Most mothers would say that nursing babies are a picture of tranquility and happiness. Nursing babies portray contentedness and tenderness in a universal language that spans the continents. Mothers fall in love while talking to nursing babies and stoking their soft, fuzzy heads as they suckle and coo themselves to sleep. What happens when that adorable baby transforms into a foot stomping toddler seemingly overnight? A demanding three-year-old who yells to be nursed right now may leave a mother wondering how old is too old to be breast fed.
Choosing to breastfeeding your baby may have been a simple decision but determining when to wean a child can be difficult. When many mothers begin to breastfeeding their babies, they assume that weaning will occur naturally. For some breast fed babies, the transition form the breast to the sippy cup comes with a fight. Nursing babies who have a difficult time adjusting to life away from the breast may be objecting to more than just weaning. Some breast fed babies crave the physical closeness of nursing more than breast milk. Determining if this is true for your child can help make the transition easier for both mother and child. Continuing to hold your child during feedings can help reduce the shock of weaning for a sensitive child.
While the appropriate age to wean a child is not set in stone, it is culturally acceptable in America to nurse a child for the first twelve months. Once solid foods are introduced into the child’s diet and they begin to walk, American customs call for the weaning of the child. Some breastfeeding women choose to extend this period of nursing, sometimes until the child leaves for kindergarten. While many breastfeeding women wean their babies shortly before returning to the workforce, some continue to pump breast milk and bottle feed their babies for several years. The choice really is up to each woman and many choose to ignore social norms. Breastfeeding women can even choose to keep their extended breastfeeding a secret by storing breast milk in the refrigerator disguised as cow’s milk or formula.
When a mother decides the time has come to stop breastfeeding, it can signal the end of a special bonding time between mother and baby. Children can sense anxiety and unhappiness in a parent and may react by acting out during the initial attempts to stop breastfeeding. It is important for a breastfeeding mother to examine her feelings about weaning and come to terms with any unresolved emotions before attempting to stop breastfeeding her baby.
Mothers who choose to formula feed a nursing infant can be in for a fight unless the transition is made slowly. Abruptly springing a formula feed schedule in place of breastfeeding sessions can be traumatic to nursing babies. The bottle should be introduced slowly and be filled with 100% breast milk at first. Formula can be slowly added to subsequent bottles of breast milk until the child is completely weaned from the breast. Gradually substitute a breastfeeding session with a bottle feeding session over a period of several weeks if possible. Once a child is accustomed to the 100% formula feed schedule, the mother should continue to provide physical interaction with the baby during bottle feeding sessions to continue bonding and provide intense social interaction for the child.
Nursing babies can transition smoothly to the bottle or sippy cup if a nursing mother is emotionally prepared to wean her baby. Armed with a few facts, mothers can help nursing babies adjust smoothly to being away from the breast. Not all nursing babies will be pleasant to nurse as they grow to be demanding toddlers. Each woman must decide for herself when her child needs to stop breastfeeding. Before you decide on it, have get right your necessary pregnancy and breastfeeding accessories to support your breastfeeding.