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Nursing Babies: How Old Is Too Old?

Aug 18, 2007
Nursing babies are a beautiful sight in many cultures. Many mothers fall in love with their children as they watch them suckle and drift contentedly off to sleep. Nursing babies are happiest while in their mother's arms.

While few would argue that nursing babies are adorable, what's to be done with a toddler who stomps their foot in defiance and demands to be nursed right now? How old is too old to be breast fed?

Choosing to breastfeed your baby may have been a simple decision but determining when to wean a child can be difficult. When many mothers begin to breastfeed 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 breast feeding women choose to extend this period of nursing, sometimes until the child leaves for kindergarten. While many of them 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. Breast feeding 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 to stop breastfeeding, she can feel a sense of loss and sadness as a chapter of her baby's life comes to a close. Sensing this unhappiness in the mother, a child can exhibit fussiness and tantrums during a mother's attempts to stop breastfeeding.

Before attempting to stop breastfeeding, a nursing mother must come to grips with any unresolved feelings she may be experiencing about weaning her child.

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 breast feeding 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 breast feeding 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.
About the Author
Breast feeding is an important aspect of your new born baby. Mike Selvon's portal has more information about nursing babies. Visit our portal and leave a comment at our breast feeding blog.
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