Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Why I Continue to Breastfeed My Toddler

Here's my present -day battle with science versus nature:
My child is a booby man that's for sure! He just turned one year old on April 3 and even though we started solids waaaaay back at 6 months, even though I make him the best baby meals he could ever want, there is something about that magic booby milk that keeps him coming back for more. Something that makes him laugh with joy and clap his chubby little hands when he sees that it is time to nurse. My multitasking boobs are not only his main source of comfort these days but of course play a very important part in providing his ultimate nutritional needs and strengthening his immune system. So it baffles me when doctors say that it is time to wean them at one year old! Sure it would be nice to have my body back to myself and be less tied to my baby than I am but this is my job now. More importantly,  this is also something that right now is very important to my baby's comfort, bonding with me, nourishment and overall contentment in his young life. The nourishment part being the biggest factor, why would I take away the best health insurance I could be giving my baby right now just because some Dr. says it's time? And why did the AAP decide to only encourage ONE year of breastfeeding? For who's benefit is this idea? So after considering all of these factors and taking a look into some alternative mothering styles, I have become a fan of child-led weaning and have decided that I will let him choose when he is ready to move on from me in that way.  Doesn't mean I'm going to end up one of THOSE mothers with a 4 or 5 year old hanging off her tit, in my opinion that's a little off...but at only one year old my toddler is still a baby who is in great need of his mama's milk. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends only ONE year of breastfeeding but the World Health Organization recommends at least TWO years. I think I'll go with the WHO's recommendation.
Here are some good reasons to ignore the doctor's recommendations on this subject and just go with you mama's natural instinct: ( I adopted a few of these ideas from an good article I read last month, simplified it Laura-style and brought it to the blog.)

  • Convenience- Weaning a baby before he's ready can be quite difficult. Carrying around messy snacks and dealing with tantrums. No thank you. Naptime struggles? Not a problem with a nursing toddler. If things get difficult I know an all -natural induced nap is just around the corner. :)
  • Tantrum-Tamer- Breasts are powerful tools. Nursing your toddler to calm them down during a tantrum almost always works. Easy as pie. They don't always understand your words at this age, but they certainly understand mama's comfort. 
  • Nutrition- Toddlers can be very picky about what they eat. One day they LOVE your vegetable soup, the next day it gets tossed on the floor. One thing you can count on is that they will always nurse and continue to receive the many nutritional benefits of nature's perfect food. 
  • Fighting Dehydration During Illness- When your toddler is sick he may not want anything to do with solid food. But most likely he will always nurse. This will avoid any scary dehydration issues and trips to the ER for an IV. Even scarier to a toddler. 
  • Weight Loss for Mom- Yea! Something good for US! For every day a lactating woman nurses, she uses an extra 500 calories. This helps in loosing the pregnancy weight after the first year of nursing. 
  • It's Good for the Planet- Breastfeeding is the most ecological thing you can do concerning your child. No cups, bottles to wash, milk jugs to add to the recycling bin, and as a bonus babies are not exposed to the antibiotics and hormones injected into dairy cows. 
  • The Bonding- The bond that I have with my son is irreplaceable and I LOVE that. No one else can fulfill his needs like I can and it makes me happy to know that he gets his ultimate comfort from me and not some artificial formula with unnatural chemicals and a plastic bottle which anyone could give him. He gets my warmth and my love through my milk. I love the content sighs as he's falling asleep on my breast and how he looks so at peace. We are very connected right now, never apart not even for one night. Sometimes this is hard and a night away would be fun, but right now there's no where I'd rather be with than my baby. And I know he needs this connection from me right now. One day he won't need me anymore in this way and I'll be left with the memories of these precious times. 
  • It makes for a happy toddler. End of story :) Ever heard the phrase,  "Happy wife, Happy life?" Well it applies to toddlers too :)
What are your thoughts on extended breastfeeding?


    1. I am still nursing my 13 month old and could not have said it better!

    2. I nursed my daughter til 3 1/2 (just at night at that age) but it was an awesome decision. She stayed so healthy and it was even easier to wean her because she understood more on why she didn't "need" booby anymore. I am now nursing my second new born daughter and I will do so for as long as she "needs" to also.