How To Get Your Little One Asleep Without Milk

There is nothing better than breastfeeding your baby to sleep.

It is empowering, magical and makes you feel like you may burst from the amount of oxytocin flowing through your veins.

But as they start to get older and may have a new sibling to contend with, you may be thinking of trying to stop the nursing to sleep. 

My little ones refused bottles for all of their breastfeeding journeys. Only to self-wean and then get attached to milk in a bottle going to sleep. 

So, whether it is nursing to sleep or milk in a bottle to sleep - how do you break the habit, with the least amount of tears possible?

Pick your moment

When your little ones start to get older their bedtimes and naptimes become very predictable. Try to find the best sleep schedule that works for your little one. Remember that a good routine that works takes some trial and error and some time to establish. 

Little boy lying on a bed
An hour before bed, start to set the mood for sleep.

Set the mood

You may fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow but trust us that has taken years to perfect. Teaching your little one to wind-down is helpful in getting them to sleep easier. An hour before bed, start to set the mood for sleep.

Dim the lights, you might include a bath and some relaxation music and a massage. If you practise this every night it will soon become part of your little one's daily routine and help them to settle to sleep easily.

Try other forms of comforting

Milk to your little one is comfort. But try and find different ways to give your little one comfort. If they usually nurse to sleep, try holding them and giving them a soother instead.

You could try rubbing their face and back or even a low voiced bedtime story. Eventually, if you stay consistent, your little one will sense the pattern and get used to the new winding down before sleep routine. 


It can be hard to break the cycle of milk and sleep if it is mum who does bedtime every night. While trying to adjust to your routine, perhaps have your partner do bedtime so the reminder of milk and comfort is not there for your little one.

Give it time

Remember all of this takes time. Try to stay consistent and when the milk goes, it goes. When your little one asks, give a firm but kind no and explain gently why. 

Laura Doyle

Mum of four, Gentle parent living on coffee and trying always to stay positive and motivate in the midst of the madness.

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