Tip for Helping Your Breastfed Baby Sleep
by Heather Evans, Breastfeeding USA Counselor
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As someone who works with breastfeeding mothers regularly and sees how “sleep training” negatively impacts the breastfeeding relationship, I began reading, The No Cry Sleep Solution for Newborns, with skepticism. I figured it would be like other “sleep training” books where you are instructed to “schedule” sleep times, feedings, etc.
I was pleasantly surprised to find Ms. Pantley’s book nothing of the sort. It was actually geared toward and encourages the mother who is “in tune” with their infant and encourages feeding on demand and realistic sleep expectations for a newborn.
She discusses the fact that a newborn’s sleep is erratic and unique to each child and discourages the use of forms and logs to track sleep at this age. Instead she focuses on tuning into your baby and learning your baby’s sleep cues as well as 15 keys to helping everyone achieve better sleep.
She encourages meeting your baby’s needs quickly and lovingly which creates a trusting bond between parent and child and fosters confidence and independence. She also understands that not all parents will want to use all the keys she outlines, all babies are different, and that it is perfectly fine to take what works for your family and leave the rest. Since this is our second child I was already familiar with and following several of the keys.
We have used key #6, which is soothing sounds, for both our kids. We have apps on our phones and tablets so we can have the soothing sounds available all the time. My son prefers white noise and it was the only way we achieved semi-decent car rides. My daughter on the other hand prefers the softer pink noise for sleeping and soothing. One that is very important to me as a breastfeeding mother and breastfeeding counselor is key #9, which is understand and respect your baby’s sucking reflex.
She talks about the innate need to suck not only for nourishment but for comfort and soothing as well as the fact it’s absolutely normal for a baby to fall asleep on the breast due to hormones released during nursing. She advises after the first few weeks of life that you sometimes removed baby from breast when very sleepy but not quite asleep in order to achieve a place where baby does not always need to be nursed to sleep.
Key #11 deals with swaddling your baby. This worked very well for my son until he was a few weeks old and we began bed-sharing. My daughter, however, was having none of it and we began bed-sharing almost from birth. Key #13 discusses providing motion for sleep. Both of my kids loved not only sleeping in mine (or someone else’s) arms, but also in a baby swing or when worn in a carrier or wrap. They have taken many a long snooze while in a carrier or wrap while I was doing household chores or shopping.
I was also really happy with the fact that she addressed “normal” infant sleep patterns and unrealistic expectations that many parents have. She talks about how not even adults “sleep through the night” and so expecting a newborn to do so is unrealistic. She talks about their need for frequent feedings due to how small their stomachs are and how easily digestible their food is, so their wake sleep patterns revolve around eating.
She also talks about looking for early sleep cues because babies require a lot of sleep as they grow and an overtired baby is much more difficult to get to sleep than one who is just entering a sleepy time. The most important aspect to me is her No Cry philosophy because let’s be honest no one wants to listen to their baby’s cries. Our natural instinct is to pick them up and sooth them, whether they are a newborn, toddler, or older child. This was an easy read, that just makes sense, and I would recommend it to all new parents.