Breastfeeding a One-Year-Old
As some mothers will tell you, opting for an extended breastfeeding term, beyond the mandatory 12 months, has clear benefits for your baby's future health. Breastmilk is acknowledged by pediatricians, to have clear advantages for a baby above a year old as much as for one under that age. The way your toddler behaves will be determined by his/her personality. Toddlers react differently as each has unique traits. Bonds are formed by breastfeeding children, and nutrition intake is enhanced when you breastfeed over and above a year. If you still have considerations and queries, it's natural. Hopefully, this article will see you through your doubts1.
How Long Sessions Last
To start with, it's perfectly normal for breastfeeding sessions to get shorter as babies move into toddlerhood. This may not mean that your baby is ready to start weaning off breastmilk. The logical explanation for this is that, as babies grow, they become more efficient at extracting milk. The baby has now become an "expert" at nursing by the time he/she is a year old. As babies grow older, there are certain behaviors they exhibit. Behavior changes at each stage of a child's development. Physically and mentally, your child is getting more independent as he/she grows. At the age of one, distraction kicks in. Toddlers get attentive to other things around them and don't want to "waste time nursing."
Typically, nursing a toddler may last for a few minutes. Closer to napping, bedtime, or when your baby wakes in the morning, he/she will be more prone to nursing for longer spans. At these times, babies are sleepy and breastfeeding relaxes them more2.
Other Essential Foods
Another reason toddlers may take less time at your breast is if you are gradually introducing new and interesting alternatives in their diet. You may choose to wean, or not, after your child's first year, and if you don't, you can still introduce new foods. These can be had, not as an alternative to breast milk, but with it. Breastfeeding tips include giving children above a year, cow's milk (with a little sugar mixed in). Cow's milk is a great source of all the good stuff your child needs - protein, fat, vitamin D, and calcium. Full-fat food products like cheese, yogurt and other dairy products are good to give your child too. Nonetheless, if your toddler is nursing frequently, then breastmilk is a great nutrient source. Mashed fruit and cow's milk, such as bananas and milk is a good idea too.
How Often Does Breastfeeding Happen?
The frequency with which breastfeeding sessions happen varies greatly from one toddler to the next. It could be erratic one day, and timely for the next week. Some toddlers follow a routine. At certain times, a toddler may be distracted and not able to focus. Sometimes, a toddler will want to be close to mum, and get the comfort of that closeness that the breastfeeding session affords. Toddlers have been known to reach for a mother's breast at least 10 times a day, while some will only want to twice or thrice a day. Whatever the pattern may be, you will see that breastfeeding slowly, but surely, decreases. A couple of times a day sessions may continue for months on end, even for a few years. This is largely dependent on the child as well as the mother.
Breastfeeding for Comfort
Toddlers breastfeed for comfort needs. They may get the valuable nutrition they need on the way, but their aim is for the reassuring contact that comes from the mother's breast. Breastmilk is a great source of relief to the crying and tantrum-driven baby. It works wonders and is a super way to reconnect with mum during the day. Toddlers may go through phases of nursing at night quite frequently. Reasons for this may be that toddlers are teething, or breastfeeding during the day may be decreased due to distraction3.
Typically, researchers have noted that toddlers tend towards more frequent breastfeeding when they are away from a familiar environment like home. They also breastfeed more when there are changes in their routines.
Challenges of Toddlerhood Breastfeeding
Some challenges, especially for mothers, are positions toddlers wish to nurse in. Acrobatic breastfeeding is common in toddlers. A toddler will think it's quite alright to breastfeed upside down, standing on one leg, twisting and turning, and so on. This proves very difficult for mothers, who tend to feel their breasts being pulled and pushed.
Pediatricians breastfeeding tips to tackle this include giving the baby something to focus on, like a toy, while breastfeeding. Try singing to your baby, or tell them a story, while they are nursing. You can also try a bit of a reprimand and tell your baby to be still. The process may be more of a challenge if you have to breastfeed in a public place. If you find that it's too much of a challenge and your baby is especially wiggly, breastfeed before leaving home.
The Benefits of Breastfeeding into the Toddler Years
Here are some benefits of extended breastfeeding continuing beyond the age of one:
- Immune system boost - As long as you breastfeed your baby, he or she will have protection against illnesses like the common cold, allergies, and other infections. The longer you breastfeed, the better your child's immune system will work in the long run.
- Health perks later - Research has shown that mothers who breastfed babies into toddlerhood, had fewer health issues as adults, like blood pressure and cholesterol-related problems.
- Comfort - Bonds between you and your child will get enhanced, while leading your child into the older years, so he or she can gradually gain independence.
- Relaxation - Toddlers are active little ones who love to creep around and explore new surroundings. As they become more mobile, they are always on an adventure at play. When they tire, they always have their mum's breast to come to. This is a place where they can relax and get charged up again to play.
The benefits to you are valuable too. The risk of certain cancers, such as breast and ovarian, is significantly reduced. You can also keep those pounds off for longer since breastfeeding a toddler is no easy task and keeps you expending energy.
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Sara Gale
Sara loves traveling and exploring new places with her family. She is mom to 2 lovely children and loves bringing them out on adventures.