This is my fourth and final blog post for the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt. The theme this week is breastfeeding beyond the first month so I am writing about my experiences of breastfeeding during the weaning process.
Baby M's introduction to food has been via baby led weaning. I love this method of weaning because it is so easy and relaxed. In case you aren't aware of it BLW doesn't involve puréed food or spoon feeding. You offer normal healthy foods to baby and they feed themselves, or ignore it, or throw it on the floor, or mush it up. I've blogged about it before so in this post I'm going to just focus on how it works with breastfeeding (and to some extent bottle feeding).
The following are common questions I've heard and responses based on my experience.
Food or milk first?
Following the advise in Rapley and Murkett's Baby Led Weaning book if Baby M is hungry I nurse her before offering her food. This is important in the early days because they are just exploring food and if they are hungry they are unlikely to be in the mood to play. It also takes babies several months before they begin to understand that food can stop them being hungry.
In practice I continue to nurse Baby M on demand and give her food when I am having a meal. This means that sometimes she will have a breastfeed just before a meal and other times there will be a few hours gap.
How much milk should my Baby be having?
This tends to be less of an issue for mums of breastfed babies than bottle fed ones because you aren't counting ounces in the same way. As always if you are feeding on demand you can't go wrong.
I have been logging the length and frequency of Baby M's feeds for most of her 9 months. When she started solid food at 5 1/2 months she started swallowing food from the first meal. The amount she eats varies considerably from day to day, but there has been a small increase over the last 3 months. The amount of time she nurses decreased from about 90 minutes a day to about 60 minutes pretty much straight away. She always breastfeeds for at least 60 minutes, but sometimes it goes right back to the pre solid levels. The number of feeds hasn't reduced, but the duration has meaning she hasn't dropped any feeds yet. I've heard of other babies only having 2 breastfeeds a day by 10 months, but that doesn't seem likely for us. Some babies don't get to grips with food until 9 or 10 months so how much milk they need won't go down until then.
Between 6 months and a year babies get increasingly active which uses up a lot of energy. Baby M started crawling at 6 months and never stops moving, but the small amount of food she eats and continued breastfeeding has actually meant her weight gain has been ahead of the curve she was following. The great thing about breastfeeding while weaning is I know she continues to get the majority of the nutrition she needs in my milk: anything she eats is a bonus.
Are there still benefits to breastfeeding once a baby is eating solids?
Yes, yes, yes. Food before 1 is just for fun, and even after 1 breast milk provides a huge number of benefits to baby. If you aren't aware of what these are you need to go and read the earlier posts as part of this scavenger hunt.
Should I be offering water as well?
Before solids are introduced at 6 months breastfed babies don't need any water: breast milk is a drink as well as food, but opinion is divided on the importance of water during weaning. I want Baby M to have as many calories as possible during the day in the hope she will want less at night. Water has no calories so I was concerned that by offering water it would reduce the amount of calorific milk she had. On Kelly mom it is suggested that a few sips of water with food might help prevent constipation, but it is not required by all babies.
I hope you have enjoyed reading my posts for the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt. If you haven't read my earlier posts please check them out. Before 29th June you can win a breastfeeding necklace from Baby Beads, a nursing cover from SoftBots and a Nursing Vest from Boobiemilk. Below you have another chance to enter for the grand prize of over £500 of goodies.
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Life, Love and Living with Boys
Mummys Little Peeps
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