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Can I Sleep Train a Breastfed Baby?

Sleep training a breastfed baby

Sleep training may seem daunting when you're also navigating the demands of breastfeeding. But with the right approach, it's possible to develop a sleep training strategy that addresses your baby’s unique needs as well as your own. By understanding the relationship between breastfeeding and sleep and adapting sleep training techniques, you can foster healthy sleep habits for your baby without sacrificing the benefits of breastfeeding. 

How Does Breastfeeding Impact a Baby’s Sleep?

Breastfeeding has a deeply soothing effect on babies. Infants often nurse to soothe themselves back to sleep when they wake up at night. This can create an association between nursing and sleep, which often affects how a baby learns to fall asleep.

The physical closeness and skin-to-skin contact during breastfeeding can also be very comforting for babies, helping them feel more secure and relaxed. This can promote a quicker transition to sleep, but may also make it more challenging for babies to fall asleep without nursing.

The science behind breast milk also has an impact on your baby’s sleep. Generally speaking, breast milk is more easily digestible than formula, which means breastfed babies may wake up more frequently during the night for feedings. Furthermore, breast milk pumped at night contains higher levels of melatonin than breast milk pumped during the day. These consistent hormonal changes can help your baby sleep better through the night.

Tips for Sleep Training a Breastfed Baby

  • Focus on daytime feedings: Ensuring your baby is fully fed during the day can allow them to sleep more soundly through the night. Try to keep your baby awake and engaged during feedings to encourage full feedings. Though keep in mind that a baby’s stomach is small, and overfeeding will lead to vomiting. 

  • Establish nightly routines: Creating a bedtime routine will teach your baby signals and cues that it’s time to go to sleep. Some soothing options may include giving a bath, playing soft music, quietly reading a book, or gently stroking your baby.

  • Teach self-soothing: Teaching your baby self-soothing skills will help them learn how to fall asleep on their own. Gradually encourage your baby to find ways to soothe themselves back to sleep, such as sucking on their hand or a pacifier. Additionally, putting your baby down when they’re drowsy but not asleep may help them understand how to sleep without parental intervention.

For new parents who may find themselves struggling with sleep training a breastfed baby, reaching out to a certified sleep training consultant can ease the process for both baby and parents.  

Does Sleep Training Affect Breast Milk Supply?

Because milk production is determined by supply and demand, sleep training may impact how much milk your body produces. Fewer nighttime feedings caused by your baby sleeping more soundly through the night may push your body to produce less milk. 

To maintain milk supply, you may choose to increase the frequency of breastfeeding sessions during the day to ensure your baby is getting enough milk. This can involve offering the breast more often or allowing your baby to fully empty the breasts at each feeding to stimulate production. Pumping at night is another recommended option for mothers so their milk production remains unaffected by their baby’s improved sleep schedule

Need Assistance in Sleep Training Your Breastfed Baby? Contact Evi Kantor

As a sleep consultant with 10 years of experience in the San Francisco area, Evi develops customized strategies that work for both you and your baby. Through an individualized approach that addresses your baby’s needs, she will help you handle obstacles and build a foundation for your baby’s growth and development. Reach out to schedule a consultation today!


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