Nursing: It’s More than Breastfeeding and Every Mother Can Do It


Breastfeeding isn’t only about providing mother’s milk. While seldom recognized in literature, doctors’ advice or common conversation, there’s a whole lot more to breastfeeding than nutrition and immunity, and some of this can be achieved during bottlefeeding as well.

by Linda Folden Palmer, D.C.

Breastfeeding has taken quite a bashing over the last century. In order to rebuild acceptance of breastfeeding, breastfeeding advocates have focused on the importance its nutritive and immune support roles. But breastfeeding is designed to be much more than just providing food — it is a time for nursing, a time for comfort and nurturing. This is a time for studying and memorizing each other’s faces, for speaking or singing to your baby and developing her trust and nonverbal communication.

Babies clearly seek nursing in order to ease the pain of a bump or illness, to relieve stress or to regain security after being frightened. It’s obviously effective. And whenever allowed, babies usually engage in comfort nursing long after nutrition needs have been satiated, deepening the soothing, bonding and educational relationship between mother and child.

Not all of these benefits are exclusive to breastfeeding mothers and babies. Bottlefeeding mothers can achieve many of these benefits, as well. It’s possible to “nurse” your baby, whether at bottle or at breast.

“Nursing” is more than breastfeeding
In your arms or snuggled alongside you, your baby is nurtured by the snuggly warmth of your body and comforted by your familiar scent (pheromones). He hears the beat of your heart and the sound of your voice. His neurons and hormones program him to desire and flourish in this environment — a means of ensuring his protection, survival and optimal development. And when allowed, your baby’s powerful imprint on your pheromonal messages is second only to his programmed need and yearning for sucking.

Science has demonstrated how a baby’s optimal development occurs through his neurological and hormonal responses to these planned inputs. Providing these stimuli for your baby means providing the advantages, as well.

Comfort nursing
Babies often engage in comfort nursing (also known as non-nutritive sucking) well beyond their need for taking in milk for nourishment. Given the opportunity, most babies will comfort nurse – and for baby’s benefit, it’s a good thing. Comfort nursing satiates your baby’s needs for soothing, familiarity and educational parent-child exchanges. Your baby needs to nurse for security, positive hormonal releases, bonding and company.

The importance of sucking to a baby’s comfort and well being is well demonstrated. In a Chicago sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) study, bottle-fed infants who enjoyed the added use of a pacifier (which makes up for comfort nursing time) had only one-third the rate of SIDS as those who did not use pacifiers, and those who breastfed had only one-fifth the rate of SIDS.

EEG studies of babies’ brains while sucking at the breast demonstrate increased activity in areas of the brain that govern alertness and attention as well as in areas that control the cycle of sleeping and waking. Bottle-feeding produces similar but smaller changes in brain patterns.

Many babies who are fed on strict schedules or quickly removed from the breast or bottle as soon as active feeding is done will seek a thumb or finger to suck on or take to a pacifier. This demonstrates their strong inborn requirement for more comfort sucking. Allow your baby to continue to breastfeed as long as she wishes for comfort. Bottlefeeding parents can offer comfort nursing by holding their babies and allowing them to continue sucking on a bottle or pacifier.

Sucking relieves pain and soothes babies
Researchers have shown that breastfeeding reduces pain for babies. A recent assessment measured a great reduction in babies’ pain during medical procedures if they breastfed during the procedure. Some reduction in pain was demonstrated with pacifier sucking, but simply holding a baby in his mother’s arms did not provide measurable relief.

Clearly, babies are meant to return to their mothers after a bump or to demand frequent nursing when ill. When your baby is sick, the soothing qualities of being held and sucking is both healing and helps relieve symptoms for your infant. Nursing keeps baby close to you so you can best monitor your baby’s status. Quick, safe, and easy, nursing your baby (holding her and allowing her to suck) is meant to soothe the physical pains of babyhood.

Sucking promotes sleep
Another powerful benefit of breastfeeding (and sucking) is its promotion of sleep in baby and in a sleepy mommy. The peace and quiet allow dad to sleep, too.

Some parenting “experts” recommend withholding from your baby all the comforts that would normally induce sleep, including pacifiers, rocking and allowing him to fall asleep at the breast or bottle. These same “experts” then have the opportunity to teach tough-love tactics, which attempt to coerce your perplexed, forsaken baby to sleep without any of his natural tools.

All the crying that ensues produces stress hormone releases in your baby, discouraging sleep until sheer exhaustion takes over. And after all is said and done, you are left to try to get to sleep with your own stress hormones surging through your bloodstream, as well.

The reality is that babies come with a simple and wonderful program in place for falling asleep: breastfeeding. A mother’s body passes comforting hormones into her own body and into her baby’s milk in response to the suckling. Babies release their own comforting hormones, as well, during parental contact and especially when sucking. Together, the warmth, security, full tummy, tiredness from sucking effort and comforting hormones induce sleep naturally.

Nursing your baby to sleep, whether at the breast or the bottle, is a great way to achieve these effects.

The benefits of skin-to-skin contact
Many studies demonstrate the benefits of skin-to-skin contact in babies. One measurable benefit of such contact is increased oxytocin releases in both you and your infant. Regular, high oxytocin levels not only comfort you and your baby but they serve to increase your sense of satisfaction with motherhood.

Higher levels of oxytocin, especially when created through frequent or prolonged body contact, encourage other kinds of positive hormonal interactions to occur as well. These provide physical rewards to protect the desires for maintaining close family relationships.

Long-term benefits of regularly high oxytocin levels include a reduction in heart disease risk factors for you and your baby. Your child may enjoy lower blood pressure and healthier arteries throughout his life as a result. Furthermore, regular high oxytocin actually reduces the severity of your child’s lifelong reactions to stress.

Preemies are the most often studied in terms of skin-to-skin contact, since they are the most accessible to observe during their stays in neonatal intensive care units, and measurable results are often quite pronounced in this most vulnerable age group. However, this certainly doesn’t mean that preemies are the only babies who benefit from skin-to-skin contact!

In premature newborns, skin-to-skin contact leads to superior temperature control, lower heart rates and life-saving oxygen regulation. The hospital stays of preemies who receive skin-to-skin contact are much shorter. Milk production in mothers is greatly improved when they share this contact with their preemies, and their attachment and maternal behaviors are enhanced. “Kangaroo care preemies” (those kept close to mother’s skin and breastfed when possible) are found to gain twice as much weight per day as incubator babies.

The benefits are clear: snuggle your baby. Breastfeed frequently; if you bottle feed, don’t prop your baby’s bottle and walk away. Your baby’s health will benefit!

Seeing eye to eye
Feeding time is also designed to encourage your baby’s reception of positive activities such as studying your face, exchanging expressions with you and sharing verbal cues. Not only does this deepen the attachment between the two of you, but much of your baby’s early verbal, emotional and social learning is meant to occur during this focused time.

Cute little ornaments hanging over cribs are meant to provide entertainment as well as practice in focusing on and reaching for objects. Your face peering down at your baby during a feeding offers a much superior form of these same rewards.

Holding, rocking and cuddling
The need for frequent breastfeeding throughout the day and night ensures that babies gets their fill of holding, rocking and cuddling. Natural, on-cue breastfeeding ensures that mothers will take the time with sufficient frequency to provide ample nurturing attention. Bottlefeeding parents can do this, too, by making feeding times cherishable times and remembering to hold their babies frequently throughout the day.

While the analysis didn’t measure breastfeeding, one hospital study compared the responses of newborns to standard and what they call “enhanced” care. Newborns were rocked, cuddled, offered verbal and visual stimulation and allowed to suck on a pacifier as much as they desired. In comparison with infants who received standard hospital care, these babies demonstrated superior temperature regulation and respiratory rates; far fewer heart murmurs were detected, fewer sucking and swallowing difficulties were seen and almost no crying was found.

“Nursing” matters
Lest you think this “nursing” your baby sounds sweet but offers intangible rewards, look again at all the benefits of holding your baby and allowing her to suck at will.

• nourishment
• comfort
• easing of pain and discomfort
• protection during illness
• building of bonding and attachment with         parents
• social development
• inducing sleep
• building of trust in parents
• visual development
• development of communication skills
• building brain organization toward positive stress handling throughout life
• reduced heart disease risk factors
• lowered risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)

Breastfeeding provides full nutrition and amazing immune protection for baby, but that’s only the beginning. Nursing your baby – holding her close, letting her suck at will, and offering skin-to-skin contact frequently throughout the day – provides benefits for both breastfed and bottlefed babies. And what a wonderful beginning it can be!


  • Tina April 26, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    I nurse my baby to sleep because it is what works and seems natural. She is 6 months old now and more and more people keep telling me I should stop nursing her to sleep, that I am creating a sleep crutch. I really don’t want to stop doing it until I have to and hopefully that is when she weens from breastfeeding. This article really helped me and reassured me that I am doing the right thing. Thank you!

    • Claudia's mom May 20, 2014 at 9:42 am

      Hi Tina,
      Nurse as long as you want to! She is your child, do what feels right for you! Unfortunately due to low milk supply that could not be helped after multiple remedies and meetings with a lactation consultant I had to start supplementing my daughter with formula. However I never stopped nursing her (I figured a little breast milk was better than nothing at all!). My daughter is now 13 months old and she still nurses to sleep for naps (not bedtime as it did eventually cause issues. She could only be soothed by me in the middle of the night and it created a very tired mommy & sad daddy who felt like he couldn’t comfort her). Naps however have not been an issue at all! I love this time with her and I firmly believe that my continued comfort nursing has created even more of a deepened bond between the 2 of us. She is a very cuddly, loving, and affectionate baby with us. Friends are always commenting and saying “wow you can really tell how much she loves you!” I am not judging those that don’t or can’t nurse. But in my personal experience I firmly believe that nursing has led to a very deep and wonderful mother daughter bond.

      • Awhina August 9, 2014 at 12:27 am

        Hi there thank you for your very reassuring article 🙂 my bub is 4 1/2 months old and can only be soothed to sleep by breast , I too have had issues with low supply so I bottle feed to supplement . In his short little life thus far he has been sick so many times and breast feeding has been his means of comfort , however now he won’t settle or sleep without it? How did you change this habit with your daughter ?? 🙂

      • noey January 19, 2015 at 6:03 am

        I know this is late, but I have a 7 month old who can only be soothed by me at night. My ? is, how did you get her to stop at night???

        • Linda F. Palmer February 8, 2015 at 9:55 am

          Oh gosh, even our spouses like to be soothed at night. I like to be soothed at night. The best soothing designed for young children is being nursed to sleep. Nothing could be more wonderful. If it works for both of you, there’s no need to pick an age and stop it. Why not use it for a few years? I guarantee it will only make thoughts of bedtime always more special, less scary, more secure, even when nursing to sleep becomes replaced by story time or simply hugs and kisses and well wishes… or looking at favorite posters on dorm room walls and snuggling up in the soft sheets and pillow that mom bought especially for her.

      • Renascer July 7, 2015 at 2:34 am

        Hi Claudia’s mum. My son is 5 weeks 4 days old and we are struggling with breastfeeding due to severe tongue tie (he just had his second division done) and low supply on my part. I had the same issues with my older son and had to switch to bottles but I always grieved the bonding aspect of him being at breast. I am pumping for this child and giving him ebm with an at breast supplementer but it is very tricky and not working out well. I am getting burned out, feeling like my older son is neglected and getting very upset and stressed so something has to give (I ended up with PPD last time). I would love to know how to continue to have him comfort suck at breast so even if I have to use bottles we have this special bond. Any advice on how to do this?

      • Emma April 1, 2021 at 12:59 pm

        Any tips on breaking the nursing to sleep habit at bedtime/attachment to mom all night? Baby is refusing to be soothed or sleep for dad, especially at night. 🥲

        • Linda Palmer April 3, 2021 at 7:08 pm

          My reply to Melissa, above, may be helpful for you. Dad may wish to continue his efforts for a few more days. If baby is crying in his arms, then baby knows he/she is still being loved and cared for, and may eventually feel more secure in dad’s arms at night. Typically, night attachment to dad will grow, and ample nursing during the day may fill that bonding experience. Every baby is different though and yours may thrive on nighttime attention, for a snuggly while longer.

    • Aslan’s mom August 15, 2018 at 5:57 pm

      Hi Tina,

      Honestly I have heard similar things and also heard”don’t respond to every whimper or cry or else you’ll spoil them an they will use it to get your attention and that they have to show them tough love so they can sooth themselves

      I also heard that babies cries don’t always need to be responded to an that they are “testing” you to see how much they can get away with an the more you respond to them the more they will only use your attention to their advantage…

      None of these are true and I’m glad someone posted this because every mother should know this also I hope after reading this article you are doing what is natural and beneficial to your baby don’t listen to anyone else, babies will sleep when they want to and eat when they want you can’t teach or “train” them to be in a schedule for everything People need to understand baby’s are tiny humans with no knowledge or understanding of “spoiling” or “training” all they understand is love and attention and if you deprive them of that you will just be raising a child with poor attachment styles, fear and trust issues, I would love to see this idea of training ,spoiling, too much, let them cry attitude be over and done with in the future.

  • Tyiesha July 26, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    I’ve been wondering lately if I’m doing this breastfeeding thing right! My daughter is now nine months old and because I work and go to school she has bottles (of breast milk) and baby food during the day. If it were not for the fact that she can’t seem to get to sleep without nursing at night after I pump, she would be completely weaned. I’ve been wondering if I’m just being lazy and if I should start getting her used to sleeping in her own bed but it’s not inconvenient for me or daddy, as she will go to sleep nursing and wake up only once in early morning to nurse again. It seems to be working for all of us and now I feel a little better about it.

    • Linda F. Palmer July 27, 2014 at 7:42 am

      What a lucky little girl to be able to re-connect with mom at night after mom’s away at work and school. Not to worry… she will fall asleep on her own when she’s in college, and more securely so when you fill her instinctual needs now.

  • Linda F. Palmer August 9, 2014 at 10:56 am

    Do you have a need to take away her natural instinctual behavior? This is how babies are designed. What a lovely way to get through all the little pains and scarinesses of being a helpless baby. How delightful that “nature” has provided such a comfy means for babies to fall asleep. What a lucky little girl she is to have this natural source of comfort. She’s just a little bitty baby right now. Ask this in a couple of years. Don’t worry. She will fall asleep on her own at college.

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  • Loren November 22, 2014 at 7:14 pm

    I absolutely love this article! With my 2 older children I mostly bottlefed. Now I have a 2 month old who has been strictly breastfed. The bond between us is so strong! I can see a big difference in breastfeeding. You can tell she feels secure and safe. She hardly ever cries. I have not had one sleepless night since I brought her home. I really wish I breastfed my older 2.

  • Anabel January 8, 2015 at 5:38 pm

    What a beautiful article!!!!!
    My baby girl is 13 months and she still nurses to sleep. The bonding between her and I is amazing, yet I do believe I have to break the habit of her nursing to sleep. I have exhausted after waking up 3 or 4 times during the night to soothe her and nurse for comfort.
    Do you have any tips as to how I can break this habit?
    Thank you.

    • Linda F. Palmer February 8, 2015 at 10:00 am

      Theoretically, the hormonal releases from nursing should lull you both gently back to sleep. I suppose that it doesn’t work well if she’s not sleeping right at your side and you have to go and get your daughter from a crib. For some it doesn’t even work when together, for some reason. Some assign dad to the nighttime comforting for a little transition period. He can give all the snuggles and bouncing and affection baby can take, but, of course, he’s unable to nurse. Don’t leave him on full duty for too long, but this tactic works for some. If baby is sleeping at your side, then it may help to cover your top up really well so that baby does not smell her milk and supposedly she’ll have fewer urges/thoughts of nursing. Try to soothe her in different ways and make it a long, tedious wait to get the nursers out.

  • Lilly February 7, 2015 at 12:16 am

    My daughter is 9 months old and I’m still hesitant about introducing solids. She’s growing wonderfully and is a healthy and happy baby. Should I introduce solids just for fun or are the benefits of breastfeeding the greatest when no other solids or water are introduced?

    • Linda F. Palmer February 8, 2015 at 9:50 am

      That’s right: the benefits of breastfeeding are greatest when no other solids are introduced. Water doesn’t exactly interfere but there’s no need for it and it can reduce appetite. If, as you say, your daughter is growing wonderfully and is healthy and happy, then everything is going great. Just follow your instincts and your baby’s leads.

  • Jake March 22, 2015 at 4:03 am

    Hello, I’m currently studying level 3 extended diploma in children and young people’s workforce. I found this article to be great help for some areas of my work. but currently i have to produce a hypothesis and the hypothesis i have chose is ‘boys are more attached to their mothers than girls’ ? i would love to hear anyone’s views and opinions on the subject as it will help for my research but the main question i wanted to ask was in your opinion do you think if boys are breast fed it will encourage more of a stronger bond?

    • Linda F. Palmer March 23, 2015 at 11:41 am

      Your work sounds valuable. I have seen a study or two (somewhere) saying that boys are typically breastfed for longer than girls are. I don’t know whether this represents a closer bond at this stage? Mothers appear similarly attached to boys and girls, to me, until the teen years. At this stage, the attachment relationships become different, with girls and with boys. I can’t say one is stronger, over the average, but they are just different. Moms may have more in common with girls, in terms of doing things together, but boys may cling more to their mothers in other ways, while hormonal ebbs and tides can create some divisions and/or closer moments among the females.

    • Mom2b2g March 30, 2015 at 1:48 am

      I breastfeed both of my girls until 17 months old. It only took a few days to wean them from the breast. They were very easy to wean. My oldest was the easiest and she was the most attached to me. My son was the hardest. I had tried multiple times with no success so I gave in. He only nursed at night. Finally, He was 28 months when I found out I was pregnant and had to wean him. It took me a month or more and he threw fits to nurse. They were all ebf.

  • Ashley April 16, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    Lovely article! My little girl is a month old and I’ve been breastfeeding on-demand, she comfort nurses quite often and I’m perfectly okay with it. My only concern is it’s VERY hard to get her to drink from a bottle when I pump. In a few weeks time she’s supposed to be staying with her dad on weekends, and I’ll eventually have to return to work, but nine times out of ten when she’s given a bottle she iust screams her head off until she’s back at the breast (which granted isn’t very long because momma hates to see her stressed). Any suggestions?

    • Linda F. Palmer April 17, 2015 at 9:42 am

      Most people find that once mom is physically gone from the scene, and baby can no longer smell her, baby will learn to take what she can get. She will become very happy with dad’s cuddles and affection. He may want to try affection/entertainment first and sneak bottle into the snuggle before hunger strikes.

  • New Gramma May 19, 2015 at 2:57 am

    As a former journalist, I do a lot of internet research. However, I have not found any discussion on a situation I am currently dealing with that seems very unusual. My step-daughter is a very committed mom, which I so appreciate and applaud. She is currently breast-feeding our adorable 7 month old granddaughter, who requires a lot of comfort nursing and does not take a pacifier at all. So, the grandmother that is comfortable providing this service is the only one allowed to babysit for an extended period of time. Apparently, girlfriends do this for each other’s babies with ease as well. I nursed my own, and am a strong advocate of breast-feeding, but have never heard of this practice, and although I love her to pieces, it doesn’t feel natural to me. Comments? Thank you!

    • Linda F. Palmer May 27, 2015 at 8:49 am

      Hi. I’m not entirely certain as to what practice you are referring, but I believe you are talking about women nursing a grandchild or friend’s child at the breast? This is a very common practice in traditional societies that are barely touched by modern world influences. Because families in these areas may be larger than many of ours, it’s more-often an aunt, grandmother, or cousin, but friends too. Babies in our modern world are frequently bottle-fed by multiple different people, even by people who are strangers to them. No one feels that this causes any kind of confusion. I’m sorry that it’s squeezing you out a little in your time spent with your granddaughter. It may seem like a very long time, as little ones grow so fast, but there should be more opening for you in a matter of months. My baby knew that dad couldn’t nurse him and also did not take an artificial nipple, but he eventually learned to enjoy time alone with dad for extended periods as long as he could not hear or smell me. Of course, even as baby starts some solid foods, some moms do not want to go for longer than 3 or 4 hour stints without nursing, in order to prolong their lactational amenorrhea for as long as possible (prevent periods and fertility from returning).

  • Erin June 17, 2015 at 1:20 pm


    My 5-1/2 month old son gets babysat by my cousin who has a 3 month old baby. She nurses her baby throughout the day and gives my son bottles of my pumped breast milk. I am wondering if you have seen any research that shows if my baby might feel jealous by seeing the other baby nurse? Do you think it might frustrate my son or make him long for me more? Do you think her smell of milk might agitate him and make him more fussy for me as well?

    • Linda F. Palmer June 18, 2015 at 5:12 pm

      Hi. That’s a thoughtful question. I don’t believe there actually research on this. All you can do is go by your mommy instincts and the observations from your cousin. My intuition is that it’s all going to be perfectly fine. There IS a study showing that a week after birth, bottle-fed babies were more attracted to the smell of their mother’s breasts than to their bottles. Attachment is to mom’s’ odor first, mom’s milk odor/flavor second, and then the feeding mode after that. There are definitely attachments to feeding modes over time. If bottle feeding experience is combined with mom-flavored milk, I think baby will attach to this and be happy with it.

      • Stella July 29, 2015 at 4:45 am

        Hi Linda,

        Thank you for this article. I exclusively breastfed my baby daughter until she was 3 and 1/2 months old when she was hospitalized for bloody stools and diarrhea (it ranged from 5 to 13 times a day at first). Her sigmoid colon was irritated but nothing else was wrong. Without any testing for allergies, she was pronounced allergic and released from the hospital a month later. The directions we were given were to strickly bottle feed her Neocate formula and pass to Neocate spoon as soon as she reached 6 months. With very little help from pediatricians I went on an elimination diet and started relactating when she was 5 months. She’s now 8 and 1/2 and partially bottle fed because of a thyroid problem (probably hypothyroidism) I discovered a week ago when I got my test results. I’m seeing my endocrinologist tomorrow for a prescription and hopefully I’ll be able to exclusively breastfeed again. I plan to until she gets her whole set of baby teeth whenever that will be, but my family is against it. They don’t understand why I want to delay solids and say that once she took the first sip of formula immunity was compromised anyway, so why go that far? My question is : are the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding forever lost or can she gain from our returning back to only breastmilk and if so what exactly?
        Thank you for any insight

        • Linda F. Palmer August 6, 2015 at 8:43 am

          Her flora will probably not return to that of a baby who was exclusively breastfed all along, but it might. There’s been incredibly little research on this but I know a few lactation consultants swear they’ve seen it. (It would become more yellow and less odiferous.) Either way, immunity provided by exclusive breastfeeding IS still stronger than supplemented diet, even once the flora has changed, and oh gosh, the flora is only ONE method by which breastmilk protects baby — and continues to do so once the flora has changed. Nature or the creator wouldn’t plan for breastmilk to continue on in humans and all other mammals after solids begin if there were no advantage to it. It continues many measurable protections even after solid foods have begun, in a dose-dependent fashion, and the longer any breastmilk is given, the more prolonged the extended benefits after all breastmilk stops. There are anti-cancer factors, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, intestinal-healing, hormone balancing, brain-developing, and lots of antibodies as well as other factors that act in anti-microbial manners — some generally protective and then so many that seem to target specific human pathogens. Cow milk proteins are especially problematic to babies (I’m thinking you’re using the AA formula though?).

          Did you know that most mammals continue breastfeeding long after their baby teeth are in (and during part of the transition) — that’s why they’re called “milk teeth.”

          You’ve been working hard and doing an awesome job mom. What a lucky baby. Remember who the mom is.

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  • Steph August 21, 2015 at 9:54 am

    I really appreciate this article. I exclusively breastfeed my 8 month old son and plan to do it at least a year. I’ve never used a breast pump or even a pacifier. Many people have not been supportive of this and they think I am inconviencing myself and everyone else. But this article shows that it’s not just about breastfeeding and hunger! I think any way a mother chooses to comfort her baby according to her instincts is best and I certainly do not have anything against mothers who bottle feed or use pacifiers. If my baby wants to feed on my breast for hours for comfort so be it! Its about building a bond and trust and knowing that you as a mother are doing exactly what you feel is best for your baby. I really wish people would keep their opinions of the way mothers care for their babies to themselves especially while a mother is trying so hard to endure caring for her child in the first place! It’s a lot of work, mentally, physically exhausting. But it is such a rewarding and beautiful thing for a mother to feel that what she is doing is exactly what her baby needs. After my baby spits up or gets scared of something and wants to nurse for comfort, people say to me HES NOT HUNGRY! HE JUST IS DOING THIS FOR COMFORT! I really just want to say SO WHAT! It really makes a mother feel guilty for wanting to give love and attention to her child. It’s just not fair. Anyway thanks for the article!

    • Mombearpig January 6, 2016 at 6:11 pm

      I have also been the same. No bottles or pumping or pacifiers, only all breast on demand with my 8 month old girl 🙂

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  • Biz October 18, 2015 at 9:31 am

    Thank you for this article! My milk supply never really came in, so I bottle feed my daughter, but I still nurse her all the time. I’ve struggled with the fact that my breasts are essentially empty, but I still use them to comfort her. This article has convinced me that I’m doing the right thing. My baby needs my breasts – even if it’s not for nutrition.

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  • Shah October 28, 2015 at 8:54 pm

    You can totally do it if you are cmoimtted! im graduating with BSN/RN next month. I have not been working, but i have a 3 year old son whom i am at home with well over 40hrs/week and i absolutley cannot study in this time. I make dinner for my son and husband, and on the nights i dont have class, i eat with them and then start studying around 7:30pm until anywhere from 12am-4am. when i do have class its 5-11pm and then i get home and start studying at midnight until whenever i fall asleep. I get up with my son between 7-9am and start over again!Many girls (and guys!) i go to school with work full-time jobs and are making it thru.basically, no social life, getting a hair-cut is a vacation, and vacations dont exist kind of life! but, its temporary and worth of luck!M

  • Widya October 28, 2015 at 9:20 pm

    I’m in the same boat you are full-time student in nunirsg school, full-time job, and full-time mommy. Time management works wonders for me. I live by my planner and I make sure to make time just for my son and I (he’s 10 months old), and make time just for myself. In just a couple years you’ll be making plenty of money, so it’s OK to splurge on a once-in-awhile treat for yourself (pedicure, haircut, new outfit, nice dinner, etc.). I feel your pain, and I wish you good luck!

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  • Bee a Mom January 22, 2016 at 5:46 pm

    Came across this wonderful and reassuring post about the benefits of breastfeeding. We are on month 20 and still going strong! I am just writing up a post about breaxting (texting while breastfeeding) and wanted to include a link to this post about what a texting mom can potentially miss during these magical moments. If you’re curious about breaxting, check out my post at

  • Katie January 26, 2016 at 4:56 am

    I really liked this article, but had a question that no one seems willing to answer for me.

    Breastfeeding didn’t work for us. By the time my 3 month old successfully latched at 9 weeks, my already low supply was basically gone. I was back to work for 3 weeks already, and despite all of my efforts to build it up (pumping every 2/3 hours, brewers yeast, fenugreek, soooo much water) it never fully returned. I’m talking about going from about an ounce a day to just drops.
    my boy is basically bottle fed. But now that he knows how to nurse, and maybe because we spent so much time working on it, he seeks it out. It’s strictly comfort nursing, but it’s at the breast instead of the bottle. He’ll have his formula and then nurse at the breast to sleep. I don’t see a problem with it because I enjoy the connection, but I wonder if I’m causing damage in some way by doing this? The professionals I’ve told this to just kind of look at me like I have two heads and just seem uncomfortable with the fact that I nurse even though I can’t provide nutrients with my body.

    • Linda F. Palmer January 27, 2016 at 10:02 am

      There are multitude studies on the immense values of sucking, of skin-to-skin contact, eye-to-eye contact, and holding. We really don’t need studies, though, to see when our child is being fulfilled, and to know in our hearts that there’s never any reason to purposefully withhold any kind of love that we have time and ability to give. Your little guy is lucky to have had some of your milk to start him off on his healthy way, and he’s also very lucky to be able to continue nursing, even without milk. Follow your heart, and your baby’s heart, and please ignore the judgments of others.

      My little guy had multiple food allergies and the learning curve for us was very high. There was barely any internet back then, and finding helpful answers was very hard (hence my first book). Often, the only relief he could find (and that I could find from his screaming) was comfort nursing. I’m certain it was psychologically and physiologically better for him to be comfort nursing than to be writhing and screaming with discomfort. No one had to tell us this. Our bodies, minds, and hearts knew, without question. I have a friend who had to take medications to dry up her milk with her second baby due to chemotherapy. Already being a lactation activist, she continued to allow comfort nursing as baby desired, for the high values of bonding, comforting, neurological organization, etc. She used child-led weaning and the union lasted for a few wonderful years. Together, mom and baby created healthy, beautiful results, and now she’s a happy grandmother.

      • Maggie April 20, 2016 at 4:51 am

        You do what works for you.

        Most medical professionals are not well-trained in breastfeeding, so of course they are not going to have heard of what you’re doing.

        Relactating is hard work.
        The pump is not the best indicator of how much you’re making, baby is more efficient.

        If he’s latched on well and sucking, that will tell you body to make milk.

    • Clare February 16, 2016 at 10:28 pm

      I’m no expert but I’ve been nursing for 5 months. My baby frequently nurses just for comfort- she just suckles rather than laps at thenipple to get milk. If you can provide this comfort nursing to your formula-fed baby I think it’s a wonderful thing and better than a pacifier due to the closeness and nurturing effects. It definitely helps them to sleep too. I can’t think of any way it could be damaging xx

    • Kristi September 10, 2016 at 6:05 am

      Hi Katie
      I know this post was awhile ago but hoping to hear how your experience has been with the comfort sucking. I’m a new mom and our situation seems so similar. My milk supply is getting low and we haven’t perfected the latch so we have been both breastfeeding and bottle feeding. My daughter will only calm though if I let her comfort suck. Hoping to hear from you. Thanks.

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    I nurse my baby to sleep because it is what works and seems natural. She is 6 months old now and more and more people keep telling me I should stop nursing her to sleep, that I am creating a sleep crutch. I really don’t want to stop doing it until I have to and hopefully that is when she weens from breastfeeding. This article really helped me and reassured me that I am doing the right thing. Thank you!

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  • Daisy April 9, 2018 at 5:23 pm

    This was a great article and definitely reassuring. I have a 9 month baby girl who comfort nurses at every nap and at bedtime. She is my first and despite people’s comments and opinions, I instinctively felt that what I was doing was the best thing for my daughter. It is tiring and I’ve had some seriously sore nipples but I know I’m lucky in that she completely trusts me, she’s only gotten sick once, and we have a beautifully special bond. I’m glad there’s others who ageee and see the benefits of beastfeeding and comfort feeding. This was a great read!

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  • Thiranya Ravi September 22, 2018 at 5:45 am

    Such a useful post and this explains the relationship between the parents and baby to me. Thanks for sharing this post with us. Keep sharing.

  • momsfy November 5, 2018 at 12:53 pm

    I have my 8 month old baby. I can totally understand the value of this post. I am really glad that I learn more about nursing

  • Shelly December 17, 2018 at 4:47 pm

    Loved this. This article has helped me feel “less guilty” about extended breastfeeding (19 months) and to worry about just my relationship with my baby. I’ve nursed all 4 of my children. All 3 boys weaned easily and somewhat early. This little girl’s “boobie” is her life. Thankfully I work from home. 😀

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  • Amelia June 16, 2020 at 9:00 am

    I am a new mom and I can totally relate to what you’re saying. It’s been a few months into nursing and I’m totally overwhelmed 🙁

    • Linda Palmer June 16, 2020 at 2:58 pm

      I am so sorry. This is a time when one needs to be relating regularly with other moms and with support groups such as LLL. Unfortunately, even that is a big challenge in today’s environment. You are doing the most important job there is. This time will pass by so quickly. Treasure the special moments, and be proud for making in through the tough ones.

  • Melissa June 17, 2020 at 10:22 am

    Such a great article! I love breastfeeding my baby and I have done it for 16 months now. It has made us bond so well but he has not been taking his bottle well. But my biggest worry is how to stop breastfeeding him at night as I get so exhausted since we wake up like 4 times and you have to nurse him to make him sleep again.

    • Linda Palmer June 17, 2020 at 12:16 pm

      What a lucky baby to have a close, natural relationship with mom. My baby had an “open bar” all night, next to me, and the nursing hormones put me back to sleep, as well as baby. We slept 9 hours per night. I thought it was all hormonally meant to work that way for everyone, but I’ve learned that this is not actually that common. Lots of moms find this to be a very challenging period. It seems that, for those babies allowed to nurse on-cue, night nursing often intensifies around 18 months, lasting for months more. Babies your son’s age seem to do fine with only a couple night feedings, but there must be a reason why, if given the choice, babies wish to feed so often during the night. Of course, every feeding and sleeping relationship is different, and every mother has different needs, as does every baby.

      You might consider that this time is so short and so special, and one day you will be missing it. Still, if you can’t get enough sleep, it might not seem so dreamy. Having partner address some of the night wakings is one option. Baby may recognize that no breasts, no milk, and give up on asking.

      With increasing mobility and curiosity, your baby is likely very busy during the days now. Make sure you two are taking plenty of snuggling and nursing time during the days, so baby is not trying to make up for lost time during the night.

      Mostly, it may take some sternness and probably some tears, but night nursings can be reduced, if needed.

  • Nora August 7, 2020 at 4:23 am

    I am very new into parenting and I have learnt a lot from this blog.

  • Anna September 8, 2020 at 11:38 am

    Thank you for shairing this great content about nursing. I am a new mom and I’m really enjoying parenting each day.

  • Jessica June 8, 2021 at 12:29 pm

    Thank you for sharing this very informative article about nursing, I have learnt a lot things from this article as a new mom.

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  • Mama Adoptation May 17, 2024 at 1:46 am

    What a fantastic article! I’ve been nursing my child for 16 months, and I adore it. Although it has strengthened our closeness, he has not been taking his bottle well. My main concern, though, is how to stop nursing him at night as it wears me out because we get up four or five times a night and you have to nurse him back to sleep.


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