I'm looking for some sound advice from experienced moms.
We have a little boy who's going to be 2 years old in 2 weeks and I've enjoyed our breastfeeding relationship immensely. He was breastfed on demand day and night until he was 20 months old and we had a family bed. When he was 20 months old we learned he had Early Childhood Cavities (7) and a tight upper frenum. The tight upper frenum was playing a big role in the decay, any type of food or liquid cannot wash away and the s.mutans bacteria feeds on it. Knowing his nursing habits ( all night buffet ) we opted to night wean until we could have laser revision done. So, for three months daddy and little guy have been sleeping together and it's been quite a beautiful thing to watch that bond strengthen. It's lovely seeing him reach for his father now when he's upset about something. And he finally started sleeping through the night!
We still nurse on demand during the day and issue has become nap time. I have no intention of weaning him, the thought alone makes me cringe. But, nap times are becoming a challenge. It's really the only time I get to myself to clean, bathe, post here ( haha) and it's not uncommon for him to wake 3 times during a 1.5-2 nap. It takes a good 20 minutes to nurse him down and a good 15-20 minutes to nurse him back asleep each time he wakes. Not counting how many times I take my nipple form his mouth and he slurp it back in. I feel guilty even typing it, but I've been frustrated with it for a while and am becoming resentful and even angry about it. It's like night and day how I feel nursing him throughout the day and nursing him during naps. During the day, we cuddle, I tell him I love him, tickle, talk, I sing. When he starts waking up in the middle of the naps I can't wait to get it done and get back to what chore I'm doing. Also, because of his decay, his molars are shorter and when he's laying down, it's very painful to nurse him, he's literally grinding on my nipple.
I feel guilty even considering nap-weaning him, but I feel like I'm at a crossroads between me being a good mom or a cranky irritable mom. Just looking for some insight. I love him so much and don't want to create trauma in our relationship.
At that age, you could nurse him for as long as you feel comfortable, then lie down in bed next to him and cuddle to sleep. He might get very angry and frustrated, but my personal opinion is that at some point it's ok to set reasonable limits. It won't traumatize him.
I would also stop letting him fall asleep at the breast. In our case, this is what caused cavities, not night nursing.
Thank you for your advice. That's what I struggle with : setting boundaries when it comes to nursing and understanding it doesn't traumatize him.
He still sleeps with my husband, so he doesn't fall asleep at the breast at night time. I've slept in the bed once in 3 months and it took him a couple of hours to realize I was there and then he was on it all night long. But I always do nurse him to sleep for nap time. I'll forge ahead with snuggling to take a nap.
I would be sure to brush his teeth well, before naps and bedtime. Try a xylitol toothpaste, it's great for preventing cavities. Also, I believe the data shows night nursing does not cause cavities. Night nursing with food particles = cavities. But a clean mouth + breast milk is actually protective.
His on a pretty strict natural protocol right now ( including a 36% Xylitol toothpaste ). You can see it under the dental forum.
He had several risk factors for cavities :
Poorly formed enamel from a Vitamin D3 deficiency I had pregnant
Me being on antibiotics while pregnant
Me having active cavities
Him being born via c-section
He had a leaky gut ( cold not absorb vitamins )
Significant Upper Lip Tie
Open Mouth Breathing While Asleep
I do know my breast milk lacked at least one type of enzyme because it would "spoil" in the fridge after maybe a day. So, the quality of my breast milk may have come into play.
I would say in general breast milk is anticariogenic, but everyone's breast milk is specific to them and their diet. The better the diet and more importantly THE GUT and health of the mother, the better the breast milk. I also had some issues going on and think it was lacking. I completely disagree with the broad statement that night nursing always causes cavities. I am personally very resentful of dentists saying so. One dentist actually compared night nursing to steady sips on Mountain Dew. I would agree that each mother has a good feel for what's going on with their child. And in our case,. possibly the quality of my milk and the lip tie were an issue.
He didn't have food particles in his teeth. He was such a picky, finicky little guy he rarely ate food and was almost exclusively breastfed until he was 13-14 months old save for a little food here or there. And we brushed his teeth at nighttime and the morning.
Everyone's experience is unique. I know one mom who did not halt night nursing and was able to halt decay. I know two who said halting, stopped decay.
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