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Thread: 12 month old refusing expressed milk-please help!

  1. #1
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    Default 12 month old refusing expressed milk-please help!

    My son is still nursing, but his sessions have decreased to a couple of minutes for each session (except in the morning and the last one before bed, which are about 10 minutes each side). He is in daycare during the day, and I am still pumping at work. I am still producing the same amount, if not more, when I pump, so I am guessing he must be getting a lot during the short sessions he has during the day when I am home on the weekends. He has started refusing to drink my expressed milk though while I am at work. He will eat solid foods while he is away from me, but drinks very little, if anything from his bottles. Has anyone else experienced this, and if so what did you do? Did you replace expressed milk with something else for hydration? I don't really want to give him juice because of all the sugar.
    I would still like to be able to nurse him on the weekends, but I hate to have to pump at work, especially if he is not going to drink the expressed milk. If I stop pumping during the day at work, does that mean that I will no longer be able to nurse during those times during the weekend? Is it possible for him to already be self-weaning at 12 months? Any help is appreciated!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: 12 month old refusing expressed milk-please help!

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*nempne View Post
    Is it possible for him to already be self-weaning at 12 months?
    Most likely not, that is really young. It is common however, for young toddlers to reject expressed breast milk. It doesn't mean they are weaning, and it sounds like he still likes to nurse. In fact, everything you said sounds typical and natural!
    A lot of women "pump wean" at one year and happily nurse mornings, evenings and weekends until their child self weans. I will say this, I have heard from some mothers on this forum that the pump weaning right at one year did affect their supply, but it really depends on you. I am still pumping once per day at 18 months but DS still loves his one cup of mommy's milk per day while I'm away. I'll probably pump wean around 20 months. I would say test it out and see if he'll drink at least some, otherwise, could you freeze what you pump while you pump wean and use it to donate or make milk-sicles during summer? Bake with it?
    We and with our little monkey, born 9/30/2012.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: 12 month old refusing expressed milk-please help!

    It's not uncommon for toddlers to start refusing breastmilk from a cup or bottle at this age. I think my own DD was around 13 or 14 months when she wouldn't drink it anymore. There's no reason you need to stop nursing when you're together though. Lots of moms pump wean around a year and continue nursing when you're together. As long as you're nursing 3-5 times/day, that counts as enough 'dairy' and you need not offer other milk unless you want to. You can offer water in a sippy cup though for hydration when you're not together. That's what we did - my LO (almost 20 months) has only had juice a handful of times, but she loves her water!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: 12 month old refusing expressed milk-please help!

    I agree with PPs. Not uncommon for toddlers to start refusing the EBM while still wanting to nurse. I personally pump weaned at a year with all three of my kids and had no problems continuing to nurse (my current LO is two and still nursing happily!). It does differ from mom to mom how much supply decreases with pump weaning, though. Why not start with dropping one pumping session at work and see how it goes? If you feel like there is a big drop in supply, then you might consider maintaining some amount of pumping while at work (though perhaps less than you are currently pumping). If not, you can try dropping another session and see how that goes. In terms of daytime fluids, as carm3 says if you are still nursing 3-5t times you can just do water during the day. If baby doesn't want to drink it from a bottle, you could try a cup (sippy cup, straw cup, or regular cup). If you're worried about dairy intake you can offer animal's milk or cheese or yogurt, if your LO does not have dairy intolerance.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: 12 month old refusing expressed milk-please help!

    Thanks all - I feel a lot better hearing that this is normal. Since my son has cut back on on the length of time he nurses during the day (he is VERY distractable, so he may only nurse a couple of minutes) and then with him refusing the bottles, I started to get worried that he was going to be one of those rare babies that wean early. Plus my husband and the rest of my family were convinced he was weaning since he loves his solid foods. I would like to continue as long as he is willing and, if possible, still nurse during the day on weekends if I pump wean. I am a little nervous about pump weaning since I am prone to plugged ducts though. When I first returned to work, I got a breast abscess when my body tried to adjust to pumping vs. being with my baby all day.
    It is also good to know that 3-5 times is enough nutritionally. During the week, I am still nursing him once before work, when I get home, and before bed during the week (and occasionally if he wakes up at night). This is my first child, so I am still trying to figure out what is 'normal' for a toddler. Now that is is also eating solids, I don't always know how often to bf him (and if there is a lot going on, he won't always 'ask' since he is so easily distracted these days). It seems like there isn't as much information available for what is normal for a nursing toddler, and there is a lot of mis-information (I've gotten comments like "if you are nursing after a year you are doing it for yourself and not the baby", or that "the AAP says you can quit after a year, so...").
    Anyway, thanks for the support and suggestions! I guess I will gradually try to pump wean, and maybe see if I can donate the milk I am pumping in the meantime.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: 12 month old refusing expressed milk-please help!

    I've had a lot of problems with plugged ducts too, so it was really, really important for me to pump wean SLOWLY. As in, over months. And it was kind of a two steps forward, one step back process. Even after I pump weaned, I went on vacation for a week with the kids, my LO nursed a ton, and when I came back I had to go back to pumping again for a while (although only once per day) to deal with the plugs.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that the weaning process is also not linear. Very typical for a 12 month old to be distractible. But a lot of young toddlers also go through a "nursing like a newborn" phase, which for me peaked at around 15 months. So just be prepared that your toddler may start demanding more! In the meantime, it never hurts to offer the breast. Keep in mind that "don't offer don't refuse" is a weaning technique. In my mind, since I'm separated from my LO during the workday, I figure I need to be more pro-active about nursing during the time we are together.

    As for the comments you've gotten - bogus! AAP says to keep nursing for AT LEAST a year and then for as long as mutually desired, not that you should quit at a year. The WHO recommends nursing for two years and beyond. And toddlers definitely love to nurse - as you continue nursing your toddler I think it will be more than obvious what a source of connection and comfort it is for him.

    You are doing a WONDERFUL thing for your toddler, if you're in doubt please come hang out here, or consider going to a La Leche League meeting. Hanging out on these forums has really normalized toddler nursing for me and taught me so much!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: 12 month old refusing expressed milk-please help!

    My lo started refusing my EBM at around 12 months also (she is 13.5 months now) I pump at work still and I am not ready to completely pump wean just yet. I decided to try a straw cup with my milk and she started drinking it again... not quite as much as she had been but she eats lots of solids too. If you are not ready to quit pumping yet you might try switching to a cup. DD was getting 3 bottles still so I just started replacing one at a time with a cup and she did great.
    First time momma to one amazing baby girl 2/28/2013
    Natural non medicated hospital birth

    We also practice EC

  8. #8
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    Default Re: 12 month old refusing expressed milk-please help!

    Thanks! As far as the plugged ducts – I am planning to go slowly, but for a while ANY variation to my schedule would cause a problem. Hopefully it is not an issue at work if I continue to pump for a while. Like I was saying, I don’t always feel like people are very supportive. I don’t even think it is a purposeful thing, just that they think since he is eating solids, bfing is unnecessary. Although my husband’s mother will do things like walk up while I am feeding him and ask if he wants a bite of her dessert (of course he is going to be distracted by sugar!). I don’t really understand how giving him ice cream is better than breastmilk though (but I’ll try not to vent too much)!
    Thanks for the heads up about the "nursing like a newborn" phase. I guess I will just have to be prepared for some back and forth. It seems like the “distractable” phase has been going on for a while. When does that end? I don’t mind so much at home, but it difficult if I am out somewhere and he keeps popping on and off!
    I do think that the straw cup is a good idea, but right now he tends to spill a lot or just chew on the straw! Let me know if you have any suggestions for how to transition him to a cup!

  9. #9
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    Default Re: 12 month old refusing expressed milk-please help!

    My LO didn't get good with the cup until 13-14 months, I think you just need to let him keep practicing - it will come! Gosh, offering dessert while nursing would REALLY irritate me! Maybe you need to let people (at least a few selected people - husband, MIL) know that actually it IS normal for a toddler to nurse - the "natural" weaning age can be anywhere between 2 and 7 years old, and most one-year-olds are nowhere near where they need to be in terms of solids intake to do without nursing. To some extent you don't want it to be a subject for debate - it's your decision - but if people are doing things that are actively undermining your ability to nurse, it may be worth a comment. My mom was commenting that my LO doesn't drink much milk, meaning cow's milk, and I pointed out that she actually drinks plenty of milk. It's like she wasn't even thinking of breastmilk as something with actual nutritional value. I think a lot of people in our society are pretty comfortable with the idea of a toddler drinking cow's milk, so perhaps pointing out that the breastmilk is substituting for that can help point out its purpose. Although I think toddler nursing is often even more about comfort and connection, but that's a concept that I think some people have trouble with, so you might have better luck stressing the nutritional value.
    Baby being distractible - I don't think that necessarily ends, in that toddlers are curious little people. But I have noticed that my LO in general is more focused on nursing than she was at the 1 year point, which I think is a peak distractible time.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: 12 month old refusing expressed milk-please help!

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*bfwmomof3 View Post
    My mom was commenting that my LO doesn't drink much milk, meaning cow's milk, and I pointed out that she actually drinks plenty of milk. It's like she wasn't even thinking of breastmilk as something with actual nutritional value. I think a lot of people in our society are pretty comfortable with the idea of a toddler drinking cow's milk, so perhaps pointing out that the breastmilk is substituting for that can help point out its purpose. Although I think toddler nursing is often even more about comfort and connection, but that's a concept that I think some people have trouble with, so you might have better luck stressing the nutritional value.
    I actually have never given my LO cow's milk to drink (just in things like yogurt). I find it odd that people think it is totally normal to give a toddler milk that's for baby cow's, but not milk that is actually for baby humans! I guess I figure if I still have milk, I would rather he drink that. That's why I'm a little sad that he won't drink the expressed milk anymore. It kind of defeats the purpose of me pumping, but I am afraid cutting back is going to cause my supply to drop (I would like to still feed him on the weekends).
    My Mom is the same way... I don't know if it is a generational thing - formula was what was pushed when we were young I guess. I was a formula baby the entire time. I have bad allergies now, and I'm hoping that nursing my LO will prevent him having the same problem.
    Thanks ladies for the support! I am glad to get support here even if I am not always getting it from family!

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