Yes, I still let my toddler nurse as much as he wants at night. Are you shocked?
If so, why?
I was recently in a group where mom with babies over 6 months were discussing their night weaning techniques. I just listened to their experiences and entertained the idea that I could night wean Ewan if I wanted too. In truth, it made me question whether I was indulging him too much. Was I being too self-sacrificing and not setting enough boundaries for Ewan by allowing him to continue nursing a night? Is he going to grow up thinking that he can get whatever he wants from me, whenever he wants it?
I agree with Dr William Sears that wants and needs for babies and toddlers tend to be the same thing. A baby wants to be held and nursed back to sleep in the middle of the night? I believe that, for him, it's a need. An 18 month old certainly doesn't need to eat in the middle of the night, but he still needs the comfort sometimes. He needs to know that I'm there.
Of course, night nursing is one of those things that can be stopped if the mother wishes. Ewan would be old enough to understand that nursing is a daytime activity, if I were to decide that nursing is a daytime activity.
I don't really think that nursing is a daytime activity, though.
Biologically, it doesn't make sense to night wean.
Researchers have found that high levels of the hormone prolactin in lactating women actually help women get better sleep. When a breastfeeding mom is awakened in the night and puts her child back to sleep with breastfeeding, she will quickly pass through light sleep and will get back to deep sleep faster than a person who does not breastfeeding her child back to sleep.
Honestly, I don't feel like I get really good sleep most of the time, but I'm a little nervous about the idea of night weaning now because I don't want to get worse sleep.
Here is how a typical night goes at our house:
7:30pm - Ewan and I go into his room an he nurses to sleep. I lay in his twin bed with him and slip away after he falls asleep.
10:00pm - Joe and I go to bed ( We are so lame now... I can remember when we wouldn't go out until after 10pm!)
anytime between 11:00pm and 4:00am: Ewan wakes up and I go into his room, pick him up, and take him back to bed with us. There, he nurses back to sleep and sleeps with us.
during the night- he nurses and sleeps
6:30am or 7:00am - we all wake up for the day
Nursing my toddler during the wee hours of the morning keeps him asleep! Or at least keeps him quiet and resting so that I can sleep. Why would I want to give that up?
Also, breastmilk is an amazing nutritional insurance policy for toddlers. I really don't want to list all of the reasons my milk is good for my toddler, I'll just let Kelly Bonyata, BS, IBCLC do that for me.
So, for now, my toddler is not night weaned.