What if I had let her cry?


My 15 month old recently had six new teeth pop through the gums in one single night. Since then, she has been sleeping pretty normally again, and by normally I mean waking three-ish times a night to nurse. In the two months leading to these teeth breaking through, she was waking and whimpering and crawling all over me to nurse and switch sides and repeat up to 30 times a night. Many nights I didn’t fall asleep at all, and as time went on my confusion grew and seeing the sun rise without sleep made me feel more and more frustrated. I really had no idea what was going on for such a prolonged period of time.

The same morning I ended up spotting her new tiny teeth, I got up and really questioned my choice of the gentle mothering lifestyle. I have been around long enough and heard plenty about sleep training and co-sleeping versus not, but I’ve never really questioned my decision to keep my baby close and respond to her when she needs me. But I was honestly at the point where I found myself thinking things like, “Could I drop dead from lack of sleep?” multiple times throughout each day.

But then, there were the teeth—the tiny culprits responsible for her restlessness. My confusion immediately dissipated and I felt so thankful I continued mothering her from my heart and ignoring any opposing outside opinions.

What if I had forcefully weaned her, you guys? What if I had let her cry? She was actually in pain, and waking and nursing was her best way of coping with it. What if I had taken that from her because of a temporary season? I would have seen those teeth and immediately understood what I preach to myself and other mamas all the time—our babies are not out to torture us. When they cry, it’s because they are hurting somehow—physically or emotionally. When they wake, it’s because they can’t sleep. It’s not because they are just trying to drive us nuts.

It’s been just over a week and the all night nursing parties already feel like a distant memory, but I know my response to her pain night after night will stay with her. She will feel more secure in her emotions and confident in expressing them.

Did you know it’s actually more rare to have a baby who DOES sleep through the night? Night waking is NORMAL. Babies and young toddlers stir for all kinds of very valid reasons—food, comfort, fear, etc. Research says that when they are very young, it is actually a natural defense mechanism against SIDs. Waking to reset and regroup with mama is biologically normal. And, goodness, waking when you have six teeth swelling their way up, well, I think that is understandable, too!