Breastfeeding Mailbox Mondays

Cloth Diaper Advice – Mailbox Mondays – 12/24/12 – Nursing & Sleep

#breastfeeding & sleep via @chgdiapers

Each Monday, I publish a reader’s question so everyone can chime in. Don’t miss any posts! Subscribe to our new RSS Feed or subscribe via email.

Questions don’t have to be cloth diaper related, just email maria at with “Mailbox Mondays” in the subject, or fill out my contact form for readers, which you will always be able to find on my Contact Page.

Karissa wants to know:

What to expect when nursing & sleep, without sleep training?

There’s always that rare baby that sleeps long stretches with no trouble, but in general babies want to be close to their Mommies! Breastmilk is easily digested, so newborns will nurse often and night time is no exception.

Co-sleeping was a lifesaver for me, since dragging my hiney out of bed and down the hall over and over and over is no fun. My son still sleeps with me at a year old, and while it’s not perfect, I get far more rest than I would if he were in another room.

I strongly suggest following your baby’s cues and your own instincts. My older son gave me the hardest time at bedtime as a toddler. I would nurse him and literally count to 1,000 before I attempted to put him down. He’d cry when I put him down, we’d repeat etc. etc. I was at my wits end. One day I really had to use the bathroom, so I put him down to go use the bathroom, planning to come right back. By the time I reached his door, he had stopped crying. From that point on, I’d put him down and would let him fuss long enough to use the bathroom. If he was crying when I finished, or if it escalated at all, I’d pick him up.

Some babies want to be held and snuggled while they sleep, while others sleep better alone. Some need to be nursed to sleep and then put down, while others prefer to be put down awake.

As far as what to expect, I’d say expect your baby to want to nurse a lot and be close to you, gradually sleeping longer stretches, and eventually sleeping alone (if that’s what you want). I know with my first baby the lack of sleep was really hard, and even more so with my second, since I had another child to take care of! It’s really still difficult with my third, but I am finally able to realize how quickly this time will pass, and to just enjoy the cuddles while I can.

Do you have advice for Karissa?

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Maria is an aspiring "fit mom" of 3 children, writing about cloth diapers, going green, and her life as a single mom. Maria works with many companies within the cloth diaper industry and beyond, providing social media management, product development, and other services.
  • December 27, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    I second what Hannah said about the permanent night latch, that wears on me. We co-slept with all three and didn’t do any formal sleep training. They sleep fine now, although we certainly had our moments. We tried CIO, but our oldest would vomit after any crying so that kind of sealed the deal for us on nighttime parenting.

    Our pediatrician never really bothered us with questions about our nursing/sleeping habits other than, how many times a day does the child nurse?

  • December 26, 2012 at 11:34 am

    Very true! The only thing I would add is sometimes they will sleep longer stretches, and then….not anymore. Teething, travel, time zone change, illness, restless sleep while they are learning to crawl or walk, got too busy to nurse enough during the day. All those things would make my sons wake up more. We do cosleep (more or less) so it doesn’t bother me much if he nurses 3 or 5 times. If they want to be latched on ALL THE TIME I try to gently encourage them to let go, unless they are teething and just in pain.

  • sus vandil
    December 25, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    it’s difficult cause it depends so much on the child. our first one always slept in his crib. he started sleeping through with 12 weeks, the night before I went back to work. He is an awesome sleeper. Before that he woke up once or twice at night, I nursed, changed and swaddled him. and within 5 min he was sound asleep and i put him back into his crib. no issues. and i was so tired with him. 🙂
    the 2nd was/is (he is 5 yrs.) a difficult sleeper. I nursed him to sleep 5 times a night, until he was 1. i could never put him into his crib, he instantly or max 20 min later woke up. he moved into an adult sized bed when he was just about 15 month. by that time he took a bottle (or 5) and I had to stay with him until he was back asleep which could take some time. He still wakes up at night and comes to our bed most of the nights. He needs little sleep in general. Less than I do. 🙂
    our 3rd son is something in between. He sleeps in his crib after he falls asleep in my arms. He wakes up once or twice (he is 23 months), takes a bottle sometimes in his crib, sometimes he wants to sleep in our bed. Both is fine with me, after being used to bed share all the time with our 2nd. Often we are 4 in bed in the morning, thanks to our extra king sized bed. Maybe this is my recommendation for any first time mom… a huge bed. 🙂

    I never attempted sleep training them. I can say, they never cried at night. Either cause they slept through or because I was always right there. Their crib always stood right next to our bed on my side.
    I like bed sharing and nursing. especially if baby nurses a lot at night, it’s the only way to get some sleep yourself. 🙂 imo at least. but everybody needs to find a way to balance her and baby’s need. and no one else can tell THE best way that fits everybody.

  • December 24, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    Love the idea about letting them cry long enough to use the bathroom – I think that’s a nice happy medium for people who are unsure how they feel about it (and also realistic, because sometimes, darn it, Mama has to pee regardless of what you want!) 🙂

  • Jenny
    December 24, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    Well it certainly depends on age. In the beginning you’ll have to wake the baby at night (if he/she doesn’t wake on his/her owon) to feed every 2-3 hours. We had him sleeping in a Rock n Play next to our bed for that reason. It was really hard. I think people tell you “oh, you’re going to be sleep-deprived!” when you’re pregnant, but you don’t really know what that FEELS like until you’re in it. Luckily, we have a great nighttime sleeper (but a poor napper), so once he gained back his birth weight, we were allowed to let him sleep as long as he wanted. By 6 weeks he was doing 5-6 hour stretches and now at 12 weeks he usually sleeps between 9-11 hours a night in one go. We have not followed ANY of the guidelines about sleep training – although we keep meaning to! I nurse him and then hold him in a dark room with quiet music until he falls asleep – which takes NO time at all at night, but when trying it for nap times, it’s hard. But since he sleeps so well at night, we don’t want to fix something that isn’t broken!

  • Katie
    December 24, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    When my son was first born, we had him in his bassinet beside our bed. When he got too big for his bassinet, we switched to the crib. He slept for a good amount of time throughout the night until he started teething. I can count the number of times on one hand that he’s actually slept through a full night (only nursing once) and he’s one. When my husband had to go to an Army class for two weeks I was exhausted from lack of sleep (getting up and down throughout the night when he needed to nurse, even though he slept in our room.) One night, I was just too exhausted to put him back in his crib, so he slept with me in the bed. From then on, even when my husband came back from his class, we decided to have him sleep in our bed. My son and I both slept so much better!
    He also is one to want to be nursed to sleep. If he’s not, it’s extremely hard, if not impossible for him to fall asleep. It can be frustrating sometimes though, he get picky as to which side he wants to nurse from and he rolls around and tosses and turns until finally his eyes start to get heavy. Even still at one, he nurses throughout the night frequently, not always for too long, so I figure some of it may just be a comfort thing.
    I will say this, don’t compare you and your child to others. People will often ask me why he still wakes up so much, while their little one is sleeping more throughout the night. I always get asked why he nurses so much in general and why we haven’t weaned him or why we don’t feed him more food and less breast milk. My point is, you and your baby know each other best. So don’t listen too much to others. (:

  • Katie S
    December 24, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    My baby is 5 1/2 months. He sleeps in his crib in his room and usually wakes 2-3 times each night. I nurse him in the rocking chair in his room until he falls back to sleep then put him back in his crib. This only takes us about 15 to 20 minutes (as a newborn it was more like 30-40 minutes because diaper changes were much more frequent and time consuming!) He often opens his eyes when I lay him down, but luckily he goes back to sleep by himself. If he doesn’t go back to sleep right away after being laid down I will let him cry sometimes up to 10 minutes. He almost always goes back to sleep before reaching 10 minutes of crying. If he doesn’t, I go in and pick him up. When I brought him home from the hospital he was only sleeping in about 1 1/2 to 2 hour stretches. Even now at 5 1/2 months he often sleeps in 3 hour stretches, although I sometimes get really lucky and he sleeps, 5, 6, or even 8 hours! Rare, but lovely! My baby still likes to sleep swaddled. I have to re-swaddle him almost every time he wakes up, but it helps him stay asleep when I lay him down. I hope this helps you get an idea of what it’s like!

  • karissa
    December 24, 2012 at 11:01 am

    thanks Maria 😀

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