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Thread: Can a 6 month old learn to breastfeed?

  1. #1

    Default Can a 6 month old learn to breastfeed?

    I'm a pumping, working mom with dreams of breastfeeding my daughter but so far we haven't been successful.


    Here's our background:
    My daughter was born at 25 wks and 6 days and weighted a little less than one and a half pound. I've been pumping since day one and have a good milk supply. I started to bf when she was about 33-34 weeks (with a nipple shield because she was still so little and the poor thing could barely fit the nipple in her mouth). She didn't take much at first but she had a good latch and the nurses said she would probably transition to breastfeeding without a problem once she came home. However, when she was discharged (after a 3 months stay in the NICU and at a little over 4 pounds) her doctors recommended to only bf 2 times a day. They wanted me to bottle-feed her the rest of the time so I could add preemie formula and vitamins to my milk (to allow her to catch up with her growth).

    Well of course, she quickly learned to prefer the bottle. She is now almost 6 months corrected age and doing really well but as far as breastfeeding goes there is no progress at all. Shield or no shield, nothing. In fact she resists to even be held in a nursing position.

    I've met with a lactation consultant several times. The last time she observed us she said it wasn't impossible but improbable. She also asked why it was so important for me to bf at this point since my daughter was now doing so well. Maybe she's right but I still long to bf especially since I didn't get to carry her full-term and would love to bond with her in that way. But honestly...is it too late? Does anybody know of another baby who learn to BF past 6 months of age?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    21,259

    Default Re: Can a 6 month old learn to breastfeed?

    Welcome to the forum! I think your LC gave you honest advice. Getting a 6 month-old who is resistant to nursing to nurse is not impossible, but it is improbable. Most of the babies who go back to the breast after a long time off are ones who were enthusiastic nursers prior to becoming bottle-fed. My little sis was one; my mom had to wean her at 3 months for medical reasons, but at 6 months she was able to go back to the breast.
    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!"

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    1,709

    Default Re: Can a 6 month old learn to breastfeed?

    If your main motivation is bonding, you could try some of the things they suggest for trying to get babies back to the breast (lots of skin to skin, etc.), and just try not to have expectations about where it is leading. If it doesn't work, you've had some quality physical contact time bonding with your baby, and if you're lucky, it might lead somewhere. But definitely, if it's stressing out your or the baby, time to pull back...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Posts
    212

    Default Re: Can a 6 month old learn to breastfeed?

    No advice on getting baby to the breast, but I just wanted to let you know I completely understand your longing. My son was a 26 weeker and, because of aspiration, he couldn't drink thin liquids. So I pumped for 9 months until my supply gave out and we gave him thickened bottles. I know what it feels like to have that longing to nurse. I hope you and baby are successful...and I love PP'd advice to do all of those sweet bonding things. Even if baby doesn't eventually nurse, you'll have such precious time together! Hugs!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    5,741

    Default Re: Can a 6 month old learn to breastfeed?

    imo it is perfectly normal to want to nurse your daughter. it makes complete sense to me that this is important to you. why wouldn't it be? you have done a truly amazing thing providing your daughter with your milk despite all the roadblocks, she will reap the rewards of that for her entire lifetime. but breastfeeding is more than the milk-your longing to nurse your dear baby at the breast is normal.

    babies have been brought to the breast long after 6 months. yes I personally know of such cases. but it takes alot of determination and patience, luck, and willingness to try different things and there are certainly no guarantees. if you want to take on the challenge, you might want to look into resources for moms who are bringing adopted children to the breast. have you tried an at the breast supplementer? this can be used with or without a nipple shield. I have also seen an adoptive mom use a regular bottle nipple with the supplementer tube threaded through to feed baby 'near' the breast as a transitional technique-my point is, sometimes moms have to get really creative with this...

    further reading-

    https://www.llli.org/nb/nbsepoct93p135.html

    http://www.llli.org/llleaderweb/lv/lvoctnov04p99.html

  6. #6

    Default Re: Can a 6 month old learn to breastfeed?

    Thank you for the advice ladies! And for the reading suggestions

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    504

    Default Re: Can a 6 month old learn to breastfeed?

    Congratulations on your committment to pumping for your daugther. I agree with all the suggestions of the other posters, but wanted to add a few of my thoughts. I have not been in your situation, but these thoughts are based on my experience with my babies who tend to develop bottle/nipple preferance after I return to work.

    1) The "finish at the breast" method may be something you want to look at. It would involve starting the feeding with the bottle to statisfy the immediate hunger, then switching over to the breast to end the feeding. Here is the link that describes it:

    http://www.lowmilksupply.org/finishatthebreast.shtml

    2) You may have some success getting her to the breast when she is sleepy, asleep, and not terribly hungry. So - I don't know what your nights are like, but you are probably going to maximize your chances that she'll latch on to the breast under those conditions.

    3) Here's another thought: if she gives you long stretches of sleep at night, you may have some success getting her to nurse first thing in the morning, when your breasts are more likely to be fuller and she gets milk more quickly. My DD won't nurse during the day when she's awake, but I've had some limited success getting her to nurse right after she wakes up in the morning after a long stretch of sleep (she nurses once overnight) when I'm fuller and she gets a little foremilk right as she starts sucking.

    Best of luck. However it turns out - you've done a great job making her food for her.
    Last edited by @llli*worknpump; December 13th, 2012 at 11:34 AM. Reason: typo
    Blessed with DS - born 9/2/09 - nursed/pumped for 12 months
    Blessed with DD - born 3/27/12 my dreamfeeder

    903 ounces donated.
    http://www.wakemed.org/landing.cfm?id=135

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