Friday, June 3, 2011


In that last post, I mentioned not having much drama with Lo's molars starting to come in. Well, a few days and at least 8 molars later, I would like to officially revise that statement: he is being bothered by teething. He still has lots of happy times each day, but expresses an overall mood of being needy. He seems to seek nursing for comfort, asking for "Nai Nai" almost as much as a newborn feeding schedule. And he hasn't slept through his nighttime nursings like normal, instead having a fitful cry or sometimes even full-fledged waking that needs my help to get him back to sleep.

I feel grateful to still have breastfeeding as a comfort tool during this time. I know it soothes Lo's physical pain to have my good warm milk washing over his sore gums, and it calms both of us emotionally to have hugs and snuggling while breastfeeding. The first set of teeth on a person is sometimes referred to as the "milkteeth," with it being the natural biological time for continued breastfeeding.

I am just about done reading a book on nursing toddlers, and it has helped me feel validated during this phase when I sometimes have a feeling of being "weird" or "different" from everybody else because of breastfeeding a toddler. It isn't normal in our country to exclusively breastfeed even the recommended 6 months, let alone keep nursing past the time a kid starts walking and talking.

Here are some of the interesting points I've come across in my reading on nursing toddlers:

  • large mammals typically nurse until the young have nearly quadrupled their birth weight (Lo is still a few pounds away from that marker).

  • primates typically wean when their young achieve about 1/3 the adult weight, with males nursing a little longer than females (since males will have a larger adult weight).

  • many mammals nurse about as long as their gestation lasts, which would put humans at around 10 months expected nursing on that scale--except that large primates typically nurse more than six times the length of gestation.

  • eruption of first permanent molars is also predictive of weaning in some mammals. Humans get their first permanent teeth around age 5.

  • in cultures that are generally supportive of breastfeeding, nursing into toddlerhood is typical.

But I don't live in a culture that supports breastfeeding. Thus, unsurprisingly, breastfeeding is not the norm. We have 10 kids in nursery at church, and seven of them weaned by age six months or earlier. Actually, there is one of the children I'm unsure of in that number. Of the remaining three children who breastfed beyond their first year of life, one was weaned (mother-directed) before she turned two, and the other one has a younger sibling now so I assume he no longer breastfeeds though I haven't asked his mom. Anyway, it appears Lo is the only one in nursery who still breastfeeds. I don't document these details to make anyone feel guilty who weans earlier than the recommended time frames, but rather to point out that while Lo and I are socially outside the curve, we follow Nature's norm. And that is a comforting thought when breastfeeding gets challenging.


Anna said...

Rachel still nurses as well. I had planned on just letting her stop whenever she wanted, but I'm not sure if she'll ever want to! :)

It makes me feel weird to be in the Mother's Lounge at church with all those tiny babies. I wonder what everyone else thinks.

Valerie said...

Good post. There is a book I came across at the library that features famous writers writing about each state of the U.S. It also has interesting stats on each state, one of them being breastfeeding --as soon as I remember the title, I'll give it to you!

Jocelyn said...

You should never feel weird about nursing your child. I nursed both my boys until they were 13 months I stopped with Brock because I was pregnant with Nicho, and nicholas weaned himself at 13 months. but I always talk openly about how great breast feeding is. good for you!

Becca said...

I had planned on nursing until Grayson was 18-24 months or self-weaned, but unfortunately, our society's booby-traps and PCOS played a large role in our nursing experience. I love when I see a toddler being nursed and am sad when people feel the need to wean as soon as a baby turns one.

At the zoo today I learned that Walabies and Kangaroos babies are in the pouch CONSTANTLY latched for 3 months, after they start leaving the pouch the mother can become pregnant again. After the new baby is born, one mamary will make milk that is the right nutritional content for the newborn, the other will make it for the older child. They nurse for 1 year or more even though the gestational period is only 30-35 days. They can even have 2 nurslings (of different ages) and be expecting a 3rd. Being such a "crazy breastfeeding advocate" I found this fascinating.

TheTamFam said...

Hey Anna and Jocelyn, I wish we were all in the same ward! Then we could nurse our "old babies" together. =) Actually, Jocelyn, I never felt that weird about it until the past month or two. I am not sure why, though I have encountered a couple comments from people--not rude comments, but just obviously surprised to find out I still nurse Lo.

Thanks for the book tip, Mom. I just went to the library today but forgot to get that one. doh!

Becca, I am still staying up to date on your breastfeeding blog!! I love it!! And I found out other stuff related to the kangaroo fact in one of the old LLLI magazines. I'll have to send it to you via email or's longish. And this blog comment is now too long as it is...
Signing off. Thanks for commenting, girls!