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Does anyone have a recommended sleep training method suitable for a 4.5 month old who has become reliant on sucking on our fingers in order to go to sleep, or any experience with this problem themselves?

We first started letting him suck on our fingers as a suck training tool as he couldn’t breastfeed until he was gone seven weeks old. We were recommended to avoid pacifiers until after he’d figured out nursing, so unfortunately by the time he was allowed to try one he wasn’t interested, fingers are clearly his preference. He doesn’t seem to find sucking on his own hands soothing enough either, he’s still practicing that during the day.

He takes most of his naps in his Next2Me crib, except perhaps one a day in his pram or carrier on a walk. I try other methods of soothing him (shushing, stroking, etc), which help, but without allowing him to suck on a finger too he won’t sleep and usually ramps up the crying intensity from a grumble to inconsolable.

Before his sleep regression I was trying to take the finger away before he fully fell asleep, which we were having a little success with, but since his sleep regression it seems to have become ingrained and if I take it away before he’s fully asleep he’ll just start immediately crying for it.

Any recommendations are appreciated.

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  • Have you tried different pacifiers? (Shapes, brands, sizes, ...) Sometimes you need a few tries for it to take.
    – AsheraH
    Dec 8 '20 at 10:16
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I have to start off by saying that we were told that this could be used to stimulate and "train" during initial breast feeding, but it should be for a very short period and it seems to me that you have been doing this too much/too long. The primary answer thus seems to be not to get in this situation in the first place.

Therefore I think that you should wean this behaviour, and it will probably be tough/hard but I can offer some thoughts:

Firstly, are you sure the baby is not hungry?

And generally, I recommend reading up on the different phases your baby is going through in its development. This is going in waves, with periods where your baby has matured a new skill and is gradually developing it and followed by periods of frustration leading up to a new development. This can be of help in interpreting your baby and it can be very helpful to know that a period of frustration can be due to your baby developing a new cognitive ability and not necessarily "your doing".

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My son didn't take to the pacifier at first either but I wanted him to take one for various reasons and eventually he did take to it. If I were in your position I would first make sure all his other needs have been met (diaper, bottle or bf) and then get him used to the dummy for sleeping. when he realizes fingers are not an option (honestly, when they are asleep we have too many other things to do!) he will find an alternative sleep aid.

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