A lot of friends and family members get irritated or confused when I don’t just hand Lucas his bottle when he’s thirsty. My mother-in-law asks me when he’s going to “do it by himself”… and my own mother warns me that he will just get more and more wiggly every time I try to feed him; she often reminds me of her struggles with me when I was an older nursing baby, and how she switched me over to a bottle that I could carry around when I was around 11 months old due to my nursing acrobatics. Better to just wean him from nursing (bottle-nursing, that is), and let him do it by himself, right?
Wrong. Because Lucas was only able to nurse at the breast for a short period of time, I relish in the time we have together while bottle-nursing. Yes, many extended breastfeeders have heard of the study by Katherine Dettwyler that states that the natural age of weaning is between 2.5 to 7 years old. But when you read the study, it mainly addresses the nutritional benefits of giving babies and toddlers human breast milk, and not the emotional benefits of holding your child at the breast past infancy. For Lucas (and yes, I admit, for ME) extended bottle-nursing is a great way to provide comfort, security, closeness, and even stability, instead of insisting he add weaning to all the mental and physical growth he will go through in the second year. Lucas will be our only child, and so I remind myself many times that he will only be this small once. I do not want to think back on his toddler days and regret that I forced him into weaning and feigned independence.
I have tried offering him a sippy cup of water, and Lucas only chews on it. And for now, I’m glad. His milk (whether it is donor breast milk or organic soy/oat milk), however, will always be in a bottle, while I hold him close to my breast… or at least until he is old enough to insist that he doesn’t want to be in my arms anymore. ;)
As a sidenote: Yes, Lucas still is blessed with donor breast milk! I have tried a little organic oat milk (as of yesterday) and he will eat a little solids (still a fight though!), but currently, his primary nutrition comes from breast milk. It is such a relief that most donor mommas understand that donating breast milk isn’t necessarily JUST for newborns or young babies. :)