Holding and feeding your baby to sleep is one of the many joys of being a new parent. So simple and blissful. However, a few month’s down the line, when your precious angel refuses to sleep without a bottle in their mouths, you suddenly realize you may have a problem. If this is your current situation and your little one is no longer a newborn, it is fixable.
How we act and react to our children’s need for sleep either helps or hinders the development of healthy sleep skills. Feeding your little one with a bottle is not the problem. It’s the association that is made with the journey into sleep that has became the problem.
It is important that we teach our children these skills, so they can do it themselves and begin to sleep more peacefully.
When you put your child to bed at night, it’s fine to include the bottle in their routine. But what you really want to avoid is feeding with the bottle until they fall asleep or putting them in the crib with the bottle to drink on their own. If your baby falls asleep with a bottle in their mouth, they will wake up in the middle of the night and think they need that bottle again to go back to sleep. If you come with the bottle and feed them to sleep or put it into the crib again, they will happily suck on the bottle until they fall back asleep.
Not only does this prevent them from developing their own sleep strategies and fragment their sleep, it is also very damaging to their teeth that are coming in. I recommend that you start the bottle a little earlier in the bedtime routine. You can have a bath, then the bottle, then brush teeth and then back for some stories, but you should be putting your little one into the crib awake and without a bottle. Otherwise, they will most likely keep waking for that bottle. This can go on well into the second year, so you really want to make sure to change this habit sooner than later, and then when they wake in the night requesting a bottle, you’ll have to just decline that request.
When you have decided tonight is the night, and you are ready for the change, the best advice I can give is: Be consistent. If you feed them to sleep after that or give back the bottle, you are only sending mixed signals.
Need help with the transition? I will customize a sleep solution that will work for your little one and you, making the transition smooth and gentle as possible for everyone. Schedule your free 15-minute sleep evaluation today. Sleep well!
Life is hard when you're not sleeping. As a Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant, I teach families how to live a well-rested life.