One of the misconceptions I hear often about sleep training, or what I prefer to call “sleep learning” is that the breastfeeding relationship will have to end when sleep learning begins! This simply is not true. Below are answers to the common myths that feed this misconception.
Sleep training involves weaning, or at the very least night weaning.
Weaning a baby from breastfeeding and helping him learn to sleep are separate endeavors. I breastfed my daughter until she was 3.5 years old, but did sleep training with her when she was just over a year. I nursed her to sleep for naps until she dropped naps at age 3. Many pediatric sleep books stress not breastfeeding your infant to sleep, because this could develop into a “sleep crutch.” While this is a possibility, it is strict rules like this that reinforce the belief that breastfeeding and healthy sleep cannot coexist, that parents have to choose one over the other. It is the parent’s choice about when weaning feels right for them and their baby. A way to find balance is to introduce sleep learning with the use of feed windows. As a lactation counselor and pediatric sleep consultant, I can help you set up these feed windows and find a healthy sleep pattern for your little one.
My baby will be hungry!
Babies can drop night feeds anytime between 4 months and 12 months, with the majority of babies dropping feeds at around 6 months of age. We want to look at these variables before night weaning a baby.
🍼 Is baby staying on her own growth curve?
🍼 If breastfeeding, does mom have a history of
clogged milk ducts, mastitis, or engorgement?
🍼 If baby is breastfed, does mom have any issues with
low milk supply?
🍼Is your family ready to drop night feeds?
Answering these questions, will help you know if you and your baby are ready to night wean. The first question is obviously the most important for hunger. We want to make certain baby is growing at a healthy rate, before we drop night feeds. But, again, this does not mean you can’t get a good night of sleep!
My baby will learn not to trust me.
If your baby has a strong association to nursing and falling asleep but this no longer fits for you, we can make adjustments that will not interfere with your baby’s development of trust. At Attuned Parenting, we always use a parent-present method of sleep learning. And, we do our homework to help you feel confident that your baby is ready. We can keep in feed windows or slowly night wean, depending on your preference and your baby’s development. I am a mother too. I get it! I’m also someone who geeks out about research. There is no literature that supports the idea that sleep learning (when done mindfully) will interfere with your baby’s development of trust or secure attachment.