Ça suffit, sleepy baby — no more nursing to sleep

Love this little trick from Tracy Cutchlow to lay the groundwork for a sleeping cue. Nice and easy too.

Nursing an infant to sleep for the night sounds good, in theory. That’s theory for you. Our baby would appear to conk out while nursing, so I’d attempt to make my escape. I’d slip a pinkie finger into the corner of her mouth to unlatch her and gingerly attempt to transfer her into bed. Immediately, she’d pop awake and wail: Just where do you think you’re going?! We’d reassume our positions. Repeat. Repeat.

As the minutes dragged on, I grew resentful. I let her linger on the boob as long as I could stand, and then I’d stress out that I would fail, yet again, to unlatch her and transfer her to bed. It wasn’t that I minded being a 4-month-old’s pacifier, exactly. (No, she wasn’t eating.) The increasingly unbearable part was not knowing how long it would go on.

Ça suffit, as the French say: Enough! I had to find another way.

Every sleep book talks about how bedtime routines signal to baby that it’s time for sleep. Swaddling, our first step, was a success. The stuff in the middle, like telling a little story about our day, was sweet. But for “I’m going to lay you down in bed now,” we needed a better signal.

I decided I’d sing a lullaby three times, then hum it once. As I started humming, I’d lay baby into bed and casually walk out of the room, closing the door while finishing the song. I told baby my plan. I hoped she would get used to the idea that humming = being airlifted into bed, no big deal.

It didn’t work the first few times, of course, without protest. So I’d pick her back up, sing the song several times and hum again, and lay her down. I liked this routine so much better because it had a definite ending for me.

Soon enough, baby was down with the routine, too.

What’s the last thing you do before laying baby in bed for the night? Let me know in the comments.

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Ça suffit, sleepy baby — no more nursing to sleep

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19 Comments

  • The missing ingredient in this story, IMO, was a actual pacifier. I nurse my kid, pop in a pacifier, keep holding her for 5 minutes, then gently transition to her crib. The binkie helps her get right back to sleep if she gets jostled funny on the way to bed.

  • I am going to attempt this. I really enjoy nursing my LO to sleep to be honest but at 7 months mama is super tired.

  • My favorite part of our bedtime routine is kissing her goodnight. I feel like I could never get enough kisses from that sweet angel.

  • This is great! I have started to do something similar with my little guy but I always end with "I love you forever…" Several times as I put him down.

  • A lovely idea but both my kids got hit by the four month sleep regression hard and nothing, nothing (sob) worked for months.
    Finally my son accepted the cue of humming a song while daughter likes a rubbed back – such different children! A 4yr old and a 1yr old and I’m still waiting for a full nights sleep.

  • My daughter gets the same song every night when it’s time to go to bed or down for a nap – and has since she was about 6 weeks old. I can sing it in the middle of the day and her eyes get droopy (it’s "Tomorrow" from Annie, if you were wondering).

  • I change Leah into her pj’s, read a story, rock her for a few moments but not long enough to fall asleep. Say "Goodnight bebe" and lay her down. Done. Works most nights, and I started i when she was 6 weeks old. 🙂

  • We do a "Biiig Night Night Hug", and a "Biiig Night Night Kiss", then I tell her "Night night, sleep tight, see you in the morning light." as I lay her down and walk out. We of course have a story and song as part of our routine too, but that’s the end of it.

  • This is right on time! LOL I’m typing this as my 4 month old sleeps on my shoulder. He’s been using my boobs as binkies and I’ve had enough! I’ll be trying this out. Here’s hoping it will work. Thanks for sharing!

  • A sleep associations are essential, and if you plan any sort of travel, something you can re-create anywhere is key. Routine steps, songs, stories etc are great, but I think one of the things that contributed most to my kid going to sleep well is using smell. Before he goes to bed, anywhere we are, whether we’ve done all the routine steps or not, I always put Johnson’s lavender baby lotion on him. Smell associations are so strong, and he has one that tells him it’s sleep time.

    I’d bet I could slather that stuff on, then chuck him into his bed from across the room, and he’d go to sleep.

  • I’m going to try this! I’ve waited far too long to sleep train my 5 month old and I desperately need to.

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