119. Distracted Baby vs Self Weaning
Latch on, pull off, latch on, few sucks, pull away to watch the dog. Relatch, get distracted to look outside... Sound familiar? Many families get confused when their baby does this cycle with every feed. "Does it mean my baby is ready to wean?". Listen in to find out what your distracted baby is actually trying to tell you.
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Welcome to the Breezy Babies podcast where we talk about all things boobs, babies and breastfeeding. This is Episode 119 distracted Baby vs. Self weaning I'm breath the IBCLC and I made brisbies with you in mind to help ease your transition into parenthood. Becoming a parent changes your life in every way imaginable. Bumps in the road are going to come up as you move into your new role, but my goal is to help smooth out those bumps and help you become the most confident parent you can be. With good education and support, I know you can meet your breastfeeding and parenting goals. Let's do this together. Hey there friend. Welcome back. I hope you're having a great week. This morning I walked my kids to school like I do every morning, at least at the beginning of the school year. Once winter hits, I just let them walk themselves most days, kind of depending on what I have planned for the day. But the hot streak here in Utah finally broke and this morning it was in the 50s. It was cool. It was still kind of damp outside because it had rained, I assume last night while we were sleeping. And it was perfection. It was such a nice change from just the heat and the sun and the melting. So I hope you're enjoying a little bit of this change in fall weather, especially if you're listening to this episode at the time that it's released. I am excited to talk to you today about distracted baby versus a self weaning baby. And this is very relevant, I know because I get this question all the time. In fact, I recently got a DM from someone who said her baby was either six or seven months, I can't remember exactly, but she said, hey, my baby is just really preferring solids. I'm thinking about weaning and just going to solids only. Do you think that's a good choice? And I said, no, it's not a good choice. And what's funny is I don't usually give absolutes when it comes to my lactation advice. A lot of times I say, oh, you could do this, you could do that. It kind of depends on what you want to do. But one thing I know for sure is that a baby's main source of nutrition in the first year of life is breast milk. So I just had to tell that parent, hey listen, if you do want to ween, that's totally fine. If you truly are done breastfeeding, then that's totally fine. But I just want to let you know that you will need to supplement with formula or donor breast milk. And a lot of times when parents hear that they're like, oh, well, I don't want to do that. Maybe I don't want to buy formula, maybe I don't want to go through the trouble of finding donor breast milk. So just kidding. I'm not going to wean, I'm going to keep breastfeeding or pumping or whatever they're doing. So that is a situation where I'm very clear of laying out what that journey would look like moving forward. And the truth is that we're going to learn today is that it's very uncommon for young babies to actually self wean, but what's really common is for young babies to be distracted, and the two are very different. It's really important that you know the difference, because when you see this happen with your little one, you will have more clarity on exactly what's happening and you'll have a more clear path on how to move forward. Okay, so I do want to give you a heads up that I'm going to take a large amount of the information that I am presenting today from a study that's called Weaning from the Breast. It was originally published in 2004. It's on the NCBI website, which is where I love to find my studies. I will link it in the show notes if you want to go and read through the entire study, but basically I'm going to be pulling a lot from it for today's podcast episode. So basically you'll learn everything you need to, but I'll still put it there just in case. So before we dive too deep in, I want to give a little bit of background just to make sure that we're totally clear. We're starting in the same place here. I want to give you an example, kind of a definition, I guess you could say, of distracted. Okay? Because again, we're talking about distracted maybe versus self leaning. And I want to be really clear about what distracted means and what weaning means. So this was an example that was given on Kelly mom that I really like. So imagine this with me for a second. Baby comes to the rest. Baby latches on, sucks for a moment, holds off. Latch on, sucks for a moment and then pulls off. Nurses for a minute, pulls away to smile at mom. Nurses another minute, pulls away to see who just walked into the room. Nurses for another minute, pulls away to listen to the TV. Nurses a moment longer, but then has to pull away right fast because the doctor just whacked its tail and it was so interesting. Does this sound familiar to you? It probably does if you have a four or five month old, because that is when babies really start to notice the world around them. It could even happen after four to five months, but it really starts around four to five months. That is peak distraction time. Okay, so now that we're clear about what distraction looks like, let's talk about Weaning. I really like this super simple definition, and they say that weaning is to become accustomed to something different. Pretty simple, right? It just means that you used to do one thing and now you do another thing. So in the study, they kind of talk about how weaning from the breast is natural. It's inevitable. It's going to happen one way or the other. Whether it's early on in your baby's life or later on in your child's life, it doesn't matter. But it will happen. Your baby will move on and won't be on the breast forever. And it's also a complex process. It not only involves nutrition, but it involves psychological adjustments, immunological adjustments. All these huge changes are happening. So there are two ways that weaning can happen. It can either be planned, which I like to call mother leading, or it can be natural, which we'll call infant lead or baby lead weaning. Now, you may have noticed that I titled this episode self weaning, which is the same as infant lead. So let's talk about why families wean. The most common reason moms give for weaning, according to the study, is perceived insufficient milk supply. That means that they think their supply is low, whether it truly is or not. They think they perceive it to be, and so they think, okay, this isn't enough. It's not working. I'm done breastfeeding. Another really common reason why women do not breastfeed for longer than three months, huge one is returning to work, which if you're listening to this and you live in the United States, you know what I'm talking about. It's really common for us moms to return to work as early as six weeks, which is crazy. Even three months is pretty soon. And that seems to be like, oh, wow, you got a three month maternity leave. You're so lucky that's so long you talk to someone outside the United States and they're going to be like, oh, three months? Are you crazy? You would need at least a year, which, PS, if you are returning to work, you've got to go back and listen to one of my previous podcast episodes about returning to work. I think I actually have two of them. And PS, I would love to make a personalized pumping plan for you returning to work. You can always grab one of email@example.com. Anyway, let's get back to today's episode that we're actually talking about today about distraction and self weaning. And just so you know, in this episode, I am not talking about baby lead weaning in the term of introducing songs, which by the way, I've never really loved the term baby led weaning. Because I think it makes it sound like when you introduce solids, you stop breastfeeding. And that's just not my fave because we know that you do introduce around six months when your baby is ready. But again, their main source of nutrition is still breast milk until at least one year of age. And guess what? You're still giving just as much breast milk as you were before six months. That overall daily volume stays the same, although your baby may take in larger amounts less frequently as they get older. But anyway, the term baby led weaning in regards to introducing solids has never been my favorite term, but I read this all putting together this podcast episode together, and I did like it. It said the very first introductions of foods other than breast milk is by definition the true beginning of Weaning. And we look at weaning as more of just a transition. I can see how that is the beginning stages, but just remember that baby led weaning does not mean that you stop giving breast milk and you start giving solids. Okay? So hopefully that's super clear. I also thought this was really cool from this study. Let me just share this with you because you might find it as interesting as I did. They talk about how long moms would breastfeed in ancient times, and they found that it was generally longer than we do here in western society. They say that Aristotle stated that breastfeeding should continue for twelve to 18 months or when menses restarted in the nursing mother. Mothers in Zulu societies have traditionally breastfed their infants until twelve to 18 months, at which point a new pregnancy would be anticipated. Ancient Hebrews completed Weaning at about three years. Most children in traditional societies are completely weaned between two and four years old. Okay, maybe that changes your ideas a little bit. Sometimes we think, oh, once you get to one, you have to wean, you don't have to. Maybe you want to. And that's totally great, totally justified, but you also don't have to. Which go back and listen to a podcast episode that my friend Alega recorded about how breast milk is still beneficial past one year, if you want more information on that. So they go on to say that there's been theories that the final weaning period should be when a baby acquires four times his birth weight or when an infant is six times the length of gestation, which an example of this is four and a half years. Again, that might change your perspective a little bit on the right weaning age, or also when the first molar erupts. Okay, so I have to share this with you as well. I told you I was going to take a lot from this study, but I really love this as well, because they talk about how the inappropriate and they do use that word, the inappropriate early introduction of mixed feeding began in the 19th century western society. So we didn't use to give babies solids this early on and move away from breastfeeding. We used to breastfeed a lot longer. So what they found is that as weaning began earlier and earlier in the 19th century, they found that, guess what? Infant mortality increased. Okay? So weaning got sooner and sooner and sooner in the 19th century, and infant mortality went up. US introducing foods a little too early was a huge part of infant mortality going up in the 19th century. So that's actually one reason that all these babies were passing away. Why the development of pediatricians came up as a specialty in medicine. So interesting, right? Hopefully you found that as interesting as I did. I love hearing about the history of how we came to be, where we're at right now. Okay, so now that you have a little bit of background into distraction and self meaning, let's jump into our top three tips. Tip number one is a distracted baby is not self weaning or babyled weaning. Okay? It's not the same thing. I want to be clear with this. A distracted baby is a normal part of development. It's good that your baby is interested in the world around him. It's good that he notices that the dog is walking by or that the TV show is on or a funny toy. We like that. Now, of course, distraction can be annoying with all of that, especially if your baby's on off, I get it. But just know that this is normal. And knowing that knowing that it's normal. Yes, it's annoying, but it's normal. All babies do. It just that alone can really take off some of the pressure. Okay, so what do you do? You might be like, okay, well, that's all fine. That it's normal, but it's annoying. I don't like that my baby's getting distracted so easy. And I hear you. So let me offer something that you can do. Offer the breast frequently. Short, frequent nursing sessions will be your jam. And overall, your baby will get what he needs. Of course. Just watch for good wet and poopy diapers, following the growth curve, growing in length, meeting other developmental milestones like rolling over and setting up and doing all those things that you go over when you check in with your health care provider. And if your baby is doing all those, then you are good. Another tip is maybe you need to go to a less distracting room. Turn off the TV, put your phone away. I know it's tricky. I like to scroll my phone every time I nurse. Are you the same? Sometimes when I find my baby's very distracted though, I have to put my phone away and focus on her and lock eyes with her and help her through that distracted face. Another thing that you can try that's worked really well is try an upright position, almost like your baby is sitting in front of you so that she can still look around the room and not feel so hidden. You can also try to nurse in motion, like in a rocking chair or walking around or bouncing. And also you can try to dim the room. Okay, so some of these are going to be easier to do when you're at home. And some of those are going to be hard to do when you're out and about. So just pick and choose what is most applicable to you at the time. Try them out. See what works best with your distracted little baby. Remember this distraction phase. It does peak at four to five months, but it can still be going strong at 8910 months. Again, this does not mean that your baby is ready to wean. Your baby is not telling you, hey, I don't need your breast milk anymore. No, she still does. But just, again, remember that your baby's main source of nutrition in the first year is breast milk. All it means all your baby is actually trying to tell you is, hey, I'm interested in the world around me. That's it. And again, that is a good thing. Okay, tip number two. A nursing strike is not baby led weaning or self weaning. A sudden refusal to nurse can occur at any time. It's happened to many of my clients, and it may be followed through by complete leaning. If you interpret this as a personal rejection against you, nursing strikes are most often very temporary and maybe the result of many different things that can happen. Like maybe you start your period. Maybe you have a change in your diet. Maybe you're using a different soap or a different deodorant. Maybe your baby is teething or sick. But there are some things that you can do to help get through a nursing strike. These, by the way, are from I believe these are from the Kelly Mom website about nursing strikes. So they recommend to make feeding time special and quiet and minimize distractions. Okay, sounds familiar. The second one they offer is increase the amount of cuddling and soothing of the baby. Number three is offer the breasts when the infant is very sleepy or when just waking up. Number four, do not attempt to starve your baby into submission. Doesn't work well. And number five is offer the breast frequently using different nursing positions, alternating sites. Try nursing in different rooms. So, as you can see, some of these tips kind of overlap with what we do with distraction. But just know that whether it is a nursing strike or it's distraction, again, it is not your baby telling you that they are ready to wean. Okay, tip number three is your baby probably won't self wean until at least 18 months. Yes, I said 18 months. That's just what studies have shown. Now, you can totally wean before 18 months. Sure you can. This is your journey. It can look however you want it to look. In fact, next week I want to talk about when you will know when it's time to wean. We talked a lot about baby today, getting babies through this, interpreting baby's cues and what they're actually telling us. Is it a nursing strike? Is it distraction? Is it self weaning? But I want to talk more next week about talking you through weaning, how you know it's the right time, how to get through it. So come back next Tuesday to hear all about that. Of course, podcast episodes drop every Tuesday. Let me review these top three tips for you today. Number one was a distracted baby is not baby led weaning. Number two was a nursing strike is also not baby led weaning. And number three was your baby probably won't self weane until at least 18 months. Thank you so much for listening and today if you loved this podcast episode I would so appreciate if you leave me a review in Apple podcasts. I would love to hear from you as well. Come say hi to me over at Breezybabies on Instagram firstname.lastname@example.org I hope you have excellent day and of course I'm going to leave you with you are strong, you are smart, you are beautiful. Your good friend to all. Bye.