Help! I am a first time mom and my husband works away from home.
I started bringing my baby to bed with me at night when he was 3 months old, because he was getting up every two hours for feeding and I found that co-sleeping was the only way I could make it through the day with him. Now he is 6 months old and still only falls asleep when he is nursing, never on his own. He also won’t sleep in his crib.
What do I do to get him to sleep longer at night and also in his crib without nursing him? I can’t handle letting him cry himself to sleep; are there any other suggestions of ways to deal with these issues?
Baby Help Line:
I think you did completely right to bring your baby to your bed at 3 months! This way you both probably got more and better sleep and nothing is really more important when you have a newborn baby.
Now, if you want to help him learn how to fall asleep without nursing, here are a few things you can do:
- First of all, make sure that your baby eats enough during the day. 6 months is a growth spurt and many babies sleep really bad at this age. So fill him up and give his sleep training a month before you evaluate it.
- Use the stroller. When your baby is starting to become tired, put him in his stroller and rock him until he is almost asleep. Slowly stop and let him fall asleep. If he starts crying or whining, start rolling the stroller again until he is calm. And so on. This is a way to teach you baby to fall asleep without you. Once he is a sleep, put him in his crib.
- Does he use a pacifier? If not, consider giving one to him. For many babies this really facilitates the transition away from nursing to sleep. You’ll find tips on how to help your baby accept a pacifier here.
- Does he accept the bottle? For some babies, it is very efficient to simply offer them water in a bottle instead of the breast when they wake up at night. Faster than you could ever guess, they start sleeping better when there is no milk to wake up for. For bottle-feeding tips, click here. Obviously, if your baby wakes up because he is hungry, this will not work at all!
- Let your baby sleep with dad. This might be hard in your case, as your husband works away from home. But if he is ever home for a long weekend, have your baby sleep with him instead of you. Make it your husband’s job to soothe your baby by rocking him, giving him the pacifier patting him or whatever works. I’ve tried this and I know several other moms too that have been very surprised with how fast their baby has learned to fall asleep without the breast.
You don’t even have to stop nursing him completely at night. When we did this with our daughter, we decided that my husband would try for 5 minutes, then she would be allowed to nurse. Within three days our daughter went from waking up every hour to twice a night. One month later she slept through the night.
- For tips on how to help you baby sleep better in her crib, check out some crib sleeping tips here.
Good luck, and please come back and tell us about your progress or if you need more help.
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