Saturday, August 8, 2009

Squirmy Nursing

My son is now 10 months old and for the last several months he has proven difficult to nurse at times. Some days he just lays like a little lamb with his sweet chubby fist grasping my shirt and his eyes closed, and other times he is so wild I feel like I'm nursing a crocodile (biting included....) I enjoy breastfeeding a lot and am reluctant to wean until he is a year old. For one thing, I'd rather not have to buy formula. For a second reason the AAP recommends nursing for at least a year. And finally - I just like it. (Though I am fully aware that breastfeeding doesn't work for many women, some can't do it, and some don't like it. That is perfectly fine - thank goodness for forumla right? :) You do what works for you and your baby).

So offer me some advice.... I NEED IT!

How often do you breastfeed your older baby (say 9-12 months)? I wonder if I'm feeding him too often and he just isn't hungry with all the solids he is getting; at the same time I want him to get the milk he needs.
How do you get your older baby to hold still while nursing? He pushes off the chair with his little feet, tries to grab anything within reach - including my face - and generally makes a menace of himself.
What do you do if your baby jerks his/her head around while nursing? (OUCH!) This one is super annoying... HELLO sweetheart, that is attached to me.
What do you do if your baby bites you while nursing? (Double OUCH!) This only happened once to me while feeding my daughter, but happens quite often with my son.
How do you keep your older baby latched on? He is always looking around, trying to touch my books, or trying to look at me and smile.
Any other suggestions for nursing older babies?

Thanks for reading and commenting. Our last two posts have generated great responses - so thank you very much for tuning in and leaving your thoughts.


Britta said...

I nursed my daughter until she was just over 11 months. At the end she was chewing constantly and I couldn't handle it. I consulted with my doctor for advice and she told me that my daughter would be fine on cow's milk at 11 months...but wait as long as I could. Talk to your doctor about your specific child. It may help to know that you CAN stop in three weeks if its really that bad and you may even go longer because of it.

Distracted babies aren't hungry (my experience). If your baby is trying to look around, play and is getting distracted more than is eating he probably would do better eating a cracker than you. Try only breast feeding before you give him solids, its more likely he'll be hungry enough to eat instead of being distracted.

If you find your baby is biting even when concentrating on eating then you may need to discipline by pulling away for a moment to get your baby's attention. If your baby is biting because of being distracted then you may need to wait until there is less going on around to distract.

I know every child is different, as well as every mother, so I hope I said something helpful! I loved nursing my daughter and I hope that everyone has a good experience when they attempt to nurse!

Jared and Delia said...

Okay...let us go through each question and I hope I have something to say that will help you or spark an idea that will help you.

How often?

I feed my baby who is almost 11 months about 4-5 times per day. He eats about every 4 hours during the day and then a twice in a couple of hours right before bed. I used to get all worried about timing it just right so that he nursed before eating solids but as he gets older I don't stress AS much about it. Most days he nurses when he wakes up for the day or from a nap and then eats solids right after. Other days are a little off, like today, and he nurses before naptime and just eats solids when we eat our meals/snacks. As they get older I think that they are no longer "starving" enough to nurse at every feeding because they eat solids and they sometimes have more fun things to think about, so I wouldn't necessarily think that he doesn't need to nurse just because he is distracted. I hope you get what I meant. Anyway.

How to get him to hold still?

I let him play with my hair. My oldest did that too and still loves to play with my hair sometimes if we are sitting next to each other watching a movie or something. Sometimes he pulls but overall he does alright and it keeps his hands busy while he nurses so he has more incentive to stay latched.

Head jerking and biting?

Luckily there is not much head jerking going on with my baby but I would probably handle it the same way I handle biting. I let the natural consequence do the work. It hurts so I yelp as loud as I feel like at the time. Sometimes it freaks my baby out and makes him cry but he has only done it a handful of times. It startles him so he lets go and he doesn't like the result so he doesn't repeat it...until he forgets again. :) My oldest would bite and clamp down no matter how much I fussed. I just stuck my finger in the very back of his mouth and popped him off. He LOVED to nurse so this made him really upset. He bit more often then my baby does now, but I would just keep popping him off until he "got it."

So I think I answered the last question in my answers above. I hope that helps.

One other thing is that as my baby got older I had to move my nursing sessions into a quiet room. Fortunately he only nurses a few times during the day when my husband is gone otherwise my four year old would feel really neglected. If he is REALLY distracted I turn the lights down, turn the fan on to block more noise out, reluctantly put my book down, and hold him a little more firmly. This often ends up putting him to sleep but he has taken some really good naps that way.

Good luck!

JeriLynn said...

When Mira bit me, I did what Delia recommended: I screamed very loudly. She only bit me three times, and she had 10 teeth.

Anonymous said...

When my oldest was about 9 months old I started to just nurse her at night time before bed. It gave us some quiet time together & time to just wind down & get ready for bed. She was never a biter so I didn't have that problem.

My middle one started biting at 6 mos. & he had teeth. If I squealed really loud it didn't scare him, he'd just clamp down & pull his head away from my body. So, after he broke skin once, I decided it was time to wean!

Unfortunately, my last one got reflux really bad after we brought him home from the hospital & I had to pump & then give him a bottle & could never get him to latch back on once we had the reflux under control.

To keep their attention, I let them play with my hair or give them a blanket or soft, small stuffed animal to pet. One of my kids liked to pinch the skin on my elbow (random, I know). I found that if I had something I was doing (reading, etc.) that it was too distracting for my baby & I just had to force myself to just sit with the baby & feed him/her & do nothing else. I also found that if I was in a realatively quiet place rather than sitting next to one of my other kids while they played loudly, that would help keep the attention of the one that was nursing.

For older babies - well when my daughter was older I would just sit in the rocking chair, mostly in the dark, & do nothing but be in the moment with her. Since I only nursed at nighttime it worked well. But, if you were nursing in the middle of the day you'd have a hard time finding a dark place! ;)

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

PS - someone told me to try & gently flick the biter's cheek. Yeah, did that & that would just make him laugh & bite down harder!

Me said...

I agree with a lot of what is already said but here's my tips.

When I was nursing my older daughter (we did so until she was 17 months) we would try to only do it in a nice quite darkened room. She usually only liked to nurse just after waking up in the morning and then after her nap. She didn't like to be nursed if I interupted her play time and she didn't like to nurse to sleep. Then I would pump at night to keep the milk in stock.

Sometimes giving them a toy helps as long as they don't throw it. Or a necklace they can play with. If they bite (they are probably full) I would stop and nurse again later. Biting is not a reason to wean.

Sometimes looking at them helps but sometimes just resting your head back and not looking at them helps, as in "get to work little one." Depending on your baby.

Also, nurse before feeding solids. If they nurse on an already full stomach they won't be as focused. Plus, YOU have better nutrients than solids.

Signing is effective too. Teach them the sign for nursing and then they can tell you when they want to, (or if they pull on your shirt that's a good sign too but not as effective) because when you're nursing showing them the actual sign is helpful.

Hope all works our for you! So happy to hear you are asking for suggestions rather than giving up too soon. The longer, the better!

Beth said...

My little one isn't even two months old yet and already he's a wiggle worm! Most of the time he's a good nurser, but if he squirms around to much and has trouble staying latched, I take that as a signal that he's not really that serious about eating and I'll hold up upright and give him a pacifier or finger to suck on. If he's not hungry he'll just fall asleep but if he really needs some food he'll calm down after a couple of minutes and will nurse much better.

Diane said...

Ok, it's been a couple months, but lets see if I remember accurately.

I nursed Hunter until he was 11 1/2 months. Right around this time I was 4 months prego, and I've heard your milk changes flavor at this point of pregnancy, and that your baby might not like the new flavor...I'm guessing Hunter didn't because he weened himself (I did not mind one bit. ;) )

I think I was feeding him about 4 times a day and slowly down to about 2. I think the last month or a little less he really wasn't interested in feeding that much anymore - just in the morning, so I didn't force him.

If he wiggled or kicked, and it wasn't too bad and could still eat I think I just let him. Though I know I would rub/massage his legs/calves and feet if he was too wild. For the most part that helped. He would like to play with my hair some, and if he didn't pull I didn't mind. I think it gave me an opportunity to help teach him to be soft too. If he was TOO wiggly to eat I think I would either let him sit up for a minute and see if he wanted to eat more after a short break, or we would be done.

I think with jerking I would just try to calm him down, or we would be done. If he still wanted to eat he had to learn that there were certain things he couldn't do while eating, and setting limits helped.

When he would bite I would take him off, tap his lips so he would know what he did wrong/where the problem was, and even if he was still hungry I would make him wait an hour until I'd try to feed him again. He went through a phase of biting, but I think he figured it out and after a little bit he stopped. Though right at the end I think I was constantly in fear of him biting me...then I learned to watch for signs. There was always certain things he would do before he would bite, and when he started those things (like goofing off) we were done and I didn't give him a chance to bite. Even now when he's done eating he starts to goof really it's all cues to when he's done - so I don't think there is anything wrong with reading into your child and going with what he's telling you.

With Hunter I just figured if he wasn't eating he either wasn't hungry or didn't want to nurse. I didn't force him and it worked out. I think it's nice to be able to nurse as long as possible, but if your baby is done, then I guess he's done, at least that's what I say from my experience. Good luck! :)