Bedtime Breast Battles

I feel that there is something inherently wrong with the fact that other people can put my daughter to sleep, yet I can’t.

Don’t get me wrong, I can put her to sleep. Almost every night and naptime she falls asleep at the breast and I’m perfectly fine with that. By at the breast, I mean at the breast, in the rocking chair, with the lights off (heaven forbid Mama read a book), music playing. Even that I’m fine with—minus the grumbling that others can get her to sleep without all those magical stipulations. My problem comes when the breast doesn’t put her to sleep.

Most of the time she falls asleep after eating on one side, but occasionally it takes two. Most of those occasions, she’ll fall asleep after the second side, but rarely she doesn’t. What then? I’m screwed. It is absolutely impossible for me to get her to sleep after that without taking her for a ride in the car. I’ve tried rocking her in the dark—she wiggles away from me within a minute. I’ve tried playing games on my phone and letting her watch (which worked for my husband in the past and sometimes my mother still)—she gazes at it with interest for a few minutes, then wants to take the game and play it herself. I’ve tried walking around with her—she leans all over the place until she wakes herself up fully (though sometimes when putting her back to sleep this works). Really, I can’t think of a sleepy-sounding situation that I haven’t tried to just Get. This. Child. To. Sleeeeeeep!

Yet, the other day when my husband and I went to see a movie and left her with a friend who had only watched her once before, we came back to find her dead asleep on him on the couch with the lights on and everything. I’m fairly certain he doesn’t have lactating breasts so I feel I am entitled to ask WTF?!?! Every time my mom watches her while I go to class in the evening I come back to find her asleep on her in the exact same situation.

Really, what am I doing wrong here? I’m perfectly fine with putting her to sleep how we already do when it works, but those rare times it doesn’t I want a back-up plan that doesn’t involve an automobile. Is it just that I’m there so she realizes I have the good stuff and doesn’t want to sleep without it? Maybe she only goes to sleep for others because she realizes she won’t be getting any milk?

Everyone talks about “parenting to sleep”, but for me it feels like it’s just breastfeeding to sleep.

Does anyone else feel this way? Is there anything I can do about it?

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13 thoughts on “Bedtime Breast Battles

  1. I think she totally realizes what you have and what others don’t. Since she’s not in a crib you can’t just put her down and let her settle herself (with no crying of course). Can you get in a routine of you nursing and having Dad get her to sleep? Maybe have him do all the nighttime routine stuff, you nurse and cuddle and him settle her….Just a thought. Maybe a tight sling/wrap will help contain her so she gets the point and when she falls asleep you can slip her out?
    Just remember, nothing lasts forever 🙂

    • I will definitely try the wrap thing when it happens again. I figure it will either make her pass out or make her angry, but if it makes her angry I can just take her for a drive like always. 😛

  2. This is why I’ve recently started transferring Daniel to the crib. When I do a bedtime routine and put him in his crib, he doesn’t have to nurse to sleep, but if I try to put him down in bed with me, he’s got to nurse to sleep and heaven forbid he doesn’t fall asleep after the second time, then I too am screwed. Even worse, he’ll go to sleep for his babysitters, etc, but not his daddy when we’re not using the bedtime routine and crib. He figures is daddy’s around, then mommy will be back soon and he can nurse then.

    • I don’t think that Peanut would fall asleep in a crib if I tried to lay her there. She would probably just scream at me to pick her up.

      • It has been tricky getting him to sleep in there without making him mad, but it has been working (slowly). We’re also only gradually moving farther away from the crib, so he’s slowly learning some self-soothing techniques. I originally was patting his mattress in a heartbeat rhythm to get him to lie down, and now he does it for himself.

  3. My son is that way but only I can put him to sleep. With the boob. It has been 7 months since he has fell asleep without it. When my husband holds him he just screams. He will go to sleep with his grand-parents in the middle of the day with nothing. They just lay him down. I am all kinds of jealous.

  4. Wo co-sleep. If my baby doesn’t fall asleep eating (for naps or bedtime) I’ll lie down with her snuggle close, patting her tummy in a steady motion a pretending to fall asleep over and over again (With the droopy eyes, then closed eyes, then I’ll do droopy eyes again). I heard that if babies see it, they’ll try it and it works for me!

    • Thanks, I’ll have to try that. I hadn’t even thought to “fall asleep” myself.

      • The only problem with that method is sometimes you end up falling asleep yourself!

  5. We’ve only been sort of doing this ourselves. Now that I have minimal supply, I can unlatch her while she’s getting drowsy and sometimes she’ll roll over and fall asleep on her own (I’m lying down with her).

    We’ve done the “pretend to fall asleep” thing in the past, but this past week, I think she’s caught on. When I do my drowsy eye and then open them to see if she’s falling asleep, I’ll find her with her eyes closed nice and tight like she knows I’m trying to get her to close her eyes- but it’s totally the fake “Look I’m asleep” eyes. So we can’t do that anymore.

  6. I have had that issue when K2 was younger. I used the wrap and it seemed to work, until she then decided (without giving me hints) that she wanted to lay down in the bed. Then she grew out of that and wanted the chair again. Loved this time, but I miss it so.

    Thank heavens she is old enough now to tell me what mood she is in and what she needs to sleep.

    • I can’t wait until Peanut is old enough to tell me what she wants!

  7. When my son stopped falling asleep at the breast, it was a sad, sad day! I ended up rubbing his back and singing to him while he lay in bed, until he fell asleep. He was fairly old at this point, as he was in a twin-sized bed. Unfortunately for us, he still has a lot of problems falling asleep without having his back rubbed and company, and he is nearly 4. I don’t know that I could have done it any differently though.

    My other 2 babies sometimes nurse to sleep at bedtime, but are still awake about half the time. I guess because they are twins, they are used to falling asleep on their own better, as I used to feed them separately, and the first fed would fall asleep as I fed her sister.

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