My son is currently 16 months old, and as a baby, we swaddled him, and he slept through the night. But my darling little boy is a strong one, and it didn’t take him long to muscle out of his swaddles, which resulted in: no more sleeping through the night. The evening pattern is now, go to bed with a bottle of milk, wake up crying, get a bottle of milk, and again with the crying around 4am, followed by one more bottle of milk. What I get told is, “he’s big enough, he shouldn’t need milk through the night”; “he can be sleep trained in 3 nights”; “a bottle is bad for him”; “milk at night is bad for his teeth.” All of these statements result ultimately in “mommy guilt”. I know there is not a magical right way, every child is different, every situation is different. I know that my situation is unique in that both my husband and I need sleep to do our jobs effectively. My husband’s job is physical and could result in someone being seriously injured if he’s not astute. I can get away with less sleep, but I want to be a good therapist for my clients, not a mediocre, half-awake counselor. Yet every night, when I give in and warm up that bottle of milk, I feel the guilt creep in. My inner self critique comes out. “You only let him cry for 15 minutes, let him keep crying.” “He’s going to be 5 years old needing a bottle still, what will people think?” “The doctor is going to give you a lecture at his next appointment when you tell her he still isn’t weaned off his milk in the middle of the night.” These thoughts do me no good. They make me feel like a terrible mom. They contribute to high levels of anxiety effecting my ability to sleep, my ability to focus, my cortisol levels (hormones I’m working to balance since they affect my body’s ability to lose weight), my energy levels, and just my overall well-being. No more. I’m making a choice now, to reduce this “mommy guilt”. If my son needs milk to sleep, “so be it”. He won’t be like this whole toddler life. Maybe it isn’t great for his teeth, but we will make up for it with good tooth brushing (he’s only got 6 right now, with two more coming in.). I don’t want to hear about sleep training, I’m doing my best, and my rule is if he doesn’t stop crying after 15 minutes, he’s distressed enough for me to want to do what I can to help him soothe himself. Maybe I am creating a “mama’s boy”. If that’s the worst way I screw him up, then I’ve succeeded as a parent. The truth is that we’re screwing them up as parents every day, so it’s time to stop letting society, the so-called experts, and the know-it-all’s make me feel bad. I’m the expert on my life.