New nursing territory

With all of my kids,  I wanted to nurse until they were about 18 months.  To my disappointment, my three boys all self-weaned and were through with nursing by, at the latest, almost-13-months.  Even for the son that nursed into his 12th month, there was a tapering-off that began before he turned one year old.

Audrey, however, turned one on April 6, and is still going strong.  She nurses at least 4x/day, sometimes five or six.  This is in addition to three full meals a day, plus at least one hearty snack.  (Breakfast is usually a baby-fruit mixed with rice cereal.  Lunch is usually a baby-veggie mixed with rice cereal.  Dinner is usually a blendered version of that night’s family dinner, or one from the night before.) 

I think breastmilk is just her liquid of choice.  She will play with a bottle or sippy cup that has water or juice in it, but she never seriously drinks of either.  On our recent trip, I did discover that she likes rice milk, and that tided her over a few times when nursing was impractical.  However, rice milk has virtually no nutrition, and is fairly expensive, so I’m not chomping at the bit to get her seriously interested in regular rice milk consumption. 

She has demonstrated an intolerance for dairy (with gas/cramping/diarrhea when I consume dairy, and in body-wide eczema that she broke out in, after I fed her some plain yogurt), so it’s not like switching to cow-milk would be the next transition.  At this point, I don’t even know if she could tolerate goat milk, though that’s probably what I’ll try next.

Even though she nurses quite often, and eats 3+ meals a day, she’s still not-quite 20 lbs, and in the 15th percentile for weight.  It seems to me, that for one reason or another, she just needs the nutrition that only I can provide.

There are times where I didn’t know what I would do if she weren’t still so attached to nursing.  Like on our return flight from Illinois, it was nighttime, and the day had been long, and Audrey was wanting to sleep, but finding that difficult on the plane.  So, I nursed her off and on for the whole 2.5+ hours, both as a sleep-aid and for comfort.  When the plane touched down, a man a couple of rows up remarked, “I was a little concerned to see a baby right behind me, but I never heard a peep from her!  You’re lucky to have such a well-behaved baby!”  I just smiled as I thought, “It wasn’t luck, mister!  It was the milk!” 

But, I’m starting to get comments like, “Isn’t she one, now?”  And, from my mom, “Well, she’s a bigger girl now, so she can go longer w/o nursing.”  And, “Oh!  You’re still nursing??”  Comments like that don’t bother me a ton (just a teensy bit), but it does serve to remind me that I’m in unexplored waters, this nursing-past-one-year experience.

I must admit, in my imaginations of nursing past the first birthday, I thought that the baby would probably eat & drink “normal” food during the day, but still nurse, say, first thing in the morning, and last thing at night.  I didn’t really envision a nurse-the-day-long baby.

I have had one word of encourgement, from my Aunt Sue.  She was happy I was still nursing, and made the comment, “I could never understand why mothers think that since the baby has turned one that they just automatically need to switch to milk.” 

Any other thoughts or encouragement would be welcome.  😉 

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About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on April 12, 2007, in Parenting. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. My mom nursed all of us kids as long as we wanted to – and one of my brothers went to his third birthday. There was social pressure to quit, but they kept going and he doesn’t seem to be “weird” or anything now. He also was normal weight until he weaned, and then he gained a lot of weight and was fairly overweight as a child after that.
    I was going to nurse longer, but both of my kids have self-weaned around 12 months – and my son proceeded to fall into failure to thrive after he weaned. It would have been better if he had been nursing still.
    Keep it going as long as she wants to and you can still keep up with it, and it’s most likely exactly what she needs.

  2. All my boys weaned right around 12 months. McKenna was 22 months, and I think she probably would have kept at it longer if I wasn’t pregnant. I hear comments after the first few months, getting more after six months and then again after a year. With McKenna, at about 18 months, I just started nursing her only at home, because I was sick to death of defending/explaining myself all the time. When we were out and she wanted milk, I’d tell her she could have it when we went home, and she did really well with that.

    She didn’t like cow’s milk at first, she would only drink soy milk. So, first we did straight soy, then I’d mix 7oz of soy with an ounce of regular (ok, organic and hormone free, but still cow’s) milk. And I just kept increasing it, sometimes by and ounce, sometimes only by 1/2 and ounce, until eventually she was drinking all cow’s milk. It took a few months, I think, it was a very slow transition.

    I’m proud of you for your commitment to nursing! It’s very easy to get defensive when they get bigger, and it can be quite challenging to deal with other people’s attitudes…Good for you for sticking with it!

    (sorry to ramble on so, lol)

  3. Keep up the nursing! After the first year, the antibodies get more concentrated in the milk so, although she consumes less liquid, she is still getting the benefits. Congratulations on your third successfully breastfed baby!

  4. Sara, did your son struggle w/ “failure to thrive” because of undx’ed celiac disease? That’s what happened w/ my youngest son, 4.5 years ago. (He had symptoms from the time he was 4 months, when he was exclusively breasted, but it got even worse after he was weaned.) Thanks for your encouragement.

    Jules, I appreciate you rambling. 😛 I’ve thought about nursing only at home, too. It’s not gotten all that bad yet — just a few comments here and there — but I can see myself getting sick’n’tired of defending myself…

    Thank you, Lupine, for your encouragement, too! No matter what the drawbacks, I just keep thinking that the benefits outweigh them.

  5. Keep it going! I was only able to go 8 months with both of mine. Truthfully, I just couldn’t handle it anymore, that may seem awful… but hormonally, emotionally, let’s just say i was having a hard time and both weaned with little effort at all. But I had always planned to go to 1 years old. I hate formula! But I think you are the mom and you shoud decide when you are both ready. 🙂 I do know it is hard to deal with peoples opinions sometimes (i struggle with that)!

  6. Dudelet stopped a lot earlier (he just got too interested in solids and that, combined with supermum’s preferences was that) at 10m months, I think. Who knows if the next one will be longer (if we ever have a next one). WHO recommends a minimum of two years. But really, it’s down to whatever the two of you think is right…

  7. Most of ours nursed past 2 years and into 3. I think the cuddle time did them as much good as anything. And for me too. 🙂

  8. I nursed O-RCG until 2, but pretty much kept that info to myself. It is just considered freaky to do so in our culture so I just decided not to make an in your face show of it (surprising, eh?). I always keep a low profile for modesty sake, but I also just have a thing about weirdos (IMO) who like to flop it out regularly when their child is 2,3 or 4 yos. It may be acceptable elsewhere, but were here and so it goes. I don’t think attitudes toward extended nursing will improve if we cop an attitude, kwim? I hope she lasts much longer!! Go Audrey!!

  9. Hi there! Been poking around your blog a bit and thought I’d throw in a word of encouragment. My own daughter (my only child) nursed exclusively, showing no interest in solids, through her entire first year. It was still her main source of food I’d say well into her second year. She didn’t give it up completely until she was around 3 and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t even producing milk any longer.
    Good for you for not shortening her nursing! Having to find secluded spots in public can be a small nuicance but the good you’re doing (not only nutritionally and in tems of immunities but also by letting her develop and let go at her own pace) by far outweighs those small incoveniences.

  10. Kudos to you for continuing to nurse. My best advice is to take it day by day. I’m currently nursing my 11 month daughter and 3 yo (time flies!) son. It’s so valuable. My son nursed almost exclusively until he was 14 months old and then his interest in solids really exploded. It will happen. Don’t let the nay-sayers get you down!

  11. Wow. What an outpouring of support from friends and strangers alike!!! Thank you so much for your kind words, all of you!!

  12. I’ve nursed mine for the following lengths in this order: 28 months, 20 months, 16 months, and going on 24 months with the baby. Funny how each one has had their own habits and preferences. Some were “2 second” nursers, just checkin’ in, I called it. My ‘baby’ pretty much nurses for a nice length of time, but constantly switches back and forth the whole time. This little habit makes me a little batty, but I know the time is short! I had to cut my first one off because I was 3 months pregnant and couldn’t stand it anymore. I always said she would have happily nursed until she was 5! The baby might turn out to be the same, or she may surprise me and one day just decide she’s had enough. They are so funny!

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