Nursing Babies to Sleep

“My dd is 14 months old and I nurse her to sleep for her naps – how do other moms deal with this? Laying down with her is my only down time, but my husband keeps making comments about it. He does not take care of her so that I can take a bath, exercise, read, etc. What should I do?”

There are a few aspects to address regarding this issue:

I think it’s a great idea to take your opportunity to rest when your child is resting, since you may not have any other chance during the course of a busy day to refresh yourself. Too often moms use this quiet time to clean up or do some other kind of work, and don’t take the chance when they have it to take a well earned rest. Parenting is hard work, emotionally and physically, and having a regular nap will help you have the positive energy to do the best job of being a mom that you can.

However, as nice as it can be to lie down and rest with your baby, I wouldn’t encourage you to make it a habit to nurse her to sleep. If you do, she will become dependent on your presence to fall asleep, and since you can’t and won’t always be there, it isn’t fair to her. Little babies very quickly turn into young toddlers-learning to fall asleep on one’s own is a valuable skill, and the longer you wait, the harder it will be for her to adjust. It may seem relaxing and enjoyable now, but an older child who still needs your physical presence to go to sleep every single time is very disenchanting.

What I do is nurse my babies until they are almost fully asleep – they stir when I put them down, but are tired enough that they will fall back asleep on their own. Then you can lie down in your bed at the same time and have your quiet time. That way, you can both enjoy the closeness and relaxation of your nursing session, and both have a regular pause in your day for a rest without setting up bad habits that will be difficult to undo.

Regarding your husband – my sense is that this is the real issue for you. It can be hard for husbands to appreciate how all consuming raising children can be. You need to have some open and respectful discussion as to what the needs and expectations you both have as parents and spouses are. How do you view your job as a homemaker and mom, and how does he see it? What do you both feel is reasonable regarding his help? The balance will differ from family to family, so what works for one family might be really unhelpful for someone else. If you want your husband’s help, you may need to ask for it, directly and without making him feel that he never helps out and this is the least he can do. Tell him specifically what you would appreciate, and be sure to thank him and let him know afterwards how helpful he was to you.


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