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How to settle without feeding to sleep

Nursing a baby to sleep whether it is bottle or breast feeding is a wonderful bonding experience between baby and you but there can be times when you feel like you might want to explore ways of settling your baby to sleep in another way. There are many things you can do to navigate this and at the same time not impacting their feeding.

A feed to sleep association is when a baby or child is only able to fall asleep while nursing. As they get older you might have found that when they wake at night, they're unable to fall asleep without nursing which could be causing disrupted sleep for both you and them. Therefore you may feel you'd like to explore another way to help them fall asleep and eventually this will help them with independent sleep.

When a baby is a newborn, feeding to sleep is very normal and newborns need to be fed regularly. I wouldn't advise anyone to explore other methods of settling until their baby is at least 6 months old and even at this age night feeds are completely normal, but night feeds can continue while also removing the feed to sleep association.


There are various other things you can explore to help your baby fall asleep without feeding. This can be from patting their bottom and 'Shhh' ing them, to rocking them, cuddling or stroking them. Remember, it may take longer for your baby to fall asleep this way than breastfeeding initially. Whichever method you decide you'd like to use and works for you and your baby, implement after night feeds if they're waking for them, or any night wakes.


Slowly moving their feed during the bed time routine to an earlier point in the routine. To begin with, sort by gently rowsing baby by unlatching them or removing the bottle from their mouth if they've fallen asleep feeding so they're awake before putting them down, then implement one of the above settling methods.

Over time increase the activity between feeding and being put into their bed, for example feed then story before bed so the feed isn't the last thing to happen before sleep. Activities which are soothing and create a good bonding opportunity are ideal, for example a warm bath, baby massage, cuddles and stories are fantastic things to implement post feed.


Working on or removing a feed to sleep association doesn't need to impact your feeding journey with your baby. By implementing another settling method after feeding you're still protecting that precious bond between the two of you and at the same time creating other ways to bond together.


Removing a feed to sleep association won't be a magic fix for removing night feeds. When a baby is under the age of 12 months it is very normal to wake for night feeds but working on a feed to sleep association may reduce night feeds and will help them settle at those times that they rouse and don't require a feed.

In older babies and children you may find if they were waking to feed at night these do reduce as they become capable of falling asleep without feeding.


Working out your baby or child's sleep needs can be daunting and it can also cause worry that you may disrupt them or make their sleep more unbalanced that it currently is.

This is where working with a professional can help you look at your little one's current schedule, the issues you're facing and where they are in their development and whats going on in their home life and help you to build a schedule that works for your individual.


If you would like more help with your child's sleep I can help create a tailor made plan for your family based on your individual needs. Explore my packages for something that suit you

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