Yes, some say it’s better for babies, but that’s not my argument for extended breastfeeding. The AAP recommends 1 year as the ideal for offering breastmilk, but also recommends a menu plan with tons of solids for 9-12 month olds. The AAP recommendation doesn’t inform my argument, either.
I am practicing extended breastfeeding because I am LAZY.
We knew, before we knew what we would do, that we wouldn’t offer rice cereal as the first food. I saw no reason to go from breastmilk to processed, “enhanced”, packaged foods. Because my lifestyle allowed it, I chose to make foods. And I’m certain that steaming, pureeing and freezing a sweet potato is far more cost-effective than buying rice cereal and tiny jars of sweet potato. Frugal! Healthy! Yay!
We offered the Pie food when she was about 5 months old, not because it was recommended but because it was “time” – for her. She was grabbing at our forks, putting spoons in her mouth, trying to drink out of our cups, altogether obsessed with our food.
I made up some purees, and offered her her first tastes of sweet potatoes, butternut squash, green beans, apples, avocado and quinoa. But it was only tastes, one ice cube at a time.
Here she is, trying desperately to get the entire avocado in her mouth.
Recently we’ve expanded her tastes to home-baked bread, oatmeal, potato, oranges, grapefruit, lemon (baby did not like the lemon!), strawberries, steak, and her new favorite, lamb. At Easter she also got cottage cheese, asparagus, cucumber, celery, ham, pickles, huckleberries – wow, too many new foods in one day/week/month, I know. Thankfully there hasn’t been a reaction. And she had the Best Day Ever. But still, her favorite is a nice juicy chunk of lamb.
What you don’t see in this picture is how she was growling, while gnawing away at the lamb, while the Mountain Man tried to get a chunk that had come loose out of her mouth. Just try to get that chunk of baby meat away from her. I dare you.
She really only gets tastes of food, and I’m still mostly breastfeeding. Days go by without a taste of “solids”. As time and food experimentation has passed though, my reasons for supporting extended breastfeeding have shifted.
It’s prepared, it’s the perfect temperature, the perfect consistency. It’s not going to choke her, it’s not going to make her sick. And best of all, it’s not messy.
I’ve never had to give her a bath to clean the breastmilk off of her, when wipes just wouldn’t do.
And of course she’s wanting food more and more, and I want to let her have tastes, but I find it cumbersome to feed her messy meals multiple times a day. It’s a pain to have to orchestrate extra clothing changes and full-body hose-downs. And the table and floor and chairs… don’t even get me started.
I am defending extended breastfeeding as the clean, efficient, practical option. I don’t have to worry about mixing, warming, or choking. There’s no equipment, no extra cleaning. I don’t have to scrub out the sink every time I finish the dishes because another bath is coming. I don’t even have to bathe her every day! She doesn’t get that messy.
It’s cheap, it’s less work, it’s tidy.
I am defending extended breastfeeding not because it’s “better”, but because it’s just so much easier and cleaner. I am defending extended breastfeeding mostly because I’m lazy.