Tag Archives: Family bed

Baby Turns One: You Are Now Breastfeeding a Toddler

IMG_5949 By Cassandra Okamoto, Blog Contributor

It does not feel like I have a toddler. While my son is not actually toddling around quite yet, his first birthday has come & gone and left us staring the unchartered waters of toddlerhood in the face. We both don’t quite know what to expect.

We did pass that first birthday mark without a consideration of weaning from the breast though, which I almost always forget is “unconventional”. Like I said, he still very much seems like a baby in many senses and babies want mama’s milk, same as toddlers do to it seems 🙂

Our choice to continue nursing past the one-year mark involves many factors, below are three of the bigger ones:

1) We have not received any vaccines *yet* and I am most comfortable with this path as long as we are still nursing and do so until at least 2 years of age. This is also the recommendation from Dr. Sears if you are choosing not to vaccinate. Source: The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child, By Dr. Sears

2) Nutritionally there is still a requirement for “milk” until age 2. The majority of children start receiving cow’s milk at one year, the AAP recommends 16 oz of whole milk until the age of 2. Source Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5 (Copyright © 2009 American Academy of Pediatrics) Logically, if my child still requires milk why would I take him off of my milk and switch him to milk from a cow?


3) It isn’t time. Motherhood has taught me WAY too many things to be honest, but the biggest ones are to trust myself, and go with the flow (no pun intended!). I will know when it is time for both of us. It might not happen at the same time, maybe it will, but right now neither of us are there. We both are in fact ready to night wean though, more on this in a little bit.

So we have decided to continue on in our breastfeeding journey, but feeding a little baby at the breast is NOT the same as feeding a toddler at the breast. Personally, it has been a very hard transition for me. Breastfeeding actually did NOT come easy to us after birth, once my son was finally feeding at the breast we dealt with horrific reactions to proteins from many different foods in my milk and crazy elimination diets for me that lasted until he was 4 ½ months old.

Then it was the snacking. My son has always been a “snacker” at the breast and I was filled with constant worry and anxiety that he was not getting enough because he never fed longer than a couple of minutes, if that. Then it was distracted nursing, then it was only nursing at night, then it was the other nipple twiddling that would NOT STOP, and then we went through this period where he would lay calmly and take his time and nursing was oh my gosh BLISSFUL!

It was what everyone had been talking about this whole time and I felt relaxed and full of love, and then, it ended. And we entered into toddler breastfeeding, which although may not be the hardest of them all is definitely very difficult, especially when it seems more of a longer-term reality as opposed to “just a phase” like the other frustrations I mentioned. After a little bit of research, some trial and error, talking with other mamas, and attending a La Leche League meeting I put together some things that I think will make breastfeeding a toddler a little easier.

Boundaries: Discipline has such a negative connotation, especially when gentle parenting is involved. But I have learned that productive, respectful boundaries and discipline are really going to be essential for us. My doula says that “nursing a tiny baby on demand is entirely different than nursing a demanding toddler” and it is something I find myself repeating daily!

My son pulls down my shirt whenever/wherever, throws himself backwards or kicks when he wants milk NOW, will point and cry whenever I am changing clothes, throws huge fits because he wants to go back and forth nursing off of each breast (I still don’t know why this is?) and all of these things have put a huge strain on our nursing relationship. It makes me resentful, frustrated, consider weaning completely, and overall just feel very out of control. After I recognized it was time for us to set boundaries I turned again to Dr. Sears and ordered The Discipline Book: How to Have a Better-Behaved Child From Birth to Age Ten. I have not started reading it yet and am not sure exactly how I am going to go about setting boundaries as it relates to nursing but I know for us there will be no more “self serving”, or hitting and kicking mama for milk, nursing during meal times while simultaneously wanting to eat solid food, and no more pacifying at the breast throughout the entire night. I mentioned it earlier, and it is my next main point…

Night Weaning: I am not suggesting that as soon as your baby turns one he/she needs to be night weaned, not at all. Here are some other reasons why a mom might wean: mom is pregnant, Mom wants to increase fertility & become pregnant, Mom goes back to work outside the home and needs more sleep, etc.

In addition to the strains on our nursing relationship I mentioned above, my son wakes every 45 to 60 minutes throughout the entire night to nurse. He spends a lot of his time “sleeping” while still sucking at the breast and no matter how deep of a sleep I think he may be in, protests whenever I try to unlatch him. Teething has made this even worse and because he is half (or more) asleep while using his breast pacifier his latch becomes shallow and he bites with his top teeth so the nipple won’t sneak out, I am often half sleeping too and it will often go on for hours. This has caused a huge injury to my left nipple that is taking weeks to heal and is making all feedings very painful! Recently I have gone through long periods where I “hate” nursing and when I stop to really think about it and consider what not nursing my son at all anymore looks like I realize it isn’t nursing that I dislike, it is nursing all throughout the night.

I have considered night weaning in the past because of just plain sleep deprivation but it never felt right, after a year I had a complete shift in my heart. I just felt it was time. My son needs his own space, he has made that very clear to me and he also needs more sleep. Nursing throughout the night is just as distracting to him as it is comforting.  More and more, he is waking up cranky in the mornings. It took me awhile to come to peace with this transition, but a nursing relationship is just that – a relationship involving two parties, both of which need to be happy in order for the relationship to continue harmoniously. Not only will night weaning hopefully afford me more sleep and subsequently more energy and patience but it will bring more peace into our nursing relationship that will allow it to continue much longer.

Nursing Space: Having a single dedicated place to nurse is not that practical with an active toddler that is probably breastfeeding at home, in the car, in public, in bed, etc. but I have found for us that going into a more quiet, dimly lit room with less distractions does help. I plan on creating a little “nursing corner” in my son’s room, where we sit down, get comfortable, relax and always nurse in while at home.  When we are out and about if it is possible I will go into another less crowded or empty room, if that isn’t an option I like snuggling into the back seat of the car before we arrive or before we leave. My hope is that having to stop whatever activity my son is currently engaged with and leave it behind to go nurse will possibly change to having more nursing “sessions” than drive-by-just-a-couple-sips between ball throwing and block building.

 Babywear: My Ergobaby has been my single most used piece of “baby” equipment and I still use it at least once every day. I can unbuckle the back, loosen one shoulder strap and nurse my son comfortably, discreetly, hands free and ultra conveniently.  He nurses his longest stretches while being worn, and being outside and often walking allows for enough simulation that he relaxes in his pack and takes his time feeding. I see our baby wearing/breastfeeding time continuing well into the second year.

I will continue to share about our breastfeeding journey through year two as I put more of these into practice in our daily lives and look forward to hearing about how your breastfeeding relationships change and evolve over time too.

What all have you experienced with an older nursling? Do you have any other tips to continue the breastfeeding relationship successfully into the second year and beyond?


Breastfeeding: With All My Heart

I love this theme:  Anyone who has breastfed knows that it is definitely a journey.  It is not always easy, it is not always convenient, yet we persist because their is a core belief inside of a breastfeeding mother that it is the right thing to do.  I know very few breastfeeding mothers who do it out of obligation; though they exist.  No mommy wars here: I am by no means saying that mothers who went the formula route love their children any less.  I am marveling at the fact that there is a proven biophysical response built into the breastfeeding relationship that makes us fall a little more in love every time we breastfeed – and I am fascinated at the way our bodies work.

With that, here is a great family picture of a mommy nursing a baby, a big sister nursing her dolly, and daddy looking on in love at his family:

BLOG ww140219 spf.1Although I have shared the next two before in other posts, they went along with the heart theme in the pictures.  Here are our breastfed babies, who in all, have been breastfed a total of 125 months:

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Charger was my big helper on picture day - he helped brush them with melted butter, and then we sprinkled them with our cinnamon-xylitol blend.

Charger was my big helper on picture day – he helped brush them with melted butter, and then we sprinkled them with our cinnamon-xylitol blend.


#WW: CoSleeping

In honor of Breastfeeding Awareness Month, this Wordless Wednesday we are featuring co-sleeping.  Co-sleeping is one of the ways MotherBabys can learn to read each other, maintain more skin-to-skin, and keep the milk supply up.  There is the added benefit of natural family planning if your nursling is feeding at least every four hours – much easier to do if MotherBaby are in close proximity.

On another note, both Cassandra and I realized how few pictures there are of us sleeping with our babies!! I guess we are both the photographers and we forget to ask to be the subjects 🙂

Last thought to share:  Since this is our “family” blog, I wanted to share pictures of how our sleeping arrangements looks now that our nurslings are growing up.  There is nothing like the bond that happens thanks to proximity.  It’s hard to believe these sleeping angels can be raucous siblings during the day when you see them so peacefully together at night.

Okay, not so “wordless” today…hope you like to seeing how our family grows!

BLOG SPF ww cosleep1BLOG SPF ww cosleep2 BLOG SPF ww cosleep3 BLOG SPF ww cosleep5 BLOG SPF ww cosleep6 BLOG SPF ww cosleep7 BLOG SPF ww cosleep8 BLOG SPF ww cosleep9 BLOG SPF ww cosleep10 BLOG SPF ww cosleep11 BLOG SPF ww cosleep12

Here is a tongue-in-cheek post about co-sleeping that made me laugh today…if you are a co-sleeping family, you might enjoy it, too:  10 Things Never To Say To A Co-Sleeping Parent

To see what co-sleeping looks like with newborns, click on today’s post over at Sweet Pea Births

Hello, SPB families!!

A day in the life of a family of six…have you ever wondered how all the moving parts work?

Cassandra, our guest blogger, was so excited to hear that we were going to expand our platform because she is a new mama of just over a year.  She remembers being a first-time mama in the social media internet age, devouring all the information related to pregnancy and birth.  Everything else was just a distraction to her.  So here we are, with more information for you when you are ready to explore life beyond the Birth-Day.

We are two working-from-home parents with four children.  As of today, our children are 8, 5, 3 and 1 year(s) old.  I homeschool, teach Bradley Method® classes, blog and offer 24/7 support to our Bradley™ families.  Bruss works at his asset management company from a home office and co-teaches almost every Bradley Method® class with me.  We are definitely co-parents in our family’s journey.

For future reference…here are the names I use out on the internet for our children: Puma (8), Night Owl (5), Charger (3), and Otter (1).  In real life, their initials form the acronym BABY…a happy coincidence since babies and their births are turning out to be a passion of mine.

We credit a lot of the choices we have made as parents to our time as students of The Bradley Method®.  We took the classes with our first two children.  We learned about how to have a healthy, low-risk pregnancy.  We learned strategies to have an epidural-free natural labor.  We learned about breastfeeding and how it is an extension of seeking out the natural processes.  We also heard about co-sleeping, babywearing, and circumcision.  The information that was shared by our teachers opened our eyes to choices we hadn’t really considered yet – we were so focused on the birth of our baby.

After we had our first child, we wanted to keep following our instincts.  It didn’t make sense to put her in the bedroom down the hall when all we wanted to do was hold her and marvel at this miracle of life that we had worked so hard to bring into the world.  Although the thought of co-sleeping creeped us out when we first heard about it in class, once she was born, there was no other way.  Thus the start of our family bed.

I struggled to breastfeed Puma, so much so that I made Bruss take all the formula samples out of the house.  Now I have learned that “No pain, no gain” does not apply to breastfeeding.  I have also evolved from thinking I was only ever going to breastfeed a child until they were a year old.  Puma and I were not ready to stop nursing when she hit her first birthday.  That breastfeeding relationship continued until she self-weaned at 22 months.  I am currently nursing Charger and Otter.  There will definitely by some posts dedicated to extended breastfeeding as time allows.

I knew that I wanted Puma to be a whole, emotionally intact adult, so I chose to operate from a place of love, not domination.  I wanted to honor and respect her as a human being, even if she did not have words yet and she did not look like an adult.  Attachment parenting and babywearing have been our choices to reach that goal.  These days, I strive to remember her as a tiny infant who just wants to be loved: now she is a very independent 8-year old who gives me attitude and pushes my “crazy” button just because she thinks it’s funny.

We did not really address circumcision until our second pregnancy.  Since we had a girl first, we figured the odds were that we better do better homework this time.  Although it’s common in the US, we do not have any religious or cultural beliefs that teach circumcision as a precondition to belong to the community.  I was not crazy about cutting a child a few days after they were born, but i also figured since I was not the father who was going to be different, that choice should be up to Bruss.  We decided to have him watch a circumcision video on nocirc.org.  He didn’t even last 10 seconds.  So there we are – it was not a choice for our family.  The more I learn about it, the more grateful I am for our choice.  I won’t write any more about that because there are enough impassioned voices out there…and I have the belief that our boys private parts are just that – private.  If they want to blog about it when they are older, that is up to them.

As parents, we continue to use the communication skills we learned in class.  We make every effort to honor each other when we speak to each other and our children.  We have also used the informed consent questions when our children have had hospital stays.  If it fits as the site evolves, we may share those experiences with you, too.

Here are some of the things she and I will be writing about in future posts:

  • Breastfeeding toddlers
  • Potty training
  • Elimination communication
  • The family bed
  • Babywearing
  • Gentle parenting
  • Homeschooling
  • Home gardening
  • Organic living
  • Siblings
  • Family dynamics

We invite you to share other ideas with us.  What do you wonder about when you think about growing your family?