Wednesday, July 09, 2008

When Are You Going to Quit Nursing That Baby?

It's a question I hear more and more as Rachael's first birthday fades into the past.

My father-in-law was visiting our family as Rachael and I prepared to fly to Colorado to visit my son. He was telling me horror stories of flying with babies--the horror being listening to other people's infants wail for several hours.

"I've heard it helps if the mom breastfeeds while the plane is taking off. Rachael's way too old for that, of course..."

No comment.

I used to be judgmental about nursing older children. Not because I didn't think it was good for them--it just seemed gross. I associated it with the more common trend of late potty training and thought the parents were trying to keep their kids babies too long. My oldest son nursed until six months, when I developed physical problems that forced me to wean. My next child, a daughter, nursed for eleven months before she started biting hard enough to draw blood at every feeding (ouch!). And then there was Malcolm.

Malcolm was a good nurser and a picky eater. He was very baby-ish, and liked to be cuddled. It isn't that I meant to nurse him well past his second birthday; I was merely waiting for him to be 'ready'. That readiness came a few months after he turned two. I potty trained him and weaned him at the same time, and it was incredibly easy because he was ready for both.

I'm not big on nursing in public, but I'm sure it caused whispers on the rare occasion I did. Malcolm has always been a tall, slender boy, and it probably looked like I was breastfeeding a kindergartener or strangling him with a dinosaur-print receiving blanket.

Fast forward a few years. My youngest is 13 months and shows no signs of wanting to wean. And why should I? She's a little underweight, so yanking a calorie-rich and nutritionally complete food from her diet is counter-intuitive. When I look at her, I see a baby, not a toddler or a preschooler. And breastmilk is the ideal food for babies, right?

How did 1 become the magic weaning age, anyway? We yank our babies off formula or breastmilk when they are still growing like crazy, and on top of that have increasing caloric needs due to increased physical activity. They are bald little babies, with just a few teeth, barely walking, communicating in grunts and wails--and we take their healthiest food away because the sun has circled the earth once since they were born?

3 comments:

Shannon said...

I'm with you on this one - my first and only DD is 14 months old and we're still nursing. I had said from the beginning that I wanted to nurse at least 1 year, not at most...and fortunately we're both agreeable to it. :)

A said...

I'm with you on this too. When I had my first child I wanted to nurse until he was a year old but we ended up nursing until he was just over 18 months (he self weaned). With my next child I was planning the same thing, thinking I couldn't handle longer than a year nursing but he ended up nursing until he was just over 2yrs and then self weaned.

You have to do what you and your child feel is right not what socity "pushes" on us!

That lady with 6 daughters said...

yeah- when they're ready, they're ready. Each one is different.

Unless they're 8- have you heard that one?

The 5 of mine who aren't nursing stopped at.... 15mos, 30mos (can we say 2.5 YEARS), 17mos, Somewhere btwn 12 & 18mos and 22mos. I'm sure they were each "ready" I know I was.

I don't think there's a magic age and with all of the brain development going on, isn't the new recommended age 2 years, with foods being introduced after 1?