What to Do If Baby Won’t Sleep Without Bottle
Newborn babies often have their sleeping and feeding scheduled sporadically throughout the day. However, as babies get older, they need a more defined schedule to eat and sleep. This is especially true for parents that have grown accustomed to feeding their baby before bed. If parents aren’t able to wean their baby off the bedtime feeding habit, it won’t be long before the baby won’t sleep without bottle.
While it can seem simpler to calm the baby down by giving in to their crying with a bottle, your baby will learn that at bedtime, they only need to cry to get their fill of milk. Of course, parents should feed the baby when they are hungry, but if it’s clear that the baby has had enough to eat during the day, these nighttime feedings are no longer needed.
If the baby won’t sleep without bottle, it’s likely that they have developed an attachment to bottle feeding right before bed. Since they’re accustomed to this habit, they may feel as though they have to bottle feed to fall asleep.
If your baby won’t sleep without bottle, it’s important to try the following techniques:
Break Any Association Between Sucking, Eating, or Nursing
When a baby won’t sleep without bottle, they often cry for mom to come back so they can feed to fall asleep. If this is the case for your baby, it’s time to break the baby’s association between eating and sleeping.
Parents can begin to break this habit by taking a step back and using rocking to help them fall asleep. While rocking a baby to sleep is a “crutch” that will need to be broken, it is a helpful step forward for parents if their baby won’t sleep without bottle.
To avoid feeding baby just before bedtime, it’s best for parents to feed them as soon as they wake from their sleep and later if they are still hungry. However, when your baby is no longer hungry, it’s better to rock or feed them. This way, your baby will start to associate falling asleep with something other than sucking.
Help Your Child Learn to Sleep in Their Bed
When baby won’t sleep without bottle, it’s important that parents begin the process of teaching them to fall asleep in their own bed. Parents can do this by having a baby get drowsy in their arms or in the rocking chair. Next, parents should hold a baby in their arms while baby is on their back until they are almost asleep.
While baby is still drowsy, parents will then lower them into the bed or crib. Then, baby should be able to fall asleep on their own. While this process won’t be a smooth one at first (the baby will likely cry and protest), parents should continue this routine consistently until their baby can easily fall asleep.
Touch Baby Instead of Holding
Even if parents use rocking or holding to help baby fall asleep, if baby won’t sleep without bottle, parents should progress towards just touching baby instead of holding them.
Eventually your baby will fall asleep with just a touch. With a touch as simple as holding their hand, your baby will become accustomed to the new routine of getting sleepy, being put into bed, and then falling asleep with you. Eventually, as your baby gets older, you’ll be able to substitute their favorite toy instead of your hand or finger.
Follow Best Practices When Putting Baby to Bed
In the process of adjusting to life with a new baby, parents often try their best to get their child to fall into a predictable sleep pattern. If baby won’t sleep without bottle, it’s time to try something different. Keep the following tips in mind when putting your baby to bed:
1. Don’t Expect infants to Sleep All Night
Many parents hope that their children will start to develop a sleep schedule like adults, but this is a misperception. Babies aren’t capable of adopting the sleeping habits of adults. Until they are between 8 – 12 weeks, babies will spend their days and nights sleeping sporadically.
Parents expecting babies to sleep mostly at night and stay awake during the day are going to have to wait until their child is older.
2. Avoid Drop-Side Cribs
Drop-side cribs no longer meet the same standards for safe sleeping. These types of cribs aren’t as safe as new federal standards support cribs created after 2011. If parents have these types of cribs, it’s essential to replace them with new ones.
Similarly, before using a crib with a newborn, parents should check to see if there are any missing or loose parts.
3. Use Supplemental Mattresses in the Play Yard
In the process of helping a baby to sleep without a bottle, parents should also be sure they are following all other sleeping best practices like avoiding the use of supplemental mattresses. These types of mattresses are additional products that are not provided by the original manufacturer.
As each product like a crib, bed, or play yard is tested for baby’s safety, it’s important for parents to avoid supplementing any part of the product with a supplemental item.
4. Don’t Ignore the Bedtime Routine
Even though newborns aren’t old enough to sleep through the night they still need consistency. Experts assert that consistency is essential in sleep support and sleep training.
To provide consistency with a bedtime routine, parents should try their best to do the same routine when putting baby to bed each night. To prevent a situation where a baby won’t sleep without bottle, a bedtime routine should consist of a warm bath, a story, and soft words of love from mom and dad.
5. Put Baby to Bed Without a Bottle
Though parents in generations gone by putting baby to sleep with a bottle, starting this habit will only spell trouble down the road when the baby won’t sleep without bottle. To establish better sleep associations for the baby, parents should avoid the habit as it creates a dependency for the bottle to help the baby to go to sleep. Similarly, parents should never expect infants to self-feed or take the bottle to bed as this puts them at risk for choking. Similarly, having the bottle in bed will elevate their risk of developing cavities as toddlers.
Curb this habit before it starts by discontinuing night feedings after the baby reaches 9 months. At this age, they shouldn’t need to eat at night as they should be full enough until waking up for the morning.
6. Don’t Put Baby to Sleep Before Getting Them to Bed
While putting baby to bed can be a particularly challenging task, it’s better to avoid having the baby fall asleep before putting them to bed. While some parents swear by this method as they drive baby around before bedtime or let them fall asleep in the rocking chair, experts warn that babies should go into their beds awake. This is due to the fact that they may wake up disoriented if they don’t fall asleep in the same place where they wake up.
Allowing a baby to fall asleep in their own bed will improve their ability to self-soothe. As they get used to the state of falling asleep in their crib on their own, they’ll have an easier time of falling asleep at bedtime as they grow older.
7. Avoid Using Crib Bumpers and Blankets
While babies seem to love their toys, stuffed animals, and blankets, it’s better that parents wait until babies are older to let them sleep with these items. Parents should create the safest arrangements for their newborn, which means to leave out loose blankets pillows, bumpers, and stuffed animals.
8. Stop Letting Newborns Sleep in the Car Seat
Babies tend to fall asleep in the car, but parents should avoid letting their youngest babies fall asleep in their car seat. Sleeping in the car seat can cause neck flexion–a situation where the baby’s head goes forward as their chin goes towards their chest. This movement will obstruct the baby’s breathing. By allowing your baby to fall asleep in a bassinet or crib, parents are able to avoid this situation.
As babies grow older, parents must learn to do away with the bottle at night. While it can be quite a challenge if the baby won’t sleep without bottle, the above techniques should help. Keep this guide in mind when trying to get your baby to fall asleep without a bottle and go to bed on their own.