I get asked often when I will wean my 15 month old son. I get told regularly that if I don’t kick him out of bed at night he will never sleep by himself. People who I had previously considered supportive friends shoot me judgmental glares when I pick him up as he starts to cry rather than forcing him to ‘man up’ and cry a little. My own family has told me I’ve spoiled him beyond repair. ‘You have to let him cry it out.’ ‘He has to learn to soothe himself.’ ‘You’re raising a mama’s boy.’
I have a lot of research to support gentle parenting, attachment parenting, bedsharing, and breastfeeding (see here, here, here, and here), but I’m typing this one handed since I’m holding my son while he naps (uh oh, another thing he’ll never do alone). So instead I’ll say this…
All experienced parents say the same thing to new parents: ‘Enjoy this time; it goes too fast’. Why, then, are we rushing it? Why are we forcing our babies to ‘grow up’ and sleep on their own? Hurry up and eat real foods? Stop acting like babies?
How many of those parents would turn back the clock for just one more snuggle? One more nap together? One more nursing session? One more minute with their babies before they grew up and moved out and started their own families?
I refuse to have those longing regrets. So I will nurse my baby, hold my baby, and sleep next to him for as long as he’ll let me. I will miss him when he finally decides he’d like to try his own bed. I will miss nursing him when he looks at my breast and shakes his head ‘no’. I will miss his sweet smile when he wakes up from his nap and sees my face knowing he was safe in my arms. But I will not rush it so I will know I got every last drop out of being a baby’s mommy.