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?