Last week, my wife Kate and I made the decision to give our adorable 1-year-old Max some tough love and let him cry it out at night to break his (and our) bad habits of waking in the night. As often is the case with toddlers…the issue we were experiencing came from us. We were teaching him it was okay to wake up and cry because we would come to him every time. What did he do? Wake up more often and cry more. So we let him cry it out instead. We had a few nights with some frequent waking up and crying but every time he woke, he put himself back to sleep.
Now, a week and half later, Kate and I go to bed at night and we don’t get out of bed till the alarm clock goes off in the morning! Max? He sleeps through the night and wakes up in an awesome mood.
The next step is weaning him which we (Kate) have already begun doing. He only breast-feeds before bed and first thing in the morning when he wakes up. During the day he has cow’s milk from a sippy cup (no bottles) or watered down juice. Over the next few weeks we will eliminate the night and morning breast-feeding sessions till he is 100% weaned from the ole mom-keg.
When Max was born we made the decision to breast-feed for a year (if physically possible) and it was the best decision I think we could have made for Max. For parents out there getting ready to welcome a newborn I can’t tell you how much I encourage you to stick with breast-feeding. It is rough at first! We were lucky, Max latched on first try only minutes into the world but in the beginning moms don’t produce a plethora of milk, the baby wants to feed all the time, and moms may feel completely drained both emotionally and physically. It isn’t easy being a food source for a baby, it takes total sacrifice. You are basically (as a mom) saying I will be there when you need me and my time is now your time. Sounds easy as an expecting parent when you’re all prepared to be the “best darn parents out there,” but I dare a current mom who breast-fed to tell me she didn’t have a night when she was fed up and awake crying at some ridiculous hour of night with a tiny bundle of neediness (not joy) attached to her tit. Of course there is cluster-feeding which we struggled with greatly! On the flip side, moms get to spend extremely intimate moments with their child and experience them falling asleep while pressed against their skin. Dads, this is where you should be prepared to feel jealous and left out. As a dad you should make it a point when possible to cuddle with your wife and baby when they are breast-feeding. Other times you can take your shirt off and feed your baby via a bottle while he or she lies on your skin. Most times, you must resign to the fact that the baby is simply going to bond with Mom more in the first year.
We made the decision to stick with it for a slew of reasons. A big one is formula is CRAZY expensive! Breast-feeding is free. Mostly, breast-feeding is better for your little one’s digestive system and since my family suffers from tons of GI issues we wanted to give Max every tool we could to combat problems and develop healthy habits. There are nutrients passed from Mother to child, bonding development, and so much more. Obviously, there are many reasons why some people cannot breast-feed and for that formula is an awesome solution. The rest of us? Its hard. Buck up. Nature gave moms breast-milk for a reason.
Now that Max is weaning, Dada reigns supreme in out house! I am the tickle monster! I am the playmate! I am the jungle gym! I am the carrier! I am his favorite word…”Dada.” It’ll melt your heart guys. So all you dads-to-be, make sure you support the moms if breast-feeding is your choice as a family. Support her. Help her. Be patient. While she is sacrificing her body and time you will feel like you are outside looking in. However, the first year breezes by and before you know it you’ll be weaning and you will be number 1 in your baby’s eyes. Be patient, do what is best for you as a family, and have fun.