Extensive & Exclusive Breastfeeding Beyond a Year - Updated
***NEW*** THE EE BREASTFEEDER FORUM - Private community support for the mom whose healthy, vibrant toddler's exclusive and extensive preferential nourishment is mother's milk. Information found at the end of this article. ***
As a mother of seven children, there is one thing I can say very confidently. All children are different. Each one has different needs. I breastfeed all of my children exclusive up to a year and then extensively until 18 to 24 months. I remember when I decided it was time to incorporate solids into my first born's meal. Quite simply, she couldn't seem to get enough milk and my body was taxed because of it. Accepting solids into her diet was smooth and easy. There was no fussing, no fighting, I knew she (as well as myself) was ready for the change.
I have different variations of the same story for the babies that came afterwards. However, my last baby is fourteen, almost 15 months and is still exclusively breastfed. While she has a mouth full of teeth, she has shown some interest in food but prefers her "nursty" to a meal. She drinks no other liquids, shows no interests in cups or what comes out of them. I have a cupboard full of BPA-free, training cups that she has never used. Her only interactions with cups are to use them as a teething ring.
While she snacks on grains every now and then, she's yet to have a solid meal. I spoke to my husband about it and suggested we incorporate solids. We took into consideration the fact that she's content, happy and very healthy. Her weight gain is steady and good. My body shows no ill for supporting myself, as well as a baby that's 15 months in age. There is really no good reason to start her on solids, other than the fact that I would like to nurse a little less. She nurses for an hour or so at a time. Even more so when she's going through a growth spurt. It can get a bit tiring. So it's good to be reminded why extensive and exclusive breastfeeding is the best thing you can do for your baby.
- Second-year milk is similar to first-year milk nutritionally.
- Breast Milk continues to be a good source of protein, fat, calcium and vitamins in its second year.
- Immunities in breast milk are known to increase in concentration as babies get older.
- Long-term breast feeding can prevent allergies
- Breast milk is 88 percent water
- Saves money (no specific food items to add to my shopping list!)
- Breast milk is a renewable, sustainable resource!
- Breast milk is hygienic
I can be a busy bee. There have been times when I get annoyed to have to sit down to feed. BUT I am totally and completely in love with breastfeeding! To nourish, grow and protect my children's health by nursing, has been one of my greatest pleasures in life!
Are you breastfeeding extensively AND exclusively? I would absolutely enjoy a comment from you!
Update: Baby Girl nursed exclusively until she was nearly two years of age. Just before her 2nd birthday, she showed an interest in food. Incorporating solids into her meal was a natural, stress-free occurrence. Baby girl is now 37 months old, she eats three square meals a day, drinks a variety of beverages, including cow's milk on occasion and still breastfeeds at least three hours a day. She is happy, healthy, heavy and spunky!
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Good for you! I believe when they are ready, they will be ready.ReplyDelete
From March 2009, I breastfeed my 1st child exclusively for the first 6 months with minimal sips of water due to the hot and humid weather in my country (Malaysia) and to stop MIL's nagging that her grandson is dehydrated, then he started solids at 6th month onwards but still taking my breastmilk.
Then I got pregnant last year and although my body stopped producing breastmilk at 5th month into pregnancy, my boy nurses on and now with my 2nd child turning 3 months old yesterday, it also marks my 3rd month of tandem nursing them.
~ Jenny ( http://www.imafulltimemummy.com/ )
Tandem nursing! That's awesome! Other people's fears & worry always seems to have a hand, or at least a say in how we raise our children. Whether its your doctor or your next door neighbor!ReplyDelete
It's difficult! So glad you were able to get past that to tandem nurse! Thanks so much for sharing. :)
I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed this post. I am still breastfeeding my 12 month old, although relatives and loved ones (aka HUSBAND) tell me that I am ridiculous.
When baby is ready, I will stop breastfeeding. For now, it's great!
Baby girl is now 23 months and just gained an interest in solids a month ago! She is eating more meals and nursing a bit less, but STILL loves her nursty!
Its been a long time coming, but she's decided for herself, no fuss and no fighting. More importantly, a happy and healthy baby.
Keep up the good work!
Thank you! Just read this after finding it via a google search to see if I was the only one doing this! My Bo is 14 months and refuses almost anything but breast milk. Friends and family and GP seem to think this needs to change ASAP so I have been trying to get him to eat and we both end up frustrated and upset. He is healthy and growing so I feel like it can't be that bad. Thanks for the post!ReplyDelete
You're so welcome! You're not alone! My DD is 2 1/2 & still nurses frequently. She eats more meals, but nurses in proportion to her meals. She's muscular, energetic & very healthy. Keep up the good work!Delete
Thanks for this post. My daughter is 11 months old and has FPIES... a very rare disease that causes a severe, even life threatening reaction to food proteins. Since she currently only has 3 foods that she can safely eat, she is almost exclusively breastfed. Although she's super healthy and thriving, it's encouraging to read stories like yours, as she will need to nurse for a prolonged period of time, while we work through her FPIES issues and find safe foods for her to eat.ReplyDelete
Blessings to you and your little on your journey! May it be paved smooth to lasting health!ReplyDelete
My DD is 3 1/2 and still nurses a few times a day. :) Keep it up
LOVE this post! Thanks so much for sharing! I have an 11-month old, exclusively breastfed, beautiful, healthy, thriving little girl who was diagnosed with Down Syndrome shortly after she was born. Nursing was a challenge in the first two months, but once she figured it out, she has flourished. I have searched and searched for resources and info on exclusive breastfeeding for the first year and possibly beyond. My daughter is doing SO WELL and growing and developing beautifully by nursing exclusively and Inwant to continue doing so for as long as she wants to as well. She has tried avocado,sweet potatoes and green peas, but has only eating small amounts a couple times/week. She seems content to simply nurse and I'm ok with that! Again, thank you!ReplyDelete
Thanks so much for this post. As the only one in my entire family who has ever breastfed, I often feel like an alien! My sweet girl is 13 months and only eats a couple bites of food each day. The pressure has been so strong to make her eat solids, but she just gets frustrated and cries or gags. I'm not doing that any more! I'm so happy I'm not the only one, and this is not abnormal, as everyone around me tells me.ReplyDelete
Keep it up! It's so difficult to follow your instinct in a day and age where we are expected to think and act like the status quo, but so rewarding when the final results are revealed. I've had a few near misses trying to comply with the status quo. I firmly believe that a mom's instinct can be a baby's saving grace.Delete
Besides, how do you force a child to eat? I never understood or accepted that ideology.
I am also exclusively breastfeeding my son who just turned 11 mos yesterday. He weighs 22 lbs and is very healthy. He has never been sick and I am a big proponent of attachment parenting, which I slipped into because my instinct was telling me different than what everyone else was telling me to do. Thank God that I did because it has helped so much in creating a wonderful bond between my boy and I and he is doing great! All the advice out there is scary and worrisome to me; especially with the way everything is going in the US. It is so hard to find information on exclusively bf beyond the first year though. Even finding info on EB past six months is hard! I am currently reading The Baby Bond by Linda Palmer. It is a very interesting book and gives info about archealogical finds that show women didn't start weaning (introducing solids) until near two years. Ive read the earlier you start solids the less nutrients are being taken from breastmilk and also iron can be lost due to competing with iron in food. But, still I worry because everyone looks at me like I am a wierdie due to my son only being on milk still. I fear a lot that he is deprived somehow by only being on milk. I feel instinctively that this is what is best, but also fear that I am wrong. I don't want to harm him or delay him in any way neurologically or physically....ReplyDelete
It is so difficult to live instinctively instead of "sheepishly", i.e. follower mentality. Despite all the "freedoms" we "enjoy" as Americans, few of us seem to employ independent thinking and reasoning and tend to criticize and condemn others that don't follow the status quo. More so, those close to us. Trust, I understand the internal battle and dilemma!Delete
I believe in evidence-based care and much of the advice perpetuated by general society is not based on evidence, but rather cultural perspectives.
The LLL is international and has been around a LONG time. It is a wonderful source of support and information and the article found here should provide weight against the criticisms and your own concerns.
I encourage you to seek out credible, evidence-based facts & information. Memorize them for your own peace of mind and to protect yourself from the onslaught. You can't control how people around you perceive you (weird) that's something you'll need to accept. A happy, healthy child should outweigh fear-based opinions. Further more, you can even chat with a LLL rep and share your concerns. You're doing good work, momma! keep it up!
my baby is 13 months old. He takes some solid food and can drink from sippy cups very well.Still he nurses every 3 hours. He has been breast fed exclusively sine he was born. He had never had cows milk yet. He does go to day care three time a week till noon. He can take warm or cold milk in bottle ot sippy cups. My pead encourage me to give him cows milk. She said it is better for baby after one. What do you think?ReplyDelete
Just to give you an update. I'm currently nursing baby #8 who is five months old. :)
Just as a disclaimer: I'm not a lactation consultant, just a mom who has done this 8 times.
My honest opinion? I'm not understanding the recommendation based on the fact that "cow milk" is better. Are there medical concerns attached to her recommendation? If there are no medical concerns, then it seems to be a personal opinion rather than a professional one. I have had a doctor discourage me from nursing after one year, he gave me no medical grounding for it.
Breast-milk is specifically designed and designated for humans and cow's milk for cows. Multiple studies show the benefits of breast-milk over cow's milk. There are also studies that show the benefit of long term nursing.
I'm assuming your doctor does not have a lactation certification? I would seek out a lactation consultant for a second opinion and keep nursing until that time (of course if baby is still interested). It would be a good idea to "boost" your milk with a probiotic. Although breast-milk, in my opinion can do just fine without supplements. Again, talk to a lactation consultant as they are more qualified to determine questions, concerns about breast-milk. Hope this helps. :)
Let me add to my statement:Delete
"If there are no medical concerns, then it seems to be a personal opinion rather than a professional one."
It seems to be a CULTURAL opinion, which could be explained as a personal one. As you may know, it is culturally unacceptable to nurse beyond a year. Many moms in our position have faced condemnation and criticism for it. Unfortunately some doctors espouse these outdated cultural perspectives.
I believe in EVIDENCE-BASED care.
Thank you for the post. I am going to be a first time mom in January. I have always thought it was weird that people push solid food on babies so soon. I have been looking around to see if it's okay to exclusively BF for a long time. Its really hard to find scientific studies that are unbiased. I feel so much better reading real mom's who have healthy kids who just BF. Thank you so much for the encouragement! I know it can be done and it's okay and good for the baby!ReplyDelete
Congratulations! Thank you for your kind sentiments, it means so much to me! Please come back and share your breastfeeding journey with us. :)ReplyDelete
What are your thoughts on iron? Everyone always talks about babies being deficient after 6monthsReplyDelete
I'm assuming you're breastfeeding? I've never done iron supplements and never had a direct experience or reason to do it. If you feel your baby needs iron supplement, I would test specifically to see if he/she is low. If not, no reason to supplement. In my opinion, laboratory-manufactured (synthetic) vitamins and minerals should be avoided. I believe in supplementing with food for biological and synergistic effect. I wrote a very informative piece on this here...http://www.theoliveparent.com/2014/07/true-nutritionnature-made-vs-manmade.html
Hope that helps!
I am so glad I found this blog post! My 18month old is still 95% exclusively breastfed. My Dr and our local childs health providers have put me on to Paediatric nutritionalists etc and wanted me to force wean my child. But he's reaching milestones, in fact he's reaching them early and is quite bright. He's happy, healthy, energetic.ReplyDelete
It was only a week or so ago that I realised that I deserved a pat on the back for sticking with BFing rather than a slap on the hand for not weaning. Mothers need a lot more encouragement than they get!
I'm a little discouraged though. A week after my son was born, I was back at my healthy pre pregnancy weight. Now 18 months later I have gained 40 pounds and no matter what I try, I just can't drop it :( I've read that some mothers can't lose weight while BFing so a huge (lol) part of me is looking forward to my son weaning himself.
I've read that children who have allergies in the family can wean themselves later, however we don't have allergies in our family, and the foods he does eat are all allergenic haha. Eggs, Dairy, Wheat.
Thank you for your post :)
You absolutely deserve a pat on the back! ** pat - pat** :)Delete
What is up with everyone trying to force babies to wean?!? Never understood that and that has been an issue since my very first child, nearly 22 years ago.
If the baby is fine and nursing isn't hurting anyone, other than their (society, family friends etc.) own overly sensitive sensibilities and conformity...let the babes eat! Everyone else can get over themselves! ;)
I totally get it on the weight loss front! After I'd have my babies I was back to pre-pregnancy weight and then the pounds would come flying back a few months later. Each subsequent pregnancy from babe #5 I'd gain more and more weight. However, I've been using Miessence superfoods during my last pregnancy, for the first time ever, with wonderful results and experience!
I gained fifteen to twenty pounds throughout the whole pregnancy and then lost 45 right after birth. I gained ten pounds when breast feeding was established - as I expected. Currently, I'm down 20ish pounds pre-pregnancy, which I'm loving. I share my pregnancy experience here: http://www.theoliveparent.com/2015/02/the-role-of-probiotics-in-pregnancy.html
Weight gain during breastfeeding is normal and is the body's way of ensuring the breastfeeding supply. However, eating clean, wholesome food is essential to watching weight levels. What I've discovered is that since eating clean - I crave clean foods. I prefer more raw than cooked. I don't eat much meat, but have been craving proteins. I supplement with Miessence Complete Protein Powder, which has all the amino acids, including limiting amino acids, in my daily hemp milk shake you can find the recipe here - http://www.theoliveparent.com/2015/09/raw-protein-hemp-milk-recipe.html
Proteins have a “thermic” effect, meaning that they create heat in the body through the process of digestion. Since proteins take a lot of energy to digest, you burn more calories after eating a meal high in protein. Up to 30 percent of protein’s calories get burned through its digestion.
My personal experience - I am currently slimming down - ingesting a vegetative-based protein. It isn't showing up on the scale, but I and those around me are noticing trimmer thighs and waist. Try a protein supplement to monitor the weight.
A disclaimer of sorts: To be sure we're all on the same page, I'm in no way certified in lactation, diet or nutrition. This information is purely information, based on my own testimonial experience. I personally use Miessence Complete Protein which is certified organic, raw, vegan and gluten-free and they are for sale on my shop. I empower you to do your own research or ask more questions!
Thank you for gracing my site with your presence and comment!
Thank you for this post. Im still practically exclusively breastfeeding my 18 month old. All he eats is cheerios and maybe crackers. But whenever i try to offer him food , its a fight or he runs away. Sometimes im so worried if my milk is enough, or if im starving him. But he just always refuses to eat solid. I love breastfeeding and i intend on breasfeeding him past 2 years old. Still he is healthy, energetic, strong and so happy and he is on the right weight. Im just gonna keep offering him food and let him lead. Whenever he is ready i guessReplyDelete
Sometimes, I think, we get so caught up in "how to do things" and trying to make them fit in our perception, be it cultural or personal, we forget that the results is the purpose and intention of breastfeeding. As long as your babe is healthy, right weight, happy, content etc. and there is no real pressing medical concerns, symptoms or issues. It's okay to relax your efforts and enjoy breastfeeding sans solids. How do you force him to eat anyhow? No one ever refuses food if they are hungry -- unless of course they are on a hungry strike or fasting, but you get my gist. ;) If you really have concerns - try offering your baby something more natural like a fruit or homemade crackers, He may not like the taste of Cheerios or commercialized crackers -- especially if he's breastfed - he may be inclined to a more natural taste. Believe me, babies can tell! I have a recipe for homemade crackers - Let me know if you'd like it!
All in all, you're ALWAYS doing the right thing in nursing him! Keep it up!
I admire all those who are able to continue to breastfeed exclusively beyond the first year despite cultural norms that don't encourage it as much. I was around 5-months pregnant when my first baby turned one, and my milk somehow dwindled by alot to the point that I had to stop . My baby is now exclusively on baby's one formula. She doesn't like solids as much, so I'm wondering if that is a better option than decreasing her milk intake and get her to do more solids? (She is now 15 months)ReplyDelete
Just to reiterate - I'm not a doctor, nor have I traditionally studied lactation and the like. My experience is strictly my own. Having said that, I can't tell you what would work best for your child. But I will say this...I believe in following the child's lead when it comes to food. And that food should be as natural as possible for the best nutritional development. If your little girl does not like solids - go with that. There's no way to force her to eat. Do some research on coconut milk. Coconut milk is rich in lauric acid, the same substance found in breast milk. Dr. Axe suggests this and has a recipe for baby formula made with coconut milk. You can start your research point here: http://draxe.com/nutrition-for-babies/ If you decide to try coconut milk as an alternative to cow-based formula - I encourage you to make your own to avoid all the additives, bpa etc. found in canned coconut milk. I make my own several times a week for my family. It is very easy to make. Hope that helps! Best to you and yours!Delete
Your post is very encouraging to me! Lots people told me to wean my baby since he wouldn't eat much solid foods. My biggest problem is him waking up a million times during his sleep and the only way to put him back to sleep is by nursing. Did you have problem like this with any of your children? Did you have to sleep train your kids?ReplyDelete
I'm happy you find it encouraging! I didn't sleep train my children. They slept with me. This way they can nurse and sleep as much as needed. I found it the best and only way for the both of us to get sleep. This has worked really well for me, however others have different stories. :)Delete
Thanks for replying me Hannah. Did you nurse them til they fall asleep each night and then sneak away or did you make sure you delatched your nipple before they fall asleep so they learn to fall asleep on their own? So many health professionals told me that only about 20% of babies don't need sleep train and they can fall asleep on their own, but the rest needs training or else they'll have sleep problem for life.... And many moms keep telling me that my baby keep waking up to nurse is because he's hungry... What is your view on night wakings for your babies? Why do you think they wake up? When do they actually start weaning night feedings?Delete
Are you a first time mom? How old is your baby?
My babies slept with me. In other words...co-sleep. They would nurse and then fall asleep. There was nothing else that I did. Both the child and I would get a full night's rest. I did this with every single child. And always got a good night's rest. The only time I didn't, if they were sick or newborn.
I don't know about all those statistics espoused by health professionals. Never heard of it in my life, but I will tell you that babies need two things from breastfeeding - nourishment and comfort.
For me personally, co-sleeping supports both.
I don't sleep train in any capacity. Never have. Every child in my house 22 - 1, sleeps fine. No sleep issues.
Quite simply, I don't agree with the philosophy. I believe in accommodating the needs of the child when warranted. I don't believe in training babies to accommodate a schedule or our culture - they are instinctive, not thinking/rationalizing adults - it's a moot point.
As for why they wake - there is no one size fits all answer. My advice to you, would be this... be your child'd expert.
Know what makes them tick. Watch their reactions and actions intimately and make notes. Do they need comfort? Are they hungry? Are they in pain? Are they teething? Is it emotional? Do they have separation anxiety?
Only you can answer those questions. You have everything your child needs to be content, peaceful and more!
Thank you so much for posting - my baby girl is 15 months and other than a nibble on wholewheat crackers once or twice a week she shows no interest in solids but she loves to sippy. :-) She is a very happy and healthy little chubby bubby weighing a 14kgs and she's always smiling and laughing and very active. Everyone looks at me strange when they find out she doesn't "eat" and the questions range from have you been to the doctor to checking if she has sensory disorder. Your feedback has just encouraged me not to give in a try to force her - much appreciated!!! Mari Carstens, Cape Town, South AfricaReplyDelete
You are so welcome! Happy Breastfeeding!Delete
Hi, myson is 16 month and 95-97% breastfed. I offer him pureed veggies and fruit, but not with a lot of luck. So far he is taking mango and pear mix, and I mix this up with carrots or swear potatoor spinach. He is happy to have some clear bone broth so he gets that regularly. He gags on chunky food, and he is not interested in finger foods. He even spits out baby num-num rice crackers that supposed to melt in the mouth. I am glad to hear that other peope had similar experience. Thanks for posting this. Sometimes pressure can make you question yourself, but good to have the reassurance that your instincts are right and every baby is unique.ReplyDelete
I'm so grateful to have found your post this evening. Our 22-month-old is still only interested in breastfeeding, and I've been starting to worry. I think I'll continue what we've been doing (nursing on-demand and offering solids from time to time), but I wonder if there would come a point when I really should worry?ReplyDelete
Follow your baby's cues and trust the basic signs of growth. Potty output, weight gain etc.Delete
My daughter, now six was very hefty, solid baby when she was EEB and it didn't make sense to worry or try to make her eat.
Naturally you should be concerned if you see adverse signs of health and contact a health professional, but for now enjoy your little one. Soon they'll be towering over you!
My baby is 9 months and exclusively breastfed. I intend to do this until he's at least a year. I am looking for literature that supports this since I'm getting flak for it by friends. :/ReplyDelete
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Yes Thank you so much for sharing! It's really inspiring that you have 7 children and all EBF them until it was naturally time to wean them. I feel there is so much misinformation and also making one feeling scared about EBF around. I'm not from the United States but the Netherlands and in my country you have to go to a place to measure and weigh your baby and you get a lot of weird advice. I'm glad I never followed the advice to introduce solids at 4 months for example. But I did start introducing at 6 months. And then the problems started. My baby would eat anything I gave him and as I was worried he doesn't get enough I soon started to give him 2 meals a day. This lead to severe constipation. Hard stools he couldn't get out and also he didn't want to get out. It has lead to him now having an aversion to pooping and trying his best not to poop. It's utterly horrible. I followed the advice I read to increase fiber rich foods. And it made it so much worse. And then I started thinking.. fiber needs water and his poop is hard so this means he doesn't get enough water with it. I tried to give him water but he just wouldn't drink enough for the amount of fiber. My sleep was broken and I'm a single mom. So now I decided I had enough and at 9 months am returning to EBF. Luckily he kept breastfeeding a lot when introducing solids so my production has not decreased and with extra nursing I'm trying to keep it up. So far he at least has pooped one time, a big one, without any help from either something laxative or suppository. He is still not really there yet (has been just a few days since going back to EBF). Also since 9 months he seems less interested in actually eating the food as before. He now plays with it, while before he actually ate it. It's as if he suddenly became aware of textures. But I'm encouraged that more people EBF as there's so much information about nutrition and they try to scare you with low iron levels and so on. For now I'll continue as I just want to have him pooping normally again as he did before introducing solids. I'll keep offering here and there mainly to play with, unless he shows interest to eat. But only after re establishing his bowel movements. When seeing his poops I also thought.. they are so thin.. (TMI, sorry) it's no wonder a lot of fiber can't pass through his tiny intestines.. I feel horrible that he went through that bout of constipation because of it. Thanks for all the information! It's lovely :)ReplyDelete