- I talk about practical strategies to determine how you best handle what to do when a baby falls asleep while breastfeeding or on the bottle.
- I discuss why this can create poor sleep associations that you will have to sleep train away from later.
- I review why this habit can actually cause your baby to drink less milk during the day; when this happens, it causes more frequent wakings overnight, causing both you and your baby to get broken sleep.
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Podcast Episode Transcripts:
Disclaimer: Transcripts were generated automatically and may contain inaccuracies and errors.
Welcome to the kids sleep Show podcast where we dive into the magical world of sleep, and all things parenting. Join us as we embark on a journey filled with expert advice, practical tips and heartwarming stories that will transform your little ones into sleep superheroes, and empower you to navigate the beautiful chaos of parenting. I’m your host, Courtney Zentz. And I’m on a mission to change how the world view sleep and provide accessible sleep coaching resources for all families to build healthy sleep habits in their home for children, and adults of all ages. As an award winning speaker, author and pediatric sleep expert, myself and my team of consultants work intimately with families around the world to teach healthy sleep habits to children and adults. I believe wholeheartedly that sleep is the foundation for which a happy home is built. So let’s sleep together. Hey, everyone, welcome to this week’s episode of the Kids sleep show. I’m Courtney Zentz, the founder and creator of sleep steps, the only program in the industry that allows you comprehensive education around sleep training your baby in a DIY format, with coaching from both myself, and the amazing members of the Slumber squad here at Tiny transitions. We are jumping in today to talk about something that actually just came up with a recent client of mine. So I thought it would be good to put some time together into this episode and talk about why a child falling asleep on the breast or using a bottle can create a negative sleep association that you will eventually have to break and some other things that are also dangerous about this that you might not have realized, we’re going to cover today to make sure I can show you not only why you won’t want to necessarily do this, but how you get rid of it so that you don’t have a child who relies on you to fall back asleep. As they grow, get a little older, and get a little more aware of their surroundings and the preference for your help. So let’s dive in, first of all, and talk a little bit about the realities of becoming a new parent. It is very hard if your child is crying at night, and you just want to get some sleep and you need to get them back to sleep, that you resort to tactics that can get them back to sleep. But that might be used more so as a prop versus something they truly need. So what I mean by that if your baby’s hungry, you feed them. But if you just fed them 25 minutes ago, and they’re awake again, they’re likely not hungry, they’re more so using that bottle or your breast as an ability to soothe back to sleep. So it does seem in the moment, especially in the time of tired and overwhelmed that this is like a really quick and easy solution. But I will tell you there are dangers that you probably haven’t thought of and also dangerous to creating good sleep habits. And so I want to dive into that and explain a little bit more about why some of these things are dangerous, and then how we ultimately can help your child to settle independently without the need to use the restroom bottle. So first and foremost, choking actually is something parents don’t think about. When infants fall asleep from feeding, there’s a higher risk of them choking on the milk. When a baby’s awake and actively feeding their natural reflexes and muscle movements help them to swallow properly. When you’re nursing, you often listen for something like suck, suck, swallow, suck, suck, swallow, but when they fall asleep and are doing it, their reflexes are actually diminished and they may not be able to swallow milk effectively. So just something that you don’t really think of and that can sometimes have your baby kind of Jolt awake or choke and then end up spitting up half the milk that they just ate can become uncomfortable. And so it’s always certainly from a choking standpoint, something you want to manage and be aware of. You also want to look at overfeeding. Now, I know that might seem weird, when you’re talking about a baby who really needs to eat to grow, and you want them to eat so that they sleep better and right. It’s always this connected thing when it comes to food and sleep. So first and foremost, babies need 24 to 32 ounces of milk in a given 24 hour period doesn’t matter if it’s breast milk or formula, they need 24 to 32 ounces in a given day of 24 hours for optimal growth. Okay? A lot of times if parents are using milk by feeding or nursing, right from a bottle or breast to get a child back to sleep, two things happen. One, there pretty much graze eating all day and all night, which means that they don’t actually get nice, full feedings, which at the end of the day, despite the fact you’re feeding them 9 million times could actually lead to less milk intake, right? Because they’re just sort of snacking enough that their brain doesn’t necessarily kind of say, Hey, I’m hungry, so they perpetually just eat a teeny tiny amount all day and all night. enough that they’re like satisfied but not optimal if things were A little more regulated. Okay. The second thing I see when babies are fed on demand or using food as a way to fall asleep is that signs of colic are actually much more prevalent, because essentially, that tank is getting filled over the day constantly. So by the end of the day, the tanks never really had a chance to empty out and it ends up causing agitation, discomfort. Almost every client I’ve worked on in my private sleep coaching practice, who has fed a baby on demand, also talked about the fact this baby had colic. And when I asked that question like, hey, how do you feed your baby, they’re like, on demand all the time. Every time they open their mouth, I’m like, Okay, we got to stop that. and balance it, right. Because if a baby takes nice, full feeds approximately every three hours again, I’m not suggesting you don’t feed and a baby who’s hungry. I’m just saying don’t always look at food as the first reason or use food as the ability to fall asleep, because it’s going to create negative associations that yeah, have to break. They don’t just grow out of it, okay, it’s how they believe they go to sleep. And then you create this habit, okay? So it can cause colic, it is something where your intake in the day can be lessened by actually feeding a million times a day, right, as weird as that sounds. They’re constantly grazing. And it can also lead to dental challenges, right, depending on how long you do this, it can lead to an issue as it relates to that milk and tooth decay and bacteria. So you do have to be careful of that, you know, the nipple on a bottle creates a vacuum in the mouth. And that can cause things like misaligned or crooked teeth. And then Breastfeeding can also lead to similar problems in infants who fall asleep without cleaning their mouth properly. Okay, so dental issues are probably also something you don’t really think about. I always thought about him with, you know, sucking up the thumb, which I probably did till I was in like fourth grade, embarrassingly enough, you know, but when it comes to milk, like you got to get that better manage, so you don’t run into dental issues, and have a big, high expensive dental bill for all of those teeth that are decaying. Now. The thing I obviously know the most about is helping babies sleep, I’ve done it well for over nine years. And disrupted sleep schedules will not go away if your child has a negative association when it comes to food, right. So what ends up happening is let me give you an age for example. Okay, so if you have a baby who’s five months old, right, and as a parent, you’re going okay, at five months old, a baby has now passed the three month or four monthly progression, right? They are growing and thriving. They should be able to sleep through the night at this point based on their age based on their weight based on conversations with a pediatrician. And yet your child is still taking terrible naps because they’re nursing to sleep, or eating to sleep. So the naps are short, they’re disruptive. And then when baby wakes, they cry and the only way to get them back down if you’re lucky enough to reconnect the NAP is to put them back on the boob or to hold them on the boob for two hours while you sit there staring at them sucking on your boob as a pacifier. Okay, overnight, what happens is typically, if you get a child down nursing to sleep at bedtime, and then you lay them in the crib, and then usually you get one solid stretch asleep, right? The reason you’re getting one chunk of sleep is because actually the first part of the night is the deepest and most restorative sleep meaning that your child is cycling, all through the different stages of sleep. Whereas you might be experiencing on the back half of the night, typically around like 2am to anywhere in the morning, around 6am that your child wakes more frequently. So hey, you’re getting a nice stretch, you nurse them to sleep, you don’t see any problem with it. And they’re sleeping till like 2am. And then the rest of the night is a big dumpster fire. Right? Well, that’s because your child’s sleep patterns change. Okay, so they’re really only going between rem and light sleep. And every 45 to 60 minutes. They’re waking up going. Hey, I need your boob again. Hi, can you give me that bottle? Hey, what’s going on? Hey, over here help, right? And as a parent, you’re like, Okay,
well this time I’m gonna feed him this time. I don’t this time I feed him this time. I don’t know you’re creating confusion. They have an association with milk and then when they wake up at 6am for the day, they’re not hungry. What cuz they just went to the buffet all night in Vegas. Like of course they’re not hungry, right? So it disrupts the sleep patterns which lead to bad naps. overtired. overtired triggers short naps. Early bedtime. overtired triggers early wakings. Like everything with sleep is connected. And so when you try to fix sleep, right, which we’ll talk about a few minutes, it’s one thing that you lay down first and then the next thing that you lay down after that, and you build on these developmental kind of changes that are happening along with stronger sleep hygiene. So your baby And sleep through the night can take long, consolidated independent naps, they’re on a good baby sleep schedule, once you can really start around five months to have consistency in how a baby is napping, but you also want to make sure that developmentally from a feeding standpoint, you’re hitting all the milestones with the right amount of milk, but also the ability to grow and learn and to self regulate. So things like the ability to independently settle to sleep, sleep is a skill set, right? Like every baby’s born with the ability to sleep. But if for five months, they understood that the expectation was that they are to eat in order to fall asleep, they’re missing out on experiences that help them develop their motor skills, build relationships, it doesn’t mean that when you’re quote, sleep training, which everybody thinks is like, just stick your baby in a crib and let them cry it out, which it’s not, that you have, you know, this trauma to a child stuff like it’s actually more disruptive to their cognitive and physical growth when they’re waking every 45 minutes, right. Because how you feel in the morning from waking every 45 minutes, is how they feel. They just can’t express it. It leads to broken sleep, it leads to poor intake. And frankly, it leads to being pretty miserable and irritable. And it’s just this big hamster wheel that keeps compounding until parents are really ready to stop and seek help from someone like a sleep coach, like myself. So what do you do to get started? First of all, maybe you’re in this right now and you’re going oh, Courtney, you’re speaking my love language. This kid will only use me as a pacifier or they are obsessed with the bottle to sleep they’re eating three times overnight. How do I even begin to make changes, right? And solve this sleep? So let me explain. Okay, first and foremost, sleep is complex. So what I’m going to teach you today might not be 100% solution, but I’m always as you know, someone who provides quality sleep, education, and information to families so that you can build kids who sleep well, because I do truly believe everybody deserves a good night’s sleep. Okay, so the first thing we’re going to look at, which may seem totally disconnected from what we’re talking about, but that’s important is your baby’s sleep schedule. If your child is overtired, they are basically strung out, right, they’ve got all these hormones that are misaligned. So they might not eat as well, if they’re over tired. So the first thing you’ve got to look at is how old is your baby? And what does their sample schedule need to look like for both daytime naps and bedtime? Okay, I always encourage a bedtime between seven and eight o’clock PM, for really children, the first couple years of life, frankly, knowing that kids are going to wake anywhere between six and 8am. Because there’s an aspect of their circadian rhythm and also have that sun that pops up over the trees every single morning. And there are certain things around that that you just can’t change. So for kids who need that 14 to 16 hours, that whole first year of life, right of total sleep, okay? You want them on the right schedule. Now a baby who is five months old, might need a sample schedule of 930 1233 30 as a rough layout of a schedule, right. And there are sample schedules on my website at Tiny transitions.com for every age and stage, so you can go out and download them for free. There’s a massive freebie library out there of tons of good stuff. Okay. At six to seven months old, a sample sleep schedule would look like this baby wakes around seven. So between six and seven, they take their first nap at 10. They take their second nap at two, and then they go to sleep at seven. Okay, they need three hours of daytime sleep. So you’re kind of looking at somewhere between an hour to two hours from each of those naps, which balance out to be three hours of an awake window and three hours of total daytime sleep now, feedings I always like to structure in the day to have five feedings 710 147 Okay, I’ll say that again. 710 147 If your baby is five months old, and they are taking feedings that 710 147. And they are taking five ounces from each of those bottles or five ounces from your breasts, right? If you’re doing a weighted transfer, and you know how much milk baby transfers during a session. And if you don’t go to your pediatrician and ask them to do a weighted transfer, which is what they will do is they will weigh the baby that you will nurse the baby then they will weigh them right after that and it’ll tell you how much milk baby took. So you kind of know a gauge of Hey, baby, it’s off one breasts this month, if they eat off two breasts this much and it helps to give you a gauge of the number. Okay, so if we know that baby had five feedings with five ounces of milk that puts them at 25 ounces. So now they’re within the normal range 24 to 32 of intake. Okay, now, that being said, if baby is still waking overnight and they’re taking two feeds and those both feeds are two ounces, right? So they’re kind of just grazing around 2am. And they’re grazing again at four. Now you’re at 29 ounces. Okay? So babies getting intake, which technically they could still need, because it’s part of their total daytime needs. That’s within normal range, right? But how do you get rid of that? Well, first thing I would do as I would gradually decrease by about a half an ounce each feeding the amount of intake because what you’re going to do is you’re kind of robbing from Peter to pay Paul, meaning that, you know, tonight’s Wednesday, when you’re hearing this, you are going to remove that feeding, and then you’re going to place it in the daytime the next day, because by default, they’re gonna wake up a little bit hungrier, right. So that’s the first part of it, you’re playing with the feedings to make sure that you’re getting the right amount in the day. The second part is actually teaching a child to settle without the breast or bottle. So I have a 10 week old baby right now that I’m working with Miss Emma and she is fabulous. She loves the bottle to fall asleep. There doesn’t necessarily have to be milk in it, actually, she just really likes the nipple, but she doesn’t like pacifiers. So what I advise mom to do was like, hey, pacifiers are fine. I love pacifiers actually reduce SIDS, they provide sucking, which is a calming, you know, reflex. So I told her just pump the pacifier or the nipple out of the bottle and use it as a pacifier. And she’s like, Oh, my gosh, that’s genius. I never thought of that. I’m like, that’s what I’m here for. So babies have been settling with that, putting it back in. And it’s just the top of the bottle, but they just haven’t liked the shape of that particular nipple. So there’s nothing wrong with that. But they have to ultimately settled to sleep. Okay, when you talk about sleep training, there is always some aspect of protest or tears, right. And anybody who tells you differently is not being honest with you, because you’re changing a behavior that a child doesn’t want to change, because it is unfamiliar, and they are unsure what else they can do, every child has the ability to settle to sleep. And when you talk about sleep training, when we work with families, or if you are in my sleep Steps program, which is a self paced DIY course, but that also includes live coaching with me and my team every week as a part of the program. We talk through this because you’re not just picking an option, right? When you hire a sleep consultant, if they studied under this particular person, or that particular person, they might only train you on one way to do it. Okay, well, the problem with that is your baby has a different personality. Some kids are sensory seeking, meaning they like the touch, they like a little gentle pressure, they like their hand being held. Maybe they like, you know more of the vocal, kind of soothing, of shushing humming white noise, right? And maybe they don’t, maybe you’re more confusing to them, maybe you’re agitating if you’re in the room. And so some of it is looking at your child’s personality and what they’re showing you they want. As they also learn this, you know, there’s an aspect with sleep coaching, that it takes a bit of time because you have to get to a point where you’re not going to give them what they’re crying for, because then you just reinforce a habit. But at the same time, you’re offering comfort and support. And at the same time, you’re showing a child that they possess the ability to do this, but how you do that they don’t understand you. They’re not like, Hey, baby, you can do this rah rah, right? They don’t know that. So part of what sleep training as much as I hate that word is doing is it’s showing your child that they actually possess this amazing ability to go to sleep. And it’s so cool once they have it. And it gets so much easier, so much faster. Because the skill develops really quickly. Right? So let’s assume that the first night you decide you want to sleep train, right? Your child might fosse there’s going to be a period of protest, and there’s going to be a period of what I call the like, and that’s self soothing. So your baby’s starting to learn that there’s other things they can do. And that noise is one of those signals that they’re doing it sometimes you’ll see them gently rocking themselves or kind of motioning, and then they spike and cry. And they go, Wait, where’s your boob? Right? Where’s the bottle and then if you give them a minute, they come back down and they go in there. I usually say
it’s about 40 minutes the first time you’re trying to teach a child this. So there’s ebbs and flows, it’s not straight, 40 minutes a crying, that’s ridiculous, but it’s just listening, supporting coaching, right, the second night cut in half, 20 minutes, second night, goes to third night cut in half, 10 minutes. By the end of three to five days, your child will settle independently in about five minutes. Okay? If you’re doing this with consistency, and they will understand that they now possess a skill and ability to settle to sleep. Okay, so that’s the beautiful part of working with a little one. So you can sleep train them and some parents want guidance and support, right? You’re in this journey and you’re like, I don’t know what I’m doing right? We have sleep consultants on my team. We have the sleep Steps program where you can go through the course yourself and Do the program through the videos and through the written sleep plan, and then jump onto a zoom call. They’re open coaching, you join, you’re in there. And we had one yesterday, I had two amazing moms in there. And they got the whole hour to themselves, because everybody’s busy. And I put a ton of calls on the calendar and you join when you can, and we’re there to coach you through it. So it’s a real different style of DIY, nobody’s doing that today, which I’m actually pretty proud of, because I always try to be a thought leader in the space. And I truly want people to get sleep, not everybody can afford private coaching. But this product called Sleep steps, which is 97 bucks a month, you can stick around and have us in your back pocket or you can come out for a month and call it a day and your sleep training is done for kids of all ages, right? It takes you through this, okay? It can be really really tempting to let your child fall asleep while they’re feeding. But it’s essential to avoid doing that for so many of the reasons we’ve talked about. Okay? So instead try to keep them awake. If you notice they’re starting to fall asleep, pop them off, give them a nice burp, put them down in the crib or bassinet awake. I often tell families to just feed in a diaper. They’re a little less likely to fall asleep because they’re not as cozy and comfortable. Then you have to burp them, then you have to put their pajamas on you’ll jostle him around a little bit, right? So that can be a really helpful way to transition into separate Hey, I love that you’re eating baby but you’re not using me as a pacifier. Right. So if you need help, if you have questions, jump out to tiny transitions.com We are so happy to help you. We are always here. I have a free sleep community called slumber made simple. We have a ton of free resources out on the website. I mean, we’re here to help. And that’s our main mission and goal. So thanks for tuning in to this week’s episode. I hope you took something from this today and feel empowered to take the next step in your child’s sleep training and sleep coaching journey. I’m Courtney Zentz. Thanks so much for tuning in. Until next week. Sweet Dreams