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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

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My kids all nursed through toddler-hood. Like you I had no idea how long they would nurse or if I would even be able to do it. It came pretty easily to me with my first born, so we just kept going and he was not in the least bit interested in weaning! Both my son and daughter (David now 5 and Sofia now 3 1/2) nursed through their toddler years and weaned easily with a little help from me. They both tapered off from nursing as they grew older and eventually it was kind of like, "we don't need to do this anymore, do we?" Anyway, it makes good sense to just keep on nursing until you think there is a reason to stop. I have heard about the weaning around age 1, but I have serious doubts that is actually child-led weaning. I think most kids would just keep going if you let them! That said, I am having difficulty weaning my 9 month old off the night feedings...and lately she's waking up frequently to nurse. She's also cutting teeth which might be part of the problem. As far as the food thing, Isobel is a late teether, but she does have interest in solid foods. All of my kids were more than happy to put just about anything in their mouths, food or not! Though Isobel is picky about what she eats. But given the choice she always prefers to nurse. I think it's just easier for her.

Re: talking about toddler nursing-- it's a lot different for me with my fourth than it was with my first. With my oldest I was a little worried that I was doing something weird and that he would never wean. Long-term nursing (I like "long-term" better than "extended" or "prolonged," myself) is biologically normal even if it's culturally atypical. If anyone asks me, I'll answer yes in the same nonchalant tone I might use to answer a question about whether he was still in diapers. He's little. He'll get bigger. I'm not in a hurry -- little is good.

I didn't realize until you asked the question that my interest in educating other people about long-term bfing has waned as my children have grown (waxed? can children wax?). In response to a raised eyebrow I might say, "It works very well for our family," but it's been a long time since I've mentioned the WHO recommendation.

It's too bad you're not in DC THIS week, when it's 70 degrees and beautiful. I hope you get lucky in a couple of weeks though! And let us know if you need any recs for anything, we're happy to help you out even though we're TECHNICALLY Virginians. :)

I agree with CJ that it is different as you go. Mainly because you become more comfortable but also because when you have more children I don't think people ask as many questions! They are not so afraid that you haven't figured it all out yet.

My interest in educating people has also waned. Besides, saying confidently that you are nursing a toddler can be an education in itself. Or try this one: "We are in the process of weaning". Duh. This might seem a little deceptive but it is reserved for those times when you just can't get into it.

BTW: Love your blog!

My toddler (almost sixteen months) is still nursing for comfort and entertainment, but gets most of his calories from solid food. He got his first tooth at four months, and now has sixteen teeth, but barely touched solids until he was ten months old and started walking. I never get asked if I'm doing "extended" nursing, but I think if I did I would just say "Of course!"

Thanks for posting this. I'm nursing a 13 month old toddler and have been getting some of the same questions. So far I have deflected all but the most direct ones with "Yup!" In the few instances I've been asked when I was going to stop, I've said "Oh, I hope to be done before she goes into Jr. High!" I'll be really curious to see what all your commenters say!

On the teething and solids thing, that makes a lot of sense to me. Dora got her first 2 teeth at 3.5 months, and at 13 months has 12 teeth and is cutting 2 more right now and has LOVED solid foods since about 6 months. The girl she goes to daycare with is a month younger than her and has 6 teeth. She is just now really getting into some more solid foods. Kinda makes sense that their bodies would direct when they were ready for such things, huh?

My first didn't get much into solids until a year old. Nursing slowly declined after that. Pregnancy probably helped with weaning though. I nightweaned him around 17 months, was pregnant by 18 months and fully weaned at 20 months. In the end he was just nursing to go to sleep and sometimes had to be rocked still after nursing for 30+min. One night it just felt weird to nurse him... most likely preg hormones... so I decided to try to see if he could go without it. He did ask, but I would distract or gently say "not now". I would have nursed him if he had acted like it was the end of the world, but he seemed ok with it each time and within 1.5 months he didn't ask anymore. I missed it as a parenting/comfort tool, but I do think it was our time. If people asked, I told the truth, but not many people asked. Nursing past 6 months is uncommon here : ( so everyone likely assumed the same for us.

Now my daughter will be a completely different situation. She's almost 8 months old and rejects anything but nursing at night (5 or more times a night). I know it will end though so I try to enjoy our time while we have it.

Your doing great and loving your little girl. It really goes so fast and in a few months you may be suprised at how much your nursing relationship has changed... or not : )

The card story made me laugh out loud! Where do kids come up with these antics?

People should seriously mind their own business and not ask if you are nursing, unless they are going through the same thing and are looking for advice/support, because all other inquiries are usually fuel for gossip or judgment of your parenting choices, and that's just uncalled for.

Letting her take down the decorations is genius. It keeps her occupied and happy and also distracts her from the fact that you are trying to accomplish something productive while she is awake, which is something that my baby will have NONE of. Mommy is only allowed to hold/feed/entertain the princess during her waking hours. And since she has decided that napping is not an acceptable way to spend her time, Mommy isn't getting much done.

Happy January! This is my birthday month so I never minded it except this year I'm turning 30 so it's lost some of its shine.
My son is 15 months and has seven teeth (his first came in at 11 months) and he loves solids. It's rather amusing giving a toothless baby cheerios to crunch on. Milk alone did not fill him up. His eating habits change when he's teething - he eats less and is more picky - but for the most part he eats what we eat. We still break his food into small pieces but I don't know if that's a teeth thing or a personality thing (why take bites when I can shove the whole piece in my mouth?).

My 11m.o. daughter JUST cut her first two teeth last week (FINALLY!). She's been moderately interested in solids, but we only bumped up to three meals a day a few weeks ago, and she's shown very little interest in self-feeding. I've had the same theory about teeth and solids--makes sense, from an evolutionary point of view, that earlier teeth=earlier interest in solids and later teeth=later interest.

I found that after a year most people assumed that my children weren't still nursing and that it wasn't an issue. The people who knew that we were still nursing already knew my thoughts on the matter and usually agreed with the facts. I only bothered to "educate" family members who might actually be exposed (ha!) to a nursing toddler. After a year it was easier to save nursing for quieter moments when we were at home instead of, say, the mall.

When asked if Sam still nurses I always answer "Oh, yes!" or "Of course!" or something similar, implying (I hope) that anything else would be crazy. It usually has the intended effect of keeping anyone from being critical. Perhaps it is not nice of me to act as though weaning is the out-there idea, but it does seem to work.

As to teeth, Sam got his first at ten months (he'd been teething since three months, gah) and has averaged about one a month since then. He is almost 20 months old and just got #11 and #12. He voluntarily started solids early-ish, and has never turned them down, exactly, but he still nurses so much that I think he gets more nutrition that way than... well, than I expected, anyway.

Hmm, no idea on the "extended" nursing thing as I have no kiddos, however, the late teether/ late eater does make a whole lot of sense to me.

And as for January, here in AZ it's probably the most beautiful month. It's just cool enough for a jacket, but the sun sets later and there are so many things to do! Not to mention it's my birthday month, but that doesn't make me biased or anything ;)

Glad you asked about the nursing, I'm starting to get those questions too and my daughter just turned one. Why is something so natural seen as almost the opposite nowadays? Grrr.
Sorry to throw a spanner in the tooth theory - my girl is a very late teether, got her first at ten months and only has two so far. She's been a voracious self-feeder since eight months. She won't let me feed her with a spoon (unless it's something particularly smooth and sweet such as yoghurt or apple sauce) but will shove in mountains of pasta/vegetables/omelettes etc as fast as her little hands will let her.
I love reading about Camilla, she's a LOT like my E and it's nice to see what might lie ahead in a few months' time. Thanks!

I nursed my daughter until she was about 17 months and we weaned because we wanted more kids. (Can't take that clomid while nursing.) If people asked if we were still nursing, I would just calmly answer yes and change the subject. The only problem was my mom who was set on me nursing her only 6 months and I had a lot of phone calls, "Still nursing are we?" So I did get her to read a few things and that stopped after awhile. It's the best thing for them and you will know when it's time to stop. Have fun in DC and check out the mint...pretty cool to see money being made!

I weaned Christopher at 13 months, more because I was pregnant again and feel that this baby needs more from my body than my toddler who eats everything in sight than out of any serious plan to officially wean him at a given time. I would have gone a little longer, but the truth is that we just kinda naturally got down in feedings to the point where we both (ok, *I*) realized that we (again, *I*) just didn't need to do it any more. That being said, needlessly as it was, I opted for the more simple and direct, "Yes we are" to the breastfeeding question. For me it was a stronger statement to just give the answer and not anything else because I didn't want to come off defensive over something that I was perfectly comfortable and confident with. In our family, there are a number of loud voices who, for lack of a better expression, really are know-it-alls. For that reason, the "yes" just ended the conversation and didn't force me into a situation of listening to all of the "facts" over and over again. Then I did the same thing when we weaned him. Totally against my character, I told no one that we were in the process of doing so. Then, when people would ask, all I had to say was, "Nope. We're all done." After living through the last three years of planning a wedding, being pregnant, having a baby, and now being pregnant again, I'm really just DONE with the unsolicited advice. So, my responses to certain things may be more terse at times, but at least I'm keeping my sanity.

I agree with the theme of confidence. My 2 year old nurses A LOT, and so it comes up from time to time. I simply answer, "yep, he is one dedicated nurser" and leave it at that. Non-defensive and affirming of the normalcy of a 2 year old nursing. (easier to do, admittedly now that i live in northern CA than when I lived in Kansas...)

Hmm, my girls were all early teethers, so maybe that's why they weaned early?? Actually, all of my girls ended up weaning much earlier than I would've liked due to illness (with my twins, one was hospitalized at 5 months after an "aborted SIDS" and with my singleton, I needed a medication that wasn't BF safe, so she ended up getting a bottle and absolutely refused the breast again.) I think that extended nursing is wonderful - if it's working for you and yours - more power to you! My SIL nursed my nephew until he was nearly 4, sure, some people gave her a hard time about it, but she's got thick skin. She simply told them it was none of their business and went right on nursing. With her shirt off. In public places. And I applauded her!

I think it's great that you're still bf'ing if that's what you and Milla want! Go you! I've heard about making little business-sized cards that have the WHO recommendations and benefits for breastfeeding on them to hand out to the naysayers. I may have actually seen where you can print your own on kellymom or something. I'm sure you can find it if you google it. It's a great way to have something prepared so you're not taken off guard and it's factual information in printed form so the questioner doesn't think you're making this stuff up off the top of your head.

Have you heard about this new study in the news lately about how delaying solids may not prevent allergies? What are your thoughts on that, if you have any? I sometimes wonder if people hear things like this in the news and then jump to the conclusion that if you aren't feeding your child solids by 4 months old and BY GOLLY! you have a toddler nursing than you're doing something wrong.

I think it's awesome that you're still breastfeeding Camilla. I vote for the enthusiastic "we sure are!" type of response. It's gracious. It's confident. And I think there are people who ask not because they disapprove, but because they're intrigued or because they're trying to say, "Wow, I think you're so cool for doing that!" but don't really know how to say that without being a total geek and end up with their feet unintentionally in their mouths. (Did I say "they"? I meant "I". I would be one who does this. :)

My daughter got her first tooth at three months and now, at eleven months, has nine, including her first molar. She LOVES to self-feed and won't have much to do with us feeding her unless it's yogurt. She also self-weaned at nine months, much to my dismay. But can I gripe for a minute? Because it seems like people who say babies don't ever self-wean before a given age just define self-weaning in a narrower way, so that it can't happen before that age by definition. Because what DO you call it then when a baby very emphatically decides to stop nursing for a long enough span that mama's milk dries up completely? **Grmp.** [Gripe over.]

Anyway, glad that you and Milla are still going strong. Welcome this challenge of how to respond as the incredible blessing that it is.

We're totally going against your teething theory. At 8 months, my son has no teeth, but he loves to eat solids. He also loves nursing too, but I think I'm going to be like you - nursing until he says no. He loves to comfort nurse, so I have a feeling it will be quite a while.

We had great weather in DC this week. I hope you don't arrive just in time for our one city-stopping snowstorm we get each winter.

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My two didn't get teeth until nearly a year, but both loved solid food as soon as it was introduced.

My son weaned at 12 months--I had jury duty and Daddy had been giving him breast milk bottles that day. When I got home and offered to nurse, he gave me this, "Why? It's easier for me to drink this way and besides I can drink this standing up!!!" look. (He had been trying to nurse standing up from the time he learned to stand.) I think I pumped bottles for him for about two more weeks before we gave up and switched him to milk--it hurt to pump that much.

My daughter wanted to nurse only when she got up from sleep from 12-15 months, but after that gave it up entirely.

Serendipitously, I wrote a post on this at www.parentingsquad.com (where I have just begun blogging). The post is called "I Breastfed my four-year-old and it was Okay." And it was. :-) It chronicles how I got from where you are to being way on the outside of the bell curve for weaning, and feeling pretty normal about it all.

To answer your question, I can't recall anyone asking me if I was STILL nursing. Well, except one friend who is just obnoxious that way and knew very well that he was still nursing and just wanted to bug me. But mostly people were not curious about it, and if they were, I think I'd stick with the nonchalant response, and only get political if they persisted or got critical. Actually, I was surprised by all the support I got, especiall from unexpected quarters, like the older generation. My husband's family comes from appalachia, and let me tell you they do not find anything unusual about nursing older babies (which is what toddlers are, really) up in those mountains. It was very refreshing. I think older people also have a much better perspective on how very young our babies are, and do not want to rush them to grow up the way our contemporaries do.

I also think interest in food tracks with teeth. Now that Milla's got six whole chompers, I'll bet her interest will pick up any day. In the meantime, she's getting great nutrition.

I can beat your kid (with my niece) in the teething department. That is VERY normal for the amount of teeth. My niece? She didn't get her FIRST tooth until she was 16 months old. SIXTEEN. Six more than 10. So I'd say Camilla is not a late teether at all. The others will come.

Daniel nursed until just after his second birthday, and people were actually not terribly nosy about it - granted, after age 1 nursing in public was very rarely necessary. To the ones who did ask if we were still breastfeeding I just said that yes, I was; nobody tried to make me justify it, though if they had I planned to mention the WHO recommendation. Alas, the people I run into are too civil to demand educating :).

In fact, the only obnoxious repeat question I kept getting was one I certainly hope you wouldn't get; perfect strangers would get in my face asking whether or not Daniel had been circumcised! I realize it's a hot-button issue, but not having any wish to discuss my infant child's genitalia with someone at the train station, I'd usually just say "Excuse me, what?" until they either got the hint or decided that I was an idiot.

I nursed my first until the day before he turned two, although rarely outside of sleeptimes after 18 months. People asked about his nursing but never in a really annoying way, more just curious, and it wasn't ever too big a deal. My mom and grandmas were so glad I was able to nurse (they all had supply issues) and my MIL nursed all of hers past a year. Now, my second is 21 months and he asks (very clearly, especially in church) to "nurse mama? nurse me? nurse me on couch? nurse me chair?" all the time and even I'm getting tired of it. My first signed a lot but didn't talk much until he was two. Anyway, the people that know me don't bother asking how long we'll nurse now that I broke them in with the first kid :)

I think it is great you are still nursing!

Does Milla eat any solid foods now?

Our doctor just gave us the OK for Elizabeth to try some rice cereal at age 4 mos. She shows SO much interest in what we are eating, it is hilarious. She follows the fork as it goes from plate into my mouth, too funny. I haven't started it yet, but may in the next couple of weeks to see how she does.

Kudos to you on BF-ing.

I certainly think less teeth = less solids, it seems like a no-brainer. Long before there were parenting books, parents were just reading the signs and figuring out what their kids wanted to eat.

I've had exactly the same experience with extended nursing. I really only cared about nursing the first year, but then I didn't really see a need to stop just because we hit 12 months. My first nursed until 30 months and I'm sure my 2nd will nurse just as long. When people ask me if I'm still nursing, I just say yes and try not to be defensive about it. I find that you can say whatever you want and it never changes anyone's mind, so I don't bother trying.

I only remember being questioned with my first. I answered with a simple yes. I never explained or taught (I was a big chicken). Some people would add their curt comment. I would smile at them and it was over. I find the sooner people, who want to decide this issue for you, realize you're hopeless then the quicker the questions stop. My first three children were late teethers. My next two were early. All nursed exclusively for one year with pediatrician approval. All were slow with solids. They weaned fully between 22 to 30 months. Only the second objected. The others seemed to take an "it was good while it lasted" attitude.

I always said, "After doing some reading, I decided I hope to be able to nurse until he/she turns 2 or so."

I can't comment on the extended nursing thing (I weaned at a year), but my daughter is almost 2 yrs old and still only has 11 teeth (she cut her first tooth at 9 months) and she's been a champion solids-eater since she was about 6 months old. She can do amazing things with her gums!

I breastfed my 4th just past two years, at which time he slowly lost interest. He was only asking for it every other day or so, and finally it went up to two weeks, at which point there was nothing left anyway, so we just stopped.

I am still breastfeeding my 5th who is 2 years and a month. He is still very attached to breastfeeding, so I have no idea just how long this will go on. It does get annoying sometimes, because it seems I can just hold him, he wants to nurse as soon as he is sitting on me. He'll go from one side to the other and back again 3 or 4 times, until I finally take him off. At a year, he wasn't eating all that much either. And I'd have to say, even now, he must get a lot of nourishment from breastmilk still.

I did have to wean him at night though, because it was getting very tiring for me, he was drinking more than when he was a newborn!

I usually answer a simple yes to the question am I still nursing, but I have also been known to point out that the other option is COW's milk... which in fact, to our ancestors (going back far enough) would have been incomprehensible. I have also pointed out that there is stuff in human milk that helps DEVELOP the brain, because (duh) we are an intelligent species, and this stuff is not found in cow's milk, because, what they need in a milk is different. SO why would I feed my kids cow's milk when they can have something made for them instead?

My son will be 4 in 2 months and he still nurses. He only does it twice a day now so we don't nurse in public anymore. I think most ppl assume that we've stopped so they don't ask anymore. The only people who ask about it are friends who are still breastfeeding their toddlers. If I ever get asked if we are still nursing I just say, "Yes," and don't elaborate. It works for me.

I've been meaning to ask you about the night weaning; I'm glad it was successful! Sleep changes your whole outlook on life, doesn't it?

As for the breastfeeding, I weaned Jack at just about 12 months. It wasn't baby-led, but neither did he particularly protest, and I was very ready to be done. We were already down to four nursings a day, and the two day time ones went very easily. I just stopped offering with plans to let him nurse if he asked, but he never asked. He was far too busy. Then Andrew put him to bed for a week so we could stop the night time one, and then a week after that I gave him his breakfast before nursing and, once again, he didn't ask. So that was it! It was very easy for us. But Jack also eats lots of solids and was already drinking milk, so I'm sure that made it easier. (FWIW, he got his first teeth at about 7 months, stalled out at 6 teeth until last month, and now has 9.5 teeth.)

As far as responding to people who ask, if it were me, I don't think I'd bother trying to educate anyone except for people who are actually a part of your life and you *continue* to ask. I like the idea of saying "Of course!" or something like that with confidence should an acquaintance ask, but it might be worth it to give reasons to people who are harassing you about it. But only once, and if they continue to harass you, just tell them you won't discuss it.

So we thought we were all liturgically correct with our Christmas-doesn't-end-till-Epiphany spiels, right? Shows what we know. According to the liturgical schedule in the sacristy here, the days between Epiphany and Baptism of the Lord are Christmas weekdays. I feel like my whole life has been a lie...

I weaned my daughter 2 months shy of her 3rd birthday. She would have nursed forever, believe me. At that point she was a night-nurser only,and I was ready to sleep for more than 3-4 hours in a row, which I had been unable to do since before she was born. She gave it up pretty easily. For people that asked me, I told the truth, "She's really into it." That usually discouraged any more questions. I should point out that I live in an area where public breastfeeding is the norm, no one notices you, etc. Lots of positive comments from strangers, etc. You'll know when it's time, or she will. Honestly.

I "extended" nursed my daughter and we weaned at 25 months, not by her choice. In fact, 6 months later she still slyly asks for it but I think that has more to do with a new baby showing up soon. At any rate, when people would make comments (generally rude ones) about the fact that we were still nursing I would just look incredibly shocked and say, "Oh, but the immunological benefits are so amazing in the second year of breastfeeding! Did you not know that?" or something else that would be educational. Acting surprised that they thought still nursing was weird was the best tactic I found because it put the emphasis on their opinion being "off" and not our nursing relationship. It all boils down to a lot of misinformation and ignorance, which is really too bad.


I "extended" nursed my daughter and we weaned at 25 months, not by her choice. In fact, 6 months later she still slyly asks for it but I think that has more to do with a new baby showing up soon. At any rate, when people would make comments (generally rude ones) about the fact that we were still nursing I would just look incredibly shocked and say, "Oh, but the immunological benefits are so amazing in the second year of breastfeeding! Did you not know that?" or something else that would be educational. Acting surprised that they thought still nursing was weird was the best tactic I found because it put the emphasis on their opinion being "off" and not our nursing relationship. It all boils down to a lot of misinformation and ignorance, which is really too bad.


You changed the picture! You two are beautiful. :o) And the picture of Milla in the tie is too cute. I just want to cover her with kisses.

I had an awful time nursing; couldn't get a good latch with my son, so I pumped exclusively for a while then went to formula. My daughter latched better but flat out refused to do it, even with a lactation consultant's coaxing, after four days. Haul out the monster hospital grade pump again. I do wish it could have worked out better for us. If it had, I would have probably wished to wean between one and two years, but I have no way of knowing now.

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