The needs of a baby or toddler and the needs of a sixteen-year-old are pretty much the same. Sure, my son doesn’t spend as much time in arms but he does need lots of hugs every day. He no longer sleeps with me and of course he weaned long ago, even though well-meaning relatives and friends were sure he would nurse until he went to college. But he does need cuddles and affection still, and for that I’m so grateful.
Hungry All the Time
But the main similarity is that he’s hungry all the time. Like every twenty minutes. Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration, but it sure seems like he’s foraging in the fridge or pantry about that frequently. Maybe every half-hour. And thinking back, he was just like that as a baby.
I would often complain to anyone who would listen that my baby wanted to nurse “all the time.” My pediatrician told me to hold him off for three or four hours between feedings. Not knowing any better, I tried his tactics. Bad idea. My baby was incredibly unhappy with that plan.
I have a strong feeling that he’d be pretty unhappy if I tried to restrict his food to every three or four hours now. Can you imagine telling a teenage boy that he had to wait several hours before he could have food? Bad idea, again.
This makes me wonder why it’s okay to do that to babies. It also gets me thinking about how grateful I am that I found La Leche League back then. Through La Leche League I came to understand that every baby is different, as are every mother’s breasts. I came to know that some women have a very small storage capacity and need to nurse very often in order to maintain a good milk supply and to satisfy their babies. Apparently my tiny baby son knew this, but nobody else around me did. Until I came to La Leche League, this was never explained to me. At La Leche League meetings I learned that the baby is wise and knows exactly how to get what he needs. I learned to listen.
So I listen now. I hear “There’s no food in this house” every few days and I start cooking. Or grocery shopping. And then cooking some more. And shopping some more.
Breastfeeding was so much easier.
Mother and Son: photosavvy
Teen Eating: Pioneer Library System
Hungry Baby on a Bent Bench: derPlau/Andy Peters