|by Pablo Picasso|
I have successfully breastfed my kids past a year (Jacob, my 15 month old, is at this time still nursing) and have done a routine since day one. My kids have thrived. And I have thrived. I know some people are fine with feeding baby every second of every night and day for months (or years) on end, but I am not. I start to go a bit nuts. I know I am not the only one.
Now, I am only one person and I only have two kids, but I am not alone. I have talked to hundreds of parents who have had similar success. It is very possible and it isn't that hard to do!
There are a couple things to keep in mind while doing this.
- Keep in mind that you should feed baby whenever baby is hungry. Hunger is ALWAYS more important than the clock or whatever method you are going by (see PDF for helpful info).
- If baby is feeding more frequent than is expected, evaluate the situation. You may or may not need to adjust things.
- Always monitor baby's output and general growth and wellbeing.
- Be flexible when needed.
I want to point out that I am well aware that there are experts and organizations (i.e. LLL) out there that are very against routine feedings. Some state it will cause low milk production, poor weight gain and early weaning. I couldn't disagree more, and I am not alone (see The Baby Whisperer, Babywise, Gina Ford, The Baby Sleep Solution, Combating Myths etc).
First off, poor weight gain can happen with any parenting or feeding philosophy. From what evidence I have seen, it will not happen more often if you do a routine (assuming you are monitoring your baby's growth and output and feeding when hungry). In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if it happened less on a routine. Yes, even one that encourages daily feeds every 2.5-4 hours and has your child eventually sleeping 12 hours at night (depending on age and other variables, of course). Critics say baby will starve. But I am not seeing any starving, or even hungry, babies.
Next, low milk production can also occur with any feeding philosophy. There are some people out there who will struggle with supply no matter what they do. Is it more likely to occur if you don't feed frequently enough and get enough stimulation to the breasts? Yes. But you are going to ensure that is not happening (i.e. you feed a newborn around every 2.5-3 hours and adjust for age and health, don't go too long without a feed at night with young babies, adjust your routine as necessary to accommodate growth spurts etc.). Do I think you need to feed as frequently as critics say you do? No. Why? Because I know so many moms who do just fine feeding less frequently day and night. Like I already said, there is the occasional mom who doesn't, and she just has to adjust for that.
I can't even comprehend why people would think a routine would cause early weaning. The moms I see weaning early are usually the ones who are overwhelmed by feeding and holding their --often overtired-- baby 24 hours a day for months on end (and being told they must do this if they want to breastfeed or be a good mother), not the ones who are getting long periods of sleep at night and plenty of rest during the day.
Why have a schedule/routine?
Parent-Directed Feeding (PDF)