If you thought you finally got the hang of breastfeeding only to discover (surprise!) breastfeeding changes as your baby grows, you’re not alone. Many new moms aren’t always prepared for the changes they experience when nursing a growing baby. Although not all of these changes are bad, some may present new challenges for you.
Here’s what you can expect when breastfeeding an older baby:
When your child was a newborn, you probably felt like all you did was feed her and that’s probably because you did. Most newborns nurse every two to three hours for approximately 20 – 40 minutes. However, as your baby becomes more efficient at nursing, you can expect her to nurse for shorter periods of time – 10 – 20 minutes per feeding.
As your baby grows (approximately 6 – 10 months), she’s oftentimes more interested in exploring the world around her then nursing. It’s not uncommon for a child this age to pull off (a breast) several times a feeding to investigate a noise or person. If you find your little one is easily distracted when nursing, situate yourself in a quiet room with no TV or radio on.
It’s what every mother dreads – being bitten by their child when nursing. Although not every baby bites, it’s not uncommon for a baby with teeth to bite down on mom while nursing. Babies don’t bite to be mean, they’re just trying to make their aching gums feel better by bearing down on something.
To help prevent a painful bite, have your baby suck on a teether or wet washcloth before nursing. If your baby does try to bite, let her know it’s not ok by stopping the feeding right away.
As your baby grows, you may also begin to realize breastfeeding isn’t’ always about the food. Many babies look to nursing as a source of comfort and way to bond with mom, and that’s perfectly normal.
There’s no need to worry about spoiling your baby with too many feedings as most breastfeeding experts agree that on demand nursing can offer great emotional benefits. So, don’t hesitate to help calm a tantrum or fall by nursing her.
Most pediatricians recommend introducing solid foods when baby is approaching the 6-month mark. As your little one gradually eats more solid foods, milk will take a backseat. Although you should breastfeed till at least one year of age, you may begin to notice her intake of breast milk reduce as she replaces more calories with solid foods.
Changes to your child’s physical and cognitive development can change breastfeeding, however, these changes are normal and aren’t any cause for concern. If you know what changes to expect in your breastfeeding journey, you can easily work through any challenges that may arise. If you would like more information about breastfeeding or are having difficulty with nursing, don’t hesitate to reach out to a lactation consultant in your area.