Should my four month old be feeding to sleep?

I had a client who worked with a sleep consultant in New Zealand to get help with her four month old, who had to feed to sleep for every sleep. She had been told by mothers and people around her that she definitely needed to get her little one self-settling. I think a nurse had told her that at 12 weeks she definitely needs to start getting her baby to self-settle and not feed him off to sleep for each sleep.

Now, aside from feeding him off to sleep he actually was sleeping pretty well. He would link some sleep cycles sometimes during the day, and only woke once or twice a night. However, because of everyone around her telling her that was a problem she sought help. She came to me trying to refine that technique or find a new technique to get her little one sleeping.

I actually wasn’t much help in terms of getting a new technique, because I didn’t think that her baby needed sleep training at all. Her little one was behaving just as a normal four month old would. It is not bad to feed your baby to sleep. If you’re feeding your baby to sleep, and they’re sleeping pretty well, and you’re happy with it there’s no problem. You do not have to sleep train your baby.

The people that she had worked with over there told her that absolutely, definitely if she continued down this path of feeding her little one sleep she will definitely have problems down the track, and her little one would start waking more and more, looking for a feed. That’s not true at all. You may well find that a baby that you’re feeding to sleep naturally stops waking for the feeds and sleeps through all on his own. That is not crazy. That’s not unusual. It’s actually what all of my babies did. There is nothing wrong with a little baby, a four month old, feeding to sleep. There’s nothing wrong with an 18 month old feeding to sleep if you’re okay with it. That’s fine.

There’s nothing wrong with her feeding her little one to sleep. The people around her saying she’s creating a rod for her own back – that’s just making more stress for that mom. If that’s working for her, if her little one goes down and has a nice sleep, and it’s calm, and she’s happy to feed him off to sleep, then there’s no problem whatsoever.

I feel awful that she spent two weeks trying to do this sleep technique that she didn’t even really need to do at all. It made her baby cry, and then she would cry. It’s robbing the first few months of her time with her little one. She was more than happy to feed.

I’m here to tell you that you do not have to teach a baby to self-settle. Many babies will just independently start to self-settle themselves. You may, down the track, need to, but at four months I definitely wouldn’t be advising you to look at sleep training. I don’t think it’s something necessary at that stage. Sure, there’s some environmental things that we can look at, some timing things we can look at, but not sleep training. Just it’s not what we’re doing at four months.

I hope that helps someone. I hope that relieves the stress for someone who is currently getting pulled apart and told that they need to start making their baby self-settle. I really hope that helps.

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