Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Photo: Christina Simantiri
What is “holiday weaning”? Dee Russell cautions mothers how they might avoid it.
You have your precious new baby. Breastfeeding is going fantastically well. The holiday season is fast approaching and you are excited not only to show off your new baby to everyone at all the gatherings you’ve been invited to, but also to ensure your little bundle participates in all the traditions you grew up with. This will include lots of baking, shopping, wrapping gifts, and decorating. It can be exhausting just thinking about it!
With all these activities going on, you may find you are starting to delay feeding your baby, relying on a baby swing to distract him, perhaps using a baby sitter more frequently and bottle-feeding your pumped milk. As a consequence, your milk supply decreases and your baby may even go on a nursing strike! And you may mistakenly think she must be ready to wean.
How to avoid holiday weaning
A mother who is aware of these pitfalls may choose options that are likely to preserve the nursing relationship and avoid “holiday weaning.” These can include having a caregiver to play with or entertain your baby in your home while you bake, decorate, wrap or whatever. With you close by to breastfeed your baby, there will be no need for any bottles!
Of course, you can bring your baby along to the parties, even buying a special outfit for your little one to wear! One mom I know bought a baby tuxedo for a wedding and was able to make use of it for holiday parties too. Her baby was fussed over by everyone, and no one complained about his presence. Wear him in a sling and he may sleep through much of the event.
If you use a baby carrier your baby can accompany you on shopping trips. Or bring a trusted caregiver to help carry him or the packages. The extra arms will surely come in handy. Many youngsters appreciate the opportunity to gain some real hands on childcare experience, and may even help you for free.
Wear him in a sling and he may sleep through much of the event.
A mother may invite friends with babies over to have a gift-wrapping party. Here you can all wrap presents and tend to your little one’s needs, perhaps even save money by sharing supplies. If a group of friends held a cookie exchange, each participant could cut down on the amount of baking she does, leaving each with more quality family time.
Shopping, baking, cooking and caring for a baby can often leave a mother feeling stressed. During these somewhat harried days, it may be hard to carve out enough nursing time with baby to reconnect, but lying down with a nursling will rejuvenate you both and keep that unique bond alive!
If your family lives out of town, you may need to travel far away for a holiday. It is important to have a plan how you and baby will have sufficient time to continue your nursing relationship. Schedule plenty of nursing stops. In advance, scope out spots en route where the nursing couple can stop and breastfeed safely.
Sometimes well-meaning family will not support your nursing in their presence. Discuss this aspect of your holiday in advance, so no one is surprised or compromised. After all, holidays are supposed to be about family, and the littlest member’s needs are paramount!
While holiday traditions are special, most happen every year, and the prudent mother knows that her baby’s nursing season only occurs once in a lifetime and makes every effort to maintain it.
Dee Russell has been an LLL Leader in New York, USA since 1982. She has three grown children, Holly, Janette, and Daniel, and one grandchild, Sammy. She has been married to Frank for 38 years.