I'd like to give up pumping at one year

My son is 9 1/2 months old. I currently work 3 days a week and pump 2 times a day. I usually get about 10 - 12 ounces of milk. I also pump on days off for reserve and milk to mix with cereal. He's never been that enthusiastic about bottles and his grandmother, who watches him has difficulty getting him to take the 12 ounces I leave for him. He's never had formula and doesn't like juice. He'll sometimes drink a little water during the day. He's learning to use a cup slowly. He nurses several times a day and night when I'm home with him.

Now to my question...I'd like to give up pumping when he turns 1 year and offer him whole milk or water on the days I work (MWF). But since breastmilk is the only liquid he drinks (for the most part) I am worried about my supply diminishing and him becoming dehydrated. Is this a valid concern? Should I wait until he is drinking well from a cup (water/breastmilk?)

Thank you so much for your advice!

Michaela

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

Dear Michaela,

Many moms, who are still very interested in continuing to breastfeed, do choose to give up pumping as their babies head into their second year of life. You can still continue to nurse as often as you both would like when you are together.

Your milk supply will of course diminish somewhat once you stop expressing your milk. If regular nursing continues, your supply should easily adjust to meet your baby's current needs.

Before you give up expressing your milk, I would advise continuing to offer your little one some different drinks from a cup. One drink that is very popular with older breastfeeding babies is Rice Dream (vanilla flavor.) I have heard children comment that it tastes very similar to breastmilk. Some grocery stores carry this product (with either health foods, or milks that are aseptically packaged), or you could find it at your local health food store. You may also want to try offering watered down juices. Maybe full-strength juice doesn't appeal to your son yet, or perhaps he'd prefer a different flavor of juice. And don't give up after just one try - if he doesn't like a beverage the first time, you can try it again a week or two later. Your mother could also offer your baby solid foods in your absence, concentrating on fruits and veggies that have a high water content.

It is very difficult to make a baby eat or drink. I'd encourage your Mother to allow your baby to decide when he is thirsty. I would ask her to continue offering your little guy a drink, in a sippy cup, throughout the day. She might want to sit the cup on a low table, and allow him to come to it on his own, perhaps as he's exploring. Many babies of this age are "grazers", eating and drinking little bits on the run. He may be more likely to try out the cup if he is in control.

You didn't mention how many times you nurse your baby. Depending on how much time your baby spends nursing in the evening, he may very well be satisfying a good portion of his nutritional needs at your breast. Don't become too concerned about your baby's intake during the day. If he is happy in your Mother's care, and food and drinks are regularly offered, he will very likely eat and drink as he needs.

You can keep an eye on your son's output to be sure that he is taking in enough fluids. He should be wetting 5 to 6 diapers each day, and should be having regular, substantial bowel movements. If you do notice that his output decreases it is very important that you discuss these changes with his Health Care Provider. Best wishes in mothering!

Warmly,
Debbi

PS When giving up milk expression during the day, I would recommend dropping only one session at a time. Wait at least 4 days, until your breasts are more comfortable, before giving up the last session. If your breasts become uncomfortable, express just enough milk for comfort.

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