Question: My daughter is almost 18 months old. For a while, I was starting to see the process of natural weaning taking place. She was eating more solids and nursing less. But now it seems like she is going in reverse. She nurses more and eats less solids. Is this normal? I read that as the baby eats more solids, breast milk provides less nutrition. Does it go the other way when she eats fewer solids again? She only weighs 17 pounds. She has always been a very petite little baby, but I still wonder sometimes …
Linda Folden Palmer responds: Yes, this is normal. Older babies go through ebbs and tides in their interest in nursing, as well as their staying close to you physically versus wandering away more. If you need to wean or cut back on nursing, these ebbs are something to take advantage of.
By 18 months, your daughter has gotten maybe 85 percent of the health benefit she could receive from nursing. Better is to allow baby to decide what she needs to eat and when she needs it. It is an absolute untruth that your milk's nutrition goes down. The amount of milk produced does wane when your baby’s diet is supplemented and her demand diminishes, but this is quickly reversed with increased demand.
There are mild changes in breast milk’s composition as your baby ages. The immune-protective white blood cells can no longer pass through baby’s intestinal wall very easily, and the number of these in breast milk go down. In compensation, lysozyme (an immune factor with chemical action) goes up. A couple of minerals go up or down a bit also, to match the needs of an aging baby.
Don't be concerned with your daughter’s weight, as long as her mental development and physical prowess continue to progress similarly to others her conception age. Some skills will be a little ahead and some will be a little behind. She should be bright, alert and responsive, with white, moist eyes. As long as you are seeing these positive signs, you should not worry too much about what she is getting from your breast milk.
Read the Deadly Influence of Formula in America