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December 27, 2012

Night Nursing Toddler

It all started when I started working full-time when Raka was about 5.5 months old. Raka would wake up more often during the night to nurse. I was told this is normal because he didn’t get the breast during the day, so he’s making up for that loss. At around 10 months onwards, it got worse, almost like a newborn, he would wake up every 2 hours to nurse. If he didn’t get to my breast, he would cry and scream for hours. He wouldn’t stop even if I or someone else cuddle him or carry him and soothe him around. I thought it would stop by the time he’s 1 year old. But no, he’s still my frequent night nursing toddler.

Exhausted? Yes. I could never get enough sleep, especially since my work involves meeting customers everyday, it’s not possible for me to sneak a nap at my desk or somewhere else because my customers would be looking for me if I’m away.

We consulted Raka’s pediatrician about this during his 12-month checkup. According to her, at that age he’s supposed to be sleeping better. She suggested we give him more food and breastmilk (asip) during the day, and giving him a later dinner (this means moving down his evening meal from 4pm to 5pm, because at around 6 – 7pm he would be asleep already). We tried that, but no change. Just a chubbier toddler who doesn’t mind being stuffed up with good food all the time. Haha.

Curiously, when I was away for 2 nights for a business trip, Raka slept with his nanny and my mum in the same room. According to them, he only woke once, yes, once during the night to feed (in this case, a bottle of breastmilk). So it’s true what Google says: a night nursing toddler is actually normal,. Especially for one that is cosleeping with his parents. It doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with him. It doesn’t mean that he’s hungry during the night either. He doesn’t actually need to nurse at night, but he just wants to. Especially when that good food is available just a roll away in the bed. So it’s logical that he’d want it all the time, especially since he’s not getting it during the day.

So the choice is either
  1. train him to sleep through the night, involving some major nighttime dramas of crying and screaming 
  2. leave it be. Think that this condition won’t be forever. Raka won’t want to night nurse all the time, he’ll outgrow it one day. The same like he’ll outgrow wanting to sleep with his mum in the same bed :’( kalo kata orang Sunda, WAYAHNA.

Currently, I’m choosing option number 2. So even though I’m super exhausted every day due to lack of sleep, I’m actually not ready to give up nighttime nursing. I guess even though it’s tiring, I do cherish and enjoy those moments in the middle of the night when it’s just me and him awake (or half awake, most of the time), it’s very romantic if you think of it. It’s that quiet moment that only both of us share. It’s the only time that I can really bond with him quietly and without any interference. And deep down, I don’t want it to end…

So I think I’ll wait until his 2nd birthday. If by then no change, I’ll consider again, whether to just go on with option 2 or try option 1. Here’s a link to a method that I will try if I ever decide to sleep train him:

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