Breastfeeding An Older Child

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Breastfeeding An Older Child
You can breastfeed your baby into his second year if you want, or until he is two, three or older.

Breastfeeding an older child is more important for psychological comfort and pleasure than for nutritional reasons, since other foods almost always supply sufficient nourishment by then.

An older child may feed primarily to get off to sleep, or during the night for comfort. Or there may be little pattern to his feeds: he comes for a drink when he feels like cuddling and being close to his mother, perhaps when he's upset or tired.

You may notice a difficult patch between four and six months when you wonder whether you want to go on. You may be feeling much livelier in yourself and want to do more in the outside world. Your baby probably wants more attention and is more aware. He may want more to eat, and unless you give yourself time to increase your milk supply, you may feel you haven't got enough milk. Or you may have become disenchanted with breastfeeding, perhaps even feeling it's gone on for long enough.

If you've had enough, give up gradually. It's better to stop breastfeeding and continue developing a loving relationship with your baby than to resent feeding him.

Breastfeeding Your Older Baby

If you continue breastfeeding as your baby passes his first birthday, your main challenge will probably be coping with criticism from friends, neighbours and relatives. Many will be surprised you are going on long after other mothers have stopped. This can be off-putting but if you and your baby want to continue, it's up to you. To spare their amazement or your embarrassment, you may prefer to feed your older baby alone. It's scarcely surprising that a society that sometimes finds it hard to deal with the sight of a young baby being breastfed finds it even more difficult to cope with seeing an older one at the breast. If your child tugs your clothing, or asks for a feed when you are out visiting, go into another room to feed him if you prefer.

How long you go on is your personal choice. But however long it is, you'll know you've done your best for him, and it'll probably have given you a lot of pleasure too.

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