Well friends, I made it!! From July 7th 2017 to July 7th 2018 I nursed my little Izzy June every single day multiple times a day, and even pushed through painful teething so I would be able to make it to the one full year mark of breastfeeding!!
The week after her first birthday, we decided to introduce cow’s milk (we are using Fairlife Whole Milk) and wean her from nursing. She’s still getting used to cow’s milk, but overall I think she’s enjoying the new taste. I’m down to nursing her once a day in the mornings now, which I don’t think I would have been able to accomplish so smoothly had John not had the last two weeks off of work! He’s taken charge of putting her down for naps, so that I don’t have to nurse her to sleep like we’ve been doing up until this point. So far, it’s really working out for us! I also feel so blessed and grateful for the countless mama friends who have reached out to me and given me advice and encouragement and support about weaning. It’s been so helpful in easing my emotions and my heart into knowing that weaning is a natural part of growing up ❤ So thank you, if you were one of the mamas who I’m talking about!
Nursing for me came easily and naturally from the very start. Izzy had a perfect latch, and we became comfortable with it right away. Now I know not all mamas experience this with breastfeeding, but this is just how it was for us and I’m just really grateful that I was able to accomplish it for a full year! However you nourish(ed) your baby, whether it be by breast or bottle, celebrate! Nourishing a tiny human is huge accomplishment no matter how it is done.
NURSING MONTHS 0-3: nursing and pumping
During those first months, Izzy would wake up every 2-3 hours to nurse at night. I did try to pump, but I wish I would’ve been more consistent with it because I never really built up a freezer supply for more than a few day’s worth of milk. That meant we brought Izzy everywhere we went so that I was able to nurse her (which we enjoyed!). We did try a bottle here and there when I was able to pump enough for one feeding session. Izzy was also able to easily switch back and forth from breast to bottle, even though we didn’t offer a bottle every day. See below for which ones worked for us! We wanted to do activities and go places during the first few months where it would be easy to sit down and nurse, which made getting comfortable with nursing on the go much easier 🙂
If you’re thinking of going on date nights, getting a sitter, or leaving baby at home for any stretch of time where you won’t be there to nurse (like going back to work, for example) AND you still want them to be EBF, I suggest making an effort to pump after every nursing session so that your body can produce “more” milk for you to stash in the freezer. If you don’t want to pump, that’s fine too! I pumped off and on until about 6 months in. After 6 months, I switched to this Medela hand pump which I felt worked a lot better than my electric pump during that time. I used it in the mornings and at night after I nursed Izzy, and got a LOT of milk from it! I only used that for a couple more months before I stopped pumping altogether.
Here are some tips for nursing during the first three months:
- Get on a consistent nursing schedule. I fed Izzy every 2-3 hours, around the clock usually one we established a good nursing routine.
- Recruit your husband! John assembled my electric pump, and would always bring it to me after a nursing session. He also took charge of washing all the parts, and bottle feeding times. Since your baby is all about mama right now, making sure your husband feels appreciated and needed during this time is so important! Just communicate your needs and make sure you encourage him and let him have his own time with the baby, so he doesn’t feel left out of the baby bonding!
- Not every baby likes the same bottles. Find one that has a slow flow nipple, fits in most bottle warmers, and is easy to clean. Bonus points if Target has everything you need for it! That’s why we chose Medela…and why we loved and exclusively used these Medela ones from Target.
nursing months 4-6: nursing through the first teeth
Izzy got her first teeth (the bottom ones!) right at 4 months. A couple weeks leading up to her first teeth coming in cutting, nursing became really painful due to her chewing and gumming from teething discomfort as well as from the increased saliva that comes with teething. Some days were harder to take than others, so I would pump instead of have her nurse. It was so painful at certain points that I thought for sure I couldn’t nurse anymore and became disappointed that I might not make it to my year goal!
But I pushed through and got through her first teethies using these to help along the way:
- This nipple balm really helped sooth and heal when Izzy kept trying to gnaw on me while nursing!
- I wore this stylish necklace all the time so Izzy had something to chew on while we were out.
- We got her various teething toys like this elephant which she loved, and these keys which we would freeze and give to her to soothe her gums.
- When nursing, I would slide my pinky finger in her mouth to break her latch whenever she would bite down. Eventually she got the hint!
- Know that the painful teething time won’t last forever. Each time it happened with me (three times total) it lasted about 2-3 weeks.
Nursing months 7-9: baby food and nursing
Izzy got her top teeth around 6 months and then her two side top teeth around 8 months. That time around, I knew what to expect as far as nursing while teething went! At 7 months in, Izzy was eating a mixture of baby-led weaning (BLW) and homemade purees. I found that using the BLW method helped her figure out what she should bite and chew on, and what she shouldn’t (aka me!). We still continued to use teething toys, but she grew more interested in eating solids and chewing on other things that weren’t me as the months went on. Giving her baby-led weaning approved solids kept her entertained and helped her learn to use her chompers the right way: for food!
Here are my favorite foods for teething littles:
- Cold bananas: Slice a mostly ripe (firm but feels soft when you squeeze it) banana in half and hand it peeled to your little one to gnaw on. Bananas can also be mashed with avocado, steamed apples, or mashed with canned pumpkin topped with a dash of cinnamon.
- Strawberries: Slice off the top first before baby gets a hold of it. Foods like strawberries are great starters to learn how to bite, chew, and swallow!
- Baby smoothie Popsicles: Buy a cheap Popsicle mold and blend together some yummy fruits with water or breastmilk in a blender or baby food processor like The Baby Bullet (we love this one!). My favorites are blueberries+banana+blackberries, and strawberries+banana+papaya.
- Cucumber slices: Make sure the cucumber is cold. Peel it, wash it, and give baby some diced pieces. Add in diced watermelon for a tasty and refreshing treat!
nursing months 10-12 and beyond: regular solids (and weaning)
Not everyone weans at 12 months, but it was a goal of mine to make it to one year and then consider weaning. I loved my breastfeeding and nursing journey, even though it cost me loads of sleep and sore nipples!! There’s such a special bond between mama and baby during this time of breastfeeding, and I’m just happy I was able to experience it for an entire year. At this point, Izzy has started to show signs of self weaning and more interest in food…so we’re running with that and have decided to begin weaning. I’m thinking we will be fully weaned by 13-14 months, but we’ll see!
If you’re planning on weaning, I highly suggest enlisting the help of your husband — especially if nursing to sleep is something you normally do. John took two weeks off of work to be home for Izzy’s first birthday and some family time — so because of all this time at home and him being on mine and Izzy’s schedule (in case you didn’t already know, my husband works night shift and sleeps during the day which means he’s never awake or present when I’m taking care of Izzy…difficult to live like this but we make it work!), we decided to have him step in and take over nap times so that we could transition into the weaning process.
Here are some tips on weaning after the first year:
- Reassess your nursing schedule and create a strict routine: We took away nursing for both of Izzy’s naps, and now I only nurse in the mornings. We did this gradually over two weeks so that it wasn’t cold turkey and my milk didn’t get backed up. Having a variety of yummy foods on hand, interesting toys and trips to the park or library keeps her distracted and busy! Here’s a sample of our schedule in case you want to try the same:
7:15 wake up, nurse both sides
9:15 first nap (John takes her into our room, and rocks her in the chair/sings to her – she goes down in 5 mins or less usually)
10:30 wake up, play
10:45 snack (cracker, string cheese, yogurt, orange slices, or fruit)
12:00 lunch, then play
1:45/2:00 second nap (John does the same thing again)
3/3:15 wake up, play
6:30 bedtime prep (bath time, pj’s, read books – we let Izzy choose which books to read)
7:15 bedtime (lights out, rock in the chair or hold with snuggle while singing, then place in crib with favorite stuffed animal and close door).
- Don’t give in! If you’re really trying to wean, you need to stay consistent with your new schedule of not offering the boob as much anymore. It’s definitely hard, but once you have a new routine down your baby will have a sense of “this is how things are supposed to be” and will gradually wean with you.
- Celebrate your sweet time together! Cherish the memories of nursing, and don’t feel bad about weaning. Your bond with your little one will only grow stronger, and more exciting things will consume their day than mom’s boobs.
After age 1, babies should be eating protein rich foods, veggies, fruits, and pretty much anything on your plate (besides choking hazard foods). Some of the things I like to serve Izzy include: cooked lean meats with steamed soft vegetables, baby red potatoes (peeled and mashed) with chopped hard boiled egg, mozzarella string cheese, whole milk yogurts, quartered grapes, halved blueberries/raspberries, diced kiwi, quartered Belgian style waffles (add in blueberries and cinnamon for extra yum), avocado slices, pasta, nut seed butter with whole grain bread, etc. Try to serve meals and snacks at about the same time each day, in general and when weaning, so that your baby understands their new routine.
I hope you found this helpful! Next week I’ll be posting some of my favorite go-to recipes for baby, ages 6m to 12m so be sure to check your email to be the first to know! If you’re not subscribed yet, you ought to be! You’ll be the first to know when a new post publishes, and will only get emails once a week. Type your email in the follow box on the right side of my blog, and you’ll be good to go! ❤