BREASTFEEDING A BABY ON THE GO
MIDWIFE, NURSING SISTER AND LACTATION SPECIALIST
MY 14-MONTH-OLD SON LOVES HIS BREASTMILK BUT I THINK HE IS READY TO LET GO. HE IS A BUSY LITTLE BOY WHO WOULD RATHER BE RUNNING AROUND THAN BE TIED TO MY HIP. SHOULD I WEAN HIM? I REALLY WANTED TO BREASTFEED TILL HE TURNS TWO.
It can be quite a concern when your baby starts to show signs of weaning himself and you are not at all prepared for this process. It catches you off guard sometimes, doesn’t it? You may even experience some feelings of rejection.
The World Health Organisation recommends that you continue to breastfeed your baby for the first two years of his life and beyond, alongside the nutritious solid foods that your baby should start eating from no sooner than four months old. And even though this may be your goal, your baby may ultimately make the decision.
Each child is different and unique, and as they grow through their second year as a toddler, and meet the required developmental milestones, they each begin to show their individual characters.
At this age your baby starts to walk, and as his separation anxiety settles, he becomes more independent in exploring his world. He may even be selective at mealtimes and choose to eat what he prefers and wants, rather than just willingly have whatever is offered. However, if a good foundation has been set, and he is eating a good variety of nutritious wholesome foods from all the food groups, and drinking water when offered often, then he only needs to breastfeed in the morning on waking, and in the evening before going to bed. These two breastfeeds can continue for as long as he demands, and will meet the emotional bonding needs for both of you.
There is also the immunity benefit for your baby. Although he may only be breastfeeding twice a day, his immune system is boosted by the large numbers of antibodies contained in those feeds, preparing him to cope with exposure to various illnesses as he comes into contact with others.
If he has naturally indicated to you that he only wants to feed at these quiet, special moments together, then keep offering the breast, until your child now selects a different way of waking or going to sleep. This is considered adequate, and is a normal appropriate behaviour for his age.