I’m a second time mum and I’m having a little trouble with my 4 month old. She is strictly breastfed but won’t sleep unless she’s latched. Sometimes I wait until she has let go to move away but she will only nap for 10 minutes max if she isn’t on the boob. I’ve tried getting her to sleep after a meal but she still needs my boob as a comforter. She’s a real Mama’s girl and has to know I’m still with her while she sleeps. I need some time to myself that’s longer than 10 minute’s… help!!
This is a really common situation, that we hear about a lot. It’s a bit of habit that you get into, as sometimes you’ll do anything just to get baby to sleep and so you’ll let them breastfeed to sleep on you. Yes it does get harder as they are older, and you need to creep away so you can do other things and get a break. You don’t have to stay there for your baby to settle with your nipple as her comforter, but it can take a little while to adjust. And we completely understand that you need her to be sleeping for more than 10 minutes maximum without you, we want to help you encourage a longer sleep pattern, otherwise you are going to be worn out mama.
Comforter – Smell Recognition
One suggestion is to get a cuski comforter, or other toy, or even an old tshirt of yours. If baby has something that smells like you near by, it can be soothign for them. Just choose something and wear it under your own clothes for a few days so that it absorbs your scent.
Have you tried baby wearing? With your baby in a carrier, so at least she can sleep on you and you’re mobile enough to get things done. This might not work if she still needs your nipple in her mouth, but hopefully she be soothed by being so close to you anyone. This doesn’t really help with your request to get a bit of a break though, and you want her to be able to sleep soundly for longer periods – so baby wearing for sleeping is only a temporary suggestion.
Have you tried giving her a dummy? A dummy can help your baby to sleep independently, though she may still need to fall asleep while on you sometimes. As your baby gets older, its also a really handy mum hack, to have multiple glow in the dark dummies placed around the cot to help baby find them. Your baby might not take to a dummy straight away, try feeding her to sleep while breastfeeding like usual, and then slipping the dummy in when she’s asleep. Though we understand using a dummy or pacifier isn’t everyone’s choice.
White Noise and Swaddling
Have you tried white noise? (Brown noise is less harsh sounding, just less known). There are lots of apps that offer it, or you can buy little gadgets, or just get an old radio and put it ‘out of tune’ so you just get muffled static noise. Keeping bed time same same each time and using white noise may help.
If you’re not used to it you may feel silly but talking to baby through everything you’re doing will help both of you to relax and feel calm.
Swaddling or wrapping bubs is helpful and you can also try a wheat bag (not heated) over the baby’s belly once in cot as it replaces the feeling of you being close by. We’ve even seen gloves made into wheat bags (and sewn up) so that it feels like mum’s hand on baby.