It’s common for a toddler, or an even older child, to ask to breastfeed after a new sibling is born. Toddlers who were weaned immediately before or during pregnancy may be especially curious. Many just want to know if you’ll say yes – or they may just want your attention or “babied” themselves. Continuing to breastfeed, or letting them try to breastfeed again after weaning, can ease the transition of gaining a sibling. They are less likely to be jealous of the baby who is always with mommy if they can nurse alongside them. Nursing your older child once the new baby arrives can reduce engorgement when colostrum transitions to mature milk and can protect milk production if your newborn is not feeding effectively. If you say yes to a weaned child, many will just touch, lick or kiss the nipple, some will have forgotten the mechanics of how to breastfeed and won’t have further interest. Others can successfully breastfeed again. If you are happy to nurse your toddler, go for it. If it is overwhelming, it is still your body and you get to decide when and for how long toddler is allowed to breastfeed. You may prefer nursing your baby and your toddler separately or together. Breastfeeding is normal and it is normal for children to be curious and want to breastfeed at 2, 3, or even 4 years old.
When you give birth your body will continue to produce colostrum, with milk becoming plentiful after around 3-5 days. As with your first baby, breastfeed at least 8-12 times per day to establish your milk supply. Some will feed their newborn baby first or encourage the older sibling to nurse less until breastfeeding has been well established to ensure the newborn has full access to breast milk. Look out for feeding cues and give your newborn unrestricted breast access to help ensure they get plenty of milk.
Some times if your toddler is breastfeeding frequently, they may lose interest in solid foods for a while from increased milk intake. They may have looser stools. This is normal and should regulate with time.
It can take a while before your body adapts to the needs of two different feeders. You may feel lopsided if one breast drains more than the other. Eventually things will even out and you’ll find your rhythm. Alternating breasts for each feed helps with development of newborn vision and keeps the size of your breasts balanced. However, some mums find that giving a toddler his ‘own side’ works for them.
You will not run out of milk, your body will make more to accommodate however many nurslings there are.
“My hospital nurse told me to feed baby every 2 hours with 15mL and my pediatrician told me to feed baby every 3 hours with 30mL.”
“My IBCLC told me there is a tongue tie but the ENT said there wasn’t one.”
“One consultant told me to use a nipple shield as lo as needed. The other said get off as quick as possible”
“They said don’t let baby feed more than 10 minutes per side, but my baby won’t stay latched that long.”
I hear this all the time in my practice and it can be confusing for families. Why did I get different advice from different people? Perspective. Doulas, midwives, pediatricians, even lactation consultants all come from their own training, education, clinical practice and personal experience. When in doubt, the best person to get lactation advice from is an IBCLC. They have had to go through extensive training and mentoring to become certified in the study of human lactation. But remember: even lactation consultants come from different perspectives.
A hospital based IBCLC typically only works with babies in the first 2-4 days after birth and may see dozens of babies in a week, getting only a short amount of time with each family. A private practice IBCLC may have more time to spend with you but experience and expertise may vary. An IBCLC who is also a nurse will approach breastfeeding differently than one who is also a feeding therapist or who started out as a mother who struggled to breastfeed and became passionate to help others going through what she went through. My best advice is find some one who listens to you, educates on why they want you to do something, and supports you in your journey. Because you have a unique perspective, too.
Caffeine is safe to take while breastfeeding in moderation (up to 300mg per day). Only about 1.5% actually enters breast milk. Caffeine enters your bloodstream about 15 minutes. It peaks in your blood within 60 minutes and has a half-life of 3-5 hours. The half-life is the time it takes for your body to eliminate half of the drug. The remaining caffeine can stay in your body for a long time. The half-life of caffeine is about 97.5 hours in a newborn, 14 hours in a 3-5 month old baby and 3-5 hours in a baby older than 6 months. Because caffeine takes much longer to clear out of a young baby’s system it is possible that high caffeine intake can make a baby irritable. If baby is sensitive to the caffeine now, they may not be when they’re older. Cut caffeine now and try again in a few months.
So if you drink a cup of coffee with 100mg of caffeine at 7am, you’ll have 50mg of caffeine in your bloodstream at 10am. Your baby would get 1.5mg of caffeine.
Every baby is different in how they react to caffeine. If you drank coffee while pregnant, your baby had an IV of caffeine (called the umbilical cord) and is already used to having it in their blood stream. If you didn’t drink coffee or switched to decaf, your baby may have a more noticeable reaction when you drink coffee. When drinking coffee after birth, go low and slow. There’s nothing you can do to decrease caffeine in your system except time. Start with a very small cup first thing in the morning and see how your baby reacts. Drinking your morning cup of coffee while your breastfeeding gives you the most time for the caffeine to peak and start decreasing before your next feeding.
Paced bottle feeding (meaning you’re setting the pace for how fast/slow baby drinks) helps prevent over feeding baby: it takes 20 minutes for the stomach to tell the brain that it’s full. If a baby takes a bottle too quickly, the mouth can still be “hungry” and wanting to suck when the stomach is actually full. Like going to an all you can eat buffet and eating a lot of food quickly and then realizing half hour later you ate way too much. A baby that happily sucks down too much milk from a bottle can make you think you don’t have enough breast milk even if you make a normal amount. It can also make baby frustrated by the flow of milk from the breast and inadvertently sabotage breastfeeding
These pictures are the same baby in two different positions for paced feeding: semi upright and side lying. Side lying is my favorite position to use as it puts baby in the same position as breastfeeding. Many parents feel baby is more supported in this position. Baby is supported by your leg or breastfeeding pillow.
🍼Never feed baby on their back
🍼Keep the bottle parallel with the floor with about half the nipple filled with milk
🍼Use the slowest flow nipple baby will tolerate
🍼Rub the nipple gently on baby’s lips, allow baby to latch at their own pace, don’t force it into their mouth
🍼It should take 15-20 minutes to finish the bottle
🍼Watch the baby and not the bottle, stop when they show signs of being full
🍼Resist the urge to finish the bottle, even if there is only a little left, when baby is showing signs their tummy is full
🍼Take short breaks to burp and give the tummy time to fill naturally
🍼If baby is gulping or chugging, slow down
🍼If baby has taken a good volume of milk (2-4oz) in a short amount of time and is still acting hungry, offer a pacifier for a few minutes to help them digest and give the tummy to to tell the brain it’s full. If they’re still hungry, slowly offer more in 1/2oz increments
How many ounces should I leave if I’m exclusively breastfeeding but need to leave my baby a bottle?
The answer is: that depends. Some babies are grazers. They like smaller, more frequent feedings to keep their tummy from being too full or uncomfortable. Their feedings can range from 1-3 ounces and they may feed 10 or more times a day. Other babies are bingers. They like a big, full tummy and may take 3-5 or even occasionally 6 ounces but not as often. They may feed only 6-8 times a day and have longer sleep stretches. Their tummy doesn’t mind being stretched fuller and their bodies tell them it’s ok to go longer between feedings.
The question is: how many feedings do they get in 24 hours? From one month to one year, babies take between 19-32 ounces of breast milk a day. The average is 25 ounces in 24 hours. There’s a range because babies eat more or less depending on the activities of the day, growth spurts, teething, and even babies emotionally eat sometimes. In general, take 25 and divide it by the number of feedings they average in any given day. Also take into account that growth slows between 6-12 months and baby should be eating table foods, so you don’t need to increase the ounces in the bottle during that time. If your baby took 4 Oz bottles at 4 months, 4 Oz bottles are still appropriate at 9 months because they’re also begging for the food right off your plate in addition to what you’re putting on their tray.
CLUSTER FEEDING. Two words when paired together that drive fear and trembling to parents. Cluster feeding is NORMAL for ALL breastfed babies. It has nothing to do with your supply. It has nothing to do with the clock. It has nothing to do with what you’re eating or drinking or those supplements you just took. It may not even have anything to even do with being hungry. Babies typically cluster feed in the afternoon/evening. When your milk supply naturally and appropriately dips. When your milk is a smaller water concentration with a higher fat content. As long as baby is happy to feed the rest of the day, is making plenty of wet and dirty diapers, is content and sleeping routinely between feedings, and gaining weight over time, DON’T BLAME THE BOOB!! Even if baby seems like they want to feed constantly. Cluster feeding is normal. It typically happens MORE when baby is going through a growth spurt (body growing), developmental leap (mind/skills growing), or teething/illness. Why does baby want the breast more?
• Preparing for a longer sleep: Some babies just prefer to fill up on milk for a few hours before a longer sleep.
• Milk flow is slower at night: Some babies nurse longer to fill up due to the slower flow.
• A growth spurt: they usually occur around 3, 6, and 8weeks of age.
• They need of comfort. Breast milk has hormones to develop baby’s circadian rhythm. At nighttime baby may just seek comfort to help them sleep.
• Developmental leap: Mental and emotional growth spurts when they acquire new skills.
• Baby is sick, thirsty, or teething: breast feeding is a pain reliever, medicine and hydration all in one
Know that it’s normal. Be patient through the process. Be prepared with snacks and water for yourself, a comfy spot, a good pillow for support and the remote and your phone charger close by to get you through. You’re not alone and it doesn’t last forever!!
Too often we look around to see what everyone else is doing and it makes us feel incomplete, incompetent, like we’re doing something wrong or not doing enough. We see the success of others in parenting, sleep training, their milk supply, pumping, whatever, and it makes us feel like we’ve failed. Comparison is the number one way to have your joy and peace stolen. Stop looking at Becky over there with her oversupply and thinking your normal supply is inadequate for your content and growing baby. Stop looking at Gina over there whose baby has slept through the night since two months and thinking there’s something wrong with your happy child. Stop comparing your tiny but mighty that looks like the rest of your flock to my giant giraffe babies that look like the rest of my herd. You’re not getting a grade. Breastfeeding is not a pass/fail activity. Trust your baby. Trust your body. You’ve got this.
Welcome to LA Lactation. Congratulations on the newest arrival to your family!
LA Lactation’s blog is meant to provide you with quick and simple strategies to ensure successful (fun and hopefully enjoyable) breastfeeding.
People unwittingly tell new moms that breastfeeding should come naturally and easily, but honestly, breastfeeding can be tricky! Babies come into the world ready to learn, but feeding still takes practice!!!
The posts on this blog are packed with helpful information designed to walk you through the breastfeeding experience so that when baby comes, you will feel confidence in your own abilities and skills to feed your baby.
Of course, putting your baby to your breast immediately after birth is the first step toward breastfeeding. But what next? What if your baby won’t latch? What if his hands are constantly in the way? What if your milk is slow to come in? There are many questions new mothers have and you can find all your answers in the content of this blog.
The first feeding:
Baby’s first feeding should happen within the first 60 minutes of birth. Skin to skin contact is essential for starting the bond between mother and baby and is a catalyst to the first feeding. It stimulates hormones in the mother’s body to begin the production of colostrum, the first milk often called “liquid gold”. Colostrum is packed with immune boosting antibodies, all the essential vitamins and minerals your baby needs, and perfectly balanced nutrition for growth and development. When infants are placed on their mothers chests at birth, their feeding instincts kick in. They will begin to army crawl to the breast and root around for mama’s nipple. You can facilitate this by laying your baby on your belly when he is born and watching the magic happen. After the first latch, you can position baby for feeding. While there are several breastfeeding positions for your infant, which will be in another blog post, you’ll want to keep skin-to-skin contact while feeding.
It’s not immediately obvious, but a proper latch means baby has not only the nipple in her mouth, but a good bit of breast tissue from the areola as well. The areola is the colored area around the nipple. If the baby has a shallow latch just on the nipple, their tongue movement will cause chaffing which will lead to unnecessary cracking, bleeding, and pain. A deep, wide latch and will help prevent nipple soreness and discomfort, as well as allowing for a good flow of breastmilk.
If you need to break suction to reposition baby for a proper latch, be careful not to pull baby off your nipple, which will cause painful shearing over time. Instead, insert a finger between the gums to gently pop the suction, or use a finger to raise baby’s top lip toward her nose.
You should not feel pain in the nipple or breast when feeding. Women experience different sensations when nursing, like tugging or pulling. If there is any pain, your baby is most likely not latched correctly. Try breaking the seal and repositioning.
If you notice drying or cracking starting on the nipple, take immediate action. Nipple creams can help, but so can breast milk. Breast milk has been known to heal sore or cracked nipples faster than over the counter creams! Using a reusable/washable nursing pad made from natural bamboo fibers can help keep the nipple dry, which will also help with healing. If you use disposable nursing pads, make sure to change them frequently.