When you breastfeed instead of bottle feed, you are meeting your baby’s needs in more ways than just infant nutrition. I am absolutely certain that human milk is meant for human babies. (Aren’t you?) Formula is a blessing for mothers unable to feed their babies but it should not be used out of laziness. I am personally able to distinguish the reasons why my baby needs to be breastfed at each and every feeding. It is a miraculous gift to be able to comfort and care for my baby in these ways.
1. Nutrition, hunger & thirst
Breast milk is also an important source of energy and nutrients in children aged 6 to 23 months. It can provide half or more of a child’s energy needs between the ages of 6 and 12 months, and one third of energy needs between 12 and 24 months. Breast milk is also a critical source of energy and nutrients during illness, and reduces mortality among children who are malnourished. (Source: World Health Organization)
At 13 months of age, I can tell when my baby prefers milk over solid meals and snacks. He currently receives three meals per day with fruit for snacking in between. In addition, he wants to be breastfed for an addition snack in the late afternoons.
I absolutely LOVE breastfeeding my baby in the patient room after every doctor visit. Whether he is just seeing his doctor for a routine check up, to get vaccines or blood work, or if he has a bad cold, I nurse him. I think it helps promote an overall good and safe experience at the doctor’s office. If my baby is scared for any reason, I can nurse him for reassurance and to let him know he is safe.
3. To fall asleep
My baby goes to sleep effortlessly before every nap and at bedtime with a little warm milk in his belly. This seriously works a good 90-95% of the time! The only reason it doesn’t work 100% of the time is because it can get extremely painful going through growth spurts and teething phases.
4. Comfort for physical pain
Babies inevitably fall and get hurt due to underdeveloped balancing skills and their general desire to explore everywhere. Breastfeeding provides the absolute soothing and comfort babies need once those pain-filled tears start to flow. A simple 5 minute real nursing session is all your baby needs to get back on his feet again.
I love being able to nurse my baby while he is sick with a bad cold, fever or while teething. It’s a magical cure for soothing the unfamiliar aches and pains that come with these experiences.
5. Comfort for emotional pain
Babies are extremely emotional little beings! If I am busy doing household chores or spending too much time away from my baby, he will seek comfort through breastfeeding. I also default to breastfeeding when my baby continuously gets emotionally hurt by his big sister. He likes to interrupt important tower building and puzzle sessions, which result in him being yelled at or pushed down. If it gets too bad, I breastfeed him for comfort.
However, when my baby is the one getting into trouble, I avoid breastfeeding him. I don’t think he deserves to be comforted after hammering the TV or pulling out all of the important documents in our file cabinet…! I still have to reorganize those papers! Naughty baby.
6. Mama’s warmth
We heat our home with a wood furnace and that leads to unsteady temperatures. Some mornings are really cold and my baby just wants to snuggle in my arms for a little bit. It’s the sweetest thing ever and he gets warmed up in an instant! If he is still being breastfed next winter (age 22-24 months), I can feed him after we come indoors from playing in the snow or sledding.
I am pretty sure my baby is an extrovert like his daddy. He cannot entertain himself for very long at all. It’s very frustrating because that means he demands extra stimulation unlike my daughter who can entertain herself for hours at time! She gets completely engrossed in her books, puzzles, movies and dolls. It’s a great ability to be able to keep yourself company and enjoy it. My baby needs to work on this skill. Sometimes he just needs to be breastfed out of pure boredom!
Do you think I spoil my baby? When do you nurse your little one?