Making The Mothering Season Matter: Summer Edition

by Carrie Saum

This summer, I made a few promises to myself. Kind of like a reboot of my New Year’s resolution except better, because SUMMER.

  • I will eat all the vegetables I grow in my garden. (I’m winning that one.)
  • I will take my toddler for an outdoor adventure everyday. (This has happened every day except when we have had record breaking heat.)
  • I will take a shower every single day because I stink when I don’t. (Hahahaha! Yeah. NOPE.)
  • I will eat a real breakfast and no longer count a handful of trail mix and a cup of coffee as a complete meal. (I have replaced trail mix with scraps of my toddler’s rejected breakfast. I’ll call this a wash.)
  • I will pack up the car once a week and take an adventure with my son during the day. (I’m killing it!)

The last two summers have absolutely sucked. I mean that literally and figuratively. I pumped exclusively for my baby for 21 months, spanning the length of two summers. Lugging around the breast pump and a newborn and then a toddler made it tricky to do activities on my own with my son. I still did it, but we stuck closer to home and the mental/emotional/physical/logistical effort was just TOO MUCH.

But this summer? This summer has been redemption.

My BFF and I have been dreaming of having babies and doing fun things together with them. We chose an easy spot close to home for our first excursion. We loaded up all of our stuff and our babies and our courage and struck out for a nearby river. ALL BY OURSELVES.

Echo Adventure Travel

Our sons were less sure than we were about this.

Sweet, child-riddled-but-still-doing-it-anyway Freedom.

We were wild mamas, spreading out blankets and packages of seaweed snacks and mango and splashing in the frigid river with our babies who seemed completely immune to shockingly cold water. We doled out food and milk and took turns corralling our sons who only wanted to eat the sand and make big splashes in the water.

We upped the ante for our next adventure. The coast is about 90 minutes from our front door, so we gathered our courage, planned for the entire day, and set out for the Pacific Ocean like mommy pioneers. In fact, I’m certain we had enough gear to fill a covered wagon.

After two tantrum stops, lunch at a café where our boys behaved like tiny well-behaved adults and never threw a single bit of food or fussed once, a stop for an over-priced dark chocolate bar and lattes, a pee break, and quick conversation about which actual beach to go to, we arrived. A mere four hours later. We were so jubilant that we made it, we didn’t care how long it took us.Echo Beach River

We splashed and played and chased our tiny monsters all over the beach with abandon. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you those 2 hours were positively magical. We learned that beach sand is just as delicious to toddlers as river sand, and nothing is funnier than watching mommy run full speed into the surf to rescue a ball before it is lost to the sea forever.

There were many other adventures this summer, and sometimes involving long rides in the car, and others just a walk around the neighborhood with a low key brunch and bit of thrift store shopping.

There were tantrums and mishaps and close calls and moments when we questioned our sanity, but WE DID IT. And we will do it again.

As autumn approaches, I’m already dreaming up more adventures. It gets a little tricky because of the cold and rain, not to mention indoor play spaces are a total no-go for us because of severe food allergies. But we will keep trying, enjoying and relishing every season. Even if it’s simple.  Even if it’s hard.EchoMommyBeach

We only get to experience our children as children once. It doesn’t need to be magical, but it needs to be memorable for all of the right reasons. For both of us.

____________________

Carrie Saum, headshotCarrie Saum brings a passion for wellness and over a decade of experience in health care to her clients. A certified Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor (AWC) from the Kerala Ayurveda Academy, she empowers individuals and families to achieve health and balance through time-honored practices and health knowledge. Carrie has extensive first-hand experience in vast array of medical and service fields.
With background in paramedic medicine, Carrie spent ten years serving in the non-profit sector managing organizations, programs, and orchestrating resources to meet health needs of people across the United States and abroad in countries such as Guatemala, Mexico, Kenya, and Zambia. As an AWC, Carrie currently coaches her clients and their families about topics including nutrition, weight loss, and stress management. In addition to her work as a wellness counselor, Carrie is a passionate “foodie” and the voice behind OurStableTable.com. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and young son.
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Why Would You Wear Your Toddler or Preschooler When They Can Walk?

by Jessica Martin-Weber
This post made possible by the generous sponsorship of Beco Baby Carriers.
Why wear your toddler when they can walk?

Photo credit: Your Street Photography, Meghann Buswell. Love this carrier? There are only two like it the whole world and you can win the other one by going here!

Once upon a time I found the whole idea of wearing a child who could walk completely… ridiculous. Seriously, how is that helping them? They can walk, you’re just trying to keep them little longer and probably inhibiting their development. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO, CARRY THEM ALL AROUND THEIR COLLEGE CAMPUS?

*If you just want the quick points on why maybe you should wear your toddler, skip to the end.*

I figured if you kept carrying your child after they learned how to walk, you’d end up looking like this.

Beco Carrier teenager

Photo credit: Your Street Photography, Meghann Buswell

Then I had a kid. Our first turned out to be a late walker and didn’t really become mobile until between 15 and 16 months old. By that point the other toddlers in our circles were running circles around her and I began to panic, in spite of our pediatrician’s reassurance, that she was never, ever going to walk. Worried that her my dreams of an Olympic gold medalist were fast slipping out of reach, I become a little pushy to get her to walk. And also because carrying her was killing my back and arms, back then we didn’t have any carriers with a high enough weight limit and I just plain didn’t want carry her. Well meaning people around me warned that she was just using me, being lazy, and would never become independent if we “let” her make us carry her all the time. We were “spoiling her” and we’d have to carry her FOREVER. So I pushed. Walk, you’ve got two legs, use them! Besides, you have to become self sufficient and independent some day. Sheesh.

You guys, she was really still just a baby.

But even after she started walking she wanted to be held a lot. In fact, she was timid and scared and insecure. To “help” her through that, I pushed her to be more independent. I’m not proud of this, in fact, it makes me sad. Looking back, me pushing her to walk when she wanted to be close to me was really a jerk thing to do. I would refuse to carry her or carry her for just a moment and then put her down even if she wasn’t ready. My fears were completely unfounded, today she walks and runs and dances ballet just fine. Not only that, after some therapy and healing, she is a self sufficient independent introverted 16 year old who has taught me that connection is more important and respecting individual personal ways of interacting with the world is what makes you not be a jerk of a parent. She didn’t need me pushing her to walk, she needed me available for lots and lots of connection until she was ready. To this day she prefers to observe the world from a bit of a distance before racing into it. But when she does race in, watch out, she has found her confidence and her voice to make a difference.

Since our eldest taught us about respecting our children as individual people, we’ve had 5 more children but it wasn’t until our 3rd that we began to wear our toddlers on purpose. Another introvert, our third daughter felt safest close to a parent and would for several years. Meaning when she was three and four, she still wanted up in certain settings. Instead of traumatizing her with environments she wasn’t ready to navigate independently, we listened to her. When she was ready, she would progress into the world around her on her terms and now confidently moves through the world secure in her steps and returning to us to share her adventures and discoveries. Now, with our almost 3 year old Sugarbaby, we let her set the pace for how she interacts with the world. All 6 of our children have unique personalities, some have loved being close and super snuggly for a long time, others just have moments they need to check in before rushing off again. Every single one of them has, at times, requested to be held and carried even after they could walk. Sometimes for physical reasons, sometimes for emotional reasons. All of their reasons are valid.

And so far, of our older girls, they each also reach a point where closeness doesn’t require us carrying them and we grow together in developing other ways to connect.

Because it turns out, you can’t spoil them by respecting them, they will eventually not want you to carry them everywhere.

Todllerwearing Beco

Photo credit: Your Street Photography, Meghann Buswell

Last year, just before she was 2 years old, Sugarbaby accompanied us to India, a culture of amazing people that adore children and love to touch young ones. Another introvert (we have a pretty even blend of introverts and extroverts in our home), she quickly learned 2 things: how to clearly say “go away, don’t touch!” and “Beco up!” From her safe position on my back she would offer high fives to the people who wanted to hold her, kiss her, and touch her face. Happy and secure in a place she knows to be safe, she interacted with those we encountered in a way that respected her unique way of being in the world. She runs, dances, jumps, and climbs freely but when she needs to be close or when her little legs are tired from all that exercise and strengthening, up into a carrier she goes on mommy, daddy, or even a big sister. Our long family walks or forays into downtown to go to markets and explore happen with a combination of her walking, running, hoping, and twirling (always twirling, she doesn’t really walk right now, she twirls everywhere) and when she’s tired, on somebody’s back. Occasionally she keeps me company during meal prep on my back when she tires of her spot on a stool.

And from the spot on my back and sometimes on my front she whispers in my ear “I love you mommy.” I don’t know how much longer she’ll ask to “Beco” but I’m willing to as long as she does.

For me the question isn’t why would you wear your toddler or preschooler, the question is why wouldn’t you.

Beco Toddler Two of a Kind

Photo credit: Your Street Photography, Meghann Buswell

7 reasons to wear your toddler/preschooler

Want a shot at winning a carrier just like the one in the photos here? Enter here!
  1. Who doesn’t love snuggling? Besides, science shows us that positive physical touch is soothing and healing at all ages, it can even reduce pain. “To touch can be to give life” – Michelangelo
  2. Not only does touch heal, soothe, and connect, neuroscientists have found that physical human contact activates the brain’s orbitofrontal cortex, which is linked to feelings of reward and compassion. All good stuff!
  3. Touch can reduce stress. Young children often ask to be held when they’re experiencing stress such as fear, anxiety, or uncertainty and for good reason, touch can calm them, lower their heart rate and blood pressure, and of course releases positive hormones such as oxytocin. Wearing a child who is experiencing stress can provide them just the support they need to successfully navigate that stress when they’re ready.
  4. Young children can become overstimulated quickly, having a safe place to work through that overstimulation can mean the difference between a toddler becoming a destructive force in the world around them, having a meltdown of tears and screams, or observing and interacting as they see modeled from their safe perch on a trusted adult’s chest or back.
  5. Running. Need I say more? Parents are all excited when their baby learns to walk but in a no time they realize their excitement was misguided. Walking leads to running. You know what you can’t lose at the children’s museum? THE KID STRAPPED ON YOUR BACK. Sure, you have to let them down from time to time but when their running is running you ragged and reminding them to walk 3,342,438 times has made you horse, a ride on mama’s back (hey, let’s play horsey!) is a relief.
  6. Strollers are awesome, a great tool and we use ours still. But strollers are not always awesome. The view is limited for the rider and sometimes the world just feels like an obstacle course when you’re dealing with one. An assisted piggy back ride with a carrier is much easier to contend with than a stroller in many settings.
  7. They love it. Not always and as they grow in their own desire of “I DO IT!” they will have times they most certainly do not want to be worn. But toddlers and preschoolers aren’t really much bigger than babies and they still love to be close. And that’s the best reason. There are plenty of times in life where we have to tell our children no and deny them what they think they want. Being close, being held, having our touch should never be one of them.

_____________________

Do you wear your toddler? Want to but aren’t sure if you should? What are your thoughts on toddlerwearing?

_____________________

For a limited time you can enter to win the same carrier pictured in this article by going here.

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Sugarbaby’s New Year’s Pro-Breastfeeding Tips and Resolutions for the New Year for the Breastfed Baby

by Jessica Martin-Weber with Sugarbaby
Sugarbaby eats dirt

Sugarbaby eating dirt when she was still a little nursling.

It’s a new year, my 3rd new year to celebrate so I am old hat at ringing in the new year and making resolutions. My mommy says any time is a good time to decide to make changes but lots of people think there is something about the new year that makes it the perfect time to resolve to do things differently. So, to help you get this new year started out right, I’m sharing with you my best resolution tips for breastfed babies.

1) Start sleeping through the night. Your parents, specially mommy, will have more energy to do fun things like build block towers for you to knock over, create Pinterest worth play dates, and make you handmade outfits. Maybe even wash her hair every day.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Just kidding, you don’t want to do that! Specially not if you’re still breastfeeding lots. It’s SUPER DUPER important you wake up lots and lots to have mama milks at night and sleep nurse too, check it out here. Did you know that mommies’ bodies make more milk at night? By breastfeeding all the time at night, you help mama make more milkies for you and that’s even better than block towers. Pinterest play dates are over rated anyway and let’s be honest, you’d rather be naked than wear a cute outfit that you’re just going to get snot on anyway.

2) Teeth mostly at night. Those chompers HURT coming in but once you have them and you can eat things like carrots, you’re going to be glad you have them. But getting them is no fun. The best way through that though is to make sure you have undivided parental attention which means, night time. There’s nothing else going on, they’re just trying to sleep and you know how boring that is, which means they have nothing better to do than just hold you while you loudly inform them of your suffering. And that also means it’s good mama milks time which can help you feel a little better. Sometimes. Sometimes everything hurts no matter what but at least you have mommy right there all night long.

3) Build up your immune system. What’s the immune system? I don’t really know but I know my mommy sometimes loves my immune system and sometimes hates it. I’ve learned somethings though, like getting exposed to stuff helps your immune system and though my mommy doesn’t like it when I put stuff in my mouth I find on the ground, she says hopefully it’s just building a strong immune system. So I like to help. By licking shopping cart handles, chewing on tables when we’re out to eat, and finding out what the poles we find on our walks taste like. My mommy doesn’t like it but I’m just helping my immune system. You don’t want a weak one, start tasting the seats the next time you go to the doctor’s office!

4) Be patient while mommy showers, best if you nap during it. Mommy’s get stinky. You don’t want a stinky mommy, this year, help her get clean. Her hair will be so pretty and when you give her snuggles she’ll smell so nice.

Tricked ya!

I understand playing in the water, I love baths and going swimming but I don’t understand mommy’s fascination with dumping water on her head and using soap. Yuck. Worse, she washes away her yummy mama smell! I hate that. So as soon as she gets out of the shower, when I’m done freaking out because I see with my own eyes that she didn’t totally disappear and wash away forever, I have to have mama milks. RIGHT AWAY. Before she is finished drying off, before she gets dressed, and before I forget. You must do this every time, having some bobbies will help her smell much better after a shower. If you can, help her get some mama milk all over by dribbling it on her tummy, spitting up on her clean outfit, or crying as she’s getting dressed so she leaks on her clothes. That will fix it right up, if you do it right, she won’t even smell like she ever even took a shower within an hour.

5) Smile. A smile is like magic. When you smile, people smile back. When you’re really little, smiling is just fun. When you get a little bigger, smiling is a tool. Like when you wake up in the middle of the night crying, when you see a parental unit, smile and even if they aren’t too happy about being woken up (serious question here, why do grown ups actually seem to like sleep? Isn’t that silly?) they can’t help but smile back. When you start being able to climb and you climb something you’re not supposed to (I know, I know, why did they put it there if they didn’t want you to climb it?) charm them as they attempt to redirect you (don’t lose your focus though!) and they’ll start thinking maybe it’s ok for you to climb because you smiled. Then you’ll really know how to use a smile when you do the fun things you’re not supposed to, like rub all the diaper salve all over mommy’s bedspread, or pour shampoo all over the bathroom floor and have all your toys go skating in it, or climb up the counter and use the fluffy flour stuff to make it snow in the kitchen… Fix it all with a smile. When they find you (I find the best time to do this is when they go potty and actually close the door so you can’t keep them company, why don’t grown ups want company when they go poopie?), give them a BIG smile and invite them to join you in the most fun ever! It helps a lot and maybe they’ll let you keep having fun (probably not).

Smile! Sugarbaby thought this was ok because it seemed like a game of "jump out of daddy's arms to get to mommy."

Smile! Sugarbaby thought this was ok because it seemed like a game of “jump out of daddy’s arms to get to mommy.”

6) Think about liking other grown ups. Mommy is your favorite, obviously, she has the mama milks. But you could consider sometimes hanging out with another grown up for a little bit. It could be fun. You could discover something new. You might even like it.

HAHAHAHAHAHA! Gotcha again!

You don’t want to do that! She might SHOWER! And it’s important you always keep an eye on the mama milks, silly.

That’s it babies, hope your new year is off to a great start. Share your wisdom here for other Leaky babies, we all have to stick together! Happy New Year!

Happy Breastfeeding,

~ Sugarbaby

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The Purpose of Baby Shows and Parenting Conferences

by Jessica Martin-Weber
This post made possible by the generous sponsorship of The Baby Show.

When my first baby was born I was overwhelmed with the amount of information I needed to learn when it came to caring for my baby. Initially I thought it wouldn’t be too difficult but then I learned I had to be careful how I laid her down, that car seat installation should be checked by a professional (and that there are professionals for that!), that there was a right and wrong way to introduce foods, and that there were products that would help me parent but could potentially harm my baby so Jeremy and I agonized over picking out a bouncy seat, carrier, swing, stroller, and even crib sheets. Let alone how we were going to raise our child.

So when baby number two came along I was relieved I wouldn’t have that anxiety to deal with, I had figured everything out, right? Wrong. Recommendations had changed, even laws had been updated, and some of the products I had for my first I learned had been recalled! Not to mention the things it turns out I never knew and did “wrong” with my first. Then she was born and was such a completely different little person she hated the carrier that my first had loved, our breastfeeding journey was filled with challenges and I needed a better pump, her sleep needs completely upended what we thought we did and had us scrambling for a different solution beyond “more coffee.”

With the third I wondered what could be next and the only thing I was really confident about was that I only kind of knew what I was doing and that everything could be drastically different territory.  I needed a different way of figuring out my options depending on what was thrown my way.

Now, mom to 6 kids, I’ve learned that there are few silver bullet products out there (almost none) and lots of different favorites, nor is there one specific method that will make everything just so for parents. Every child, every parent, every situation is different. Sometimes we can’t get or do the “best” because the “best” changes depending on circumstances. The three most valuable acquisitions I’ve made for my parenting are information, community, and confidence. The last two of which can be very challenging to come by as a new parent.

For years I was uncomfortable with the idea of mom-targeted events. The idea of hanging out with a bunch of moms talking about pregnancy, birth, and parenting, just sounded kind of terrifying. I wasn’t sure how much there could possibly be to say on those matters and it sounded potentially very emotional, competitive, and expensive. But I was wrong. Though I shied away from such events for a long time, eventually I realized I needed to connect with other parents on the parenting journey and hear from those not only more experienced but also more informed as well as those just figuring things out along the way. Information within the context of community was so much easier to absorb, I discovered. Even better when that community was fun and a mix of people with different backgrounds, areas of interests, and access to various professional experts from health care to product functionality.

Which is why now I love events targeted at helping build community amongst parents with information sharing, education, and connecting with brands that prioritize education for parents to be confident in their decision making. As I’ve experienced and learned more of such events, I get excited when I see more and more parents having access to these opportunities. The online support community is incredible and needed but I can’t deny that there is something about being able to touch each other, get hands on help, hear the voices of those on a similar journey, and look into the eyes of someone that understands. Being in a room buzzing with people excited to grow for their children is a bit intoxicating, awakening the power we all already hold within ourselves as the right parents for our children.

Not all events are created equal and not all events are the right fit for every parent but venturing out into the unknown for a real live connection is worth the risk that it won’t be what you’re really looking for as part of your journey.  Even if you’re not sure, taking time to explore your options and figure out how to get to them can be energizing, the actual experience even revitalizing.

I talk often about different events happening in the States because that’s where I am but today I’m excited to share with you an event taking place in Toronto, Canada in just a week, September 27th and 28th.  The Baby Show, Toronto, brings together the parenting community, speakers and workshop teachers, and brands with products and services that support families focusing on the prenatal and baby and toddler stages of parenting.  We tried to work it out for me to be there this time but it’s just not able to happen so I’ve teamed up with The Baby Show to send SIX pairs of Toronto Leakies (value of $30 each prize) to the show to go and give me the scoop. I want to hear all about this event so grab your partner or a friend and head over there and let me know what you think. The Baby Show features workshops and seminars covering a range of topics from sleep, infant massage, prenatal yoga, starting solids, birth and beyond, breastfeeding, mommy baby dance workout, first aid basics for parents, and more as well as entertainment, contests, giveaways, and shopping.

For those that don’t win, there’s a discount code for Leakies as well for $3 off online tickets using the code: LB14

To be entered, use the widget below and for once, this giveaway is open to Canadian Leakies only! Please note that all winners will be responsible for their own transportation and the winners will be announced on Wednesday, September 24, 2014. Good luck!

The Baby Show Toronto, Canada

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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7 Risks To Feeding Your Child- You’re Screwed No Matter What

by Jessica Martin-Weber

 

risks to feeding children

You have a kid?  Congrats!  What should you feed them?  Trying to decide?  Weighing all your options and carefully assessing the risks?  Great!  You should do that.  Also, you’re screwed no matter what you do.  In 15 years of parenting 6 kids, having both breastfed and formula fed, and gone through phases in nutrition standards (yeah, there was a period with lots of Hamburger Helper and soda pop at each dinner and then a period of only organic, homemade, but most of the time somewhere in the middle), I have found that the “right” way was not only subjective but also highly circumstantial.

That there are some actual risks associated with formula feeding and breastfeeding is undeniable, if heavily debated.  Risks such as possible lowered natural immunity and increased chance of ear infections with formula feeding or risks of mastitis and dietary sensitivities with breastfeeding.  Nothing in life comes without risks.  Yep, you’re facing being screwed or screwing up your kids no matter what you do!  As parents all we can do is try our best to mitigate the risks our children face without putting them in a bubble.  There’s risk to that too, what with BPA concerns, the possible damper on social skills development, and the need for oxygenMay as well let them live in the big bad scary world.  Carefully weighing all the possible options, doing personal research, and making the best informed decisions we can according to our personal circumstances and resources means we have to learn to live with some risks.  Regardless of how you feed your child, there are risks you face no matter how carefully you studied, planned, and executed your decision.  Be it breastmilk straight from the tap, pumped breastmilk, donor milk, or formula and then eventually, before you know it, store bought baby food (organic or not), homemade baby food (organic or not), or baby-led solids, followed by McDonald’s Happy Meals, Whole Foods shopping carts, homemade, or homegrown; there are a few unavoidable risks to feeding your child.

  1. There will likely be times you question yourself.  Is this really necessary?  Am I doing it right?  Am I doing it wrong?  Am I stressing out about nothing?  Have I ruined my child for life?  Has my child ruined me for life?  The answer to all these and more is: probably.
  2. There is little doubt that new information will come out that you have, in fact, made the wrong choice.  Those organic apples weren’t actually organic, breastmilk can have toxins in it (have you had yours tested?!), formula used an unnecessary ingredient now deemed dangerous and cancer causing, the baby food company didn’t list all the ingredients they actually used, artificial colors not only suck the actually cause two horns and a tail to grow on some kids… whatever it is, there will be something that’s bad about the choice you made.
  3. Your child will grow to like junk food.  Like moths to the flame, little kids love toxic laden junk food, the more carcinogens the better.  Try as you might, they will discover the joys of foods you’d rather they not consume thanks to a grandparent, a little friend, a mother more lazy and uninformed than you (admit it, you have been judging her and she knew it), or more likely, daddy. And they will, at some point in time, eat something disgusting off the ground or the floor of your minivan.  They will also pick their nose and eat it.  They will lick something that will make you gag.  No matter what you do to cultivate their palate to make discriminating food choices, they will be drawn to the junk and you will wonder if it ever even mattered.
  4. The growth chart will scare you.  Too big, too little, too average, whatever it is, you’ll probably have at least one appointment with your child’s doctor that will make you concerned about your child’s growth pattern.  Because if there’s anything that can be truly charted, it’s that kids are predictably unpredictable.
  5. Statistics aren’t guarantees.  All the scary stuff that isn’t supposed to happen/is supposed to happen based on how you’re feeding your child doesn’t come true.  The proverbial “they” said if you feed your child “this” way they won’t get sick, or that’s what you understood anyway, and yet you’re wiping green snot off your child’s face every day for months.  And someone is bound to point this out to you, trumpeting how their kid is never sick.  Immune systems can be such ignorant traitors clueless on the what all those studies say.
  6. You will be judged.  Pull out a breast or bottle to feed your baby and watch the judgment fly.  Too long, too brief, too-not-what-they-did.  Bad mom, exhibitionist, endangering your child, endangering other people’s children (their poor eyes may see the choice you’ve made and confuse them!), pouring toxins into your child, doing that in public, you name it, judgment will come from all directions no matter what you do.
  7. You can make yourself crazy.  Trying to do it perfectly right could be exactly what drives you over the edge of sanity.  A very real risk.

And if you think it’s bad when they’re infants, just wait until your child is begging for cheetos and refusing the organic avocado and kale chips at playdates.  No matter how you feed your children as infants, they will someday inevitably grow into toddlers eating their own boogers (and sometimes those of others), tasting dirt on the playground, sucking a sucker they found on the floor of the public bathroom, and licking the railing at a public park.  The good news is, most of the time they really are going to be just fine even though.

Breast or bottle debate humor

Which is why it’s a good thing we don’t feed our children for others.  Good luck!  Whatever you do, there are risks.  This is just one aspect of parenting, have confidence, there are even bigger risk you face in this journey.  Go on, feed your kids, take a deep breath, and take the risks as they come.  You’ve got this.

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Is breastfeeding past infancy messing up kids?

“I don’t really remember breastfeeding exactly but I remember weaning.”  The bubbly, outgoing 12 year old friend of my own bubbly, outgoing 12 year old daughter, reminded me of a friendly, excited butterfly, flitting about from topic to topic as she danced around our living room while chatting.  Not exactly sure how we got to breastfeeding but it didn’t phase her in the slightest talking about it.

None of my own children remember breastfeeding.  They know they did breastfeed and they’ve seen photographic evidence of this fact but they don’t have any recollection of it.  I asked our friend how old she was when she weaned.

“Four I think, maybe a little older.  My sister was 5 though, she was lucky.”  She began to dance on to another topic.  I brought her back to breastfeeding and asked her what she did remember about breastfeeding and weaning, wanting to know more about her views not only as a 12 year old but the daughter of two physicians.

“I was sad to wean, so sad.  We had a party and I remember it was fun but I liked nursing better than the weaning party.”  Pursed lips and raised eyebrows punctuated this statement.

“Why were you sad about weaning?” I was curious about how she perceived breastfeeding as a 4 year old and how that translated now that she was 12.  Her reaction was priceless: she looked at me like I was stupid and scoffed at me.

“I couldn’t have nurnies any more, of course I was sad.  Nurnies were the best thing ever and now I had to give them up.  I was little, I didn’t like that.  I loved nurnies, of course I was sad to give them up.”

She paused to execute a pirouette.  I took the opportunity to ask what she liked about “nurnies.”

“Well, I don’t know, they were soft and warm.  It just felt good and I think I liked the milk, it was sweet.  But I don’t remember breastfeeding, just how I felt.  Nurnies felt good.  Nurnies felt safe.  Nurnies just felt right.  I don’t really know but I know that I liked nurnies a lot.  And you know what?  I think breastfeeding is more than just good for little kids, it helps them grow up too.  They don’t have to stop when they’re babies, little kids need time to grow up, like…”  She was searching for something as she tried to explain what she meant.

“Like a transition?” I offered.

“Yeah, a transition.  But a slow one over a long time.  It’s not like birds where the mom just kicks them out of the nest.  Having nurnies helps transition, it’s just so nice and I don’t see why it would need to be hurried up, it was good getting to breastfeed for a long time.  I’d have gone longer but I think my mom was ready to be done plus there was my little sister.  She was lucky, she got to go until she was five.”

“You were lucky too, not many children in the USA get what you got.  Even my own children were all weaned by the time they were 3 so far” I tell her.

Her eyes widened: “Really?  Wow, I thought they all breastfed a lot longer.  They act like they did.”

My turn to be surprised.

She explained: “I don’t know, breastfeed kids seem to eat really well, they are what I call high palette kids with more developed tastes I think.  And they are usually so nice and interesting.”

I think of my kids and most of them do seem to have very mature taste but I point out that could just be exposure.  Still, she’s pretty on target here, there is some science that would appear to back her observation.  Unfortunately that science hasn’t always been the case in our house.  I mention that there are many nice people that were formula fed too.  She agreed.

“Are you ever embarrassed that you breastfed so long?  As you’ve gotten older and have seen more of how society acts about breasts, has it ever made you uncomfortable about how long you breastfed?”

Again I receive another looked like I’m a complete idiot.

“What?  Why?  No, that’s just dumb.  I know, I see it in the mall and online, people love boobs being all sexy but come on, we all know what they are really for even if they are being pushed up and air brushed.  Those sexy ladies with their boobs all hanging out, who cares, babies probably see them and get hungry.  They see a sexy model with her boobs out and I bet they are all ‘nurnie, I want nurnie!”

The room erupts with laughter.  I bow out of the conversation, my own 12 year old had been giving me the “stop talking to my friend” look for a little bit and it was time for me to give them their space again.  They go on to joke, strutting like awkward fashion models with their chests thrust out as they make severe faces and I’m reminded of Zoolander.  Fits of giggles as they talk in baby voices about wanting nurnies from imaginary breasts in an imaginary mall or magazine.  Then the butterfly girls flit on to another flower of a topic, deciding they need to take over the kitchen and bake something.

Toddlers are expert multitaskers at the breast.

Toddlers are expert multitaskers at the breast.

A year ago a very good friend of mine shared how she had taken her 4 kids to take a meal to another friend that had a new baby.  Her 13 year old son with her, she wondered if he felt awkward when the new mother began breastfeeding but was proud of him for acting like it was no big deal.  When she asked him about it later he shrugged in a typical 13 year old boy way and said no.  He remembers breastfeeding, he told her, it’s not a big deal.  Like our 12 year old friend, this 13 year old boy understands that feeding babies is what breasts are for.

Yet whenever breastfeeding beyond 12 months comes up in the news or in social media, people express an overwhelming concern for the mental development of these children.  It’s damaging, many commenters claim, that poor child is going to be so confused.  Once they have teeth you must stop!  Once they can talk and ask for it you have to cut them off!  Once they can eat solids, give that child a cup!  Mothers that breastfeed too long are sick, selfish, gross, perverted, and unable to let their child grow up these people usually assert.  Because they aren’t used to seeing what is actually biologically and anthropologically normal duration breastfeeding, they categorize this different choice they don’t understand as being wrong and rationalize that if it’s “wrong” it’s going to mess up the child.

In 2010 a study was released discussing the long term mental health benefits of breastfed children.  That’s right, the long term mental health benefits from extended breastfeeding.  Not mental health disadvantages, not long term sexual issues from extended breastfeeding, not long term dysfunctions from extended breastfeeding, long term mental health benefits of extended breastfeeding.  Which sure sounds like extended breastfeeding is good for the child’s mental health, not damaging.

It’s true that in society today we are conditioned to expect to see breasts in a beer commercial, on display in the windows of the mall, even bouncing around fast food chain ads before we expect to see them feeding an infant, let alone a toddler or preschooler.  Breasts have been hypersexualized to such an extent that many can’t imagine them any other way.  So I can see why people would be concerned.  But children are different, they don’t have the capacity to even understand sex and so wouldn’t think that breastfeeding was anything more than food and comfort.  Adults that say that breastfeeding is sexual are simply revealing their own hang ups and projecting on the child.  And maybe it shouldn’t be the biologically normal thing that needs to change, maybe we should focus on changing culture and take a stand against the objectification and over emphasis on the sexual nature of the female breasts so we can feed our children without fear of it being confused with pedophilia.  What would happen if we left women alone and let them make their own choices by weighing the information?  Stop telling women that the value of their bodies lies in what it can sell, stop telling women what they must or must not do with their bodies, stop telling women that they don’t have say in how they use their bodies.  If a woman wants to breastfeed until her child is 4 years old it is nobody’s business but that of the mother and that child and the evidence is in that there is no reason to believe it will cause mental health issues.

Today breastfeeding into early childhood may not be for everyone, there may be a lot of legitimate reasons not to for any given mother.  But there being a long term risks to their mental health to breastfeed into early childhood isn’t one of them.  My 12 year old was weaned from the breast earlier than any of my children.  When she was 4.5 months I gave up on my breastfeeding goals due to her severe reflux (which didn’t get better with formula, it got much, much worse) and agonizing breast pain that no doctor could identify and the only solution I was given was to wean.  After two trips to the ER because of the pain, I relented and switched her to formula.  Something that grieved me very much at the time.  Watching her hang out with her friend I acknowledged that you couldn’t tell which one was breastfed until she was 4 years and which one was breastfed until she was 4 months.  Both are happy, energetic, smart, well adjusted girls and both have loving, committed parents and neither demonstrate any mental health issues.  So my own personal experience and the research would lead me to believe that no, breastfeeding past infancy isn’t messing up our kids and I’m going to go out on a limb here and say it’s because all that love, all that connection can’t be a bad thing and I’m glad my daughter has a friend so secure and so confident that understands the natural biological function of breasts as feeding tools for babies that they can laugh together at the messages the world sends them about the female form.  If we want to look for what’s messing up kids and their view of sex and women, let’s start somewhere else.

_____________________

What about you?  Did you breastfeed long enough to remember?  Or your children?  What are your thoughts on breastfeeding beyond a year?

_____________________

Not sure about breastfeeding beyond a certain point?  That’s ok, it may not be for you.  Some women feel comfortable doing so and before you criticize them be informed as to why that might be.  These links may be helpful:

 Evidence on the long-term effects of breastfeeding systematic reviews and meta-analyses

 

Breast milk feeding and cognitive ability at 7-8 years

 

Breastfeeding past infancy fact sheet

 

Breastfeeding beyond infancy in developed countries

 

Continuing breastfeeding beyond the first year

 

The breastfeeding toddler explains

 

I’m not going to try to convince you to breastfeed your toddler

 

Toddler breastfeeding, frustration, and what keeps me going

 

Embracing Beyond

 

Unsupportive support: breastfeeding toddlers and introducing solids

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The Breastfeeding Toddler Explains

 The transition from infant to toddler is usually a very gradual process, at times completely imperceptible.  But it is very real and there are some very special aspects of breastfeeding a toddler that are unique.  One shares with us.

 Breastfeeding toddler in black and white

 

Dear grown-ups,

My vocabulary is still quite limited but that doesn’t mean my brain isn’t going all the time and there are a few things you need to know.  Particularly about breastfeeding toddlers.  Because some grown-ups seem to get confused, I will take a moment to explain very simply so even an adult can understand.  As a breastfed toddler, what I like to just call “human being”, I don’t understand why anyone would think I shouldn’t be breastfed.  The milk is yummy, I like to be close to mommy, it’s fun, and I was just a baby still yesterday and I’m not grown up over night, you know.  Also, I don’t care how many months I am, I know I like to breastfeed and I still need it, so please don’t make it sound gross or bad.  That just seems mean.  Don’t be a meanie.  Some toddlers may be ready to move on, that’s fine and I’m not judging them but don’t judge me just because I’m not ready yet and need to breastfeed to get through my day.  I don’t judge you for what you drink to get through your day, ok?  Acting like there’s something gross and wrong about something I’ve been doing my whole life is confusing, just let me do my thing.  I can’t imagine ever stopping breastfeeding but most of the people I see don’t breastfeed any more so I figure it’s inevitable I’ll stop at some point.  Just not today.

Also, before someone tells me there’s no nutritional value to breastfeeding past the first year (it feels nutritional to me, more than most chicken nuggets) check out how breastmilk continues to change to meet my very special toddler requirements here and a mommy’s point of view on how special breastfeeding is here.

 Toddler bfing judging image

Toddler’s guide to breastfeeding (so simple, even a grown-up can understand):

 

  • Hungry?  Breastfeed.
  • Sad?  Breastfeed- rub mommy’s arm.
  • Happy?  Breastfeed- giggle lots and dribble milk.
  • Bored?  Breastfeed and sing with your mouth full of milk, won’t be bored any more!
  • Feeling silly?  Breastfeed and growl while sticking finger up mommy’s nose, she’ll growl too!
  • Tired?  Breastfeed.
  • Tired but don’t want to sleep?  Breastfeed- keep switching sides.
  • Tired but don’t want to sleep and want to try to keep playing?  Breastfeed- break out dance moves.
  • Want to go to sleep?  Breastfeed.
  • Just wake up?  Breastfeed and consider falling back asleep.
  • Fall asleep on the breast and mommy tries to sneak away?  MUST BREASTFEED.
  • See mommy is busy and want her attention?  NEED to breastfeed NOW.  Sign milk constantly at the breast.
  • See mommy is not busy?  Breastfeed.
  • See mommy is bored and needs something to do other than laundry?  Breastfeed.
  • Mommy trying to work?  Breastfeed.
  • Afraid mommy is going to go down the toilet?  Keep mommy safe, saver her by holding on to the boobies by breastfeeding!
  • See mommy sat down?  GET THE BOOBIES!  Even if you just breastfed, breastfeed now, she wants you too, why else would she sit down?
  • See the ta-tas out when mom is changing?  BREASTFEED NOW!  DO NOT LET THEM GET AWAY!
  • Fall down?  Breastfeed, pop off and wail occasionally to remind everyone what happened.
  • Get hurt?  Breastfeed.
  • Got hurt yesterday but just remember?  Breastfeed and whine at the same time.
  • Broken toy?  Breastfeed, pull mom’s hair so she knows how upset you are.
  • Can’t climb that stupid gate thing?  Breastfeed and point at it.
  • Break mommy or daddy’s toy?  Breastfeed and make sure she keeps looking you in the eye until the oxytocin kicks in and you help her forget about the toy.
  • See mommy and daddy kiss?  Breastfeed and slap daddy away.
  • See mommy and daddy hug?  Breastfeed and give daddy the evil eye.
  • See friend breastfeeding?  Breastfeed more than them.
  • Mommy sleepy?  Time for gymnurstics.
  • Mommy tries to exercise?  Breastfeed- insist on side lying.
  • Mommy eating?  Breastfeed- time for gynurstics or stick fingers in her mouth.
  • Mommy getting ready for date with daddy?  Breastfeed- insist on hand on other one too, give daddy stink-eye.
  • Mommy talking on the phone?  Breastfeed while standing on her lap, pop off occasionally to yell in her face to help her talk.
  • Mommy making food for other people?  Remind her how easy it is to breastfeed.  If she doesn’t do it right away, cling to leg, refuse the carrier, and jam your hands down her shirt as soon as possible.
  • Need to pee?  Breastfeed then freak.
  • Just changed diaper and need to poop?  Breastfeed.
  • Wearing clothes?  Breastfeed.
  • Naked?  Breastfeed?
  • Love dinosaurs, baby dolls, trains, elephants, anything else?  Breastfeed to celebrate and tell mommy all about it.
  • Get a new toy?  Breastfeed and insist mommy breastfeed the toy too.
  • Toys get hungry?  Have mommy breastfeed toy, get angry that mommy is sharing with toy, throw tow, breastfeed and give toy stink-eye.
  • On a plane?  Breastfeed- swallow loudly to clear ears and make everyone happy you’re not screaming.
  • Headed to the car?  Quick, arch back, twist, anything, BREASTFEED.
  • Mommy holding you while meeting new people?  Breastfeed or at least let them know the boobies are yours by shoving hands in mommy’s shirt.
  • Daddy and mommy snuggling in bed?  Need that boob!  No, that one!  No, the other one!  Must breastfeed on both right now!
  • Mommy in shower?  Let her know you need to breastfeed and are worried the shower will wash your milk away.  Screaming may be necessary.
  • Walking?  Breastfeed every couple of steps.
  • Climbing?  Breastfeed when they move you off things.  Every time.
  • Have sickies?  Breastfeed lots and lots and lots.
  • Cutting molars?  Smash all the things!  And breastfeed.
  • See picture of breastfeeding?  Breastfeeding for all!
  • Hear music?  Do the breastfeeding dance.
  • Knock over block tower?  Breastfeed- hold block and hit mommy with it.
  • Grandma coming over?  Breastfeed and tell her how excited you are about it at the same time.
  • Having a first experience?  Breastfeed.
  • Think mommy is going to leave without you?  Desperately need to breastfeed to avoid starvation.
  • Mommy returns home after being out?  Five minutes or 5 hours, you must breastfeed while berating her for leaving even if you didn’t actually notice she was gone.

Isn’t breastfeeding wonderful?

You know what else is wonderful?  The roll of toilet paper.  You can use the whole thing to fill the potty, it’s so fun!  And then mommy has to clean up a giant mess and it’s time to breastfeed again.  Everyone has fun!

Love,

Your friendly local breastfeeding toddler.

___________________________

What would you or your toddler add to this list of toddler breastfeeding?  Have you changed your views of breastfeeding beyond a year?

___________________________

 

 

 

 

 

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Breastfeeding beyond Infancy in Developed Countries

By Star Rodriguez for The Leaky [email protected]@b
This post made possible in part by the generous support of Motherlove Herbal Company.
Breastfeeding beyond 12 months

Imagine a mom breastfeeding a baby.  Now imagine her breastfeeding a toddler.  Now a preschooler.  Do you feel uncomfortable with any of those images?  When do you start to feel a little weird?

In developed countries where breastfeeding duration is low and where nursing in public isn’t seen as often, it’s pretty normal to have a point where you begin to feel a little uncomfortable with thinking about breastfeeding a child.  After all, there are a multitude of foods and drink available readily and safely in developed countries, so why on Earth would someone need or want to nurse, say, a three or four year old child?

First, it’s helpful to understand what our natural weaning age probably is.  Katherine Dettwyler, Phd, professor of anthropology looked at natural weaning ages of animals and came up with five possible ranges.  First, she looked at when permanent molars come in, a normal weaning time for primates.  That puts the range at five to six years old for human kids.  Animals also often wean babies based on when they reach about a third of their adult body weight.  This puts human kiddos at four to seven years old.  With some primates, though, adult body size and not weight is the true test; our children would wean naturally, then, somewhere between the end of the second year and the end of the third year.  Some mammals nurse until their babies have tripled or quadrupled birth weight; this would mean human babies would naturally wean somewhere between two to three years old.  Finally, many mammals wean after the baby has been alive for about six times the length of gestation.  Therefore, human babies would breastfeed around four to five years.

Clearly, most of us are not breastfeeding our children until they are six or seven years old in developed countries where they have a plethora of other foods and many social activities.  However, there are a lot of women who quietly report to me that they nursed to two or three years, although they don’t tell their friends or extended families, because “they’d think I was crazy!”  More often than that, I get moms calling me, asking me how long babies should nurse, and what the benefits are to nursing beyond a year.

Sadly, there aren’t a lot of studies on breastfeeding beyond infancy in the developed world.  I’ve been told that this is because there aren’t a lot of women who continue beyond that, and, statistically, that is very true.  I see Leakies every day discussing breastfeeding beyond a year, and there are articles and websites that mention it regularly.  So I think there are more moms out there doing it than we often admit, but it might be difficult to gather them up in one place for a study.

That all said, we can surmise a few things from studies in less developed areas and what we already know about breastfeeding and breastmilk.

First, breastfeeding can foster independence.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Children are learning to be independent, especially through toddlerhood.  I am aware of this every day as my three year old rushes to tell me, “I do it!” and gets incredibly mad if I try to help her, or if she needs help.  Children still are dependent on their primary caregivers, though.  Nursing meets a lot of their dependent, nurturing needs and can help them to feel as though they are able to express their independence while knowing that they are able to be comforted and close to their mothers when they need to be.

Breastfeeding also provides antibodies.  How many toddlers and preschoolers stick everything in their mouths, as often as they can?  How many have no concept of personal hygiene, picking their noses, eating food off the floor, sneezing in the faces of others, and so on?  By continuing to breastfeed, you are continuing to provide them with immune protection tailored to the environment that they are in.  It won’t stop them from ever getting sick, but it can be helpful to some viruses.

Breastmilk remains tailored to the child and is often something that children can take in even when they are ill and not holding much else down.  The calories and fat in breastmilk are not empty calories like many other easily held down liquids (like lemon lime sodas, ginger ales, etc.)

Breastfeeding has analgesic properties to it.  Think about how often young children get bumps, bruises, and owies.  Carrying around something that can help them to feel better about those is a wonderful thing.

As far as moms are concerned, many of the wonderful things that breastfeeding does for mothers are dose related.  For instance, the longer women breastfeed over their lifetime, the more their breast cancer risk is reduced, and that’s certainly not the only health benefit that is tied to duration.  Further, mothers who continue breastfeeding continue to produce milk and subsequently burn a few extra calories, too.  Who couldn’t use, say, an extra cookie a day?

At the end of the day, the length of time that a mother/baby dyad decides to continue breastfeeding is a very personal thing.  Despite the fact that we live in a developed society where extended breastfeeding may not be necessary for survival, it can be a meaningful and beneficial thing to moms and babies.

________________________________

How do you feel about breastfeeding beyond the first year?  

How do you personally determine the duration of breastfeeding with your own children?

How much has cultural expectations impacted how long you were/are willing to breastfeed?

_______________________________

breastfeedingStar Rodriguez is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, student, and mother of two in Minnesota.  She has done private practice work, worked with WIC, and now works in a hospital setting.  She is available for online consulting and in-person consults in the Brainerd Lakes area.  She can be reached through the Facebook page of Lactastic Services or you can find more information at www.lactastic.com.
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12 Weaning Ceremonies


Breastfeeding can be such a sacred time in our lives. While we cherish the breastfeeding journey, it is rare in our culture to commemorate the end of breastfeeding with little more than a note in the baby book. If breastfeeding was important to you, consider celebrating your experiences and remembering this special transition with a weaning ceremony.

Your weaning ceremony can serve multiple purposes. If you choose to involve your child, it can be an event to mark the end of nursing – something that mother and child gently discuss and plan in anticipation of weaning. For mothers and their partners, a weaning ceremony is a way to honor the transition from breastfeeding to nursing beyond the breast, and all of the emotions that accompany that change.

Some children may not benefit from a definite, marked end to the nursing relationship. If a slow, natural end to breastfeeding is more comfortable for your child, you can still hold a quiet ceremony by yourself, with your spouse, or with other mothers who can understand and support you through this transition. Don’t be afraid to mourn the end of breastfeeding – it is a normal and healthy response to this change. But after you’ve given yourself time to mourn, consciously meditate on the joys of mothering a child who has weaned. A weaning ceremony can help you mindfully navigate this change.

Below are 12 weaning ceremony ideas that you can adapt to meet your own needs and those of your nursling. If you have other ceremony ideas, please share them in the comments so I can add them to the list.

    1. Write your nursling a letter. Include anything you’d like to share about your nursing relationship, what this change means to you, your hopes and dreams for them, etc. I found two examples of weaning letters: one at Mothering.com, the other from a Jewish mother at ritualwell.
    2. Anoint yourself with herbs for weaning. Herbs can help with physical discomfort and emotional healing. Kellymom lists several herbs to help decrease milk supply, including sage and peppermint. Earth Mama Angel Baby makes a No More Milk tea that includes some of these herbs. And because you will experience a drop in prolactin levels during weaning, it may also help to prepare yourself with herbal remedies for depression.(1) Herbs to help alleviate depression that are safe to use while breastfeeding include St. Johnís wort, Evening primrose oil, Motherwort, and Blessed thistle.(2)
    3. Write your breastfeeding story. Start with those milky newborn memories – the pursed lips nursing even after they’ve unlatched, sleepy rooting at all hours of the day and night, the newness of life and the awe of continuing to grow your baby with your own body. Continue on through infancy – those milky smiles, dive bombing for your breast, the day your little one first starts babbling or signing in a recognizable way for milk. Write about the joys of breastfeeding past infancy – nursing gymnastics, manners, nursing away every hurt, the special words and phrases you and your nursling share.(3) Share the highs and lows of your nursing experience and the emotions you’ve gone through along the way. Here are two stories to get you started: one at Kellymom, another at La Leche League International.
    4. Throw a weaning party. For little ones who need a celebration to mark the occasion of weaning, consider having an intimate party – just you and your nursling and partner. Make special foods, bake a cake, whatever makes it special for your family. Here is an example of a weaning party.
    5. Write a book. Create a personal book for your child about their breastfeeding journey, their babyhood, and their transition into a “big kid.”
    6. Hold a special ceremony for your nursling.Sometimes breastfeeding pairs need to wean when neither mama nor child is ready. In these situations, a special ceremony may help mark the day of weaning, helping the child clearly see the end of nursing while beginning the grieving process for both in a bittersweet way.Jessica of The Leaky [email protected]@b was pregnant, gaining very little weight, and felt pressured by her care providers to wean. To help give closure to her 21 month old nursling, Jessica, her husband, and the big sisters all wrote a special note for the nursling. After eating a special meal together, the family gathered around a candle. Jessica invited her nursling to climb into her lap for one last nursing session. As her nursling snuggled in, the family read their letters to the child. They also gave her several sweet gifts. When she was finished nursing, she blew out the candle.

      While your weaning ceremony will be memorable and sweet, be prepared for nurslings to continue to ask to nurse. They simply do not understand what it means to wean forever, and you will very likely have to soothe many tears in the weeks to come (as Jessica did).

    7. Give yourself (and/or your child) a gift. Find something special that represents this transition. I highly recommend Hollyday Designs breastmilk jewelry – it is beautiful.
    8. Create a breastfeeding scrapbook. Gather pictures and/or video of you and your little one snuggling and nursing and compile them into a keepsake scrapbook (a virtual one or one that you can hold).
    9. Go on a date. Take your nursling somewhere special. Make it an event that represents how “grown up” they are.
    10. Tell your child their nursing story. Regardless of whether you write it down, tell your little one about your nursing journey as you’ve lived it. Telling them this story over the years will help normalize breastfeeding for them, and it will help you both retain sweet memories from their nursing years.
    11. Choose a special time to be together. If you or your little one are missing a regular nursing time, find something special you can do together every day at that time instead. Think about snuggling, reading, yoga, meditation, art, or some other activity you will both enjoy. For as long as you need to throughout and after the weaning process, take a few moments at the beginning of your special time to check in with yourself and truly be present with your child.
    12. Design your own ritual.Several cultures and religions have weaning ceremonies. Research them and design a ceremony that will be meaningful to your family. Here are a few resources to get you started:

Did you do something to mark the end of your breastfeeding relationship? Please share in the comments.

Footnotes:
(1) From Kellymom: “Prolactin, the hormone that stimulates milk production, also brings with it a feeling of well-being, calmness and relaxation. The faster the weaning process the more abrupt the shift in hormone levels, and the more likely that you will experience adverse effects.”
(2) Safe herb list found here. It also says that St. Johnís wort should not be taken in conjunction with any other depression medication.
(3) And if you’d like to share your nursing past infancy story, consider submitting it to my series. See my Contributor Guidelines page for more details.

___________________

Dionna is a lawyer turned work at home mama of two amazing kids, Kieran and Ailia. You can normally find Dionna over at Code Name: Mama where she shares information, resources, and her thoughts on natural parenting and life with little ones. Dionna is also cofounder of Natural Parents Network and NursingFreedom.org, and author of For My Children: A Mother’s Journal of Memories, Wishes, and Wisdom.
Connect with Dionna on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

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Extreme Reality- Breastfeeding Reality TV?

I’m not a fan of “reality” TV, well, most reality TV.  I do like So You Think You Can Dance but that’s a competition (of sorts), not really reality TV, right?  Anyway, most so-called reality TV seems anything but real.  The few times I’ve wasted took the time to watch some it seemed to be nothing more than a hyperbolic visual of humanity and I had to ask where did they find these people?

The truth is it’s possible that with some clever editing even my boring life may possibly appear to be entertaining drama.  Some very, very clever editing.  I mean, I work, do laundry (sometimes, there could be drama over the laundry thing actually), play with my kids, feed my children…

Oh my gosh, there it is!  The entertainment opportunity of reality TV ripe and just waiting to be picked RIGHT THERE!  I feed my children.  *gasp*

Apparently, some think that is quality reality TV just waiting to happen.  You can read about it here.  Not just any feeding, true.  Breastfeeding.  Breastfeeding over a year.  Cause that is so extreme.

 

*blink*

 

We’re reaching here, right?

There are moments when I think I must be really dense because I just don’t get it.  Like now.  If this is extreme to the point that an entire reality TV series to be called “Extreme Parenting” is based on it then why does my life seem so… not extreme?  I’ve breastfed 3 of my 6 children past the 1 year mark (past the 2 year mark…).  That should make me off the charts extreme, right?

Even with the most clever editing possible this sounds like the most boring reality TV show ever.  Because this just doesn’t seem extreme.  It’s really rather normal.  Average.  Regular.

We are a family of 8, 6 are girls under the age of 14, living in a 1400 square foot house with one bathroom.  ONE BATHROOM FOR 8 PEOPLE!  Talk about real entertainment.

Picture this: mom pushing past the 13 year old in the narrow hallway, guiding a wide-eyed 2 year old clutching between her legs, eyes wide as she desperately declares “I peepee!”  Frantically, mom knocks on the door of the bathroom, telling the 9 year old to take her book and get off the toilet now, it’s an emergency.  The 9 year old calls out that she just sat down.  The 11 year old squeezes past the mom and 2 year old in the hallway, telling the camera “ugh, my dad took forever in the bathroom after his shower, I almost peed my pants this morning.”  The 2 year old is heard saying “uh-oh” as the mom just about kicks down the door…

If any aspect of my life is extreme it’s this and maybe the laundry.  But breastfeeding past 12 months old?  Not so much.  Plus, the bathroom thing is lame.

Breastfeeding being depicted in mainstream media?  Even if it’s depicted as “extreme” and pitched as being weird and kind of crazy, is that all bad?  Eh, maybe not.  Who knows, someone may see some heavily edited episode and think “wow, I want to be just like those people!”  Because that’s totally what everyone watching reality TV thinks.  After all, Extreme Parenting is the brainchild of the same team that brought us Dance Moms and Bridezillas.  Just look at how those shows have elevated the obsessed pushy mother of a child dancer and obsessed pushy bride-to-be. These women are endeared to society the world over and every mother can’t wait to sign up her child for dance for their chance as a dance mom and all brides to be dream of their bridezilla moments with anticipation.

 

Oh wait…

 

There is a potential hidden nugget of positive in this exploitive form of entertainment that seems to enjoy depicting women as vapid, out-of-control selfish individuals with boundary issues: it will get people talking.  And when someone tells me about the crazy lady on that Extreme Parenting show and how she was actually breastfeeding her 3 year old I’ll say “puhshaw, that’s nothing. You want to talk extremes?  We have 8 people and 1 bathroom.  EIGHT PEOPLE AND 1 BATHROOM!”

Even this is less extreme than the activity surrounding our bathroom most mornings.

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 What do you think of this show?  Would you be on it?

The Leakies are talking about it over on The Leaky [email protected]@b Facebook page, discussing the show, what other activities may be seen in a family that breastfeeds past 12 months, and activities we would consider more “extreme” than breastfeeding past 1 year.  Come join in the conversation.

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