Tips for the classic feed-to-sleep problem

When your 9-month-old needs to feed to get back to sleep again, I’d say he just doesn’t know how to transition between his sleep cycles without getting fed back to sleep again. A baby’s sleep cycle lasts about 45 minutes. At the top of that sleep cycle, when they’re in their light stage, that’s when three of their senses switch back on. Touch, sight, and hearing. That’s when they, subconsciously, scan the environment to make sure that everything is as it was at the start of the cycle. If your little one is going to sleep with the boob in his mouth and then he comes to the top of his cycle and that boobs not there or you’ve rolled over or you’ve dared moved a centimeter, then he’s likely to then fully wake up because things are different. His subconscious is like, “Conscious wake up, there’s something wrong.” He wakes up. He starts crying. Then you boob him back to sleep again. Probably, he’s waking every 45 minutes overnight and you’re having to get him back to sleep with the only way that you have.

There is a ton of information and tips out on the internet. The absolute fundamental is whatever the sleep training is, you’re reducing what you’re doing. You’re reducing your involvement in getting him back to sleep. At the moment, you’re boobing and co-sleeping. Maybe you decide that for every second waking, instead of boobing you’re going to rock him off to sleep. That’s sleep training. I mean it’s not controlled crying or whatever, but it is a form of sleep training because we’re changing his behavior. We’re deliberately trying to change his behavior to have him sleep longer. That is sleep training. Just reducing your response to his wakings.

Now, the other fundamental is that you have to stay consistent and you have to be persistent. It’s not going to work in one night. It’s very unlikely to work in two or three nights. You might see some improvements in that time, but you’ve got to stay strong and you’ve got to be persistent and you’ve got to be consistent through the night. Not just like randomly trying to do something once at 1:00 a.m. That’s not consistent. It’s certainly not persistent. You’ve got to work on reducing your response as much as you feel comfortable with. At nine months, I would say as long as he’s on track developmentally and growth wise and we’ve established solids that he would be able to sleep through the night without milk.


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