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Feeding to sleep - is it that bad?
How, when, why did you stop? tve stories too

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#1 Loz07

Posted 09 January 2013 - 09:31 PM


This is a bit long, sorry, and I have posted some of this before, so thanks for reading.

So, DD is almot 5mo old. She normally has 3-4 catnaps during the day (last one finishing 430 - 5) but she doesn't 'self settle' for these. I try not to feed her to sleep during the day, but naps always involve cuddling/rocking before being put down asleep. Sometimes I can put her down when she is still awake but VERY drowsy and she will finish falling asleep on her own (and sometimes it makes her 'wake up' and I pick her back up to try again...).

Nigthtime however I always feed to sleep, and settling takes about an hour and a half. MOST nights she sleeps all the way through (the last month or so she has started waking earlier in the morning (6-630 instead of the 7-730 she used to do), and probably has a night waking 1-2 times a week. This has coincided with a 'wonder week' time, and she has also had some longer day naps... Plus I think she is just starting to teethe so I'm not *too* worried about this). Bed time looks something like this:

From 6-630 is bath, pjs etc followed by a quick book/story/song (about 5 mins tops). She then feeds until she falls asleep (sometimes in under 10 mins if really tired, normally closer to 7). I hold her upright for a bit (15 mins?) before putting her down. After 10-15 mins, she wakes up. Sometimes she is just 'awake', sometimes she wakes crying. I pick her up, pat (sometimes, esp if she wakes crying, there's a burp), and after a few mins I feed again until she falls back asleep. Repeat last 3 sentences anywhere from 0-3 times ('normally' only one more wake up). She is usually asleep for the night by 8ish...

So is 90 mins of settling/sleeping/settling fairly common in a 5mo old?

I know feeding to sleep creates sleep associations, and I know it has to stop at some stage. I am reluctant to stop at the moment because a) it works and she sleeps well (even if it takes a bit to get her to sleep) and b) I really struggle with her cries, especially in the evening and when I know I can stop it. To be honest, I also LIKE the feed and cuddles, and would be perfectly happy with the situation if she was asleep by say 715ish every night original.gif .

Unless the sleep situation deteriorates drastically (I live in fear that the sleep association means one day she is just going to start waking every hour overnight..... unsure.gif ), I'm thinking I will  continue the current routine at least for a few more months until I  think she would be better able to handle a change.

So, if you fed to sleep - how, when and why did you stop? Was it because sleep deteriorated? Or did your baby get to a point where you thought they could fall asleep without it (signs?)? Or was it when you weaned?

Interested in people's experiences with feeding to sleep.

Thanks, and sorry this is so long/rambly (I have had a glass of wine....) original.gif

#2 Escapin

Posted 09 January 2013 - 09:36 PM

I still 'feed to sleep' and DD is 20mo! She doesn't fall asleep though these days, she just pops off when she's had enough.

Feeding to sleep is a wonderful thing I think! If it works for you, then just keep doing it.

Not sure why you hold her upright once she's asleep? You could try just putting her down then?

#3 fooiesmum

Posted 09 January 2013 - 09:37 PM

I fed to sleep for along time - 3 years 9 months - the last night feed was the last one I dropped.  I was away for 2 nights when dd was 2.5 years old, she stayed up and waited for me to come home till she eventually dropped off - she was very glad to see me.

I loved the cuddles & closeness - it just worked for us that way original.gif

#4 Tall Poppy

Posted 09 January 2013 - 09:41 PM

If it is working I wouldn't change it. It sounds like you've found a nice gentle method that works well. I do think 90 mins to settle at that age is fairly normal. It will get easier & quicker & then you'll long for this time back. I never thought I would but knowing I'm never going to experience that again makes me sad. Try to enjoy it, even though it is such hard work.

#5 Dionysus

Posted 09 January 2013 - 09:57 PM

I fed DD to sleep - loved it.

I went back to work at 4 months still b/feeding, so main priority was sleep.  If it meant feeding to sleep so that I got a decent amount of sleep, then so be it.

I actually loved (and miss) that middle of the night feed

We stopped b/feeding at 6 months, but she still woke overnight till about 12 months.  I gave her a bottle whenever she woke, she would have as much as she needed then would go back to sleep.

This was more of a PITA than b/feeding obviously, but I still did whatever was quickest to get back to sleep.

I also fed to sleep for naps, when I was at home.  DH was home when I was at work in those early days, so he would bottle feed EBM and feed to sleep

At 12 months, she dropped to one nap per day and started sleeping through and would self-settle for nap and night-time

So, it took us 12 months to get to a very easy, self-settling, sleep through the night situation, even though we apparantly did all the wrong things!

DD was also a dummy addict

Now, at 3 and a half, DD still has a 1.5 - 2 hour nap most days and sleeps 11 - 12 hours o/n. (and tonight she has gone to sleep without a dummy!)

#6 tick

Posted 09 January 2013 - 09:57 PM

I fed DD1 to sleep until she weaned at around 2 years old, will probably do the same for DD2 who is now six months old.  It works for us, although I'm not so set in my ways that I won't change it if it stops working!  

As for taking 90 mins to settle for bed .... I don't think it's *that* uncommon at her age to do that thing where they feed, fall asleep and wake up for more milk a few times before settling properly.  My six month old was doing it a month or two ago.  Now I tend to load her up with milk while she's still awake, then when she falls asleep on the boob I wake her and give her the other side also..... that seems to do the trick here.  If I don't fill her full of milk before bed she will wake at least once in the first hour for more milk before settling into a longer sleep.

#7 75sx

Posted 10 January 2013 - 10:07 AM

It's not bad if it works for you and your baby!

I fed my DD to sleep until she was weaned at 2.5yrs.

#8 Madnesscraves

Posted 10 January 2013 - 10:11 AM

My DD is 1. I still feed her to sleep. I dont see the need to change it. Its just a form of affecting and cuddles. Though, once she is in a toddler bed, then I will be encouraging sleeping without a bottle. But I won't do it until she understands.

#9 Milamum09

Posted 10 January 2013 - 10:17 AM

I still feed my 15 mth old to sleep. She, unfortunately doesn't sleep through though!! Do what works and what gets you through!!! Sounds like you are doing a great job. Do you think she takes so long at night because she is not quite tired enough after her last cat nap?

#10 password123

Posted 10 January 2013 - 10:21 AM

Yep, I feed DD to sleep. She is 7 months and has slept through the night since she was 6 weeks old. I don't know if there will be problems later, but it works for now and she and I are happier for it.

Edited by Mrs_Snorks, 10 January 2013 - 10:22 AM.

#11 Kay1

Posted 10 January 2013 - 10:29 AM

My DS is a few weeks older than your DD and a few weeks ago we were in exactly the same situation. I ket taking little steps towards self settling during the day and suddenly his day naps got longer. We had some horror nights during this time. Eventually I figured I had to stop feeding him to sleep or he just wouldn't stay asleep. So I used the same settling techniques as I was during the day and gradually things started to improve. I feed him almost to sleep then hold him upright for a couple of minutes (to let him burp, he gets bad wind) and so that he kind of realises he's awake but still very drowsy, then I pop him in bed. I still more or less fts when he wakes at night though although I do have to burp him so that wakes him up a bit. He seems much better able to self settle now. In fact last night he woke up at 2ish and I heard him babbling a bit and then he just went back to sleep! That's a first!

I loved feeding him to sleep but the problem was he wouldn't stay asleep and would wake every 45 mins at its worst.

#12 3mummy3

Posted 10 January 2013 - 10:52 AM

Just to give you an idea how bad it can turn out i will share my experience with you.
I fed my dd to sleep until i forced her to wean two days after her third birthday!
It got so bad for us that dd would wake up frequently and feed back to sleep that she ended up sleeping in our bed and feeding on and off all night long up until aged three. Yes you read that right, dd fed on and off all night till she was three!!!
Once i forced her to wean i couldnt get her to fall asleep of a night time so had to lie in her bed with her until she would finally go to sleep, which regularly took at least an hour. She would then wake up a couple of hours later and come through to our bed for the rest of the night. Around age 5 i stoppedhaving to lie in bed with her but she continues even now at 8 to call me back into her room for various reasons a few times before she goes to sleep.
She continued coming to sleep in our bed every night until she was 7.5yrs old.

So yeah, as pp's have told you it can be wonderful and can work for alot of kids, but for some kids like mine it can lead to severe long term sleep issues.

I now have a 5 month old baby son who usually self settles for all naps/ nightime, but ifeed him to sleep when he wakes during the night. He did only wake up once during the night but the last couple of days his sleeping has gone out the window with not settling for day sleeps and waking two or even three times per night. Im hoping this is due to eithervteething or just that its holiday time with dad not back to work yet and the three older kids on school holidays, lots of visitors and just generally out of routine. Just hope i get my good sleeper back when things go back to normalbecause i think that if he ends up like dd, im likely to end up in the looney bin, i honestly cant do all that again!

#13 Kay1

Posted 10 January 2013 - 10:55 AM

Unless the sleep situation deteriorates drastically (I live in fear that the sleep association means one day she is just going to start waking every hour overnight.....  ), I'm thinking I will continue the current routine at least for a few more months until I think she would be better able to handle a change.

I have read that this can happen at 5 months as their sleep cycles become more like an adult's. I was really worried about this and it did start to happen (waking every 1.5 hours and at some stages unable to sleep at all without a boob in his mouth) which is why I started to wean him off the feeding to sleep. I'm not rigid about it though, if he's overtired and needs it I do it but if he is able to settle himself easily then I do that as its more likely he'll sleep well. But by all means if its working well keep going. original.gif

I do find we don't have much of a routine at the moment because some days he has a third nap in the late afternoon and some days he doesn't so bed time is always a bit hit and miss, especially with other kids in the mix. I generally find he settles better the later it is, which is the opposite of my other two children who would get overtired very easily and were in bed as early as 5.30pm at this age. DS3's bedtime varies from 6.30pm (if no 3rd nap) to 8pm if he napped.

#14 Kay1

Posted 10 January 2013 - 10:57 AM

I now have a 5 month old baby son who usually self settles for all naps/ nightime, but ifeed him to sleep when he wakes during the night. He did only wake up once during the night but the last couple of days his sleeping has gone out the window with not settling for day sleeps and waking two or even three times per night. Im hoping this is due to eithervteething or just that its holiday time with dad not back to work yet and the three older kids on school holidays, lots of visitors and just generally out of routine. Just hope i get my good sleeper back when things go back to normalbecause i think that if he ends up like dd, im likely to end up in the looney bin, i honestly cant do all that again!

Have you looked into Wonder Weeks? This is all pretty normal behaviour at this age so hopefully its just a phase that will pass. original.gif

#15 chookpea

Posted 10 January 2013 - 11:03 AM

I fed to sleep for both my DS's and used to worry about feed to sleep associations too, it's hard not to!  I gradually weaned them off it....fed them until they fell asleep when they were newborns, then fed until they were almost asleep, then fed until drowsy.  That's where I'm at with DS2 now, he's 10 months.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.  The nights when it doesn't, I feed to sleep.  Do what works for you right now, since things can change at the drop of a hat.

#16 ScarfaceClaw

Posted 10 January 2013 - 11:05 AM

My Ds stopped feeding to sleep for the most part at around 10 months, and I have to admit, I miss it. He's still BF at 19 months, and while when he wakes at 5 or so, I feed him, it's not relaxing or lovely as he dances about like a fool.

I WISH he still FTS as it pretty much worked 100% of the time, and we never had an issues with frequent waking etc. Often he would go down around 8pm and we wouldn't hear from him until 5 or so.

I'd happily FTS now if he would let me, but he's too bloody busy.

#17 pinkchutney

Posted 10 January 2013 - 11:06 AM

Yes I fed to sleep. Because I thought it was a beautiful, gentle, nurturing way for my baby to sleep. As long as you are willing to put the time in, and that you realise that what you start is very difficult to change - just do it. Other people may say you are doing the wrong thing, because it was wrong for them, but really if it works for you - and your baby - it CAN'T  be wrong can it?  biggrin.gif

#18 Halp

Posted 10 January 2013 - 11:10 AM

Fed my DD1 to sleep till she weaned at 3yrs 3months, she was sleeping through for about 6months before that and was able to be settled in other ways by others when necessary from around 18months. She has never fought or resisted sleep since weaning (or prior to), she managed to settle in the night without milk even whilst keeping the "feed to sleep association". Currently feeding to sleep my 12month old and plan to keep going till it doesn't work (for whatever reason).

If it works for you and your baby, why would it be a bad thing?

Edited by Halp, 10 January 2013 - 11:13 AM.

#19 axiomae

Posted 10 January 2013 - 11:11 AM

Feed to sleep until it stops working for you if that's what you like to do. No point fixing something that isn't broken!

If it becomes an issue - work towards changing it then. My DD is 6.5months old and we stopped feeding to sleep at 8 weeks old because it stopped working - frequent "false starts" like yourself. We cuddled and had and bonded this way after a feed, and then she would self-settle (noisily at first, then happily).

I would have kept feeding to sleep if she would happily go off that way though - although she would wake, latch on then pop off straight away.

#20 Honeybake

Posted 10 January 2013 - 11:14 AM

I fed my DD to sleep until just shy of her 2nd birthday. At times it did drive me crazy lol...but on the whole I loved that special time with her.

5 days short of her 2nd birthday, I told her one night that Mummy's milk was "yucky"...She never fed again sad.gif

Go with what works for you. Now, we are 6 months down the track and usually don't have sleep issues. Having said that, sometimes she just want to lie with me & play with my hair until she falls asleep. I personally cherish this beautiful time with her.

Good luck OP original.gif

#21 BeYOUtiful

Posted 10 January 2013 - 11:17 AM

OP the fact she is sleeping through is indication she can get herself off to sleep during sleep cycles.
She probably feeds many times prior to store up for overnight  biggrin.gif

I fed to sleep when young, then when he was older I would put him to bed awake/drowsy after a feed and stay in his room until he went to sleep.
Some nights like PP it worked, others it didn't and I would feed again, as he had been awake for over an hour and experience told me he wasn't going to go to sleep.

Then teeth happened, hourly wake ups and we co slept.

I weaned him, day and night commencing Oct last year - he was weaned before Christmas.
We are now getting him back in to his room/his bed this weekend.  Should be fun  unsure.gif

I have had easy times and I have had many hard times, I don't regret any choice I made though.  I made the best one for both of us at the time.

It's all trial and error original.gif

#22 bikingbubs

Posted 10 January 2013 - 11:19 AM

Feeding to sleep is the best thing ever! I did it with DS for every sleep and he naturally grew out of it.  Why on earth people would want them to "self settle" when feeding to sleep is so easy is beyond me! Fair enough if they are 2yo+ maybe look at it then, but if it works why change it! original.gif

#23 *LucyE*

Posted 10 January 2013 - 11:29 AM

So, if you fed to sleep - how, when and why did you stop? Was it because sleep deteriorated? Or did your baby get to a point where you thought they could fall asleep without it (signs?)? Or was it when you weaned?
I FTS because it's convenient.

I stopped with #1 because everyone told me I should. With #2 it was because she was weaned.

With #3 we're still doing it at age 2 because it suits is right now. It's not the only way he falls asleep but its a sure fired way of getting him to sleep quickly which is important when I have a billion other things to do.

For all 3, sleep has been up and down depending on phases. I have learned that they do pass and to not stress over it. By age 3, my older 2 were in their own rooms, falling asleep on their own and sleeping through. Even #3 is starting to have naps without FTS if I lay beside him In bed.

#24 AntiBourgeoisie

Posted 10 January 2013 - 01:06 PM

Don't fix anything that isn't broken! Don't change something because you are worried something else might happen down the track!
I honestly can't remember with my first, but with my second I fed to sleep until about six months. And then, suddenly, he went from one night feed (which I was happy to give) to 2, to 3 to 4. When he hit 4, and we were both exhausted I stopped feeding him to sleep.
A mothers group friend fed to sleep until 18 months. But her daughter woke overnight no more than once a night, and even that maybe only a couple nights a week. But she was at childcare from about 7 or 8 months and was not fed to sleep there.
There is a big difference between 'feed to sleep' and 'feed back to sleep'. But even some 'fed back to sleep' babies don't wake often.
Don't let people scare you into changing something that is working because something else may or may not happen! It might not happen!

#25 Guest_divineM_*

Posted 10 January 2013 - 02:47 PM

QUOTE (bikingbubs @ 10/01/2013, 12:19 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Feeding to sleep is the best thing ever! I did it with DS for every sleep and he naturally grew out of it.  Why on earth people would want them to "self settle" when feeding to sleep is so easy is beyond me! Fair enough if they are 2yo+ maybe look at it then, but if it works why change it! original.gif

because feeding to sleep is not always easy! My DD fed to sleep then could not be transferred from my arms to cot so we had to teach her to settle in other ways. other mums i know could transfer sleeping babies but at some point found babies were waking multiple times a night wabting to be fed back to sleep and it was not sustainable.

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