This week was my baby’s 18-month check-up, which comes with two shots, tears and screaching, and this time also a gentle lecture from his pediatrician.
Is he learning new words? Oh, good.
Is he eating well? Nice.
How is he dealing with daycare? Yes, that’s normal.
And how’s he sleeping? Oh. Really? Two or three times a night?
And here she began:
– This isn’t good for you. You need your sleep.
– But I’m sleeping just fine. I just roll over and comfort him. And if that doesn’t work, he breastfeeds for a bit.
She gave me the little pursed-lips look. The one that says, oh dear girl. Breastfeeding at night, apparently that’s a big no-no. My baby can get nursing cavities.
I thought that was just for bottle-fed babies who fall asleep with the rubber nipple in their mouth. A lactation consultant assured me that nursing a baby to sleep does not cause cavities, though many in the medical field have confused everything together. Now I don’t know who to believe about that. Oh, I hate conflicting opinions!
In any case, the doctor encouraged me to wean him at night. Really, I didn’t mind her opinion. I’m willing to hear anyone’s advice, just in case it might help. But she didn’t offer anything that I hadn’t tried before. No big revelation like, look there’s a special technique, sort of like the Vulcan sleep hold. Just the usual “remove the nipple before he falls asleep.” Tried it. It helped a little but didn’t go far.
I was ready to dismiss the whole thing, except she added this: “It’s important for him to learn to fall back asleep on his own and to be in his own bed. Otherwise, if he wakes 2 or 3 times a night, he’s not getting the sleep that he needs. And he’s not going to learn on his own. It won’t magically happen unless you help him.”
Anyone want to know my Achilles’ heel? It’s mom-guilt.
So now I’m working on Operation Bad Mama. Still not sure how or when would be best, but I’m working on a plan. I still like the “don’t offer, don’t refuse” technique. It’s been working well and he’s been nursing less and less and for shorter periods. So, what’s next? Should I wean completely? Will it actually help him sleep all night? Or will it somehow backfire in spectacular fashion?
The strategy begins…