17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Breastfeeding Issues

Two questions for any of you who have breastfed or are currently doing so:

  1. What is the oldest you've nursed your baby and what is the age at which it is just plain wrong to keep doing it? I'm still nursing my 14-month old son and he loves it. The problem right now is that I have a hard time getting liquid into him other ways. He plays with sippy cups and ends up getting more on his front than down his throat. He nurses to get comfort and go to sleep. And he's just kind of a boob man like his dad. I think he needs to be better with sippy cups before I can wean him off breast milk. Is there anything wrong with nursing a toddler?
  2. Do you think men should be able to have the nursing experience too? Some people claim that a man can produce milk, too -- or they can just use a Daddy Nurser.


  • I nursed my first for 15 months and my second for 14 months. They both weaned themselves according to their own timetable.

    I got looks, especially from my mother-in-law but you have to go with your own instincts.
    posted by Anonymous Wendy at 4/13/2006 10:06:00 AM  

  • In some cultures they continue nursing (though not necessarily exclusively) until the age of three. Contrast this with my cousin-in-law who heard of someone nursing a four-year old and reacted with disgust, delaring it to be sexual abuse.

    I've also heard that Inuit cultures nursed until the next baby was born.

    Bottom line: nurse as long as you think is necessary. It can't hurt your child. :)
    posted by Anonymous Proud Daughter of Eve at 4/13/2006 10:14:00 AM  

  • Wow. Opinions on breastfeeding certainly run the gamut. I have learned to be careful what I say around people because I have been in the company of "nurse her til shes's 3"-types and people who wet nurse other peoples babies and women who nurse for a matter of weeks/months.

    I was TERRIFIED of breastfeeding. Every time I saw a photograph of a woman nursing it looked and felt oh so wrong to me. This is ironic because I have posed for my share of photos while actually nursing my infant. Go figure.

    Nursing ended up coming very natural to me and both of my babies were champs at it. There was a natural ending point for me with both. The first was right after she started solids at 6 months, we naturally cut-out feedings for a month after that. She didn't miss it. I didn't either. We were done and I never looked back.

    My second baby is not as much as a cuddler as baby #1. We nursed for 6 months and then she got thrush and I didn't love the idea of applying nystatin (sp) to my nipples, so I quit. I was ok with it at the time, now that she is almost 1, part of me wishes we were still doing it, b/c she is so dang independent, I would love to have some more quiet moments with her. She was tricky too though b/c she had a mouth ful of teeth by 6 months, baby #1 was barely sprouting them when we stopped.

    I think there are so many individual factors that go into the decision to stop. Being one who values the quality of independence in a child (to an extent), I think to continue nursing to put a baby to sleep at ANY age is a bad idea. If the baby has a compromised immune system, I think I would be open to breastfeeding past 1 year. But 1 year seems to be a natural mark for me, if not less.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 4/13/2006 10:17:00 AM  

  • 1. First of all, it is totally a personal decision, but you asked, so here goes. I am of the (possibly controversial?) opinion that if a baby is old enough to ask to be nursed, like with actual words,then it's past time to wean.

    I also think that your major problem here is actually the fact that he nurses to go to sleep. He'll take liquid out of a sippy eventually if he has to, but comfort and sleep is a totally different thing. Now, it's easy for me to say this, since I don't live in your house and have to listen to him cry, but the sooner you get him to sleep without that nursing (whether you decide to wean him completely otherwise or not) the better. The older he gets, the longer his memory will get, and the harder it will be. Try music, a favorite "lovey" or just plain old cry-it-out, but the sooner he stops associating mom with sleep, the better. Babysitters will like you much better, too, if he will sleep for them.

    2. Men nursing? Never thought about it. Kind of thought we had the corner on that one....but hey, as long as they don't do it in public ;)
    posted by Blogger The Wiz at 4/13/2006 10:22:00 AM  

  • Daring Young Mom had some great posts recently about weaning - see this past Friday and Sunday at http://www.daringyoungmom.blogspot.com/.
    posted by Blogger marian at 4/13/2006 11:28:00 AM  

  • The decision on how long to nurse is between you and your baby, so I think you will know in your heart when the time is right for you both.

    As for men and the nursing experience, I try and share the joys of feeding a newborn with my husband by giving him bottle duty one night a week (no Daddy Nurser for us, but that may be a quick way to wean a kid). I think it makes him more understanding to the demands of motherhood and keeps me sane in the early weeks.
    posted by Blogger Tri Mama at 4/13/2006 11:39:00 AM  

  • Ok, the Daddy Nurser Thing? Uh? Ew. Can't wrap my mind around that one AT ALL, but to each his own, I guess!

    As far as nursing, it's such a personal thing- between you, what you feel comfortable with, and what your child needs. There will be people with strong opinions no matter where you fall on the spectrum- bottom line, it's personal. In the western world, one year seems to be about the norm, but give or take, it's still just an average.

    I have a friend in the hippy area of California who nursed her kids until they were seven. Yes, seven years, not months. It was totally bizarre, and frankly, made me very uncomfortable to see her elementary school age son lift her shirt and suckle her breast... Not sure about that one- other than it felt wrong to ME. Obviously, it didn't bother her at all.

    Oh, and I'll second the ref to Daring Young Mom- she is going through this exact thing- her son isn't super happy with a sippy cup either...
    posted by Blogger Tracy M at 4/13/2006 12:16:00 PM  

  • I'll answer #2 first--I really think it is fine for mom to do all the breastfeeding. Have Daddy help with solid foods. I know my DH was much better at feeding the kids with a spoon than I was. Or just have DH cook for the whole family (mine does that too). Women have the proper equipment for nursing, so it just makes sense. :o)

    #1--My daughter nursed until 18 months when I "helped" the weaning process. My son is 15 months and still going strong. He does okay with some sippy cups, but he really likes the cups with a built in straw. Try those with your son. My kids both learned straw-sucking at about 8 months and really like those kind of cups.

    Personally, I want my kids to be weaned by age 2, and preferably by 20 mos. My kids don't sleep well until after they are weaned, and that's about as long as I can go before going insane. I also want to wear regular bras and just be done. And I don't want a 2 year old asking to nurse. If I lived in a culture where nutritious food was hard to come by, maybe I'd nurse until the kid was older, but that isn't really a problem here. I do wonder how hard my son will be to wean, though, because he LOVES nursing. I still don't see myself going beyond 20 months, though, if reasonably possible.
    posted by Blogger mindy at 4/13/2006 03:07:00 PM  

  • An advantage I had weaning my daughter at age 18 months was that she understood when I said the milk was "all gone". She could say a few words by then, so she could kind of ask, but over the next week I'd just reply "All gone" and she'd repeat that, and then I could distract her with something else.

    Oh, and now that I've read the other comments...
    My son (age 15 months) still nurses to fall asleep at night the majority of nights. I don't like cry-it-out methods, and find that they frequently "haunt" you in other ways. My sister uses CIO with her kids and they still wake up in the middle of the night when they are 4 and 5 years old. (They aren't crying themselves to sleep by then, but they are supposed to put themselves to sleep.) At about age 2, we start "reading to sleep" and DH reads my daughter to sleep on nights when we aren't watching movies or something. She almost always sleeps clear through the night in her own bed. Obviously I can't know for sure, but it seems that she feels safe and secure when falling asleep, so it is easier for her to stay asleep. Personally, I think our culture places too much emphasis on independence at a young age. As a zoologist, I've done a lot of research on parenting in primates, and primates tend to have long childhoods, and need to form healthy attachments. A "dependent" child is not doomed to be dependent later. Rather, they need to feel securely attached to someone in order to feel confident in themselves. I have seen this with my older daughter. she is very confident and independent now, and I really do attribute some of this to the fact that she felt so secure and attached as an infant/toddler. Good luck!
    posted by Blogger mindy at 4/13/2006 03:18:00 PM  

  • I've got a nine month old and we're still nursing. The WHO recommends nursing for at least a year and then as long as is mutually desired beyond that. I once read a satire about the perks to nursing your college-age child. I'll see if I can find it again.
    In regards to sippy-cups and fear that he's not getting enough liquids; when he needs liquids he'll get serious about the sippy-cup. Mine would just play with his cup until he wasn't getting as much liquid from his foods. Now he drinks from cups eagerly and efficiently.
    posted by Blogger Starfoxy at 4/13/2006 10:24:00 PM  

  • #2 question-- Fathers nursing? That's just weird and somehow wrong all at the same time. I just can't see how having fake boobs makes them more loving as a parent...

    #1 question:

    I only nursed my kids, respectively for 8 months, 8 months, and 10 months. No, I never felt guilt, and no I'm not a bad mom. Yes, it is personal, but like the wiz, if your kid can ask for it, it's not quite right.

    Truth is, breast milk loses its nutritional value when the kid reaches 3 or 4. By then they should be eating a myriad of solid foods, anyway --hello?!?! TEETH?

    For the whole "cry it out" thing -- My children learned to sleep on their own when they were 6 months old and they cried it out. It took 2 days, and ALL THREE of them sleep ALL NIGHT without interruption and are some of the heaviest sleepers I've seen. Yeah, there was 2 days of hell, but then years of bliss. I would much rather have an independent 2 year old that can eat on his own and sleep on his own, rather than devote my hours to comforting him endlessly. I have other children to worry about.

    But then again, we all do what we feel is best and it's usually different from the next mom...
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 4/14/2006 07:02:00 AM  

  • Well I guess I'll step up to the plate as the absolutely worst mom in the world award. I nursed my kids to sleep, and it was wrong! But, I did it anyway. My first baby was weaned at 13 months, but only because I was entering my third trimester with Baby #2 and my doctor said I had to stop. My second baby was the one who could never fall asleep without nursing, even if for only 5 minutes. I nursed him regularly until he was maybe 3, I guess, and then (duck) I nursed him to sleep at night until exactly 1 week past his 4th birthday. I kind of resented it for the final year I guess, but I am a complete pushover, and he still felt like he really needed it. I didn't want to "reject" him. (Or maybe it was because I unconsciously wanted to keep him a baby, because I knew I wasn't going to have any more kids!) Anyway, that's my true confession.
    #2. Yuck!
    posted by Anonymous meems at 4/14/2006 07:59:00 AM  

  • LeeAnn,

    I'm not sure what is more disturbing, the image you posted of the Daddy nurser or the image in my head of your DH using the daddy nurser with your toddler. Overall--WEIRD. Thanks for sharing.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 4/14/2006 09:44:00 AM  

  • My personal thought on all this was, if the baby can come up to you and pull up your shirt at any given time....its time to quit. I know there are some "cultures" where people nurse until 4 or so, but fortunately or not, thats NOT our culture. You have to function in this world as does your kid. Kind of reminds me of a toni morrison book where she did nurse until 7 or so and yes, and it ended up being a BIG secret in the family, that the kid was ashamed of. and yes...he did get picked on.
    ANd i dont think breasts make a mom or dad a better and more loving parent. I think there are things moms do and dads do. and none are better. its just htat boobs is our job....
    posted by Blogger ksl at 4/14/2006 09:56:00 AM  

  • I vote for independence. Attachments to pacifier, blanket, or nursing are not ideal, so I would try to at least wean from the bedtime nursing.

    My husband really enjoyed bottle-feeding, but I don't think he would love "nursing."
    posted by Blogger a spectator at 4/14/2006 10:04:00 AM  

  • Thanks for all your comments and the references to Daring Young Mom's site (she's hilarious!) -- lots of good info. It's just interesting to see what attitudes toward breastfeeding are like and yes, they vary. I tend toward the baby-your-baby/ attachment/ Dr. Sears school of thought, although it all comes down to what you're comfortable with.

    I was totally kidding about the dad-nursing thing! That's a silly Japanese invention pictured there. But there are some scary man-nursing web sites out there!
    posted by Blogger Squiddy at 4/14/2006 12:04:00 PM  

  • The picture makes me think of the nursing contraption that Mr. Byrnes wears in "Meet the Fockers" (sequel to Meet the Parents) - very freaky if you ask me!
    posted by Blogger marian at 4/14/2006 12:15:00 PM  

  • Like people have said, when your both comfortable with it, then it's time to wean. Personally I wish my daughter had nursed for longer.

    She is a very independant child and from the moment she could hold her head up, she wanted to do everything herself. So at 3 months old she decided she was ready to stop nursing. I was heartbroken and told her too bad, you have too. That was my biggest mistake. We fought about it for a month, every single feeding at least one of us would be crying.

    After that I didn't want to fight about it anymore, but I didn't want to be a "bad" mom either and switch to formula. So I pumped with a hand held manual pump for another month.

    Both of those ways to deal were very bad! The first way we were both miserable and the second was miserable for me. I had no time for anything. It took me 30 minutes to pump out a bottle, and it took her 35 to eat it. So if I left the house right after she ate I had about an hour before we had to be home so I could pump out another bottle before she was hungry again.

    We started formula at 5 months, she started solid foods at six months and we did less and less formula. It was the hardest thing I had to do to put her on formula permenantly. I cried for two days, but in the end, it was best for both of us.
    posted by Blogger Trivial Mom at 4/14/2006 02:12:00 PM  

  • First off, can any of you who've met me really picture me with that daddy nursing contraption on? If so, I must have been more anonymous in the old branch than I thought. ;)

    As for the nursing thing, I'd imagine each of our kids will nurse until they're ready to stop. Obviously, if they're past 24 months and going strong we'll reassess the situation, but our son wasn't even interested in solid food until he was a good 8 months old and he never would drink from a bottle, so kicking him off the boobie wasn't really an option then (nor did our pediatrician think it was a problem not to). Our son is healthy, he's grown and gained weight normally and regularly, and he's an extremely happy, bright, and alert little man.

    I've spent the past 14 months in awe of my wife and the sacrifices she's made to make our boy's introduction into this world go as smoothly as possible. I'm sure we'll make mistakes with our kids, but having over 50 nieces and nephews between us and watching all of our siblings' child rearing styles (and the widely varied outcomes they've produced) has shown LeeAnn and I that the only parental instincts we can really trust with our kids is our own. This blog and others like it are great as a means to see what others are thinking, but in the end, each of us has to do what we feel is right for our family.
    posted by Anonymous daddy carlston at 4/14/2006 11:03:00 PM  

  • My friend recently weened her 15 month old. She had the same concern. The kid loved nursing. While she was nursing, she didn't really drink much from the sippy cup. As soon as she was weaned, she totally drank from her sippy cup because she was thirsty. No problem at all.
    You will probably find this is the case for your child too. Once the breast is no longer at option, your child will drink what is available.
    As for age of nursing, these days most people think nursing past 18 months is odd. There is nothing wrong with it, and you can find plenty of people who support that, so if it is important to you--go for it.
    But if not, go ahead and quit if you are thinking that you'd like your breasts back. Your child will not dehydrate.
    posted by Anonymous JKS at 4/15/2006 08:23:00 PM  

  • The WHO actually recommends that babies be breastfed for 2 years and then as long as mutually desired. The AAP recommends that babies be nursed for at least 12 months and again, longer if mutually desired.

    There's nothing wrong with nursing your baby to sleep; my 21 month old still nurses to sleep and my older son nursed to sleep, well, longer than that.

    I had a lot of uncertainty about extended nursing with my oldest and found that the anthropological research of Katherine Dettwyler (http://www.kathydettwyler.org/) helped me deal with worrying about what people might think. She has done research about other mammals and especially primates and has stated that the natural weaning age for humans is between 2.5 and 7 years old. I'd also recommend the book "So That's What They're For" for good info about breastfeeding.
    posted by Blogger Vicki at 4/15/2006 09:18:00 PM  

  • Wow, such ignorance. Breastmilk does not lose nutritional value at age 3 or 4!! That is such an odd thing to say...after all if something has nutritional value, so be it. Of course by that age kids should be (and will be, regardless of whether they nurse or not) eating other foods, but that doesn't mean BM suddenly loses all nutritional value. That is like saying bananas aren't nutricious if kids eat carrots.

    I also do get the "whn they can ask for it" sentiment. Do you stop hugging your kids once they can ask for a hug?? Do you stop feeding your kids dinner once they can ask for it?? I don't know why BM is the only thing kids cannot get once they ask for it.

    I BF my daughter for 27 months, she weaned herself. I BF her to sleep, but evetually it stopped working, and we learned to cuddle to sleep. Now that she is weaned (1 year) we cuddle until she is relaxed, then she goes to sleep. BF a baby to sleep does not mean they will never learn to sleep on their own.

    As for the sippy cup, I went back to work at 1 year, then she started taking one at daycare. She had before a little, but not much. Just keep offering it, he'll get it eventually.

    As for dads bf, umm, odd. But whatever works.
    posted by Blogger Jill at 4/16/2006 06:13:00 AM  

  • about nursing your kid to sleep being "wrong"...I don't think it's wrong....I just think if my baby depended on me to get to sleep I would go bonkers b/c I need some alone time in my day, and I would just feel so tied up. Dates with my husband (not that I take many lately) would have to start after the baby was asleep...and extreme thought: what if I died? Would that traumatize my baby even more? I know...extremem.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 4/16/2006 10:42:00 AM  

  • I can definitely see some of the pros to teaching your baby to go to sleep in other ways besides (or in addition to) nursing. We don't do crying to sleep methods and my older son had a hard time going to sleep for a long time. There was a lot of walking him and bouncing him and slinging him and so forth and he finally was able to nurse to sleep starting at about 14 months. So for me the simplicity of sitting down and getting online or reading a book and nursing my #2 son to sleep is so easy and relaxing.

    I know that deep inside things like sleeping with my baby and nursing longer than the US average felt so right to me but I also felt some outside pressure that it wasn't right. From family members maybe, the culture, whatever. So I was glad to find support from a few "real life" friends and also online support as well as research that helped me feel more ok about doing what felt right.

    I think a lot of people get to 14-15 months and still may want to nurse but feel like they should stop because of social or cultural pressures and that's who I'm talking to when I'm saying nursing your baby to sleep (or nursing past a year or sleeping with your baby) isn't wrong.
    posted by Blogger Vicki at 4/16/2006 12:13:00 PM  

  • I nursed my first for 14 or 15 months and then stopped abruptly because I realized I had lost too much weight (10 lbs lighter then pre-pregnancy) I nursed my second for 13 months and then stopped abruptly so I could go to education week. Both seemed like nice times to stop, but I also could have gone for a while longer with no problems too.
    posted by Blogger Brandolyn at 4/24/2006 03:59:00 PM  

  • I nursed my child for 3 months and I'll nurse the next for that long or less. I didn't like breastfeeding and I had to get back to work. I wasn't breastfed and did quite well. I don't think breastfeeding is the most important thing you can do for your child and it might be helpful to have this point of view on your web site, rather than just "keep trying." I have a friend who "kept trying" and her child was diagnosed as "failure to thrive" until she started using formula.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 8/28/2006 08:23:00 AM  

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