I went to a Le Leche League meeting with a friend Tuesday night. I can certainly see the value in asking questions should your kid be having some odd behavior or you have some nursing complications. I have been blessed by Hannah’s wonderful nursing skills (though we did have our hiccups too) and Abi’s past success, but I certainly don’t take them for granted (remembering the struggles with Rachael and ultimate weaning at 6 weeks).
But there also is a danger in sitting around in a group that won’t tell you “no.”
Please hear me through on this one…
Support is important. Support to excel and succeed can certainly help a Mom “go the distance” in the nursing world. But support is only healthy if the behavior supported is healthy.
I believe breastmilk is the best option for a baby – for certain. But I think the question moves from “best nutrition” to “overall health” when looking to wean a child. Biblically kids were weaned around three years old, but we must also take into account a child’s expectation and cultural skill level at three years old 2,000 years ago verses now.
I tend to fall on the side of babyhood and breastmilk falling together (if possible) while toddlerhood, when nutritional value is found in food over drink, and breastmilk should be a “weaning onto other things” policy. There has been a recent trend in “prolonged” or “extended” breastfeeding into preschool age.
First off, I begin to wonder what is fueling this need. Is it really the child or is it the parent projecting a need onto the child?
I sat beside a woman who was still nursing a child Rachael’s age (turning 4 years old this winter). Now while I am not making the family decisions for her household, I began to wonder if feeding a stubborn will and a perceived skin-to-skin need was indeed healthy. She herself acknowledged the nutritional need ending long ago and the need to establish boundaries.
I also sat across from a woman who in an effort “just to make her happy” was still getting up multiple times per night to nurse her co-sleeping toddler.
[Sidenote: A child is capable and healthily able to sleep through the night once they return to birth weight, though emotionally they may not be ready initially.]
I think it depends on how you view breastfeeding. Is it nutritional or attachment or both?
I’d venture to say in the beginning that it is both. I agree in wanting your child to be happy, but to what extreme do you do it?
It’s the same argument for the pacifier. Or the special blanket.
And I would argue that it is the parent’s job to make sure the habit is remaining healthy. See, when a child’s stubborn will is exerted over a parent, the habit’s not healthy. When “no” is not accepted characteristically, the habit is not healthy. And when a parent views a child’s needs as demand-oriented, drop-of-the-hat, child-controlled, the habit is not healthy.
I don’t think it’s my job to set a nursing age standard by any means, please understand. But I do call to question the evaluation and parenting method of demand-oriented comfort, regardless of the method.
See, I think there’s a sickness going around the parenting world that the child is the authority and ruler of the household or child-rearing. I think it’s the same sickness that drives parents to merely entertain verses interact. I think it’s the same sickness that sets a child up for even greater selfishness.
No one had to teach my kids to be selfish, we all came into this world with those resume skills. 😉 But instead it is the job of the parent to foster a child into “otherness” without fear of their own true needs being met. And it’s not the immature child that dictates the true needs. Oh, they can vocalize their wants all they desire… and they will. But we create an unsustainable world by demand-oriented parenting.
I’m not arguing to rip the special blanket from a child’s arms by any means
(and I was a blanket kid – and still do love my adult blanket and pillow’s feel of normalcy). But I am arguing the need for constant evaluation as to a habit’s transition from nurturing to defiance or dependence.
What do you think?
Feel free to share in the comment section.