Think your baby is ready to wean early? You don’t have to give up without a fight!

My doctor had a baby boy just a few months before I did. So when I visited her for my final checkup, we compared notes.

My little 3-month-old had recently decided he liked bottles better than the breast. So had hers, months earlier.

I was pumping milk for him round the clock. She told me she had at first, too. Then her milk supply quickly plummeted until she could only pump one ounce at a sitting, so she turned to infant formula. “Hey,” she reassured me, “at least he sleeps through the night on formula.”

I was devastated. If there’s one thing I wanted to do for my children as a mother, it was breast feed them.

Why is breastfeeding so important to me?

Breastfeeding makes for healthier children.

Breast milk protects the baby with an array of anitobdies, enzymes and even whole immune cells. Breastfed babies enjoy a dose of immunity to most of the infections the mother has ever been exposed to. Breastfed babies have fewer ear, respiratory and urinary tract infections and especially gastrointestinal problems. And I wanted desperately to give this healthy gift to my children.

Breastfeeding impacts a child’s IQ significantly.

Studies have shown over and over that breast milk can improve a child’s intellectual prospects down the road. The touch and closeness of breastfeeding also provides emotional and developmental benefits for a child. (Certainly not to say that a formula-fed baby can’t turn out to be very smart! It’s just that breastfeeding imparts a natural advantage here.)

Breastfeeding is less hassle than bottles.

Bottles proved to be such a hassle to prepare, store and clean. In this instance, following Mother Nature seems to be easier.

Oh, and I have to confess, I have another, more selfish reason why I’m desperate to breastfeed. It helps you lose weight. And with this second baby, I need all the help I can get with the scale!

With the prospect of losing this important part of my son’s infant years, I tried everything I could to entice him back to the breast. Here’s what worked!

What worked to bring him back to the breast

I tried kangaroo care with him. Amazingly, he was drawn to breastfeed immediately after. Then other times I let him suck on a pacifier around meal time to help him relax – and then switched it out for the breast. He latched on and drank. Then I just stopped giving him the option of a bottle.

It hasn’t been smooth. In fact, we did a bottle last weekend so I could go out for a couple hours. If only I had known it would mean three steps backward. Now he’s fussing at the breast nearly every time, though he’s eating if I lie down with him to nurse.

I know there are plenty of women who just can’t breastfeed. I felt close to understanding that heartbreak this time. And I understood, as my doctor did, that you just have to get on with it, if that’s the case.

But if you have the choice, and your young baby looks like he may be giving up the breast too soon, I would encourage you not to give up on him without trying a few things first.

A resource for helping get your baby back to the breast

The lactation consultant at the hospital turned me on to this resource for breastfeeding:

The articles that helped me:

Help – my baby won’t nurse!

My baby fusses or cries during nursing – what’s the problem?

Do babies under 12 months self wean?

Good luck for a long and happy breastfeeding relationship with your child!

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