Breastfeeding Before Bed
Do I need to be concerned that my baby will always need me to be nursing him to sleep?
Yes, as long as he is a baby he will need you to “nurse” him to sleep. Surprised? “Nursing” means “comforting” not just breastfeeding. Babies, toddlers, and preschoolers love being comforted off to sleep, especially by a person they love and trust.
The Benefits of Nursing to Bed
During the writing of The Baby Sleep Book we interviewed many parents who looked back with fond memories of that precious little child, with that peaceful expression on his or her face, drifting comfortably off to sleep at the breast or arms of mom, or dad, even though there were nights when they wished they could simply “put their baby down to sleep” like some of the books say and some moms brag about. Another thing we learned from interviewing these moms is that their babies were more likely to grow up with what we call a “healthy sleep attitude,” regarding sleep as a pleasant state to enter and a fearless state to remain in.
“Breast-Sleeping” by Dr. James McKenna
Our friend, Dr. James McKenna, Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Mother-Baby Sleep Laboratory at Notre Dame University, just came out with a new book on the science of cosleeping where he used the term “breast-sleeping” as scientifically one of the most healthful ways for baby – and mommy – to drift off to sleep. The feel-good hormones that mother gets from nursing helps her drift off to sleep and the stress-less feelings that baby gets from their favorite “comforting” helps baby drift off to sleep.
Try not to worry that your baby will never drift off to sleep without “nursing.” He will. Advice that I always try to leave with mothers concerned about present parent styles affecting future habits is: The time in your arms, at your breasts, and comforting off to sleep is a short stage in the total life of a child, but the memories of your love and availability will last a lifetime.
Written By: Martha Sears R.N.
Martha is the mother of Dr. Bill’s eight children, a registered nurse, a former childbirth educator, a La Leche League leader, and a lactation consultant. Martha is the co-author of 25 parenting books and is a popular lecturer and media guest drawing on her 18 years of breastfeeding experience with her eight children (including Stephen with Down Syndrome and Lauren, her adopted daughter). Martha speaks frequently at national parenting conferences and is noted for her advice on how to handle the most common problems facing today’s mothers with their changing lifestyles. Martha is able to connect with both full-time, stay-at-home mothers and working mothers because she herself has experienced both styles of parenting. Martha takes great pride in referring to herself as a “professional mother” and one of her favorite quips when someone voices their concern about her having eight children in an already populated world is: “The world needs my children.”