Recently my 14 month old got some sort of stomach bug which resulted in me washing more loads of sheets in one day than I ever thought possible (9 for the record). Vomit and poop city. He’s normally a pretty good eater of solid foods and breastmilk, but when he was actively sick (i.e. making the sheets dirty) he would not tolerate solid food or water. A toddler that is not eating or drinking is not a situation I would wish to find myself in. Fortunately, we were able to breastfeed through his illness.
It’s pretty common in our country for people to wean their babies from breastmilk at around 12 months, but my thought for my family is, ‘why fix what isn’t broken?’ Having a breastfeeding relationship with a toddler works for my family. I was so thankful that we were still breastfeeding while my son was sick; I knew at the bare minimum he was getting some valuable nutrients and staying hydrated even though he was throwing up all food and the water he drank from his straw cup. I also knew that my immune system was helping him fight off this nasty stomach bug. He was only actively sick for a day and recovering for another day, then back to his normal self.
Unfortunately, I managed to catch the stomach bug and got really sick myself. Again, I was so thankful I was breastfeeding because I was able to feed my just-recovering-from-his-illness son without having to get out of my sick bed/off of my couch. He still wasn’t tolerating solids that day, so thankfully I got to stay out of the kitchen that day.
It actually took just over a week for my son to get his full appetite for solid food back. During that time he was nursing every few hours, and I could tell my supply was going up to meet his needs. It’s so amazing how my body was able to respond to what my son needed without me having to fret over it. When he was just picking at his food because he didn’t want to eat, I didn’t need to worry he was going to starve since he was getting everything he needed from my milk.
We have no plans of weaning now or in the foreseeable future. The value of breastfeeding a sick toddler or breastfeeding to soothe a toddler just learning to walk who falls down a lot is definitely worth maintaining our breastfeeding relationship to me. I know breastfeeding past a year isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s what works for my family. In the end I think most of us agree you need to do what’s best for your family, even if it’s not what everyone is doing.
Michelle is mama to a sweet one-year-old boy. She also teaches Baby Led Weaning at Enso.
This blog is not intended to be a source of medical information or advice. Please discuss all of your concerns with your care provider.