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Breastfeeding an Older Baby

February 9, 2012

“Parents and health professionals need to recognize that the benefits of breastfeeding (nutritional, immunological, cognitive, emotional) continue as long as breastfeeding itself does, and that there never comes a point when you can replace breast milk with infant formula, cows’ milk or any other food, or breastfeeding with a pacifier or teddy bear, without some costs to the child.”

— KA Dettwyler, “Beauty and the Breast” from Breastfeeding: Biocultural Perspectives, 1995, p. 204.

I’m passionate about breastfeeding; I’m passionate about promoting breastfeeding as the best food for your baby and I’m passionate about supporting mothers in their endeavours to start breastfeeding and continue for as long as possible.

I’ve breastfed all four of my children, not without challenges,  but I have discovered more about this nurturing ‘art’ with every baby, and am committed to continue to learn.

I weaned Micah off the breast at the age of 2 as I was travelling to Africa without him for 12 days. Sienna-Raine is 12 months and is still happily and successfully feeding on demand; she’s starting to develop more of an interest in ‘food’ (through BLW) but her main intake is still breast milk; this keeps me busy but keeps her healthy, chubby and smiley!

Breastfeeding an older baby doesn’t come without its challenges; what was once a peaceful, calm and ‘put your feet up’ part of the day has the ability to come a pinching, twiddling, biting, pulling off-and-on, acrobatic act!

There is so much wonderful help, support and information out there; I find Kellymom very helpful and I’m also reading Ina May’s guide to breastfeeding; I read the first half of the book at the end of my pregnancy with Sienna-Raine and have just started reading her section on feeding an older baby.

Here are my top 5 tips to support and encourage you in feeding your older baby:

  1. Never think you know it all, every baby is different, continue to read, learn and ask questions whether it’s your 1st or 21st baby!
  2. Keep your baby close, lots of cuddles, snuggles and babywearing will keep the bond strong, keep your breast milk flowing and keep your baby smiling!
  3. ASK for help when a difficulty arises, don’t give up because ‘well, I’ve done it for a year now’. I started to have shooting pains in my breast when Micah was around 13 months, I phoned La Leche League who were excellent support. It turned out to be a latching issue since he’d developed teeth, we adjusted that and went on successfully for another 12 months.
  4. Invest in a feeding necklace or some strong jewellery to distract baby when you’re feeding, keeping them latched on and focussed can avoid nipple stretching, pinging and twiddling (ouch!)!
  5. Teach your baby the sign for ‘milk’ or come up with a code word so you don’t have them shouting ‘boobie’ across the church hall!

Sienna-Raine snuggled up in a Chitenge; I bought this for her during our trip to Zambia; she was 8 weeks in utero at the time!

Most of all relax and enjoy your little nursling – it’s good for baby, good for you and a great way to relax after a busy day!

Do you have an older nursling?  What is the longest you’ve breastfed a child for? What are your experiences feeding an older baby?

Look forward to hearing from you!

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