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Thread: When should I decrease nursing sessions?

  1. #1
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    Default When should I decrease nursing sessions?

    My DD is 8 1/2 months old now. For some time, she has nursed or had a bottle every two hours during the day (one three hour stretch in the evening) as that's the routine she got into while I was on maternity leave and we kind of stuck with it. She never really cries that she's hungry unless I forget to feed her (which I have on occasion) but I offer every 2 to 2 1/2 hours on average when I'm with her. She usually nurses 1x or 2x during the night, too. She has some solid food 2x a day, but doesn't seem interested enough in them for me to increase to a 3rd yet.

    I pump 3x a day at work, as she has 3 bottles while I'm gone. I'd like to start decreasing my pumping at work, and am wondering at what point do I try to start stretching out the feedings? That schedule has worked well with her napping and solids routine, but I can't imagine every two hours is supposed to continue indefinitely. Did any of your babies kind of let you know they wanted to nurse less, or did you stretch them out at some point? I want to make sure she gets enough milk, especially since we're not much of a dairy household so I don't plan to give her cows milk much, if ever (occasional yogurt and cheese instead). I also want her to keep up with her napping (she falls asleep nicely for our sitter with her bottles).
    Mom to my sweet little "Pooper," born 10/12/11, and "Baby Brother," born 6/23/2014, and married to heavy metal husband. Working more than full-time, making healthy vegetarian meals for family, and trying to keep up with exercise routine.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: When should I decrease nursing sessions?

    You should nurse on demand through the first year. My son nursed every 2 hours pretty much around the clock (sometimes I would get a 3 hour stretch at night) throughout his infancy. He actually nursed more around 12-13 months because of molars, then started nursing less on his own around 15 months. Every baby is different of course, and it's best to follow your baby's lead on this. I wouldn't actively drop feedings, but it is fine if your baby does so on her own. You should also continue nursing before giving solids throughout the entire first year.
    K. Sophia - Mama to my little lactivore, the amazing Mr. X (11/10).

  3. #3
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    Default Re: When should I decrease nursing sessions?

    Thanks for the advice phi. I didn't realize that things would continue on the same pace for so long. I have read a lot about moms pump weaning around the first year, so I guess I correlated that to a decrease in bottles, at the very least, but thought maybe that meant nursing sessions might decrease, as well. Do people give fewer bottles during the day, then, or change to formula or cow's milk if they pump wean? I'm confused how that would work. I'm happy to still pump (especially since we're not cow's milk people), but was thinking I'd be down to once or twice a day around her first birthday.
    Mom to my sweet little "Pooper," born 10/12/11, and "Baby Brother," born 6/23/2014, and married to heavy metal husband. Working more than full-time, making healthy vegetarian meals for family, and trying to keep up with exercise routine.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: When should I decrease nursing sessions?

    You can stop sending bottles at a year and still nurse on demand at home, but it is best to back off pumping slowly to avoid engorgement, plugged ducts, and potential infection. If your baby still nurses at least 3-4x a day, then she can just have water while you are at work. If not, then you can transition her to cow's milk while you are gone. Not all babies nurse as much as mine did around a year, but those molars are nasty so it's common to see at least some uptick in nursing frequency at that time.

    Some baby's take to solids sooner than others and will naturally space out their feedings while they are infants. As long as it is the baby's choice, then there's no problem with that (granted the bulk of their nutrition still comes from breast milk for the first year, of course). I just wouldn't expect that necessarily. Some babies take longer to get into solids, and it's best to let them do things in their own time. My son didn't eat solids reliably until around 15 months, but he is a great eater now.
    K. Sophia - Mama to my little lactivore, the amazing Mr. X (11/10).

  5. #5
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    Default Re: When should I decrease nursing sessions?

    In my experience, I pumped every 3 hours until around the 9-10 month mark- at that time my LO started spacing his own feedings to about 4 hrs so after about a week or so of that I started spacing out my pump sessions. I waited a little bit though to ensure it wasn't a phase of some sort. My LO loved solids, but didn't really start eating well and often until 11 months or so, and breastmilk was still offered first at all times. I nursed on demand when LO was with me and around 12 months I started pump weaning. My LO was ready - he stopped asking for a bottle when not with me. He still nurses on demand, and my mom(who watches him while I work) offers plenty of water and solids during the day. It took me about 3 weeks (might have been longer?) to actually pump wean.

    My plan for pump weaning was to keep at my pace of every 3 hrs until LO clearly was pushing off feedings, and only pump wean when he clearly didn't want/need bottles any longer. LO started napping for my mom well, too...just took another method of getting him to lay still to sleep lol

    Pumping like that was tough, and I will be honest I am not looking forward to it again with this next baby. But I did enjoy the few minutes to myself each day getting back to work and I know it was so worth it. Keep up the good work, this is still a short amount of time to get through - really your getting close to the end of pumping most likely!
    FT working momma to a 9/11/10 busy boy and 11/13/12 happy little man.
    Also wife to hubs since 8/23/08, bonus momma to H (girl) -99 and G (boy)-03
    Our family blog
    And my own blog

  6. #6
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    Default Re: When should I decrease nursing sessions?

    Thanks, gals! I guess I will just have to wait and see. The time alone pumping is one of those benefits I'll actually miss, and I don't entirely hate pumping (although it's making my posture terrible, since it makes me sit all slouchy). I've read more books in the 5 months I've been back at work than I had in years. But it is making me feel a lot busier than I enjoy having to run upstairs just as I start a project. It's hard to imagine her changing her intake on her own, only because at this point she seems like she'll be the same little baby girl forever, but I know it will all be over before I can blink.
    Mom to my sweet little "Pooper," born 10/12/11, and "Baby Brother," born 6/23/2014, and married to heavy metal husband. Working more than full-time, making healthy vegetarian meals for family, and trying to keep up with exercise routine.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: When should I decrease nursing sessions?

    Exactly. It will be over before you blink. So don't stress now, and just continue to nurse on demand until you've reached that one year benchmark. At that point, you can start thinking about your personal goals- do you want to pump wean? Do you want to continue to pump (plenty of moms do, even after a year!), do you want to work actively towards total weaning, or are you comfortable with letting baby set the pace? Right now it's just a wee bit too early to really contemplate any of that, because everything may change in the next 3.5 months.
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

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