A lot of new moms, and especially first time moms, have numerous questions about breastfeeding. After all, this is your baby’s source of nutrition! What is the right time to stop breastfeeding? How will things change as your baby grows older?
Ideally, it’s all a matter of perspective. Although, many doctors recommend that a baby should be breastfed till 6 months of age, it differs for each mom. Theoretically, there is no right time to stop breastfeeding. It depends on your comfort, your baby’s comfort, your situation at home and your lactation capacity too.
Breast Feeding Changes as Your Baby Gets Older
Let’s look at various stages and changes:
1. Birth to Three Months
When your baby is a new born (that is between birth to three months of age) you may always feel that your breasts are full. Even between the feeds you may constantly have this feeling that your breasts are full. This is because your body is producing more milk than required. Over a period of time your body adjusts to your baby’s appetite. Prolactin, the milk making hormone, adjusts its cycle with your baby’s needs and wants
There is no such thing that if you give milk to your baby on demand your baby will be spoilt. By giving your baby attention and milk whenever he is demanding you are nurturing a child who is emotionally secure and less demanding in future!
2. Three to Six Months
By the time your baby is six months old, your prolactin levels will drop back to where they were before you became pregnant. At this stage your body will start producing milk depending on the demand from your baby. By now you will also start feeling less full. By the fourth month, your baby starts experiencing teething and this may lead to sucking his fingers or chewing on objects. Moms can misread this as a sign of hunger, however be observant and you will start seeing the difference between the two. You may also find your nipples are sore during this period of teething as the amount of saliva produced by the baby is high.
3. Seven to Twelve Months
By this time your baby’s feeding time may become erratic. As your baby is learning to sit, crawl, stand, etc., he is so excited about exploring the world that he forgets his feeding timing and pattern. Moms will need to set a pattern and insist on following a routine at this stage. This routine will ensure your baby gets food and nutrients at the right time. Your baby may show lack of interest, however with patience and encouragement you will be able to move through this phase.
Solids also gradually take over as your baby reaches the age of 6 months and you may choose to reduce the amount of breastfeeding. Remember though, there is no rule about extended breast feeding. Till the time you feel your baby needs it and you both are enjoying it, you may continue feeding your little one!