17 week old baby will only nurse to sleep

by Claire

Question: Hi Heidi, Firstly thanks very much for the great advice on this site. Our baby is 17 weeks old and has always fought sleep, but the last couple of week have been very hard sleep wise and it's good to know there's a reason behind it!

I've started putting her in the sling for nap times as it has never been enough for her just to be rocked to sleep and nursing her to sleep messes up her feeding routine. I put a muslin over her head in the sling too because she is just too nosy otherwise! She finds it very hard to switch off and close her eyes.

I usually put her in her crib when it is nap time (max 1.5 hours after last one, though after reading your advice I'm thinking of trying set times) and I end up putting her in the sling when she cries.

I do this so she gets the idea that she needs to nap in her crib, but I wonder if I'm creating negative associations with the crib as she always cries in it because she can't self sooth and needs to be with me? Or do I just keep doing this until one day she doesn't need to go in the sling?

We have a good 7pm bedtime routine going, bath, change, last breast feed all in dim light in the bedroom. It used to be that I would leave the room and my partner would get her to sleep after her last feed usually be laying next to her crib with his hand on her and sshing her, with a bit of fussing and she would suck his finger, but just lately, the only way to get her to sleep is for me to nurse her to sleep.

She wont suck our fingers, or her own, or a dummy anymore. I don't want to get into the habit of having to nurse her to sleep until she is who knows how old, and my parter enjoyed this part and it gave me a break, can you advise at all?

Thank you so much, your site has been of comfort and I hope you can advise me further!


Heidi's Answer: Hi Claire, Thank you for your kind words about the site, I am happy you find it helpful.

Yes I think going to set times for naps now can help. Do take a couple of days to 'study' her so you find really good nap times. Indeed, putting her in the crib knowing that she will only cry is not necessary. The negative sleep associations can quickly build up and make it harder to have her sleep in the crib for naps later on, or even at the night time (as you are maybe already experiencing).

So yes, for a good week or two, relax about naps and enjoy sling naps. This will get her well-rested, get the sleep schedule set and give you some easier times.

Then once it is set, go back to putting her in the crib, maybe once every other day at first, and then more consistently little by little.

For in the evening, if your husband is up to it, try to stay away and consistently do not nurse. It may take him a bit longer to help her settle but it should work if you all stick to it. What you can do is nurse not in the bedroom. Have the routine, nurse in the living room and then your husband takes over with his part of the routine, maybe changing, walking to her room, a lullaby, … up to him.

Good luck,

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