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Q&A: How do I get My Baby to Fall Asleep on Her Own?

by Wendy Goldenthal, Certified Breastfeeding Counselor |
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Q I am wondering if you could help me. I have a 22-month-old daughter. She is nursing around three times per day and still sleeping in bed with my husband and I. My problem is that she will not go to sleep unless my breast is in her mouth, while she is twisting my other nipple, which can get quite painful.I am also worried about her teeth decaying.I have tried all sorts of things to try and get her to go to sleep by herself, although none have worked. She stayed up until 3am one morning when I tried to 'tire her out', but I ended up giving in and feeding her to sleep. A lot of people have blamed me, saying it was because I held her too much as a baby, and it is because I breastfed on demand. Do you have any suggestions?

A There have been a number of studies indicating that babies who have been held alot and brestfed on demand become independent, self-assured adults. Babies who were not held when they cried tend to become very dependent.

So keep up your wonderful mothering skills!

It sounds like your daughter is using you as her own personal "lovie". Perhaps you can find another object to replace your breast. Perhaps a soft blanket or doll. Perhaps you might introduce her to her thumb. I do feel that the family bed is beneficial, but perhaps you might want to consider putting your daughter in her own bed (even if it's in your bedroom).

Unfortunately, your daughter has developed a habit that dosen't work for you. Breaking a habit is very difficult, and if your daughter cries for 3 hours and you offer her your breast, it will be impossible to break this habit. It may take 3 or four or more (very difficult) nights of NOT giving in before the habit begins to be broken. Once you give in, however, you will have taken two giant steps backward.

Unfortunately, there are no easy answers, as you know. Just peservere

Warmly,
Wendy

Click here to ask your breastfeeding questions

A Certified Breastfeeding Counselor with eight years of experience. She is the founder and owner of Nursing Mothers Supplies, a website where breastfeeding mothers can purchase breastfeeding supplies and get a little advice as well.


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