Nursing rules for babies

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Well, I've officially nursed my children for 39 months, or 45 months if the twins count separately.  Sometimes I feel like there's gotta be some sort of unwritten handbook on nursing that babies pass on to one another telepathically.   I think it's to our advantage to have this in writing, so here's what I'm guessing those babies are passing on to one another:


Your mom has been carrying you under her heart for the past 9 or 10 months.  She's not ready to be done being pregnant!  The way to ease her into this new stage of life is to stay attached to her as much as humanly possible.

-  Consider staying latched for hours at a time - that way when you're done sleeping, you don't have to wait at all for your next meal because you're ready to go!

John Paul very rarely unlatched for those first 4 weeks or so...
-  If you must unlatch, a good rule of thumb for nursing is that your next nursing session should begin 2 hours after your last began.  So if you nurse for 1.75 hours, that gives you 15 minutes to poop, stretch, spit up, get your diaper and outfit changed, and then you're ready to start again!
Sometimes you can stay asleep while they hold you, that's okay too
-  If you accidentally consume too much at one time, don't worry about that uncomfortably full tummy - just spit up all over the place (preferably down Mom's shirt, but the floor, Dad's face, the furniture, anything dry-clean only are also excellent options) and you'll be ready for another meal!

6 weeks-3 months:

Congratulations!  You've now eased your mom out of the 4th trimester of pregnancy!  It's cool to take a little break from the nonstop nursing now that you're probably gaining weight well.  Here are some suggestions for this stretch:

-  The spitting up rule still applies - if you eat too much at once, just puke and you'll feel better.  Mom and Dad might let strangers hold you, and if they've never had kids it's a REALLY excellent idea to puke on them to help affirm them in whatever vocation they feel called to.

He still doesn't have kids, but it's not John Paul's fault, right?

-  Plan your nursing schedule around convenient times for Mom - some prime times to demand to nurse are when she's about to get in the shower, when she's just gotten OUT of the shower, when she's trying to pee, when she's cooking, etc.  You're really just helping her learn how to multitask!

-  Some babies start sleeping longer stretches at night at this point - don't feel compelled to do so if you don't want to!  If you nurse often enough at night, Mom'll just bring you into bed with her and then you've got the snack bar all night long!

-  Now that you've started grabbing for things, here's a fun tip:  Grow your nails long and start clawing at Mom's chest while nursing!  She'll hold your hand to keep you from doing it, how sweet!

4-6 months:

You may be learning some good tricks these days - rolling over, playing with toys, allowing yourself to be put down for more than 30 seconds at a time.  There are MANY things to do that are more interesting than nursing and napping!

Toys!  All the toys, way better than nursing!

-  If Mom is nursing you and you see something interesting (like the light, or the ceiling, or the window, or the wall, or the book Mom's reading, or your brother jumping up and down), DO NOT UNLATCH - simply streeeeetch to see whatever it is while maintaining a firm grip on Mom.  You're helping encourage elasticity.

-  Consider encouraging Mom to try different nursing positions by attempting to kick yourself off her lap, rolling yourself over, demanding that she nurse you while standing and bouncing but only if you're completely vertical, etc.  She's looking a little chubby, she probably needs the exercise.

-  Isn't it comfortable to nap while nursing?  Now that you're an efficient enough nurser, you don't EVER have to be put down to nap!  Simply fall asleep the moment you latch, and wake up within 20-30 minutes.  That nap will be enough to recharge you for several hours, if not the entire day!

Once again, still *sometimes* acceptable to nap while being held.

6-12 months:

-  Your parents may begin introducing you to what is called "solid food" - some of you may enjoy this, but others may not.  Remember, you should still be nursing as much as possible so that Mom can keep burning calories to justify eating all those milk shakes!  Solid food is for playing, smearing, dropping on the floor, and SOMETIMES consuming.  Save enough tummy space for the good stuff, though!

Crayons are a good start - low-calorie and tasty!

-  At some point in this time period you will be learning how to stand.  Standing while nursing is ALWAYS a good idea.  Always.  Do it as often as possible, making sure to turn your head from side to side frequently to check out what's going on and maintain that elasticity.

-  You may find it's a bit more difficult to nap while nursing.  The way to help Mom realize what you need is to FREAK OUT at all times while nursing until she takes you into a dark room, preferably on the cool side, with a white noise machine running.  Then IF Mom lies down to nurse you and stays perfectly quiet, you may have a 20-30 minute power nap while nursing.  If Mom falls asleep, sometimes it's cool for you to stay asleep for longer too.  Don't make it a habit though, then she'll just get lazy.

12-18 months:

You've made it to a full year of nursing!  Congratulations!

-  Mom and Dad might decide to let you start drinking this weird cold milk that comes from a cow.  The preferred method of consumption is such:

1.  Fill mouth with cold milk
2.  Let it dribble out the sides of your mouth
3.  Raspberry it all over the place!!!

I hear it tastes great with cookies, but Mom won't give me any because she hates sharing.  The jerk.

They may be kind enough to share the magical food called "ice cream" with you - take advantage of this opportunity.

-  Now that you're walking, you can march right on over to Mom, pull up her shirt, and get yourself a snack.  Go for it, you earned it!

-  Frequent snacking is encouraged - you want to keep Mom on her toes and make sure she doesn't get it into her mind that she might be allowed to wear a dress with a high neckline or anything else "fashionable" that is really just NOT nursing-accessible.

-  It's always especially funny to go for a snack when you've just chewed up some solid food, just to see what kind of different concoctions you can make.  Chewed up carrots + breastmilk = a winning combination, plus you can leave some for Mom to enjoy later!

18 months+:

I've got nothing - I didn't quite make it to 18 months with Cecilia (we were a week shy, I was 20 weeks pregnant with the twins and still hadn't gained any weight plus my supply had dried up, so she happily weaned with Cheez-its and Craisins offered as an alternative) and John Paul was about 15 months when he weaned (same story, but with no Cheez-its).

What about you all - any tips you think need to get added to the list?

*Disclaimer:  This post is intended to be humorous - normal nursing varies dramatically from baby to baby, these are just some behaviors I've noticed that have been consistent with my babies.  Please contact your local La Leche League if you have questions or concerns!


  1. This is too funny...and too true as well!!

    How about a tip on biting? Mine has discovered his newly found teeth and ouch!!

    1. Oh man I forgot about biting - I like "Mom's yelp means bite HARDER! Or just clamp down and give her your most adorable look while slooooowly scraping your teeth along her tender flesh. You have to make your mark, after all!"

  2. Ha...this is so, so funny and true! Thanks for the laugh today!

    You forgot the biggest rule about solids though.
    -You should put anything you find on the floor in your mouth, leaves, grass, sand, dirt, paper, tape, sticks and stones are especially tasty as first foods. Anything presented to you on spoon or tray is to be highly suspect and simply thrown on the floor or smashed in your hair.

    1. So true! Paper is especially a delicious one - melts in the mouth oh-so-enticingly!

  3. bahahaha!
    6-12 months and beyond - Now is a good time to look beyond yourself and rediscover your mother. You need to make sure she is taking proper care of herself! Dental exam? Check. Ripping hair out to check for lice? Great idea! Plunging your hand down her shirt for a breast exam? Of course. You are one excellent baby to be so concerned for mom's welfare.

    1. Perfect! Mine definitely have the hair ripping down to an art - now I remember why I always cut my hair short before having a baby!

  4. When your teeth come in, don't let that stop you from nursing. You'll leave toothmarks on Mom, but that shouldn't bother you. You can nurse just as well with teeth as without.

    Sometimes you will really get Mom's milk going. At times like this, you have a few choices. One amusing option is to unlatch and gaze at the ceiling. Milk will spray all over your face, and that feels good, so just keep pondering the whichness of what. You may want to watch Mom scramble to stop the firehose of milk, and that can be funny! Another interesting choice is to choke and puke.

    Don't do anything consistently, though. It's lots more fun to keep your parents guessing!

  5. Haha...too funny! They really must pass this knowledge on to one another!

  6. Excellent guide!!

    18-24 mo: Part of practicing your autonomy is assessing the milk bar at will especially in public however flexibility about dropping feedings during the day may insure that the bedtime one stays around longer.

  7. Haha- love it! The stretching to see what's going on while still latched, yep!

  8. Bahahaha yes to all of te above. J has recently learned that he enjoys standing while for biting, J says f mom yelps, all the better! Not fun though if she pulls you off and refuses to let you latch again without biting. No worth the trouble ;)

  9. Oh many, you killed me with the elasticity. My babies preferred the pull off and expose mom's nipple game, but hey to each his own!

  10. Oh, the elasticity! My comment from the 16-19 months time period-stick your hand down mom's shirt in public as often as possible. You can also pull her neckline out to check and make sure everything's OK down there!

    1. Absolutely! Gotta show everyone else you know where your next meal's coming from, right?

  11. Haha, lovin this! all so true! My baby Hope is the first babe that nurses for a max of 6 min at a time, I have to say sometimes it is nice, but I do (sometimes) miss the long nursing marathons on the couch :).

    1. Right? They're always efficient right when you actually WANT to be able to sit on the couch and relax for a while, but they take forever when you need to like, leave the house!

  12. This was awesome.

    I started laughing right at the one about mama's shower and kept on through the whole thing. I have scrambled out of a shower to nurse, naked, wrapped in a bath towel and dripping all over the baby, more times than I can count. Those newborns never can wait, and my husband always stalks into the bathroom holding the screaming child with a look that would freeze lava so it's rinse and get out, never mind you only shaved one leg. That can come later after Baby nurses for 20 minutes and then won't let you lay them down for another 20.

    Breastfeeding twins is only about 22ish weeks off for me. Can't wait! :P

    1. Yes! I remember many a morning that my husband would bring my oldest into the bathroom right when I was in the middle of conditioning or something :P Leg shaving always becomes the lowest priority in those early days!

      And congrats on your twins!!!

  13. You are so amazing. I can't wait to hear your weaning for realz commentary, or if you'll just keep right on going! My first self weaned because of yucky pregnancy milk, and I slowly slowly slowly weaned the others between 15 months and two years. Every time it was absolutely right for me to wean , but every time an absolute heart breaker.

  14. I laughed, I cried, too funny and so, so true. I nursed three for 11 - 14 months. I decided that if they could help themselves that they were old enough to be done. Mine always seemed to try to help themselves at church or some other public place like the middle of the mall!

  15. My three adult children have blessed me with eight grand children. Breast feeding is part of our lives so we have many stories too. This is wonderful writing! Makes my heart sing -- my personal experiences with breast feeding are from years ago --- your writing made these memories well up in my heart 'right now. Thank you!!


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