While bed-sharing isn't a good idea, room-sharing (keeping your little
one close by) can help make breastfeeding a whole lot easier. Here are ways to
Put a bassinet, play yard, or crib next to your bed. This lets you keep that desired
closeness, which can be especially important if you're breastfeeding. The American
Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that having an infant sleep in a separate crib, bassinet,
or play yard in the same room as the mother reduces the risk of SIDS.
Buy a device that looks like a bassinet or play yard with one side that is lower,
which attaches to your bed to allow you to be next to your baby without the possibility
of rolling over onto your infant.
Never let your baby sleep on a soft surface or in the same room with people
who are smoking. Babies should always be put on their backs to sleep to help reduce
the risk of SIDS.
To make nursing in bed more comfortable for yourself, it may help to keep a donut-type
nursing pillow on or near your bed or to use a "husband" back pillow with arms on
Keep the room dimly lit for nighttime feedings and also keep stimulation (talking,
singing, etc.) to a minimum. This will help your baby to realize that nighttime is
for sleeping — not playing — and will encourage your little one to return
to sleep sooner.
My baby falls asleep while nursing. What can I do?
Newborns often fall asleep at the breast, especially after feeling satisfied from
a good feeding. (You'll know if your baby isn't nursing if you don't hear swallowing
sounds, like little clicks, or see the jawbones moving.)
If you think your baby is asleep and hasn't finished nursing, here are some
tips to try:
undress your baby and rub the back
tickle the feet
burp your baby
try changing your baby's diaper or switching to the other breast
Babies who latch on incorrectly may fall asleep at the breast. If this happens,
break the suction and reposition your baby onto your breast to include both your nipple
and areola. You can break the suction by slipping your finger in the side
of your baby's mouth (between the gums) and then turning your finger a quarter turn
to break the suction. (If you just pull your baby off your breast, it will likely
startle your little one and hurt your breasts as well.)
After you've broken the suction, try to burp your baby and switch your little one
to the other breast. A lactation consultant can show you the right latch method and
help you with any questions or concerns you might have.
Is it OK to nurse my baby to sleep?
In the first few months of life, it's practically impossible to keep a nursing
baby awake who is satisfied with a full belly. Once babies get older, however, most
doctors advise against nursing a baby solely for the purpose of getting him or her
to sleep. Doing this regularly may prevent your baby from learning how to fall asleep
on his or her own.
At nap times and bedtime, try to put your baby down slightly awake so that he or
she will get used to falling asleep without having to nurse. Make breastfeeding sessions
more about nourishment and less about pacifying.
If your baby is sick or has been separated from you, you may want to nurse for
comfort, but try not to make it a habit.
If your baby has trouble falling asleep, consider giving him or her a pacifier. Experts
recommend giving babies under 1 year old pacifiers at nap time and bedtime to reduce
the risk of SIDS — but only after breastfeeding has become established, so no
sooner than 3 weeks of age. But if your little one doesn't want a pacifier, don't
Try to encourage your baby's sleep by establishing a bedtime routine that will
be familiar and relaxing. Bathing, reading, and singing can soothe babies and signal
an end to the day. Be consistent and your baby will soon associate these steps with
When will my baby sleep through the night?
Newborns should be woken up every 3 to 4 hours until their weight gain is established,
which typically happens within the first couple of weeks. After that, it's OK if a
baby sleeps for longer periods of time.
But don't get your slumber hopes up just yet — most breastfed infants won't
snooze for extended periods of time because they get hungry. Remember, breast
milk is much more easily digested than formula, so it passes through babies' systems
faster and, therefore, makes them hungry more often.
Newborns' longest sleep periods are generally 4 or 5 hours — this is about
how long their small bellies can go between feedings. If newborns do sleep for a while,
they'll probably be extra-hungry during the day and may want to nurse more frequently.
And just when parents think that sleeping through the night seems like a far-off
dream, things start to get a little easier. At 3 months, a baby averages a total of
5 hours of sleep during daytime naps and 10 hours at night, usually with an interruption
or two. Most babies this age sleep "through the night," meaning 6 to 8 hours in a
It can help to stimulate your baby during the day, keep things calm at night, and
have a regular bedtime routine. But every baby is different, so don't be surprised
if your baby sleeps more or less than others.
Will it hurt my milk supply to let my baby sleep?
Letting your baby sleep through the night (usually at around 3 months of age) isn't
going to hurt your breastfeeding efforts. Your body readjusts your milk supply based
on when you nurse and how much your baby needs. Some babies will sleep through the
night early but will make up for it during the day, so your breasts will accommodate
As your baby matures and starts taking solid foods, the need for breast milk will
decrease and your body will adjust for that too.