See my step-by-step process for how you can stop nursing your baby to sleep. Help everyone sleep better by breaking the feed to sleep association.
If you’re ready to stop nursing your baby to sleep, you’re in the right place.
Many moms think they’ll have to wean their baby from breastfeeding completely if they want to stop nursing to sleep, but that isn’t the case.
If you want to continue to breastfeed but stop feeding your baby or toddler to sleep, you can.
I’ve helped hundreds of families learn how to break the habit of feeding to sleep and I’m sharing my step-by-step process with you!
How Do I Break My Nursing to Sleep Habit?
If your baby is addicted to nursing to sleep, then helping them get to sleep without breastfeeding will take a multi-pronged approach.
Follow these 8 steps to make sure that all the elements are in place.
This will help set your baby up for better success at falling asleep without feeding to sleep.
1. Optimize their Sleep Environment
Setting up an environment that is conducive for sleep won’t be the golden ticket to getting your baby to sleep, but it will eventually help improve their sleep.
To create a good sleep space:
- Use blackout curtains in their nursery to create a dark room
- Use a white noise sound machine
- Dress baby for sleep in comfortable clothing
2. Prioritize Day Sleep
In the baby stage sleep begets sleep.
That means if your baby doesn’t sleep well for naps, they probably won’t sleep well at night.
Before you work on breaking the feed to sleep association at night (more on that in a bit), prioritize your baby’s naps so they aren’t going into bedtime overtired.
3. Watch Wake Windows
You can make sure your baby is getting the naps they need by paying attention to their wake windows and then getting them down for sleep at this time.
Making sure your baby is well rested during the day will lead to better sleep at night (and an easier time putting them down without nursing them).
4. Implement Routines
Move your baby’s feed to the start of the bedtime routine and then implement 3–5 activities after the feed. These can include:
- Diaper change
5. Start at Night Time
There’s a lot of advice out there to stop nursing to sleep at nap time first, but that has not been my favorite approach as a sleep consultant.
I always recommend families start at night time first when they’re implementing new habits.
The need for sleep is so much greater at night time, and you have a larger window of time to work with.
If you stop nursing to sleep starting at naps and your baby doesn’t fall asleep at all, you’re in big trouble.
But if you start at night time, you have a big stretch of time to work with and your baby will fall asleep eventually.
6. Choose a Soothing Method or Sleep Training Method
Chances are even if you implement everything above perfectly, your baby will have a hard time falling asleep without their typical feed to sleep association.
Instead of feeding your baby, you can use other soothing methods to help them fall asleep.
The Soothing Ladder is a favorite of mine and uses your presence and gentle touch to help baby fall asleep instead of a feed.
You can also choose a sleep training method where you help baby get to sleep either with your presence or check ins.
Sleep training doesn’t mean cry it out. There are ways you can be present and help your baby fall asleep without leaving them to cry it out.
7. Stay Consistent
It will probably take a few days to break the nursing to sleep habit. Stay consistent with the method you’ve chosen and help your baby fall asleep with other soothing techniques.
8. Move to Naps
Once you feel like your baby is doing well at night, you can implement the same strategy for nap time.
Short naps are still common with young babies and it may take time for your baby to nap longer than 30 minutes or so at first.
Get Better Sleep with The Baby D.R.E.A.M. System
If you want someone to walk you through the process of sleep training, let me help. The Baby D.R.E.A.M. System is for babies 4 months through 2.5 years old. I’ll walk you through how to establish daily routines, sleep schedules, and sleep training techniques to help you break the sleep associations you no longer find beneficial! Check it out here.
What Age Should You Stop Breastfeeding to Sleep?
You should stop nursing to sleep when it’s no longer sustainable for you.
If you love nursing your baby to sleep, and you’re fine with their sleep patterns, then you don’t need to change anything.
However, if you’re nursing your baby to sleep each time and it’s becoming unsustainable, that’s when I recommend making a change.
It’s never too early—or too late—to teach your baby how to fall asleep without feeding to sleep.
Frequently Asked Questions About How to Stop Nursing to Sleep
How Do I Get My Toddler to Sleep without Nursing?
If you’ve been nursing to sleep long into the toddler years, it may be more challenging to establish new patterns, but it’s still possible! You can follow the same steps above for a baby or toddler.
Is Nursing to Sleep Bad?
There’s nothing morally wrong with nursing to sleep.
What can happen though, is that your baby will come to need the same thing (nursing) every time they wake up in the middle of the night.
This can make for sleepless nights for you and baby.
Will My Baby Stop Nursing to Sleep on their Own?
Maybe. Maybe not.
In my experience, parents want to move the process of not nursing to sleep along sooner than baby chooses to drop it on their own.
If you have any questions about how to stop nursing to sleep, leave them in the comments and our team will help you troubleshoot.