for you then you might want to try to stop.  For what it's worth, my son sleeps beautifully in his crib but I rarely get a nap where I get to hold him.  If we have to be out for some reason he really struggles to fall asleep on me.  :-( 

    TTC since August 2008 4 cycles Femara = BFN Dx PCOS February 2010, 1000 mg Metformin XR IUI #1: Dexamethasone + Femara + Ovidrel + Progesterone = BFN IUI #2: Dexamethasone + Femara + Ovidrel + Progesterone = BFP! Our son arrived January 17, 2011!
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