Monday, June 25, 2012

Breastfeeding Past Six Months

During a middle of the night feeding with Kitchen Baby, I realized something; I have never seen a baby her size being breastfed.
Now, this wouldn't be too shocking - I intend to breastfeed for at least two years, so I knew I would hit this point at some point during our breastfeeding relationship, except for the fact that I didn't expect it to be so soon - Kitchen Baby is only seven months old.

This means that I have never seen a baby older than six months being breastfed. Anywhere.

Sure, I've seen pictures of (gasp!) "Extended Breastfeeding!" with three and four year olds, but real life? No. Movies? No. Childbirth and parenting education? Nothing. The only babies I have ever seen breastfeed are the tiny, little newborn helpless ones.

Lactivists often say that a big part of the problem for our lack of breastfeeding success as a nation, both England and America, is that we just don't see it. Without seeing women breastfeed it is hard to view it as normal, and it is very difficult to learn how it's done. I always agreed with this statement, but the realization that I am now breastfeeding a baby that is older than I have ever seen someone else feeding really made it hit home.

So how old is seven months? Well, this baby is seven months old, so Kitchen Baby is the same age as him.

Photo Credit; tantawan on

What is your reaction to this photo? Child? Toddler? Baby? I know that I would not hesitate to call him anything other than baby.

Nutritionally speaking, the advice these days has been that "solids before one are just for fun," which means that while it is important to start solids somewhere around six months, babies are supposed to get the majority of their nutrition through milk, either breast or formula, until one year old. Assuming that every mother is following this advice, and knowing that 22.7% of babies in the United States are still breastfed at a year old, that's a whole lot of babies being breastfed for at least six months behind closed doors.

On one hand, I totally get that. Kitchen Baby is incredibly distractible, and unless she has a quiet place to feed, she just won't, no matter how desperately hungry she is. Out and about is no place to try and find an appropriate place with a hungry baby, so we schedule going out between feedings and naps. Even if she wasn't distractible, she is getting quite big now, so we do need a nice big chair to feed in these days.

On the other hand, wouldn't it be nice to be able to go out whenever, not worry about timing or pumping a bottle or if the weather is hot enough that she'll get dehydrated before you can get her back home again? I know I would love it if every store had a nice clean, quiet mother's lounge, where we could just pop in for a quick top off in hot weather, or a good long feed when she is a bit older and goes down to one nap a day.

Did you or your partner breastfeed? If so, was the lack of available space for feeding an "older" baby a factor in how long you decided to or ended up breastfeeding?

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