H.A. asks from San Francisco, CA on January 29, 2009
Need Some Support for "Extended" Breast Feeding
My daughter is 16 1/2 months and still breastfeeds about 5 times a day. I thought she'd self-wean by now! We had so many problems with breastfeeding that I was surprised we made it to a year.
For those of you mommies who let your kids self-wean, when did it happen? I want it to be a natural process, but didn't picture myself breastfeeding a toddler and am starting to be selfconcious about the "they don't get any nutritional benefits after a year" and "you're stunting her emotionally" comments. I've noticed that most babies either self-wean before one year (maybe because mommy isn't always there), are weaned by mommy at one year, or keep it up until past 2 years old.
My other concerns are that she is very shy when we are away from home (though, seems to love being at daycare 1/2 day), is needy for me at home (wants to be picked up a lot), wakes at night for breast feeding, and -- most worrisome to me -- not walking on her own! She literally runs when we hold her hands and spends all of her time on her feet playing and "cruising" around the furniture, so she's physically able.
I'm starting to believe what people are telling me, that she's not developing emotionally because she is still breastfeeding. But on the other hand, she is happy and active and loads of fun when she is comfortable with her surroundings, and her father is really shy! So perhaps she takes after him and I should embrace her little personality instead of worrying and blaming the breastfeeding.
Anyway, any encouragement from "extended" breastfeeding mommies would be appreciated!
So What Happened?™
Thank you all for your great advice and support. Guess what, our daughter started walking yesterday (I'm so proud!)! So I guess I don't have to worry about stunting her developmentally. We'll keep up the breast feeding for now and reevaluate in a few months. I'm still fuzzy on the facts -- though I've heard that there are health benefits of breastfeeding up to age 2 and beyond, our pediatrician says recent studies show that there are NOT and I couldn't find any good evidence online. Oh well, as long as my daughter is still asking to be breastfed, then that's good enough reason for me, at least for now. :) Thank you again!
K.H. answers from San Francisco on January 29, 2009
Just wanted to let you know, my daughter self-weaned at 23 months. For the last 8 months of nursing, she only nursed prior to sleeping (naps and bedtime and occasional night-wakings.) She is a happy, confident, incredibly talkative, wonderful child. She and I have an amazing bond and I attribute many of her wonderful qualities to the extended breastfeeding and attachment parenting. If you want to read about the benefits of extended breastfeeding, I highly recommend "The Baby Book" by Dr. William Sears. Also, his website www.askdrsears.com has a lot of good information/advice.
Hope that helps!
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A.H. answers from San Francisco on January 29, 2009
Did you know that the worldwide average age for weaning is 6? It sounds to me like she has a strong need to connect to you through nursing because of where she is developmentally, not the other way around. I'm allowing my son to self wean. He is 2 1/2 and I think we are almost there - he is starting to nurse for less time and sometimes not want it at all. I did, however, stop nursing on demand a little before age 1 and for quite a while now he has only been allowed once a day. You have to set boundaries as they get older. Aside from the when, you'll also encounter issues such as how long, not playing with em, and nighttime is for sleeping. I never planned to nurse long term but it has become clear that this is what my son needs. Yes, I do get flack about it but I don't let it bother me. Listen to your Mama sense!
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F.M. answers from San Francisco on January 29, 2009
I wanted to let you know that You are not alone. I am the mom of a 23 month old boy, who is still nursing as well. I too have people in my life who are not thrilled about the fact that he is still nursing. I never thought I would nurse this long, but he is not ready to give it up. I would suggest that you keep doing what is best for your daughter. Good job for going this long. I hope that you will have voluntary weaning someday soon, I just keep telling myself once the nursing is over I can't get it back. Enjoy.
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Z.B. answers from San Francisco on January 31, 2009
Great job on making it through all of the difficult transitions with breastfeeding. You made it through the first year and your baby supports this process with continued nursing. You guys have done awesome!
Our current culture is so factually wrong when it comes to negative advise and breastfeeding it makes my blood boil. Unfortunately we live in a time when our individual selfishness supersedes our babies basic developmental requirements. Human beings NEED positive touch and nourishment their entire lives. This begins with breastfeeding. Nutritionally your milk is a benefit everyday of her life that she nurses and has set the foundation for her health. Unless a mother has to be on specific medications that will damage her baby, has an addiction problem with drugs/alcohol, or the baby's health would be compromised (PKU for example) it is both a blessing and a need for our little ones to breastfeed for as long as possible. I realize we do not live in a supportive and nourishing culture and that it's difficult to navigate through all of the conflicting advice and worrisome feelings. Fortunately nursing is one way we can peacefully battle the current trends that want to regulate and regiment our children while starving them of their basic physical, emotional and developmental needs. Two of the women here have listed excellent advice from a factual (WHO and UNICEF) and personal (respecting boundaries)perspective that I would encourage you to consider.
It is ok for us to take cues from our babies and learn what they need. It makes us and them stronger, healthier, and most importantly more loving people. This is all about a process through communication and relationship. Embrace it and enjoy it because you will never regret the gifts you have given and received when it comes to your baby. Good luck to you and hopefully you will soon be on the road to feeling good about your decisions.
M.K. answers from Chico on January 29, 2009
First of all, just try to ignore others' critical comments because they are not you and they do not know your daughter as well as you do! It is so hard to ignore, and so easy to get sucked into a spiral of self-loathing and doubt.
Second, to your question, I have two kids whom I breastfed for a year or more- my son self-weaned at age 1: he had better things to do and didn't want to sit and breastfeed. I was actually glad to be done with it! So when my daughter showed no signs of stopping, I was concerned. I really didn't WANT to keep breastfeeding her past a year, but she wouldn't sleep without it. Long story short, I wanted to stop, so I started by not breastfeeding except at home; then I cut out all but nap amd bedtime, then I nursed her before bedtime, but cut her off before sleep, and then finally gave up the nap feeding. She only wanted to nurse (not eat) when she was sick and when she was teething, and I indulged her (for lack of a better word). She never did self-wean, and I ended up nursing her for 3 months after her second birthday. I was done and starting to get a little resentful of her neediness, so I knew it was time to stop, so I just told her one day that it was all gone. She STILL asks once in a while (especially when she's not feeling well), and it has been 4 months. But she can get herself to sleep without it, plays well with her brother and other kids, and has no noticeable emotional hangups! I think your daughter's "shyness" is just a combination of her age and personality, and in no way is your "fault" because of breastfeeding! Funny thing about my family is that my daughter seems to be more outgoing than my son- and she was the nurser!