Extended Breastfeeding an older baby or toddler is different than breastfeeding a baby. Here’s where I am now with breastfeeding my 16-month old.
I’m a huge extended breastfeeding advocate, and I let my son Griffin nurse for as long as he wanted to.
When he was first born, I found so many awesome books and online resources about breastfeeding. I learned about the proper latch, the appropriate amounts and times to nurse (any and all times!), the best breastfeeding positions, etc.
Griff and I sailed through nicely for the first 8 months because, up to that point, he really wasn’t eating a ton of solids.
Once he did start incorporating food, he dropped his afternoon feeding. Like any first time mom, I started wondering… “was this OK?” I then started looking for books and online sources to learn more about the process of weaning.
I didn’t find much information about breastfeeding the older baby or toddler… What I did find was vague and theoretical… I wanted a plan! Unlike the 8-12 feedings in 24 hour period guideline for newborns, all I saw were general statements like “the baby and you will figure it out.”
Here’s where I’m at now
Extended breastfeeding: what I’ve learned along the way
I stumbled through the weaning process by talking to other moms, a lactation consultant, and La Leche League members. What I’ve learned along the way is trust yourself and trust your baby. Your baby will lead the way.
Get free updates based on your toddler’s birth date! – Free Updates on Toddler [In-article]
Sign me up!
The weaning process certainly isn’t linear
There’s no set plan or program for extended breastfeeding. All we can do is share our experience. We need to talk more about this so that we aren’t alone though.
By 13 months, Griffin went down to one nap a day, and dropped another feeding. At this point, he had just three feedings during the day; however he was still getting up two times a night for feedings.
At 14 months, Griffin started sleeping through the night
Griffin sleeping through the night is a whole other (joyous) post. What it meant for his nursing was that he was down to just three sessions a day and zero in the night (yippee!). He nurses once when he wakes up, once before his midday nap, and once before bed. Easy peasy!
In between, he’s eating a good amount of food, mostly fruits, vegetables, whole yogurt, cottage cheese, raw cheeses and some soaked or sprouted grains.
I have not supplemented with any other milk (cow, goat, etc.) because Griff is getting 16-20 ounces a day of breast milk which is plenty.
He pretty much sticks to our little schedule, but occasionally he’ll nurse spontaneously if he’s upset or tired, which I love.
And that’s where we are now…
In retrospect, I think the reason there isn’t really specific weaning protocols is because of the huge variances between babies. Some kiddos are still nursing 5 times a day at 2 1/2 years old. Some babies fully wean at 10 months despite their mamas wanting them to continue. And there’s everything in-between.
So, let’s talk about extended breastfeeding and learn from each other.
Need breastfeeding help?
Breastfeeding Gets Easier (So Stick With It!) Cheat Sheet
I ended up weaning my extended breastfeeding toddler at 2 years of age. Click here to read and see how I did it.
How about you?
What’s your weaning experience been like? Are you extended breastfeeding on demand or setting limits?
Here are more breastfeeding resources: