I can’t believe our breastfeeding journey has come to an end. It’s such a bittersweet feeling, but surprisingly more bitter than sweet to be honest! I definitely did not expect to love breastfeeding as much as I did. I remember all my mama friends telling me how special it was when I was pregnant, but it took doing it myself to truly understand what they meant.
I officially stopped breastfeeding Temple when she was 13 months old, which was about two weeks ago. I’m not going to get into my full BF journey here, given I already have a breastfeeding post with more on our experience from the time Temple was born, tips, products, and recipes to help boost your supply, for those trying to navigate those first few months. Today I want to jump ahead to our weaning journey and talk about how we’re introducing “milk” to Temple now.
Temple was six months old when started introducing “real” food. We skipped the purees and opted for baby-led weaning instead (more on that approach here). At first, it was just one meal a day, and I continued to breastfeed on-demand. At seven months, we went to two meals per day, and she was nursing four times per day (you can read our exact nursing/feed schedule for seven months here). However, it wasn’t until the eight or nine-month mark when Temple was up to three meals per day that I noticed a real shift in our nursing schedule.
I want to be clear that I did not follow a super strict breastfeeding schedule once Temple hit nine months. She was so interested in real food and was eating super well, so I just followed her cues when it came to breastfeeding. I’m a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom), so we’ve always nursed on-demand. Plus, I absolutely loathed pumping and never seemed to extract much milk that way. So, when Temple was about nine months, I was usually nursing her when she woke up, after her naps, and before bed. That meant that as she got older and dropped naps and began eating more real food, the nursing slowed down organically.
When Temple turned one, I was still nursing her when she woke up in the morning and before bed at night, then usually one additional time per day (most often before nap #2). ) But, nursing was more like a “snack” for her and only took about 5 minutes. I could tell Temple was less interested in BF and would get distracted easily. She was getting plenty of nutrition from the three meals and additional snacks she was having every day, so the boob just wasn’t really on her mind anymore! Once she hit one, Temple was eating a TON of food (here’s her sleep/food schedule from when she turned one.) That’s why nursing officially stopped…Temple is OVER IT! If it were up to me, I’d still nurse her once a day. In fact, just the other night I tried to put her on the boob, but after about two seconds she pointed to her bookshelf and said, “bookah,” which means “book.” That girl is too busy to breastfeed.
So, goodbye breastfeeding – you will be missed! Nursing Temple brought me so much joy and showed me (again) just how amazing a woman’s body is. For six months, I kept Temple nourished strictly with my breastmilk. Y’all, that’s pretty freaking amazing! Yes, all the health benefits make it awesome on its own, but the bonding we did during those quiet moments is what I already miss the most. There were times when nothing could calm Temple until I sat and nursed her. The warmth of our bodies together would put us both to sleep almost instantly during those first few months.
“Breastfeeding stimulates the release of oxytocin from your brain. It allows your baby to get the breast milk from your breasts. It also fosters love, nurturing, and a strong emotional bond between you and your child.” – Very well Family
If I could think of one word to best describe breastfeeding it would be BOND. The relationship we created through breastfeeding this past year is unbelievable and something I will always cherish.
….. Okay, and now my ovaries are telling me it’s time for baby #2, so let’s wrap up the sappy part of this post! For all you mamas that nursed, are nursing, or struggled with breastfeeding and had to stop, you are amazing! We all have different babies, different bodies, and different journeys, but each one is incredible and something to be proud of.
What is our approach to introducing milk to Temple, post-breastfeeding?!
I want to start by saying you need to do your own research when it comes to determining what’s best for your little one. No two babies are the same, so you should do what feels right for you. I am not here to share tons of studies and links with info on why you should avoid cow’s milk. This space is where I share what feels right and works for me based on my research. Be your own health advocate and decide what’s right for you and your baby!
After lots of research and long conversations with my pediatrician and naturopathic doctor, I was so relieved when they both agreed with my plan to avoid cow’s milk. It just solidified that this is what is best for us. The #1 thing you should trust when making any decision for you and your family is your GUT. It’s crazy, because before even researching this, I already had an idea of what I felt was best, and it was spot on once I dove into all the different approaches moms take to introducing milk. Remember, NO ONE (not even your doctor) can tell you how to raise your child or what you have to feed them!
So, long story short, we plan to avoid drinking cow’s milk completely. My husband and I don’t drink it, and we both have a dairy intolerance. Without testing Temple, I can almost guarantee she has some level of intolerance, too. IMO, why would I offer her cow’s milk if we don’t even drink it for our own health reasons?
We try to consume raw, organic, grass-fed, full-fat dairy in moderation (think organic whole-milk cottage cheese, full-fat yogurt, kerif, butter, and ghee). We do not drink milk and try to avoid processed dairy products as much as possible. We are FAR from perfect, but from my research, this is what feels best for us as a family. Consuming a healthy diet full of organic meat, vegetables, nuts, and fish and daily supplements is what we focus on to get the nutrients we need.
Why are we avoiding cow’s milk?
- Cow’s milk contains a much higher ratio of casein to whey protein composition, which makes it more difficult to digest.
“Conventional dairy can also contain moderate to high levels of recumbent growth hormone and antibiotics (fail again, FDA). Foods like cheese and yogurt are also marketed as healthy snack options for growing kids. These products are also pasteurized, losing most of their nutrient profile, and yogurt often has so much added sugar that the benefits are negated by the insulin spike.” (source)
- I offer Temple almond milk, goat milk, and even pea milk, but not cow’s milk. When I was talking to my naturopath, Dr. Naumes (who is also a mother), she agreed and reminded me that what kids eat and their water intake are far more important than the nutrients they could be getting from cow’s milk, anyway. Missing out on those nutrients isn’t a concern for us because Temple eats so many other healthy things. When you start looking at the facts, you’ll find that even certain fish and veggies actually offer much higher calcium levels, and are easier to digest.
- I suggest mixing it up and doing almond, coconut, pea milk, and even goat’s milk! Goat’s milk contains less fat molecules and is known to be tolerated better by those who are lactose intolerant. Pea milk has more protein and calcium than any other milk and lots of B12! You can even do bone broth some days instead of milk. Bone broth is packed with minerals and gelatin which is great for gut health. We NEVER do soy milk because in excess it can be linked to digestive distress, immune system breakdown, thyroid dysfunction, reproductive disorders, and infertility. (source)
- A long time ago we were taught that at age one, we have to introduce milk, and the rule stuck. If that feels right for you, then go for it! But, from what I’ve found and considering our personal family health history, drinking cow’s milk just isn’t for us. Of course, like anything else, there are lots of mixed thoughts and feelings about this. But, even my pediatrician, Dr. Naidoo at Shine Pediatric, isn’t a fan of cow’s milk, and that’s enough for me!
Do I offer Temple any dairy?
- YES! As I mentioned, we try to serve raw, organic, pastured, grass-fed, and full-fat dairy (in moderation, of course). We especially love the fermented form like yogurt and kefir. Organic and raw dairy contain far more nutrients, probiotics, omega-3s, and live enzymes. (source)
“Raw pastured dairy is in its most natural form, and its structure hasn’t been altered by any kind of treatment process. As with most foods, if you are going to consume it, go for the most natural form. Dairy in forms like butter and ghee also contain almost no lactose and contain good levels of healthy fats. Especially from grass-fed sources, these types of dairy are excellent nutrient sources and most people can handle them no problem.” (source)
- Studies show that introducing allergenic food, like cow dairy, is a great way to avoid allergies. For us, we don’t want to create a severe allergy to milk by completely avoiding all dairy. I have the same take on dairy as I do gluten. We offer our child the forms of dairy mentioned above in small amounts, but not daily. We don’t want her to become intolerant to lactose, gluten, or even become celiac just because we never introduced it to her! It’s kind of like the approach doctors take to peanuts now. Before we were told to avoid it completely, but that was causing more allergies later in life. Now we are told to give peanuts to children unless we have known family food allergies. That’s basically how we’re choosing to look at dairy and gluten – offer it here and there, but not at every meal.
- NOTE: I NEVER offer Temple dairy when she is sick. It is mucus-causing food, so we avoid entirely it when she is under the weather.
- Vitamin D – We give Temple the supplemental form of Vitamin D3 daily. When we can’t get out in the sun, this is especially important. The Vitamin D often found in cow’s milk is added in artificially and not absorbed well. We love this brand and this one.
- Probiotic – We give this to her daily, too!
Do I serve her these other kinds of milk daily?
- No, I don’t stress about Temple getting milk every day. Water is what she needs most, and I don’t want her to learn to only ask for milk. I occasionally offer her those dairy-free milk alternatives I mentioned above in an open cup (so she can practice her open-mouth drinking skills + the cup I linked is ideal for their first cup and easier to pick up- it’s almost like a shot glass haha), but I do not offer them daily.
- Here are a few other cups we love:
Are you EVER going to let her have cow’s milk?
- It will be avoided at home, and I’ll try to let anyone watching Temple know that we don’t offer cow’s milk. That being said, if she happens to have it somewhere, then that’s okay too! She is exposed to dairy in the small forms I touched on above so I don’t think her body would have a horrible reaction if she had some. I believe there should be balance in everything, so if she has a glass of cow’s milk, the sky definitely will not fall! 🙂
What Milk Do I Usually Purchase?
- I love the fresh almond milk at Local Press and Brew! I also love when The Gem offers raw almond milk.
- My favorite almond milk brand is MALK.
- Oatly brand is great oat milk brand.
- I also have an AlmondCow | Plant-Based Milk Maker that I sometimes use. I should do this more often cause it’s super simple!
Remember, I am just a mama doing what feels right for my baby based upon my research. Do what feels right for your family! We are all just doing our best and I am honored that you take the time to read about my methods on these things.