How to Stop Nursing to Sleep for Naps

Are you having difficulty getting your child to take naps without nursing? Do you find yourself sitting in the same spot for hours trying to get them to sleep, only for them to wake up as soon as they are put down? If so, don’t worry – you’re not alone! It can be frustrating and exhausting trying to figure out how best to help your little one settle into a restful nap while avoiding nursing.

How to Stop Nursing to Sleep for Naps

Nursing to sleep for naps is a common practice among many breastfeeding mothers. It can be a convenient way to soothe and comfort your baby while also ensuring they get the nutrition they need.

However, with some patience and dedication, it is possible. In this blog post we will explore different strategies of how to stop nursing to sleep for naps and help your child develop independent sleep skills.

Why is it Important to Stop Nursing to Sleep for Naps?

Before we dive into the methods of transitioning away from nursing to sleep for naps, let’s understand why it’s essential. While there are many benefits of breastfeeding, relying on nursing as a sleep aid can create a dependency that may disrupt the natural sleep patterns of your child. Nursing to sleep can also lead to frequent night waking and difficulty falling back asleep without nursing.

Additionally, as your child grows and becomes more active, they may require fewer naps during the day. This can make it challenging to maintain a nursing-to-sleep routine that may have worked when they were younger. It’s essential for both you and your child to develop healthy sleep habits to ensure quality rest and overall well-being.

What Will You Need?

Before you begin the transition, it’s essential to have all the necessary tools and resources to support your child through this process. Here are a few things you may want to consider having on hand:

  • A comfortable and safe sleeping environment for your child
  • White noise or soothing music to help create a calming atmosphere
  • A consistent bedtime routine that allows signal sleep time for your child
  • A supportive partner or family member who can help with the transition
A Safe Sleeping Environment

Now that you understand why it’s essential to stop nursing to sleep for naps and what you will need let’s explore some strategies you can use during this transition.

10 Easy Steps on How to Stop Nursing to Sleep for Naps

Step 1: Gradual Weaning

Begin gently by gradually reducing the amount of time your baby nurses before nap time. Instead of nursing your child completely to sleep, try ending the session a few minutes earlier each day until they are awake but drowsy when you put them down. This helps your baby learn to fall asleep without the aid of nursing. Remember, the keyword here is ‘gradual.’ Sudden changes can be stressful for both you and your baby.

Step 2: Create a Naptime Routine

Establish a consistent routine before naptime that doesn’t involve nursing. This might include reading a story, singing a lullaby, or giving your baby a warm bath. The routine should be calming and help signal to your baby that it’s time to sleep. Over time, your baby will start to associate this routine with sleep and begin to feel drowsy as soon as the routine starts.

Step 3: Introduce a Comfort Object

Introducing a comfort object, such as a blanket or a soft toy, can also help in this transition. This object can provide comfort to your baby that they can turn to instead of nursing. Ensure the object is safe for your baby to have in their crib during naptime.

Step 4: Encourage Self-Soothing

Teaching your child to self-soothe is crucial in helping them fall asleep independently. This could involve providing them with a soft toy or blanket to cuddle or allowing them some time alone in their crib to relax and settle.

Avoid rushing in immediately if they fuss or cry, as this can reinforce the association between nursing and sleep. Instead, give them a few minutes to try and settle themselves. Remember, patience and consistency are critical during this phase.

 Providing Them With a Soft Toy

Step 5: Use a Pacifier

If your child is used to nursing to fall asleep, a pacifier can mimic the soothing effect of breastfeeding. Although not all babies take to a pacifier, it can be a valuable tool for those who do. Make sure to wean your baby off the pacifier once they’ve transitioned away from nursing to sleep to avoid creating another dependency.

Step 6: Implement a Consistent Sleep Schedule

Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule is essential to ensure your child gets enough sleep. Ensure your baby naps and goes to bed at the exact times each day. This helps set their internal body clock and makes it easier to fall asleep independently. If your child knows what to expect at nap and bedtime, it can reduce anxiety and resistance, aiding in the transition away from nursing to sleep.

Step 7: Gradual Comfort Removal

Once your child starts getting comfortable with not nursing to sleep, gradually remove other sources of comfort one by one. For instance, if you introduce a pacifier or a comfort object, you can slowly limit their use. The goal is to encourage your child to become completely independent during sleep. Remember, this process should be gradual and comfortable for your child to ensure a smooth transition.

Step 8: Stay Consistent and Patient

Transitions take time, and every child adjusts at their own pace. Staying consistent with your routine and patient with your child is essential. There may be setbacks, but don’t let them discourage you. Celebrate small successes along the way and know that your child will learn their new sleep routine with time.

 New Sleep Routine With Time

Step 9: Monitor Your Child’s Progress

Keep track of your child’s nap times and how they are adjusting to the new routine. This will help you identify any patterns or problems that may arise and address them promptly. Remember, it’s normal for children to resist changes in their routine, but with consistency and patience, they will adapt.

Step 10: Seek Professional Guidance if Needed

If you’re facing significant difficulties or if your child’s sleep patterns do not improve, it may be beneficial to seek professional guidance. A child sleep consultant or a pediatrician can provide further support and personalized advice based on your child’s needs. Remember, every child is unique, and what works for one child might not work for another. Professional guidance can help identify the best approach for your child.

Following these steps, you can gradually transition your child from nursing to sleep for naps. Remember to stay patient, consistent, and trust in the process.

5 Additional Tips and Tricks

Tip 1: Stay Calm and Positive

A calm and positive attitude can have a significant impact on the success of the transition. If you’re anxious or stressed, your child will likely pick up on these emotions. Try to maintain a positive mindset, reassuring your child that everything’s okay.

Tip 2: Make Naps a Priority

Ensure you prioritize your child’s nap times. As tempting as it might be to skip naps in the hope that your child will sleep better at night, it can lead to over-tiredness, making it even harder for them to fall asleep independently.

Tip 3: Involve Family Members

Involve other family members in the naptime routine. This can help your child understand they can feel safe and comfortable with others, not just when nursing with mom.

Tip 4: Keep the Sleeping Environment Consistent

Using the Same Sleeping Space

Try to make your child’s sleep surroundings as consistent as possible. This means using the same sleeping space, lighting, and noise levels for every nap. This consistency can provide a sense of security and familiarity.

Tip 5: Be Prepared for Some Resistance

Expect some resistance to the changes in the routine. This is a normal part of the transition process. Stay consistent, reassure your child, and know this phase will pass.

With patience, consistency, and understanding, you can successfully stop nursing your child to sleep for naps.

5 Things You Should Avoid

1. Avoid Inconsistent Routines

Consistency is key when transitioning your child from nursing to sleep for naps. Avoid changing nap times, sleep environment, or comfort methods frequently, as it can confuse your child and delay their adjustment to the new sleep routine.

2. Avoid Making Big Changes All at Once

A sudden change can upset your child and lead to resistance or anxiety. It’s better to make small, gradual changes to the sleep routine. This approach can make the transition smoother and less stressful for you and your child.

3. Avoid Neglecting Your Child’s Emotional Needs

Your child may face emotional challenges during this transition period as they adapt to a new routine. Avoid being dismissive of their feelings. Instead, provide reassurance and comfort to help them cope with the changes.

4. Avoid Rushing the Process

Rushing can lead to setbacks and increased resistance from your child. It’s important to move at a comfortable pace for your child. Remember, it’s a process, and it takes time.

Comfortable Pace for Your Child

5. Avoid Comparing Your Child’s Progress to Others

Each child is unique and adapts to changes at their own pace. Avoid comparing your child’s progress to other children’s, as it can lead to unnecessary stress and frustration. Focus on your child’s individual growth and progress.

By avoiding these pitfalls and following the recommended steps, you can successfully stop nursing your child to sleep for naps.


Taking the steps how to stop nursing to sleep for naps to get your child out of this habit can seem intimidating at first, but just remember that dedication and consistency are the keys to success. If you feel overwhelmed, a sleep consultant or physician can provide invaluable guidance.

Creating a sleep plan that works for your family is possible, and implementing it can significantly reduce stress for everyone involved.

After all, nothing’s better than seeing those sparkly eyes wide open while your little one is enjoying an energizing nap! So don’t wait any longer; be positive and have confidence in yourself. Most importantly, stay consistent so that you can finally see the nap time results you want.

Good luck with starting this new journey towards a healthy sleep routine!

Photo of author

Loren Jones

Hi, my name is Loren. I live with my husband and 4 lovely kiddos in the Eastern part of San-fransisco. I have a smart beautiful,curious 6 year old daughter, a handsome 11-year-old son, an intelligent and tech geek 15 years old son and a creative, artistic 12-year-old stepson. With each of my kids being five years apart, I feel that I’m now continually phasing in and out of each stage of parenting! I’ve learned a lot about the way children learn and behave, especially in a school setting with regards to curriculum. I enjoy sharing that insight through my writing and hope that it can help others.

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