How can Breastfeeding help your baby to sleep

Table of Contents

Newborn breastfeeding

Help your baby to sleep by breastfeeding

It often surprises me how often I get asked, “if I stop breastfeeding will it help my baby sleep better” 

Questions like this often make me wonder how much damage we have done to the psyche of new mothers over the years. How we have been taught to blame breastfeeding for our babies lack of sleep. 

What we need as new mothers’ is education. Education in reading our babies body and communication cues, this helps us to know what they need, be it sleep, food or comfort. We need education on feeding. 

Ill be honest, Im a sleep expert, not a breastfeeding expert but I have done a fair bit of reading on the subject. 

If you need breastfeeding support or you are struggling please see an IBCLC 

These guys are the dogs do dahs when it comes to boobs and milk! 

Mother breastfeeding outside in the sunshine

A quick mention about bottle feeding

Bottle feeding mums deserve a mention here too.  I’m with you, I hear you, and I know you’ll be here asking why is it always pro breastfeeding support. Firstly I’m writing this for #breastfeedingweek to provide a little motivation for the tired and weary breastfeeding mums, and secondly we are all trying to find our way in this parenting juggle. We all deserve a little support. 

Bottle feeding mum, you rock too! 

Why breast fed babies sleep better than bottle fed babies

Parents who are told to just give their baby a bottle…”This will help them sleep” are sadly being mis-informed.  Not only does the scientific research back this up, but what I hear, so often from many many  parents every year who have tried to change to bottles only to find their babies sleep hasn’t improved the way they anticipated it would. Certainly, if you need or want to give your baby a bottle, that’s totally your choice, but don’t do it for sleep – it’s a promise that probably won’t deliver.

Breastfeeding during the early weeks is trial and error, its like anything, it takes patience and practice. Once you’ve cracked it breastfeeding can be amazing! 

Breastfeeding can help your baby to sleep! Breastfeeding promotes sleep! During a feed babies become calm and settled.

Breast milk contains tryptophan and this converts into melatonin. This means that even before they begin to produce their own melatonin young babies receive this sleepy hormone from their mothers milk. 

Bottle fed babies aren’t that lucky, they have to wait up to 6 months before they produce their own 

Baby dressed in blue sleeping after a feed

Advantages of Breastfeeding for sleep

I’m not formula feeding bashing here, as I did formula  feed my own for a few reasons, but I do appreciate that humans milk is best for human babies and no matter how hard we try dairy will never be the best choice for our newborn human babies. 

1) You can’t over feed a breastfed baby; 

This is impossible, your baby will stop when they are full and satisfied. It is a tendency to keep trying to get to the end of a bottle if we see some remaining. This could result in tummy pains, gas, reflux and more. This does not help with sleep. 

2) You don’t have to get up to prepare a feed

This means you can remain in your sleep space and less likely to fully wake-up meaning it will be quicker for you to fall back to sleep. 

3) Your breast milk contains exactly what is needed for your baby according to the time of day

Magic right?! Time for sleep, your magic milk contains melatonin and tryptophan this helps them and you to remain calm whilst you snooze the night away. This important hormone will also help to organise your babies circadian rhythm. 

4) see above; breast milk helps to organise the circadian rhythm 

When you read this it makes sense to breastfeed because all babies regardless of feeding method do not have an organised circadian rhythm and therefore our breastfed babies hold a clear advantage in the early weeks. 

Conclusion of how breastfeeding can help babies to sleep

Breastfeeding is a wonderful natural tool to enable both mothers and their new babies to optimise their sleep. Babies feel, the connection they crave and this helps them to feel calm, loved and settled. Feeding to sleep is not a bad habit but a very useful tool and one that shouldn’t be overlooked. 

Breast milk contains the all important sleep hormones that help to keep our circadian rhythm organised. 

Breast milk wont overwhelm a brand new digestive system with synthetic ingredients. 

A hand gently placed on a newborns head as it sleep

When you need gentle responsive support please visit my sleep packages

New parents with their newborn

Take a look at calming baby massage to promote sleep