Expecting our Little Brother in November!

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Preventing Early Weaning/Update on PFB

Mare Asks Q: I don't get it - isn't the point of baby led weaning for the baby to go at its own pace? So like if the child is exciting about eating and wants to eat more - why wouldn't you get them naturally do that if that is what they want to do? It seems like you are trying to force him to breastfeed more?

Couldn't he still get the benefits of breast milk through things like breastmilk "yogurt" (if you did that) and cereal with breastmilk, things like that? So he feels like he is "eating" but still with breastmilk involved?

A: The point of baby led weaning is for them to eat food at their own pace. However, like I said, there is a lot of evidence that too much solids too soon (especially with an active and interested in food sort of baby) can lead to early weaning (which to me means before 2 years old). I was, in fact, one such baby who had three meals of pureed food a day from 6 months and loved it, and also was extremely active. It was easy for me to decide not to nurse (I think around 9/10 months old). But I don't want james to wean early, so what interventions can I put into place now?

As he starts eating cereal with milk and more solids I will definitely give him breast milk that way, too, but I would prefer if I could keep him nursing as well until he is at least two--that is the ideal way for him to take at least some of his daily breast milk. If he wasn't still nursing I would feel like I needed to give him some other kind of milk which I don't want to do. If we weren't vegan MAYBE it wouldn't be such a big deal to me, but it still might be.

According to the WHO, 80-90% of a toddler's nutrition at one year should come from breast milk (ideally)--meaning nursing pretty much as often as you had always been, MAYBE dropping ONE feeding by a year; and 25% of their nutrition at TWO should STILL come from breast milk--which is nursing at least once or twice per day. So I'm going to do all I can to keep him nursing until then, including adding night feeds if I have to.

You cannot FORCE a child to breast feed, and just as an overtired child can refuse to sleep even though it's what he needs, an overstimulated and hungry baby can not initially seem interested in nursing, but it might be exactly what he needs. As parents, one responsibility is to anticipate and meet your child's needs even when your child doesn't know that that is what he needs/wants.

I have seen many people wean sooner than they planned (which might end up working out for them, or they might have regrets and wonder what they could have done to keep the child nursing). So part of what I am having this intervention is to see, if you are in the position of seeing your baby begin to nurse less, if there are things you could do to turn them back to nursing more . . .

(Transitioning into an update on Project Fat Baby (PFB) now . . . )

So even though I've only been doing these things for a week or so now, I think it is already making a difference. Here's where I have implemented changes and what the effect has been:

1. I have stopped attempting to do anything else while nursing him. I have resigned myself to the fact that nursing is a two person job requiring both of our 100% focus. I have stopped attempting to (watch TV, read book or kindle, text, take pictures, go online, etc) while nursing. I stare at the baby so he can focus on eating.

Due to this intervention, I can more often get james to have a full feeding in between naps if he gets hungry. Before this intervention, he would only stick around for one letdown max--now I can get 2-4 into him.

2. I have started laying down to nurse him to sleep (or nearly) for every nap. I was doing this sometimes before, but if he's eaten recently I would skip it. Now I do it every time.

Due to this intervention, I have added some feeds to his day, and most importantly, these before nap/falling asleep feeds are usually really long. That's why it helps so much to lay down with him--I'm able to be patient and let him nurse as long as he wants. When I was holding him sitting up, I would cut him off at some point when he slowed down because I was tired, but this way he keeps eating for longer more often. The milk at the very end of the feed (when the breast feels empty) is the fattiest, so it should make a difference to get some WHOLE (fatty) milk into the boy.

3. We have started bed-sharing full time.

This helps a TON, I think. Specifically, it adds one feed when we go to bed (which I would sometimes do before, too), and he nurses sort of non-stop or over and over from like (5? 6? I couldn't even say), maybe every hour or half hour, until I decide to get up, usually like 9 or so. Before we were bed-sharing, we would move him over to his swing a lot for the early morning and he wouldn't nurse as much, though obviously at least still twice in that time (first wake up and again a couple hours later). Overall I would say he could be eating as much as twice during this time, and definitely more high-fat milk.

So, our next appointment is on June 15th--then we'll see if this has worked at all! ;-)


Gnat said...

Think you are doing a great job! Agree about the keep breastfeeding!! Hope it works out!

Marilyn said...

That makes sense. When he gets to around 2 years old, do you think you would continue trying to breastfeed or only continue during times when he actively wanted to nurse (asked to?). What about if you had another child before that point? Would that matter ?

Liz said...

One other thing that might help with PFB: Go topless. Since we have the same goal (nurse as much as possible), I try to go topless whenever we're home, unless we have company. When it's easily available, babies will nurse more. Even if it's just a few minutes during play, it keeps the breasts emptier, thus assuring more fatty milk. :)

april said...

I think its great to keep breast feeding when possible. The bond breastfeeding creates, helps babies transition into becomming a toddle. The familiar one on one time with mommy helps build confidence as they explore. I think its great that you are helping James by being steady.

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