My 7 month old baby is breastfeeding 4 times a day with one bottle of formula at the his 10pm ‘dream feed’. He has two bottles of formula while he’s in childcare 3 days a week and has started solids. My milk supply seems to be decreasing and my baby seems less interested in breastfeeding. Do you think he’s starting to wean himself?
You have done well to continue breastfeeding while working. However, by offering bottles, YOU have actually been weaning your baby. True baby led weaning happens when baby has unlimited access to the breast although also eating other foods and HE chooses to decline breastfeeds -this is very uncommon in any baby less than a year old.
Due to the reduction in breastfeeds as you give your baby bottles of formula and solids, there is a corresponding reduction in stimulation to your milk supply; milk will flow more easily from the bottles you offer and very soon the bottle becomes a more attractive option as your baby will not have to ‘work’ for his feeds.
If you want to continue breastfeeding, I would suggest that you work on increasing your milk supply by spending a few days when you are home focussing on resting , cuddling your baby against your bare skin (to help boost your milk making hormones) and offering the breast frequently, without giving bottles unless you feel your baby is still hungry. If you do top up with formula, put your baby back on the breast after you give him a bottle – this way, he will associate his full tummy with being at the breast.
If you can express at work, this will help increase your breast milk supply and also be careful how quickly you introduce solids as these will replace breastfeeds too – at this age milk is the most important food for your baby. The evening dream feed would be better to be at the breast too – studies show that when mothers breastfeed instead of giving formula at this feed, they actually get an average of 45 minutes more sleep than mums who give formula.
Remember the law of ‘supply and demand’, the more you breastfeed, the more this will stimulate your milk supply and so your baby is more likely to continue breastfeeding. It will also be helpful to take care of YOU – drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious foods – try Pinky’s Boobie Bikkies to boost your energy and support a healthy milk supply. Best of all, these nutritious milk boosting cookies are individually wrapped so you can throw some in your work bag and munch during the day.
If you want to continue weaning please remember the maxim – “gradually with love’ and drop feeds slowly – no more than one a week as you replace them with bottles. And do also give your baby lots of skin contact (through massage or bathing together) and change sides as you bottle feed to stimulate both eyes and both sides of his body.