Until four days ago, nursing has been such a prominent part of our nighttime routine. Paulie loves to nurse, and I love to nurse him; and he shows no interest in weaning–which is perfectly fine by me. I absolutely love every moment of extended nursing. However, because Paul has been exhibiting tooth decay on his top front four baby teeth for months with no signs of improvement; we decided it was best to wean Paul off of his bedtime nursing. Nursing is not causing his teeth to decay, but my inability to clean his teeth properly after he falls asleep is causing the sugar from the milk to harm his teeth. In addition, Paul did not start taking any fluoride supplements to help strengthen his teeth until he was 16 months old.
Previously, the bedtime routine was as follows:
1. Brushing his teeth with all natural fluoride free toothpaste after dinner.
2. Taking a bath.
3. Putting on PJs.
5. Mama and dada reading bedtime stories while he sits on our laps until Paul was ready to nurse.
6. Paul says goodnight to dada and nurses with mama until he falls asleep.
7. Paul slept from 8pm to 6am.
Now, steps 5 – 8 have changed:
6. Mama and dada read stories to Paul while he is in his crib.
7. Mama says goodnight and dada lays next to the crib either reading or singing songs until Paul falls asleep.
8. Paul currently sleeps from 8pm to 4 am and nurses from 4am to 6pm.
On the first night, I tried to put him in his crib and give him the opportunity to fall asleep on his own without me in the room. He ended up calling for me for a half hour until he fell asleep; but then slept awfully for the rest of the night. He woke up with a night terror an hour after falling asleep; which I attribute to him knowing he was alone when he fell asleep.
For the last three nights, I put him in his crib and papa reassured him he was going to stay. Paul didn’t cry but he kept calling out for me. On nights two and three, he rejected the water, but accepted and drank the water tonight. Under this new routine, he has been sleeping from 8pm to 4am and then nursing from 4am to 6am. Since he drank his bottle of water tonight, i’m expecting him to sleep through to 6am tonight.
The change in the nighttime routine has caused him to nurse more frequently during the day. We were only nursing three times a day; morning, before nap, and before bed. Over the last four days, he has been nursing frequently and for longer durations; so we have been having lots of daytime cuddles =)
I knew for some time (about a month) from the Individualized Nighttime Parenting Sleep Training Program that Paul was ready to sleep in his crib; but he preferred to nurse to sleep. While I am happy his teeth will improve, I wanted Paul to wean himself off of bedtime nursing. The abrupt change has also been difficult for me, since I loved spending these last wonderful minutes of his day watching him relax while gazing into my eyes until he drifted off into a comfortable sleep.
This change is bittersweet; and while it happened prematurely and I am sad about it– I have 18 beautiful months of bedtime nursing memories to treasure =)
UPDATE: On the fourth night, after drinking his bottle of water, he slept from 8pm to 6am. =)