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Feeding to sleep vs Falling asleep feeding

Clients have often expressed concern about their baby falling asleep feeding at bedtime. However, it’s important to understand the difference between feeding to sleep and falling asleep feeding.

If your child happens to fall asleep feeding at bedtime, this is perfectly ok, and does not mean your child is necessarily relying on the feed to go to sleep. If they are able to self-settle for naps, and can re-settle mid nap (i.e. sleep longer than 45min) and sleep well overnight, I would not be concerned if they fall asleep feeding at night time. If following a feed- play-sleep routine, bedtime should be the only time your baby has a feed right before sleep, and if we consider the whole days events, it is reasonable that your baby will be so tired by this time, that they will fall asleep. If they don’t need to be burped, you can simply put them into the cot asleep.

If however, your child will not fall asleep WITHOUT feeding, and relies on the bottle or breast to fall asleep, this can cause problems with helping your child sleep better, as every time they wake at the end of a cycle (approx. 45min day cycle and 2-4hrly night cycle) they will need the comfort of the bottle or breast to be able to fall back to sleep. Until your baby has learnt to fall asleep without this feed to sleep association, your baby will wake frequently for your support.


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