Is Nursing to Sleep Bad?

Is Nursing to Sleep Bad?

When my baby first showed desire to breastfeed at night, I resisted nursing to sleep…at first. I thought this was a “bad habit”, so I tried to do everything the “right way.” Nurse, read, rock, and put my baby down when she is drowsy but still awake. Again, as I mentioned in a previous article about Feeding On Demand, I was listening to everyone’s advice and ignoring my mama instincts. Bedtime felt more like checking items off a to-do list rather than a time to unwind and cuddle. Finally, I threw the rule book out the window and followed Darcy’s lead and my heart. The result? Bedtime became a peaceful and loving routine, full of bonding and OXYTOCIN. (Oxytocin is the hormone responsible for bonding. Breastfeeding floods your body with it!) 

Now that my second baby, Laney, is here, I have no reservations about nursing to sleep because this is what works best for us. While Laney nurses and begins to drift off to sleep, I can also relax, snuggle, and read with her big sister. 

I recently connected with Jessica McKee, a Registered Nurse and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. Jess reaches and supports thousands of moms with her business and Instagram account,  and many of them ask, “Is nursing to sleep bad?”.

Here’s what Jess had to say on the topic:

“It is definitely OK to breastfeed your baby to sleep. Being in close contact with you releases oxytocin, "the feel good hormone," which helps your baby to be relaxed, and who doesn't want to fall asleep while being cuddled by their mom?? 

There is no such thing as bad habits for a baby.  Just because a baby is breastfed to sleep does not mean that they will wake more frequently or that they will never be able to fall asleep on their own.  There are babies who are not breastfed to sleep who wake up frequently in the night and babies who are breastfed to sleep who do not wake up as much... wake ups can depend on so many factors, and it is normal for them to wake at night.

Breastfeeding to sleep should also not have any negative affect on your milk supply.  In fact, feeding on demand at bedtime, or when your baby wakes up in the night, helps you maintain your milk supply. While it is certainly not a requirement to breastfeed to sleep, if it works for your baby and your family, it is totally fine!

There was also one study that found that the concentration of melatonin in breast milk was significantly higher in nighttime milk vs. daytime milk!  

Besides being relaxing for your baby, it’s relaxing for you, too. :)”

günamüna is so grateful to Jess for sharing this valuable information!

Follow Jess for more great lactation info @goodbabylactation and check out her website: