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Thread: nursing 11 week old to sleep

  1. #1

    Default nursing 11 week old to sleep

    Hello, I have a baby girl who is just 11 weeks old. I've been breastfeeding her exclusively (no bottles or pacifier) since birth. I realize now that I've always nursed her to sleep and she has rarely if ever fallen asleep on her own, even in her carrier or car seat, etc.
    Until she was 6 weeks old it wasn't a big deal because I could nurse her and put her down for naps and bed and she would sleep between 1 - 3 hours straight. But starting at 6 weeks (and it's been especially bad these last couple of weeks) she will only sleep for about 20 - 40 minutes for naps and is becoming very overtired.
    By about 4 or 5 pm she's cranky and when I try to nurse her to sleep it can take 3 - 5 hours of constant nursing. She has very jerky movements and is in a sort of daze the entire time and every time I try to move her from my breast to my chest or to put her down she cries. I now think she might actually be partially sleeping the entire time that I'm nursing her and has now become dependent on nursing while sleeping.
    Once she's finally asleep I usually go to bed with her (we co-sleep) and she'll sleep anywhere from 2 - 5 hours straight. She'll wake up a couple of times in the night and it is now taking up to 2 hours to nurse her back to sleep.
    Is this normal for this age? Will she start to sleep longer and go down easier with time if I keep nursing her to sleep, or should I be trying to get her to sleep other ways (we've tried everything except letting her cry with no luck).
    Also, when she's in the jerky overtired mode while nursing in the evening, is it better to wake her up fully and then try to nurse her to sleep again even if it means she cries a bit and is disoriented? Or should I just keep nursing her until she falls asleep on her own? I don't mind nursing for such a long time, I'm just wondering if this is good for her? She's in pretty good spirits for most of the day and is developing normally. Is this just a phase? How long should it take for a baby to nurse to sleep?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Southern NM

    Default Re: nursing 11 week old to sleep

    Two ideas:

    For the daytime, have you tried baby wearing? My LO would fall asleep that way from the time he was little.

    Elizabeth Pantley's No Cry Sleep Solution has a lot of good ideas; you might also look at The Happiest Baby on the Block. Look for them at the library.
    I am Erin--happily married to the nerd of my dreams for 15 years
    High School Science Teacher
    Mother to: Thing 1 9/23/01, bf 15 mo, diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma 1/29/02, officially cancer free for ten years in August 2012
    Thing 2 6/6/05, bf 12 mo, obsessed with dynamite
    Glowworm 2/18/11, bf 15 months and counting

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    New York

    Default Re: nursing 11 week old to sleep

    i had the same experience with ds#3. So, imho it's normal. My son was attached to me the whole day for months on end, until he could reach out and grab things and wanted to socialize w/ his siblings. So it was about 4 months or so until this pattern changed.
    Started my family in 1986
    Finally done in 2001

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Northern Cal.

    Default Re: nursing 11 week old to sleep

    I don't think nursing a baby to sleep at 11 weeks is likely to create any bad habits. I nursed Joe to sleep regularly until he was two. Slowly but surely, he did start falling asleep more on his own. I think it's a developmental thing - some kids do it earlier, some do it later, and there's not much you can do about it. Babies prefer to nurse to sleep, because with the breast in their mouth, they know mama is close by and they are safe. Similarly, many will fall asleep in the carrier, close to their caretaker. This is just so normal, and why mess with something that works? Nursing Joe to sleep was easier than dancing or rocking him to sleep - he was happy, I was happy, no problem. As he has gotten older he "self-soothes" but he wasn't capable of that at 11 weeks, or even five months. I would go with what works.

    You can call me JoMo!

    Mom to baby boy Joe, born 5/4/09 and breastfed for more than two and a half years, and baby girl Maggie, born 7/9/12.

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