Experiences of breastfeeding older babies/extended breastfeeding

(19 Posts)
LittleSausageFingers Wed 16-Nov-16 12:26:48

I'm looking for any experiences of BF an older baby, as I have literally no idea what I'm doing, and I'm getting a lot of advice that all our sleeping/eating "problems" would be solved by switching to formula/weaning from the boob.

FTM to a 9mo DD, who was EBF to 6mo and still BF now. Started weaning at 6mo, but she wouldn't take a spoon, so did BLW. Two months of not eating a thing, then all of a sudden she started eating. It's going ok now, but I doubt she's eating as much as her spoon-fed peers. Some days she's just not interested at all, but I'm past worrying about it now, as long as she has a go I'm happy enough.

During the daytime she has 4-5 breastfeeds, sometimes more but rarely. I always feed her to sleep. She has two naps a day, for an hour or so each, not always easy to get her down and I think she'll drop to one nap before too long. At night she wakes between two and eleventy billion times. I mostly feed her back to sleep, unless she's woken up very soon after a feed, then my DH can usually sort her out. Trying to get her to sleep without a feed generally results in a massive crying fit, nothing else seems to soothe her. I literally can't cope with the screaming, over-tired baby, I would always rather feed her to sleep because it works. Can't stomach sleep training, and she can cry for hours, so that is not an option for us. Tried gentle sleep training (baby whisperer), didn't work.

For me, the pros of BF (it's free, no sterilising, no bottles to carry around, it gets her to sleep, it's a nice bond, it's helped me lose weight grin, etc) outweigh the cons (more predictable routine with FF, she might sleep better if weaned off the boob, ability to leave her more easily with others, she might eat better if only having a couple of bottles a day, etc).

HVs and grandparents all think that she doesn't sleep because she doesn't eat enough, because she breastfeeds too much. I feel like their experience is largely based on FF babies, because (at least in the case of grandparents) that's how their babies were fed and that's what they know. I can't really find anyone IRL who has breastfed longer than 6 months. I want to feed her longer, until she self-weans ideally, but I'm really doubting myself and I feel like I've created this wakeful baby (mainly because that's what grandparents hint at, and HV has outright told me!) I get worried about how she'll cope with nursery when she goes at 1, how she'll sleep without me, will she eat enough, etc. I should add, my DH can get her to sleep, but apart from me and him she hasn't slept for anyone else.

If anyone has any experiences of feeding older babies to share I'd really appreciate it. I don't really think her eating/sleeping needs "fixing" (although everyone else thinks they do), I just want reassurance that I've not broken the baby by not moving to formula!

melonribena Wed 16-Nov-16 12:33:41

Your experience sounds very similar to mine! My ds1 is now 4. He gradually started eating more and feeding less. I weaned at 2years 9 months after ages of feeding morning and night. Don't worry about it. Your dd won't be bf and not eating by the time she starts school!!!

Seeline Wed 16-Nov-16 12:37:52

My DD is 12yo now so I can't remember all the details!
I stopped bf at 15 months - mainly because she flatly refused all attempts at bottles, cups, spoons etc to get any form of milk/fluid into her.
She too was a spoon refuser (9months when she finally took that, and we weaned at 4 months in those days). She also didn't really like being weaned, and ate virtually nothing.
She did sleep though - I think that was chance rather than anything else.
Lots of babies are bf'd for much longer than 6 months, and of course it doesn't break them. You carry on doing what you think is right for your DD and you. If you are happy with what you are doing, then don't worry.

Seeline Wed 16-Nov-16 12:39:00

Should've said - she never had formula, has never 'drunk' cows milk, although would eat yoghurt etc once she got to about 2. Even now, she never has milk on her cereal.

ChipIn Wed 16-Nov-16 12:45:48

Don't listen to the nonsense that FF helps sleep. Some FF babies sleep well, some BF babies sleep better. If the only issue for you is the amount of "advice" you're getting then ignore them and carry on doing what you do.

My DD (now 1) became very unpredictable with sleep around 6 months, after being a fab sleeper, and boobed a lot during the night. It's comfort, not just food for babies. Then all of a sudden at 10 months she was happy to go in her cot awake after a BF, get comfy with teddies and off she goes to sleep. We didn't do any form of sleep training. Whilst not every baby will do that so easily, It shows that babies can do it when they're ready.

As long as your baby is putting on weight, number of nappies per day is ok then I wouldn't worry. There's an unrealistic expectation for babies to sleep through from a really young age and developmentally they're just not always ready.
Carry on mumma smile

user1471446433 Wed 16-Nov-16 12:53:37

(sorry for username I keep trying but can't get it to change!)
Feeding my 20 month just now my others self weaned at 2& half & 3.
9 months is a really wakeful age regardless of how babies are fed - all those new skills they're working on & wee tummies not used to having to digest actual food! (BF is very very gentle on them)
Do you cosleep? I find it's the only way to get sleep with a BF non sleeping baby!
Some people find sleep hard some people don't need much sleep - all those people started off as babies smile (DH & I both need very little sleep & I find Sleep hard so no surprise we have had 3 non sleeping babies!)
In addition waking often is nature's way of keeping baby safe.
If it's working for you just smile, nod & ignore. (& Remind your HV of the WHO guidelines!!!)

caraway33 Wed 16-Nov-16 13:16:47

Not sure if it will help much, but my situation is very similar. DD is 9months old and breastmilk is her only source of nutrition. I started BLW from 6.5months old, but she doesn't seem to be very interested in "real" food. She gags and vomits a lot too so (although not sure if that's the right thing to do) I give her to nibble on what I eat at the time, only ocassionally.
She sleeps quite well though.
Two naps a day up to 2 hours.
At night we co-sleep and over the night she feeds maybe twice or so, remaining asleep. In the evening when she is still alone in bed and after stirring doesn't find me/a boob she makes a little cry to call me over.
I feed her to sleep too. Although not sure if can even say so: she get's cranky once hungry so I feed but it also soothes to sleep. Somehow it appears that sleep is a natural consequence rather than feeding is a method to achieve sleep.

Our daughters are the same age though so
can't reassure about not "breaking" a baby! smile

talksensetome Wed 16-Nov-16 13:16:54

I bf until 2yrs 5months and everything you are doing sounds normal to me. DS would never take a bottle or a cup, even when I went back to work they could hardly get him to drink a thing he just latched on for a good old feed when I got home and fed all night.

if you are worried about how much she eats can you offer breakfast before morning feed, offer lunch without a feed etc? They get plenty of calories through breastfeeding though and I wouldn't be overly worried at this stage what she is eating. she won't go hungry.

I highly recommend co sleeping if you don't already, by the end I just slept topless and DS helped himself barely disturbing me at all.

Newmanwannabe Wed 16-Nov-16 13:25:10

At nine months not everyone's liver is mature enough to completely process/ metabolise glucose (glycogen) which is why some babies are still feeding through the night. I don't have a reference but heard it at a conference presented by a world leading paediatrician

bummymummy77 Wed 16-Nov-16 13:39:10

Where I live most people extended breastfeed.

18 months is seen as pretty early to stop. Ds is 3 next week and still nursing one or twice in the day, night time and nap time.

Some of us have babies/kids that sleep really well, some who are crap.

I think it illustrates that it's down to each child rather than breastfeeding. smile

bummymummy77 Wed 16-Nov-16 13:40:26

Talksense- unless the little bastards twiddle. angryangryangryangry

talksensetome Wed 16-Nov-16 13:47:20

bummymummy77 The twiddling! I had forgotten about that! Eventually to give up night feeds I had to start sleeping on my tummy so he couldn't get to me.

876TaylorMade Wed 16-Nov-16 14:11:02

Currently BFing my 15 month old DD and expecting #2. She was EBF...never liked bottles. I tried to express etc but nothing worked. Also thought she'd go off BM..but nope..so looks like I'll be tandem feeding ugh!
She starting having food at 6months... and it was touch and go for a very long time with the amounts she would eat. She doesn't like spoons and is very independent and gets annoyed when we try to feed her. She doesn't like cows milk... except with wheetabix (half), on a good morning! but she has an egg and sometimes a tablespoon or two of beans...every morning!
hoping to try toddler milk soon.
What I do is lots of finger food snacks throughout the day. so cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes avocado cut into small pieces along with fruits etc. She eats a fair amount and I'm not as worried anymore.
Lunch is touch and go...unless its damn pasta! or as we've discovered a sandwich...but without the filling as bread is so yummy hmm ...dinner is good as we eat together and she enjoys the "social" aspects of it.. I think, as she eats a good amount of food at dinner times...plus pudding (yoghurt & fruit).
I would try as many different things as possible see what bits she likes...Sometimes it takes a long time for them to adjust to the many different flavours and textures...but persist you'll get there!

I would do as someone suggested...offer meals before breast. I had to do that and it worked...most times grin

and I wouldn't listen to people comparing your DD to other children...especially those FF.

melonribena Wed 16-Nov-16 14:50:11

Also to add, I've recently had ds2. I've done everything the same! He's ebf and unlike ds1 is a great sleeper.
He's 6 weeks old and for the past week only wakes once/twice between 10pm and 7am for a feed.

Sleepybeanbump Wed 16-Nov-16 14:54:44

ARE YOU ME?!

Literally identical, except I have a 10 month old DS.

I read only yesterday something posted on Facebook from MilkMeg about how breastfeeding gets blamed for everything. It cheered me up immensely smile

LittleSausageFingers Wed 16-Nov-16 17:24:28

Thank you all for these amazingly reassuring posts! Sleepybeanbump I would totally agree with that - breastfeeding really does get blamed for everything!

I do usually offer meals before BF, and I try to give her food for breakfast before BF (although she feeds that much during the night that I doubt she'll be that hungry even without a morning breastfeed!) To be honest, I feel like she's doing a good job with eating, it's just other people that seem to think she's not. After months of her not touching a thing, I'm just glad she's having a go now. She generally gets a bit down her, it's just when I see other babies eating happily from a spoon that I realise she's not having as much, or when family members see how much she's eaten and comment along the lines of 'is that all she's having?!' I'm now just trusting she's getting what she needs, and offering a wide range for her to try (that ultimately ends up in the dogs stomach grin). But you can really end up doubting yourself...

We don't co-sleep. She ends up in our room, but when I put her in our bed she gets a bit excited and thinks it's playtime hmm.

I'm massively grateful that my DH is really supportive of my BF DD, and he assumes it'll be years rather than months. I just find it crazy that the NHS recommend BF up to a year, and the WHO up to two years, yet you're hard pressed to find a HCP who understands the relationship between a BF baby and mum, or can give any realistic advice (this is just my experience mind you, I'm sure there are some HCPs out there who are great with this). With family, I know they are trying to help and come up with suggestions to make things easier for me, which is lovely, but they're not always supportive of a BF relationship. Sometimes I just need to moan that DD had me up several times in the night, without the suggestions that formula would fix it, or I need to sleep train her, etc.

PaintingPolly Wed 16-Nov-16 17:46:47

I bf mine until they were 2. For the last 6 months or so it was just to get them to sleep or if they were having a strop (best way to stop it in its tracks!).

What everyone fails to realise is that, for smallies, breastmilk has more calories than solid food. The 9 month old that is eating spoons of carrot puree is not getting more food (in the form of calories) than yours, it's just in a different format and probably less nutritional.
You should read 'my child won't eat', written by a paediatric doctor. It is hugely reassuring.

As long as your baby seems healthy and alert I wouldn't worry. My second was a demon for bf only and now eats all around her.

I would offer her bits of food from your plate as you go rather than sitting her down for a feeding session.

As for sleep, babies are babies, there is no magic solution out there unfortunately! Like everything else, it will pass!

havalina1 Wed 16-Nov-16 17:52:07

No time to reply properly but wanted to say you are doing great and keep going - kids of great advice already - I fed til 13 months and then travel for work made the weaning come about earlier than natural though me being away he 'naturally' agreed to a bottle in my absence! Well done and keep going if you want to. Lots of people feed after 6 months but I found too there is an expectation you'll stop once they start solids and with the arrival of teeth (neither of which mean you need to stop).

Rinceoir Wed 16-Nov-16 20:22:40

My DD is 2yrs 7months, and stopped breastfeeding in August (with a gentle push). She was like your DD- minimal interest in food for a long time (started eating at 12months but only reasonable amounts around her second birthday). She eats wonderfully now, I'm always using her as an example on these threads now!

Today for example she had a bowl of porridge at home, then toast and fruit on arrival at nursery. She had breadsticks and hummus at snack time and then 2 portions of pasta bake with tuna followed by fruit salad for lunch. I collected her at snack time and she was eating cucumber. For dinner here she had a chicken piri-piri (spicy!) drumstick with peppers, red onion and one medium roasted sweet potato. In the evening she had a slice of toast with peanut butter, and a banana.

She never took a bottle (and I expressed litres trying to get her to!). She still won't drink milk now but loves her food.

As for sleep she slept brilliantly until 6 months, gave up sleep for months but has slept well again now for over a year.

I weaned in the end because she was constantly twiddling and constantly looking for milk which was driving me nuts, and I was dreading it. However once she was toilet trained in July she stopped looking for milk so much (don't know why they happened at the same time!) and we slowly wound down over the summer (with some distraction techniques) until she just stopped asking.

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