Just yesterday I took my 2yr old son to see a homeopathic doctor. For the last 4 months (ever since starting part-time day care) he has been sick with symptoms ranging from high fevers, ear infections and cough to diarrhea and cold sores. Sometimes it’s just one or two of these symptoms, but other times (like right now)he has ALL of them. When I told the doctor that my son still wakes up every hour to nurse, she said he might not be getting enough rest and recommended night-weaning. This is something I have considered hundreds of times, because I am not getting enough sleep either. But how in the world do I do it with a child who is still SO dependent on nursing, without traumatizing him? Will he understand if I explain?
I don’t believe a baby would nurse in place of needed sleep. Nursing during the night is common and normal around the world, when babies are allowed to follow their natural instincts. A reduction in your child’s access to the immune-enhancing provisions of your breastmilk is not going to improve any health conditions.
More important would be checking iron levels, thyroid levels, and some other basic testing if you or the doctors believe the child is ill more often than he should be. Chances are that your son is perfectly healthy and is naturally experiencing, and developing immunities to, the spectrum of viruses that are out there in the world. Most all children experience a series of respiratory and other viruses, to varying degrees of illness, once they become exposed to numbers of other children. The frequency of his illnesses should reduce over time.
Looking for more sleep for yourself… well, night weaning does need to happen some time. Maybe it IS time for the two of you to consider gradually reducing the number of night feedings; only if it feels right to you. Your son is old enough that you can explain the situation to him. You might try suggesting that after his late night nursing, your breasts need to sleep until the sun comes up. He can look at the window to see whether it’s dark or light out. You might try wearing more clothing over your breasts to mask your pheromonal signals (natural attractive odors of the breasts) during the night so your son isn’t roused as often.
Hopefully your homeopath will review your son’s diet to suggest any supplements that might be beneficial. Now that he’s gaining less of his nutrition from your milk, he might be needing added nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids or vitamin D. There are certainly plenty of good herbs she can recommend to help his immune system fight a little harder.