Statistics show that breastfeeding initiation is improving (3 out of 4 moms now start breastfeeding according to the CDC). However, as a country, we’re still behind where we need to be when it comes to breastfeeding at 6 and 12 months. The same CDC report shows that only 43% of babies are being breastfed at 6 months, and 22% at 12 months.
With both girls, I have really struggled with deciding when to wean them. Breastfeeding was a struggle from the beginning with Zoë. I only planned to breastfeed for 4 months until I went back to work. Then I planned on “trying” to pump for a couple more months.
I ended up getting laid off while I was on maternity leave, and so I made it my goal to breastfeed for 6 months. Things were finally going well with breastfeeding at that point, so I just decided to see how long we’d make it.
I finally weaned Zoë at 13 months, but she was ready. She had a full set of teeth, including her one-year molars and her ‘I’ teeth (she even got her 2-year molars at around 18 months). She was eating everything we were eating and she wasn’t nursing much—except for at bedtime and for comfort when she went “boom.”
Plus, I got pregnant with Kaylee right about the time Zoë turned 1. While I admire moms who breastfeed through pregnancy, I just wasn’t equipped to take on that challenge. It was an easier transition than I thought it would be thanks to Zoë’s love for her binkie. I also think co-sleeping helped comfort her through the transition.
When Kaylee was born, I knew that I wanted to breastfeed her for at least a year, and then I’d evaluate where we were and move from there. Well, her first birthday is in about 3 weeks—my sweet Valentine baby.
Right now, she’s still getting the majority of her nutrition from breast milk. She nurses around the clock, on demand. She only has 4 teeth, and still doesn’t have much interest in solid food. She loves taking bites, but then she just sucks the flavor out of the food and spits it out. After that, she’s pulling on my shirt for milk.
I was really expecting to start the weaning process in the next month or so, but I just don’t see that happening. I’m surprised that I’m actually okay with breastfeeding her past one year.
Part of me feels a little guilty because I’ll be breastfeeding her longer than I breastfed Zoë. But 13 months is nothing to be ashamed of. And I just remind myself that every child is different, and you can’t adhere to a strict set of expectations or you’ll likely be frustrated.
Plus, this is our last baby—and I’m trying to cherish the bond that breastfeeding has brought to my relationship with Kaylee. Now that she’s older, she gets so excited to nurse. She just smiles and giggles as milk dribbles down her chin. Priceless moments.
How long will I breastfeed her? I don’t know. I guess until she’s ready to transition to solid food and no longer needs breast milk for nutrition. Right now, we’re just going with the flow.