Please note: This post is not meant to shame those who formula feed, stop nursing “early”, or continue nursing “late”. This is about my own personal nursing journey, and how I will be choosing to interpret the research I have done. I respect and rejoice in everyone’s decision on how best to feed their own babies. Any comments that shame anyone will be deleted. This is a safe space.
Nursing was very easy for me, minus a little hiccup overnight the first night. Keladry enjoyed chewing even back then, so I thought I was doing something wrong because it hurt. However, in the morning, things looked brighter (literally and figuratively) and we were able to progress quite well. Lanolin helped immensely.
At this point, Keladry is 8.5ish months. We feed her solids at every meal. She hates purees, so we give her tiny pieces of whatever we’re eating. And I’m nursing in between the meals. I’m also nursing before bed and when she wakes in the night.
Last week, my mother asked when I was going to stop nursing.
I had no idea. It certainly doesn’t feel right to stop at this time.
So I decided to do some research. And why not write a blog post about it?
The World Health Organization recommends nursing exclusively up to 6 months (we’re past that, so that’s good) and weaning around age 2 years. Personally, I currently feel like that’s a little old, but who knows how I’ll feel when she gets there? I think it feels old because I’m hung up on the number. But I can easily see how the comfort of nursing, and that bond felt with the child would push past any weirdness I feel. I really think that I’ll nurse until Keladry gives me an indication of wanting to stop.
If Keladry wants to stop before 1 year old, I would have to feed her formula until her birthday. At that time, I would be able to switch her to whole cow’s milk. Whole milk is important for babies because they need the extra fat content.
As for feeding solids, Keladry started showing an interest in our food at 2 months. She would track the food we put in our mouths, and open her mouth too. We held off feeding her anything until we got the go-ahead from her doctor just after 4 months, which is earlier than WHO recommends, but she was so enthusiastic about eating! So we fed her a little bit at each mealtime, and we didn’t cut down on nursing. When she had her first cold at 5 months, we cut out food and exclusively nursed so that she’d get more antibodies. I think that this plan worked okay for us. I would not recommend feeding solids earlier than 6 months without the approval of the baby’s doctor.
A note about extended nursing: It is not unusual for a child up to 4 years old to nurse. The health benefits are numerous, and it’s a shame that society pressures families to stop nursing because of their discomfort.
I found a number of really good sources for how to stop nursing. Oddly enough, two are from Australia. Please note; these references refer to “breastfeeding” as opposed to “nursing”.
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