What next with breastfeeding?
When you began breastfeeding your baby, you may have had a certain length of time to nurse them in mind. Six months of exclusive breastfeeding is optimal, but any amount of breastfeeding, even if once per day still provides health benefits to your baby. You may have had 6 months in mind or a year or more for breastfeeding. Ideally your weaning can be baby-led.
Your baby picture of your six month old might need an audio portion this month. Your baby smiles, laughs and squeals now. They turn towards you when they hear your voice.
Your baby’s pattern of breastfeeding is very different than the 8-12 feedings per 24 hours when you brought home your newborn. Now your baby is starting to eat solid foods, or has been for a little while. Your baby can start to try to drink from a cup. The number of times you breastfeed is often fewer and usually much shorter in duration. Sometimes your breastfeeding can comfort, soothe or assist baby going to sleep.
Wet diapers continue to be the same 3-4 disposables per day and 6+ cloth diapers. If you have started adding something besides breastmilk to your baby’s diet the smell, color and consistency of dirty diapers will change with the foods that are part of their diet. The frequency can alter with introductions of new foods as well. Typically unless you have diarrhea (in a breastfeed baby considered 12-16 stools/day, watery, no substance and offensive odor)(3) or constipation–rock hard little pebbles, all is well. If you have any concerns about your baby’s wet or dirty diapers, ask your healthcare provider.
By six months of age your baby’s iron stores are starting to be used up and the amount from breast milk, even though iron in breastmilk is well absorbed, at some point after 6 months it starts to be inadequate. Thus, why solid foods, especially iron-containing foods like iron-fortified baby cereal and meats are encouraged to be added first. (1)(2)
Your baby has had or will shortly have another growth spurt. They will continue to have “growing days” throughout their life, but this growth spurt will be significant in that it is your best indicator that they are ready for solid foods.
Six months old is typically another well check at your healthcare provider. Weight gain from 4-6 months of age is in the 4-5 ounces per week (120-150 grams/week) range. While we discussed previously the rate of growth often starts to slow around 4 months, babies have often doubled their birth weight by 6 months of age. The rate of their growth going forward, is usually 2-4 ounces per week (60-120 grams/week) between 6-12 months of age. (3)
This is the last in our series of newsletters. We hope they have provided support and education about breastfeeding for you and your baby. And there is one last story– The Cheerleader Or if you’d like to read others see Real Life Breastfeeding Stories
- Mannel, R, Martens, PJ, Walker, M, Core Curriculum for Lactation Consultant Practice, 3rd Edition, Jones & Bartlett Learning, Burlington, MA, 2013, pp 343-44.
- Lawrence, RA, Lawrence, RM, Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Professional, 7th Edition, Maryland Heights, MO, Elsevier Mosby, 2011, p 130.
- Mohrbacher, N, Stock, J, The Breastfeeding Answer Book, Schaumburg, IL, La Leche League International, 3rd Revised Edition, Jan 2003, pp 148, 329.
Written by Sherri L. Gartner, RD, IBCLC, Copyright 2015
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