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Hi - still struggling with baby sleep! I think I'm reading her cues correctly but she won't settle unless she's being fed to sleep. When I try to put her in her cot drowsy but awake she screams and won't be calmed until she is sucking on the breast again. She won't even suck a dummy. I have been advised that I might need to look into self settling but would appreciate your advice and which method you would recommend. I don't really want to keep feeding to sleep/keep having contact naps as I'd like her to be a confident sleeper, especially when she starts nursery in a few months.

Hi there, as your daughter is so little I suggest you might feel more at ease if you take the focus off trying to achieve independent sleep in her cot and instead focus on supporting her to sleep at her biological best.

This will of course look very different for each baby and there are many factors that will play into your little one’s ability to let go and fall asleep including sleep biology, her developmental stage, her physiological needs, her emotional needs and her nutritional needs as well as ruling out underlying health/feeding issues, environmental factors etc. Some babies, for example, will need to be held and fed to sleep for a much longer time than other babies for a multitude of reasons including temperament and birth.

If you are looking for a potential way to move away from feeding her to sleep because of her age, you need to be responsive to her needs and please also bear in mind her nervous system is still incredibly sensitive so I would suggest something very gradual like ‘habit stacking’. Habit stacking works on the basis that you introduce several additional multi-sensory sleep cues alongside the breastfeed at bedtime. I would suggest you use something she can hear, e.g. white noise, singing or lullaby music, something she can smell, e.g. essential oils on your wrists, a comfort object that you have slept with so it picks up your smell, and something she can feel e.g. stroking, rubbing or patting.

The idea is that you use these additional ‘multi-sensory cues’ at the same time as feeding her and the more you use these cues the stronger the association between them and sleep will become, which will then mean it is much easier to remove the breastfeed as she still has three out of the four sleep cues remaining. I suggest you add in the additional cues without removing the breastfeed for at least two weeks, but longer if you can as habit forming takes time.

Emma, Tinto Expert