Can I keep breastfeeding and do sleep training at the same time?
Nursing is definitely compatible with sleep training. Breastfeeding is one of the best things you can do for your baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for the first year of life, but any amount of time you can manage to nurse is of benefit to your baby. Beyond one year, there is less need to breastfeed as your infant can get excellent nutrition from table foods and cow’s milk, but that is a family choice.
As mentioned, nursing and sleep training can definitely be done at the same time. The key, as with any bedtime routine, is to breastfeed first, finish your bedtime routine, and then put your baby down into the crib while he is still awake. This way he doesn’t associate nursing and being held by you with falling asleep. Do the last feeding of the day close to bedtime but not when he is really sleepy, so that he’ll be awake when you are done and he can be put to bed awake. You can do the same at naptime by feeding at a time that is not too close to naptime. If he should fall asleep at the breast, gently rouse him so he recognizes he is going into the crib for sleep time. Feel free to continue to nurse during the night, although note that most babies no longer need nighttime feedings after six months of age (check with your health care provider regarding whether your baby still needs those middle of the night feedings). As with the development of any good sleep associations, the earlier you begin the easier it will be in the long run, for both of you. As your baby’s brain develops the ability to remember, he will always associate the crib with sleeping. His comforting pre-sleep routine, which includes nursing at the start of the routine, will cue him that bedtime is coming.