Tag Archives: Weaning

Tuesday Tips: A Weaning Story // 26 months

Mine & T’s breastfeeding journey has been very rocky from the start with low lows, some highs, a lot of tears but a ton of joy and gratefulness too. I have wrote about breastfeeding before here and here and over the past 14 months (since my son’s first birthday) my thoughts about nursing, nursing at night, and weaning have been all over the map.

he has been nursing to sleep and cuddling his boobs for literally years now!

he has been nursing to sleep and cuddling his boobs for literally years now!

My son turned two in March, as of January he was nursing all day AND all night, today as I write this (May 15th) he is nursing at nap time only, once to fall asleep and sometimes once more if he wakes prematurely. These past couple months have been *nothing* like I could have ever imagined so I thought I would share our weaning story, for anyone who feels like their toddler will never “self wean”, anyone frustrated with the amount and/or duration of their toddler nursing, anyone who feels like the end will never come, or even those just curious as to what could lie ahead!

In January we tackled night weaning.
We were following T’s cues, many times when he would wake I would go in and cuddle him and he would fall back asleep. I knew he was capable and it would yield much better sleep for both of us. It was rough though. He would usually settle for cuddles until about 1-3AM and then he was INSISTENT on getting milk. I explained over and over not until the sun, but days and weeks, a month passed and he was still asking. We would get out of bed, get water, get snacks, there were some veerrryyyyy long nights in there but we stuck to it, we had taken this step because we were all ready and we were not going back. He still sleeps in our bed, so we were always there with him, cuddling, singing, patting his back, he would often ask me to bounce him on the ball but I wanted to help him sleep on his own, not substitute nursing for bouncing. Often in order to calm down a walk around the house was necessary and then we would climb back in bed for cuddling and maybe a song.

In April T contracted a mild case of Hand, Foot, Mouth Syndrome. He had a fever one afternoon and through the night so he was nursing TONS. We watched movies, slept, and nursed.

the 2,739th viewing of Frozen (;

the 2,739th viewing of Frozen (;

I made an exception and nursed him through the night during his fever and the next night to help him sleep as he was obviously very uncomfortable. I knew it would be hard going back, T is a very all or nothing kind of guy, and although the next couple of nights were difficult, the nights after that were much improved!

Our last nursing session for the night was usually lying down next to each other where T would drift off to sleep while still on the breast, but a few nights in a row he started growing restless, popping on and off, and eventually I would just say no more milk and he would roll over, cuddle into me and fall asleep. I took this as a sign that he was ready to give up nursing to sleep. Not only could he fall asleep without it, but it seemed the limit would actually really help him. From there we started doing bath time, diaper, pajamas, nurse in bed sitting up with the lights on, then read lots of books, have some water and/or snack and then turn white noise on and lights off to cuddle and go to sleep. T picks up on routines a lot more now and his memory never ceases to amaze me. Because we were doing something new I knew it was important to really start being more “routine” and sticking to the same thing night after night in the same order. We have always been kind of all over the place during the evening but it was a very natural shift for all of us to be more disciplined as it seemed beneficial for T and helpful for all of us to avoid melt downs, super extended bed times, frustrations, etc. We are by no means strict or anything, just follow the same flow each night around the same time. This was surprisingly easy, as I said, he was definitely ready. There was hardly any protest and he would normally make it until around 5AM until asking for milk, which is when we would nurse for the first time that new day.

On May 1st T had his 5AM nursing and was incredibly restless afterwards, nursing was not putting him back to sleep and was up, out of bed and ready for the day before 6AM. This was very UN-typical for him as he would usually like to lay around in bed nursing and sleeping on and off until 8:30, sometimes even 9AM! I took it as a great opportunity, I had been wanting to cut down nursing to 5AM, nap time, and before bed for awhile but he was just nursing SO often during the day it seemed like an impossible feat. Something clicked that morning and I just knew I had to try. I wish I had more to add, but really, it just came out of no where that today, was the day.

We don’t do the “big boy” thing in our house and it’s not something I will continue with but for this instance I talked up “big boy milk” in the morning and told him that we were going to go to the coffee shop where he could get some in a cup that was just for big kids. I knew we had to get out of the house, and fast, before he got bored or wanted my attention and asked and then had a tantrum to nurse. This day and the next day were not easy. He would still ask for milk at home (we had stopped nursing in public a long time ago) but I stuck to the 5AM, nap time and bed time only. I would offer almond milk, cow’s milk, to make chocolate/strawberry/banana milk in the blender or make a smoothie. There were tantrums and meltdowns but I tried to stay as busy as possible and keep us out of the house from the morning until nap time and then leave the house after nap for an activity before coming home for dinner. My husband came home at 4PM the first day and took T (as he usually does on Tuesdays & Thursdays) for an activity outside of the house just them two. This was extremely helpful! The next evening we headed out of the house and then played outside for a long while. I had to give T all of my attention, if I became the least bit distracted (by my phone or a conversation) or was trying to do something that didn’t involve him (makeup, laundry, etc) he would ask for milk and it would be a lot harder on both of us.

After two days he was totally fine! He would still ask for milk but I would just say “you have your water over here”, or “want some almond milk?” or just laugh and say “noooo noo milk!” and he would just smile and run off. I honestly was surprised at how easy it was. We have tried to decrease frequency and duration in the past and it was always met with unparalleled perseverance, uncontrollable crying/tantrums and a huge disconnect between us. This time he was obviously ready and it showed, it seemed he just needed the nudge. He would fall or get hurt and cry in my arms and I would offer him water in his straw cup and he would accept, a few days in he had a fall, came to me in tears for a big hug then got down and went and got his water cup himself! Tears gone and he was ready to play more! This was extreme initiation to me, he was so old and independent and practicing amazing self regulation right before my eyes!

The Night Time Nursing

After a few days his night time nursing session was literally 30 seconds long on each side, and seemed like the perfect feeding to cut out next. I tried saying no milk one night and he was pretty upset so I was happy to continue. Two nights later though he wasn’t even asking and late into the routine he asked once and I just said “you already had your milk!” and he didn’t even protest and just like that the nighttime feeding was gone.

The Early Morning Nursing

He seemed to be waking earlier and earlier in the AM wanting milk, 5AM, then 4:45AM, then 4:40AM so although I knew it was going to be rough on us I decided to nix this one ASAP. We went to bed each night armed with almond milk + a little maple syrup in a straw cup, water, a banana and a cheese stick next to the bed. Whenever he would wake, middle of the night, early morning, I would first rub his back and cuddle, if that didn’t console him then I would offer water or almond milk then offer snacks.

The mornings are still rough and he is upset because he doesn’t actually want to be awake that early but can’t put himself back to sleep, but he doesn’t insist on milk and totally “gets” that it is not an option and the choices that he does have. We have naturally transitioned into continuing to lay in bed that early but reading his favorite stories. After a couple of weeks he has even fallen back asleep after the dreaded 5:30/6AM waking until 7AM a few times!

Nap time Nursing 

So that just leaves us with the last nursing time of the day, nap time. I am not ready to give up his naps. Although he *could* go a day without napping, he can’t go several days in a row without a nap considering his early rising times now. He also has never fallen asleep in bed for nap without nursing. I use naps to work, nap myself, or just take some time in the middle of the day to recharge, as I often feel like I am running on crazy. Some friends that have weaned rely on a car ride around 1 or 2PM to put their little one to sleep but since we car share with my husband this isn’t an option for us. He has fallen asleep in the stroller before but usually not until 3PM when he is just wiped out, which is really late for a nap and doesn’t really help me if I am out and about pushing the stroller. I am not really sure what we are going to do about this last feeding…. I am not in a complete hurry to end it but also don’t want us to get to a point where he is absolutely unable to nap without nursing and naps go out the window entirely when nursing does. I feel like we may have a small window of time where it could still be possible?

I know this has been all over the place but I just wanted to get our entire story and process out in one place! This transition really has been everything I could have hoped for, easy, pleasant, and seriously feels liberating for everyone! T has such an easier time sleeping now, if he falls asleep in the car he can be transferred to bed (that has never! happened without nursing before), he has a more reasonable bed time and naturally evolved schedule that works well for us and he doesn’t have the super cranky episodes for times in which I am unable to provide nursing. We read more books and cuddle more and I don’t feel a bit of sadness or regret or any negative emotions at all for that matter, only positive! I am so very grateful and thankful to have nursed him this long, through fevers and diarrhea, through bumps and bruises and countless bedtimes and nap times and uncomfortable situations and so glad that our weaning has been so smooth. It hasn’t been without effort, all of the above was definitely a lot of work. Early wakings, more attention required then just laying down with a boob out, gentle reminders, boundaries, more time out of the house, but it has yielded nothing but great results for both of us. I think when it works, it works, it really is akin to the stars aligning.

what may have been one of the last chest naps! These were always preceded by nursing to sleep!

what may have been one of the last chest naps! These were always preceded by nursing to sleep!

What is your experience with weaning/wanting to wean/child led weaning? Does anyone have a similar situation to the nap time nursing? I would love to hear anything and everything!

 

 

 

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?

And…

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?

 

BLOG AP feeding

Attachment Parenting: Feeding With Love and Respect

I am so glad to be back in the area to take advantage of all the wonderful support groups the Phoenix area has to offer.  Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend the Attachment Parenting International meeting in Chandler.  The topic was “Feeding with Love and Respect”, based on that principle of attachment parenting.

Here are some of the ideas presented by Amanda, the API leader:

  • Feeding is about more than giving them food – it is an exchange of love between parent and child when you consider the time it takes to prepare and serve
  • Breastfeeding is the method that promotes the most bonding: closeness in proximity, it provides warm nourishment on cue, meets baby’s needs while meeting mom’s needs
  • Bottle-feeding can be AP, too: Keep your baby close, feed in your lap, make eye-contact: preserve what you can from the breastfeeding experience even when breastfeeding isn’t an option
  • As your child grows, there is definitely a decision to be made about making food at home versus purchasing processed food in the stores.

She made an interesting point that I had not thought about:  when we start solids, we literally start moving our child away from us.  Up to this point, all their food has come from mother and/or in proximity to a care giver.  Once they start being fed solids, children are usually set in a chair away from us.  It is not unusual for children to crave closeness and want to eat in your lap, which is exactly what Otter wants to do more often than not, especially when we are eating out.

Now I get it – she is in a strange place around people she knows are not in our family, eating a meal.  Mealtimes for her are usually at home, around our table, with people we know – no wonder a restaurant makes her want to be close to mama!! I will totally embrace her instead of hesitating to give her my lap space when we are supposed to be “eating out”.  It is totally appropriate for her to find comfort in my lap, because that has been and still is her “safe space”. She knows she is loved and safe when she is in my embrace.

Amanda also talked about weaning…she did say that AP teaches to offer breastmilk first (up to a year-old), and then to offer solid food.  There may come a point when baby totally bypasses you and goes straight to the table.  That is okay, too; it is honoring the child who does not want breastmilk at that instant.

We also had the pleasure of hearing Blue Russ share her perspective on food with the group.  Here are some interesting statistics she shared:
90% of the food in grocery stores is processed
If you think about it, we are advertised to almost every waking moment by billboard signs, computer banner ads, television ads and the radio.

She encouraged us to let go of any guilt that we have associated with our food choices, and instead, look at the choices we are making and accepting them as the choices that work for us in this time and space.  She reminded us that our children learn about food from us – they taste the flavors delivered in our breastmilk, they watch the choices we make, they learn our rhythm of life.  If we want them to learn healthy habits, then we have to live the habits we want them to learn.  Among them, to let go of any shame, guilt, blame and stress that we feel about food.

We have all been there – we are in a rush, we need to go, and we make the choice to go through the drive-through instead of feeding the food we “should” be eating.  One mama had a great perspective to share: she tried to remember it was more important to feed herself than go hungry, and that the opportunity to make a better choice existed in the future.

Blue invited us to look at the connections between our lifestyle, stressors, and our choices.  Could we see any correlations?  If we wanted to make changes, she encouraged us to look again at this day – just today.  What was one thing we could do, what decision would we make, to support the choices for a healthier lifestyle?

Here are some of the time-saving ideas shared in the group to help us eat well when we all feel the crunch of time:

  • Wash, dry and cut a bulk quantity of greens and/or other vegetables.  Then freeze them in meal size portions so that all you have to do is cook them when you are ready to eat them.  The question came up about freezing greens – yes you can! (think frozen spinach, or see top image)
  • Prepare a large quantity of main dish meals that can be augmented with sides for dinner.  Eat your portion one night, and freeze the rest in dinner size portions for later.
  • Make a stock soup in large quantities – use broth for enriching rice or pasta.  Puree veggies for a veggie soup, serve meat with meals, reserve some broth to re-heat for a quick “to-go” meal that you can drink.
  • Check out THIS link for more info on salad-in-a-jar and The Fresh 20; both time-savers.  The salads make for fresh, healthy convenience food, and The Fresh 20 is a planning/prep guideline that calls for one shopping/prep day and easy dinners on meal nights.
  • Prepare a week’s worth of food, and cut-up and label snack foods for fresh noshing.  Amanda makes a pasta salad that can be eaten cold for her anyone in her family to eat anytime, while staying out of her labeled items to be used later in the week for meals.

We also talked a little about how we prepare food.  One mama does Reiki over it before preparing/eating.  I shared that I say a prayer for God to bless our minds, our bodies and our souls with the food he has provided for us before I make a meal (especially when the meal is a gift to another recipient).  Basically, the idea was to prepare food with intention, because that is also part of feeding with love and respect…pouring our love into every action, including meal preparation, that will directly or indirectly be affecting our children.

In the Mexican tradition, we have a saying that if we are angry when we are preparing a meal, our food will be spicier.  Do you have any traditional beliefs about food in your family?  How about time-saving tips?  Any thoughts to share on the topic?

Personal Health Coach Blue Russ helps clients achieve a healthier lifestyle through a holistic approach to food and healing.

Tuesday Tips: About Baby Food

Do you want to know about baby food and feeding made easy without using commercial baby “junk food”?  Today’s tips are for you!

I made purees for the boys.  While it was great to have them to mix-in to other foods and sneak veggies in everywhere, it was time consuming.  It took two days dedicated in the kitchen to make 30 days worth of purees.  With Otter being our fourth Sweet Pea, and two kiddos to homeschool, plus all the activities our three older kiddos needed to be ferried to and from, I was ready to try a feeding theory that was going to save me time.

Both Cassandra and I ascribe to the concept of Baby-Led Weaning.  It is not, as it sounds to our ears here in the USA, a method by which a baby stops breastfeeding and goes straight to solids.  It is a theory of feeding that proposes to skip purees and start with foods when a baby is ready, typically between six to nine months of age.

One of the reasons why our family decided to go the Baby-Led Weaning route:

“Feeding practices such as introducing lumpy foods before ten months of age and consuming family meals have been shown to lead to healthier eating patterns through childhood.”
http://theconversation.com/branded-baby-food-falls-short-of-home-made-fare-but-why-18004

The other reason is that it is actually insanely easy…you feed them what you are eating, with the exception that anything you serve to them is cut up into pea-sized pieces as they learn to feed themselves.  You still take the usual precaution of introducing one food at a time, so that you can identify any potential allergies.  We would also space 2-3 days between food introductions.

How do you know your baby is ready for Baby-Led Weaning?  A baby demonstrates they are ready for solids when:

  • They can sit independently – that means no props, folks.  Your baby can get from a prone position to a sitting position all by themselves, without the support of a chair or pillow to keep them in a seated position.
  • They have lost the tongue-thrust reflex, which means that they don’t try to suck at anything and everything you put in their mouth by reaching forward with their tongue first.
  • They have developed their “pincer-grip”, which is the ability to use typically their thumb and forefinger to grasp at objects (anyone else have a Sweet Pea that practiced on your arm while they were nursing – that was one of the clues for me!)

It does require some thought and planning.  You want to take into consideration any food allergies that run in your family, and possibly delay the introduction of those foods into your child’s first or second year.  You may want to look at food introduction schedules to make sure that your baby is going to be open to trying lots of different foods, not just stick to the sweet tastes.  Click on the links for a couple to check out from La Leche League and Dr. Sears.

The other tip I like to share was shared with us when Night Owl was a baby.  After his RSV scare, we saw a lot more of his specialty pediatrician, and this is what they told us: introduce new foods in the morning.  Why would that make sense?  In the event that your Sweet Pea has an adverse reaction to any food you introduce, care facilities typically have their “A-team” on staff during the day.

Most of all, have fun with it.  Remember that in most cases, your breastmilk is providing complete nutrition for your Sweet Pea up through their first birthday.  One of our students has a great little saying that I love to share: “Food before one is just for fun!”

If they play with their food, let them! They are exploring the smell, the texture, and the taste.  Some of it is making it into their mouth…and for whatever doesn’t, your breastmilk is still there providing complete nutrition.  Neat fact: your breastmilk changes flavor according the the food you eat, so they have already been exposed to all the flavors you will probably be offering them.

If your Sweet Pea sees that you have good eating habits, they will mimic you.  Before you know it, you will have a well-fed toddler that eats just about anything and everything that (s)he is offered.

I still have to migrate our Baby-Led Weaning posts over from our Sweet Pea Births site – it’s an 8-week chronicle of Otter’s foray into food.  Check it out HERE.  Want to see what the results of this type of feeding?  Cassandra has done some awesome posts on feeding her toddler.  Check them out HERE and HERE.

My favorite resources: Introducing Solids
Baby Led Weaning
La Leche League
Dr. Sears

Disclaimer: 
The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation.  Cassandra Okamoto, Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.  

Beautiful Breastfeeding

Thoughtful Thursday: On Weaning

What are we going to talk about today?  Weaning!

But it’s Breastfeeding Awareness Month – how does weaning fit?

A couple of ways…BAW is wrapping up, so it’s time to “wean” ourselves off of this topic.  (I couldn’t resist…sorry!!)  Secondly, it fits into Breastfeeding Awareness Month because weaning is part of the breastfeeding journey.  Have you thought about what you are going to give your baby after (s)he is no longer nursing?

Weaning is thought of as the “end” of the breastfeeding relationship.  As stated on the Baby-Led Weaning website, the reality is that the moment we introduce solids, we have started weaning.

How many other mammals continue to drink milk after they are weaned?  Think about that.  We are the only creatures that have figured out how to express milk from a maternal or non-maternal source to continue milk-feeding.  I believe we are the only ones to have found a way for milk to be consumed from something other than directly from a nipple attached to milk ducts.

While this helps make the case for extended breastfeeding (if you want to give them milk, it may as well be your own), it really is something to think about when you consider the age your child stops breastfeeding.  Think about this: milk from other animals is not made to help our human children develop – it’s made to be specific for their species.  Have you ever considered that this may be the reason so many of us are considered “lactose intolerant”?

If weaning happens when your child is under a year of age, you may very well want to supplement with formula.  We do know that scientists are doing the best they can to mimic human milk with that product.  If you are weaning a toddler, you may want to consider just going straight to water and skip alternative milk altogether.

Does your child need to drink milk after they wean?  We are conditioned to believe in the nutritional benefits of milk – how else will they get calcium?!?  I will admit, it’s hard to overcome our indoctrination.  Here is a list of Top 10 Highest-Calcium food sources.  Milk is third on the list.

http://www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/foods-high-in-calcium.php

Do you have time to read one more?  HERE is an article that talks about the benefits of probiotics.  While our family does not buy cow’s milk anymore, we are big consumers of yogurt products.  I read this article and it gave me peace of mind that we are making the right choice in that aspect:

“Babies whose mothers take probiotics while pregnant and those who are given the so-called “good bacteria” supplements early in life may be at lower risk for allergies but not asthma than other kids.”

This is the choice that worked for our family:  We drink water…a lot of it.  We drink it straight, we flavor the water with fruit and herbs overnight, or sometimes we make fruit-based teas.  If we drink juice, it’s homemade.  I juice fruit for the kiddos before I juice for myself in the morning.  I simply cannot justify store-bought juice anymore.  We will only buy Honest-Tea juice for a party – special occasions merit a little fun and which kid doesn’t like a “juice box”?

So anyway, I will close with this thought: Cassandra and I have really enjoyed sharing Breastfeeding Awareness Month with you.  We wish you all continued peace and joy as you and your nursling continue to do the breastfeeding dance.  Lead, follow, and when it’s time to exit the floor, may you do so with wonderful memories and the knowledge that whether it was for three minutes, three days, three months, or three years, you did something amazing.

...this is MotherBaby love...

My take on toddler nursing – for today

Toddler nursing…anyone who nurses a toddler has stories.  The crazy positions.  The angry demands.  The moments of stillness.  The immunity boosts.  The crazy positions.  The nipple twiddling!

Twiddling!! Enough to drive a saint crazy!!

Twiddling!! Enough to drive a saint crazy!!

Why do we do it?  Personally, as we have added children, breastfeeding gives the nursling(s) and I a moment to connect.  While I have to think about one-on-one time and plan for it with the older children, the time to breastfeed is spontaneous and it happens without much thought.  It allows me a minute to breathe in the midst of a busy day, and to just hold and enjoy our child.

Here is a sample of what happened within a three-minute span this morning…

Traditional cradle...all is well...

Traditional cradle…all is well…

Wait a minute...let me see what it tastes like on this side...oh, it's the same...

Wait a minute…let me see what it tastes like on this side…oh, it’s the same…

...might as well pause for a picture then...

…might as well pause for a picture then…

Start over on this side...

Start over on this side…

Wait a minute...let me see what it tastes like on this side...oh, it's the same...

Wait a minute…let me see what it tastes like on this side…oh, it’s the same…

What if I sit on the table...can I nurse in this position??  (She was actually nursing a second before I snapped this picture)

What if I sit on the table…can I nurse in this position?? (She was actually nursing a second before I snapped this picture)

…and then she jumped off my lap and was into the next adventure of the day.

Although Otter is a very good eater, I will continue to nurse her until she is ready to stop nursing.  I know she continues to receive immunities – the female body actually makes more for toddlers than it does for infants.  There are days when all she wants to do is nurse: teething, growth spurt, upset tummy…my milk gives her some nutrition on those days.  And there is my favorite reason: connection and comfort.  I love looking down at her sweet face, knowing that for today, I am liquid love.  This is why I put up with the craziness:

This face! Those eyes!!

This face! Those eyes!!

and this…

...this is MotherBaby love...

…this is MotherBaby love…

As she nears her second birthday, I am making peace with the fact that my days as a breastfeeding mom are numbered.  Maybe she will nurse as long as Charger has, maybe not.  I am trying not to have expectations.

Here is where I have arrived: When she no longer wants breastmilk, I want to remember that she is not rejecting me and that it is not about me.  Because for me, it is the end of a book, one that I treasure, one that I could probably read forever, although it ended up being much longer than I expected.  To her, it will simply be the day when she is ready to move on to the next chapter.

P.S.  If you need “real” reasons to tell your family about the benefits of toddler nursing…check out THIS page from KellyMom or check out THIS infographic from the Alpha Parent

Little boy (2-3) with bare chest, arms up, portrait

What drives you crazy about toddler nursing?  Why do you nurse your toddler?