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Thread: Toddler feeding on demand?

  1. #1

    Default Toddler feeding on demand?

    My daughter (18months) feeds pretty much on demand. Sometimes she'd like to stay on the breast for a long time. I stay at home with her. She is not gaining weight too well and is really thin and we wonder if it is due to the milk feeds affecting her intake of solid foods. Should I put her on better schedule? She eats at night once at least and in the morning when she wakes up and then has almost nothing for breakfast. I have hard time cutting out the morning feed though because she will just cry and cry. Same problem in the afternoon when she wakes up from her nap, she wants milk and then doesn't feel like eating lunch.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    21,269

    Default Re: Toddler feeding on demand?

    Welcome to the forum!

    I know a lot of people claim that breastfeeding can cut into a kid's solid food intake, and that if you take the milk away, the child will eat more "real" food. I personally don't buy it! A far as I can see, taking breastmilk away or reducing the child's access to the breast just takes away the one thing you know for sure your child will eat. How can that possibly help the situation? Especially with an 18 month-old baby. In my experience, 18 months-olds nurse a lot and don't eat a lot of solids- it's just normal for them! Remember, until 12 months a child can be well-nourished on breastmilk (or formula) alone, and after 12 months the transition from needing nothing but mama's milk to a majority solid food diet can be slow.

    There's a really excellent book out there for moms whose kids seem to subsist on air, and that's Carlos Gozalez's book "My Child Won't Eat!" I'd take a look at that before I did anything drastic with regards to nursing.
    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
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    313

    Default Re: Toddler feeding on demand?

    If your daughter is feeding on demand, I would say it's very unlikely that nursing is causing her to be thin. Maybe she's just naturally thin? My 17 month old eats very much like you describe. Sometimes she really wants to eat solids, other times, not at all. Like today, I asked her if she wanted her lunch or "babies" and "night night". (she calls nursing "babies"), She chose to nurse and take a nap. She had a few cheerios in the afternoon and then a modest dinner. Since you've always fed your daughter on demand her ability to eat when she's hungry should be able to tell her when she needs more than your milk.

    Anyway, if you look through many of the posts on here that are similar to yours, I think you'll notice that some kids just love solids, and others are very sporadic. I have one sporadic solids kid, and one kid who will eat anything all the time.
    and Mama to two little girls

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    5,767

    Default Re: Toddler feeding on demand?

    Breastmilk is food. It is really great food, high in calories and healthy fats. If your toddler is requesting and getting enough breastmilk, that may indeed fill her tummy and make her not as hungry for solids. But this would not hurt weight gain. Personally if I was concerned about my child's gain, I would nurse more often, not less. I strongly agree about the book mommal suggests. If you believe there is something unhealthy about your child's weight, maybe some medical tests are in order.

    ot: Why do we say that we nurse on demand, but we never (or rarely say) that we feed our children solid meals "on demand"? Every mom I know with a lick of sense tries to take toddler (and preschooler) snacks with her wherever she goes, or else she risks a tantrum or meltdown because the child becomes hungry. (If a toddler is nursing, packing snacks is of course less necessary.) But we don't say "oh no, he is demanding to be fed again!" we say "oh are you hungry? Luckily mommy brought snacks."

    I know everyone uses it, I use it. But I have decided I dislike the word demand in this context. It makes it sound like the kid is a spoiled stinker who goes around unreasonably demanding to nurse. It might make sense to say "Oh he demanded toys and candy again in the checkout line!" But I fail to see how a child can "demand" to be fed or comforted.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    379

    Default Re: Toddler feeding on demand?

    I'd be interested to see a weight, height, head circumference history with WHO percentile a to gauge your LO's growth pattern.

    Assuming she is healthy, here is some first-hand experience. My son is 2.5 and has only just recently started eating any solids in quantities of more than 1-2 Tbsp of meat per day. Seriously. We've nursed ad libitum since he was born--more than 12x/day up to about 2 months ago and now more like 8x/day+ now, he's always been a slim boy (~20%ile weight, ~90%ile height and head circumference).

    As my son is really verbal, I've had some unique insight into why he makes the choices he does:
    1. My milk is his favourite food-- it "tastes better than ice cream or chocolate"
    2. My milk is warm, which he finds satisfying
    3. He likes to snuggle as he eats, which is harder to do when he eats solids. (My #1 trick--other than respecting my son and letting time to by--is to cuddle, kiss, hug, and make lots of eye contact with him while he eats. When we sit side by side in a booth at restaurants, he will often snuggle against me or rest his head on my breast and ask me to feed him. We take many meals sitting on a couch snuggled up together still, although the messy ones are table fodder.)

    So, some children just really, really, really love nursing. And even those children like my son will eventually start to warm to solids. My son has innately "adult" tastes-- he likes blue cheese, asparagus, spicy curry, salmon, balsamic vinegar, any meat. I think this comes from sampling such a wide variety of healthy tastes in my milk and amniotic fluid for so long.

    Although we do offer treats like ice cream and chocolate sparingly now that he eats a wide variety of healthy foods, my attitude has always been that breast milk is the healthiest food I can offer my son. Any solids I introduced early HAD to offer something extra that my milk couldn't, which is why I focused on iron-rich meats first and then berries and fruits. When he wasn't eating many solids, I wanted every bite to be both pleasurable for him and extremely nutritious. We do a little cow milk now, and I mix about 3oz of skim milk with 1 or 2 oz of 18% cream each day to give him a high fat alternative to my milk in a smoothie (it gets the veggies into his system!) Otherwise, he drinks good old water so be maintains an appetite for my milk and substantial healthy solids.

    The most important thing I did was relax and nurse, and nurse! It's a beautiful thing, nursing.
    Last edited by @llli*alphawoman; May 27th, 2014 at 10:41 PM.

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