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On trying to separate breastfeeding from sleep…

If you’ve been here a while, you already know that when my oldest was a baby, we sleep trained her. We had no idea that we had any other option other than to be “good parents” and sleep train, or “bad parents” and let things go without “teaching” our daughter to sleep.

As “good parents”, we hired a sleep trainer to solve our sleep woes.

I recently realized I still had a copy of all my communications with her, and this nugget is a direct quote from her sleep plan.

To “break” our daughter of her habit of nursing to sleep (at 6 months old, no less), we needed to teach her that food and sleep were separate.

Now, my husband and I are critical thinkers, we are good parents, and we are logical people. So following this plan wasn’t a ‘sheeps to the slaughter’ situation. But everything she presented to us sounded rather logical, so despite the fact that it felt wrong, we went with it.

Knowing what I do now, this idea of separating nutrition from sleep, and more poignantly so for breastfed babies, is just absolute garbage.

Breastfeeding to sleep works because it was biologically designed to do so. The composition of chemicals in a mother’s milk changes throughout the day to accommodate a baby’s needs. Before bed and throughout the night, breastfeeding is designed to not only help a baby sleep, but to make a mother sleepy, too.

Trying to separate breastfeeding from sleep for the sole purpose of making forced separation at sleep times “easier” (for the parent, not the child) is essentially an uphill battle against biology.

And, it’s not necessary or true. Of course changes around the nurse/sleep association can be made. But it is not a critical element of improving sleep, and nursing is also about so much more than just nutrition. We do not need to teach our babies that comfort and sleep should be separate – they go hand in hand.

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