• Martha Lewis

Can you sleep train while breastfeeding?

I had someone ask me this question today: I'm breastfeeding-do I need to wait until I stop nursing to sleep train my baby? My answer: you can absolutely teach your baby to sleep while he's breastfeeding!

I sleep trained my son Parker when he was 3 months old and nursed him for another 11 months. (I would have kept nursing him but he was ready to give it up!) I have helped many breastfeeding moms sleep train their babies.

The key to is to not nurse them to sleep. Nursing your baby to sleep can become what us sleep experts call a prop. Other props are rocking, car rides, pacifiers, or anything you have to do to put your baby to sleep that your baby can't do. My "favorite" prop was bouncing Parker to sleep on an exercise ball 5+ times a day!

The main thing I focus on when sleep training a breastfed baby is feeding him after he wakes up instead of nursing him to sleep. This eat, play, sleep routine has 2 advantages. First, feeding him when he wakes up means he's alert and will get a full feed. Secondly, it ensures that nursing doesn't become a prop that he depends on to fall asleep.

We all wake up during the night-babies, children and adults. Most of the time we just go back to sleep and don't even remember our night wakings. But a baby who is nursed to sleep will likely call out when he wakes in the night because he wants to be nursed back to sleep. He doesn't know how else to go back to sleep.

Some babies start nursing all night and then don't eat much during the day. They have their days and nights mixed up, not with sleep but with food! Parker did this, too. The benefit of teaching them to sleep through the night is that they eat more during the day, which is when they're supposed to be eating.

I also want to assure you that your milk production won't go down when you sleep train your baby. The benefit of working with me and getting a personalized plan as well as daily support is that I can ensure that you won't lose your supply. So don't let that worry keep you from teaching your baby how to sleep.

I hope this answers any questions you may have about sleep training and breastfeeding. But as always, contact me if you have any questions at all!


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Martha Lewis, MS

Jackson Hole, WY



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