Breastfeeding an Older Baby
It’s widely known that breastfeeding is encouraged for the first six months of a baby’s life. But what about after that? The two babies I have breast fed and refused any form of bottle or cup before they decided they were ready. My youngest is six months old and shows no sign of stopping breastfeeding yet. So how is it different to those early days where you cringe in pain at every feed? What is it like breastfeeding an older baby?
- They can open their mouth wider! This is probably the best part of breastfeeding an older baby. No more half open mouths creating a poor latch. As long as your positioning is right the latch is painless and very efficient.
- Head control. Having control over their head is a big advantage. It makes positioning much easier and you don’t need as much support around you in the form of cushions.
- It is easier to feed in public. You’re both experienced and know the best way to breastfeed. Public feeding becomes less intimidating and much more natural.
- Teeth. Yes teeth start to become an issue. This is where positioning is vital! As long as you have a good position and a good latch then baby’s tongue protects your nipple from their teeth. You will soon know when you haven’t got it right. It is very painful!
- Older baby’s look around. This doesn’t sound much of a problem. Until you consider they tend to look around without opening their mouths. It hurts like hell. Loud noises, siblings, the TV; absolutely anything can distract them from feeding. Be prepared to find somewhere quiet to breastfeed or use the phrase “shut up” more regularly lol.
When the time comes to stop
So those are the points that I’ve learnt from breastfeeding an older baby. I think the most important thing is not to set a deadline for stopping, unless you want to. When you do come to the end of your breastfeeding journey don’t forget to drop feeds slowly. It is still possible to get engorged. I dropped one feed a fortnight once my daughter had started regularly drinking from a cup. I didn’t suffer with engorgement or discomfort and my milk dried up gradually.
I’m coming to the end of my breastfeeding journey. I love it (after the first few weeks!). I will miss it and I feel very proud that I’ve managed it successfully for two children out of three. If you’re just starting your breastfeeding journey my post on breastfeeding in the early days might be helpful.