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Thread: Finding a balance

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    38

    Question Finding a balance

    Hi Ladies!
    There is something, where I don't know what to think of it...
    A friend of mine has a child who's the same age as my DS, 2 years old.
    Both me & my friend BF our children.
    Now it has been real hot here lately and my son asks for water as well as for the boob. He drinks 3 - 4 times a day at the breast, once at night. It is impossible for me to say how much he takes at the breast, of course.
    My friend is in the same situation. She's worried that her toddler might wean prematurely and was advised not to give any supplementary fluids.

    To me, this is not right. It's like forcing the breast upon the child. And we are talking here about a toddler, who can verbally express what he wants. Not a baby who's relying on BM for optimal health.

    I feel it is comparable to forbidding a baby to sit up, crawl, walk... , to grow in other words.
    I would not want my boy to quit the breast soon, but I rather let him go than forcing him. So what I do is keeping an eye on his fluid intake and offer the breast often. Sometimes he will BF, other times he'll walk away or ask his cup. His urine is light yellow to very pale yellowish, almost watery. So he is getting enough.

    Is the restriction of fluids really a respectable, loving way to keep toddler nursing?
    Are there other ways to pave the road for an enduring nursing relationship?

    How can one find a healthy, BF-friendly balance between external fluid intake and BM?


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    157

    Default Re: Finding a balance

    Hmmm, I wonder who advised her on this. It sounds like an unusual thing for a family doctor or pediatrician to say.

    The AAP recommends: Exclusive breastfeeding for approximately the first six months and support for breastfeeding for the first year and beyond as long as mutually desired by mother and child.

    Exlusive breastfeeding means nothing but breastfeeding. At around 6 months, when baby shows signs of readiness, solids may be introduced in small amounts and gradually. A goal for the first year is to give baby tastes as he/she shows interest. This may include sips of water or diluted juices after baby has nursed to comfort. Perhaps a pamphlet on Starting Solids from LLL would be helpful for your friend? Your local LLL group Leader will have one to offer at no cost.

    I am assuming your friend is concerned that her supply will decrease if her child is given anything other than breastmilk?

    Of course, replacing a feeding with any substance other than milk at a mother's breast can reduce her supply unless she is pumping instead. For children under the age of one who have begun solid foods, nursing first before offering solids or any liquids will ensure the baby is receiving the nutrition he/she needs, as breastmilk is so calorie dense.

    As for water and fluids, if a mom is offering her child foods, offering water or diluted fruit juice wouldn't diminish her supply as long as the child is nursed first and given sips of fluids occasionally. Some toddlers who nurse drink very little else than their mother's milk and do just fine. Another way to increase a child's intake of fluids to stay adequately hydrated is to offer foods that are naturally juicy, like peaches, grapes, melon and oranges.

    Hope something here helps!

    Eve Erickson

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    1,048

    Default Re: Finding a balance

    I wish my nursing two year old would drink more water. Water is the best choice of liquid and kids this age are developing tastes that can last a lifetime. I want her to like water as much as I want her to like fresh produce and whole wheat. As far as supply is concerned, I've had enough milk for two years and have learned to trust that I will always have as much as she needs-- especially now that her need for milk is decreasing. I went away for a whole weekend without a pump and my supply went down a little. After emptying my breast, dd just said, "Make more milk, Mommy." So I did. Again, I wish she'd drink more water, especially on hot days when we both get slimey during breastfeeding.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    1,064

    Default Re: Finding a balance

    This advice sounds strange to me. I guess if you are purposely TRYING to get your child to drink something else in place of breastmilk, that could lead to weaning before the child might otherwise do so on their own. But if a child chooses to drink some water (or cow's milk or whatever) in addition to nursing I wouldn't see why that would be a concern with a 2 year old. I am a strong advocate of extended breastfeeding, but if a 2 year old weaned, I wouldn't consider that "premature". If a child of that age chooses not to nurse, I think that is just child led weaning. Also, by that age, nursing is about so much more than nourishment. I actually do try to get my 2 year old to drink more from a cup, and that has very little effect on his desire to nurse.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Posts
    107

    Default Re: Finding a balance

    At 2 years old, I would respect the child's wants if they are okay with you. (ie if they are asking for soda, then that might not be what you want them to drink and it's fine to say no). My 40 month old is still nursing and has been drinking water since he was younger than 2. In fact on really hot days, I sill offer him sips of water to make sure he's hydrated. I don't force him, but he does need encouragment to stay hydrated sometimes. I think in general as long as they are not eating or drinking junk, then it's okay to respect what they are asking for.

    -Lauren

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Posts
    58

    Default Re: Finding a balance

    I think you hit the nail on the head - something is wrong with this picture! The question your friend ought ask herself is whose needs she trying to meet: her child's physical ones or her own emotional ones?
    I think it is clear that there is no chance of physical harm in offering a 2-year-old some water (unless you live in a third world country where there is lack of access to potable water) and the risk of "drying up" as a result of offering some water is also pretty much nil. Which leads to the less comfortable direction of exploration ...

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