The second principle of AP according to Attachment Parenting International is Feeding with Love and Respect.
I am a huge advocate of nursing and I respect the milk that women are able to produce, infants instinctual ability to latch and retrieve the milk, the ability of our bodies to make the one and only thing that our children need to survive for that amazing first year, the bonding and the comfort that it promotes, and everything else about it. I believe that women should be more encouraged to work with their children and their breasts to be able to foster the breast feeding relationship. I believe that at best, the medical community is ill equipped/educated to provide new mothers and infants the support they need. At worst, they respond to incentives offered by the formula manufacturers by intentionally steering people away from breast feeding. In any event, I am a huge advocate of breast feeding and it’s plethora of advantages.
My daughter will be turning two in the next few months and she is still nursing. Usually only twice per day, at night and in the morning, but she is still nursing the none the less. Even though I am expecting another child around Elisa’s second birthday, we have no plans of stopping unless she initiates weaning herself. She never had any formula, but I did need to introduce her to bottles early on so that I could return to work at six weeks. I was disappointed to have to introduce her to any nipple other than my own at such a young age, but bottles were used exclusively when I was at work and I did not give them to her personally. For the first year of her life, my husband brought her to my office two nights per week when I had to work late so I could nurse and eliminate one pumping session. I was fortunate that my employers were willing to accommodate this arrangement. She most definitely preferred her milk to come straight from the proverbial cow so there was no confusion.
I have always cherished our time together when she nurses. The relationship has changed as she has grown, but it has always been loving and comfortable. When my milk was her sole source of nutrition, so we nursed far more frequently through the day, she was sometimes high energy and hilarious. She would kick her legs around almost as if she were dancing. Now, my giant pregnant stomach has become a sort of comfort object to her; she wants it exposed and she likes to touch my belly button as she settles down for the night or wakes up for the day. It is really a beautiful thing and as long as it is mutually enjoyable, it will continue. I will not tear her food, her sense of security, and the first thing that was given to her when she was born away prematurely.
Obviously at this point, breast milk is not Elisa’s primary source of nutrition. We introduced solids through Baby Led Weaning at seven months and she is a very healthy eater. I joke that she eats like a high school football player. I had been bringing her to our dinner table to “talk about her day” from the time she was old enough to sit in her high chair, so she was accustomed to the routine by the time we started offering her food. She was always given silverware and whatever we were having that day or night. Shortly after she started eating solid food, she became adverse to the high chair and she moved into a booster seat at our table, where she still sits. She has learned how to eat with real food and at her own pace. She was offered a variety of foods, but never forced. She was allowed to make messes and play. Probably around 15 months was when her diet transferred from mostly breast milk to mostly solid food. Aside from a few dislikes, she eats a wide variety of foods, is very willing to try new things a couple of times before rejecting them, and can sit with us and eat making a very minimal mess. She “talks” and interacts with us throughout mealtimes. Food was not forced, it was not a punishment, and it was not a goal. With encouragement, she seems to be developing healthy eating habits and I hope that she grows up enjoying cooking and food as much as her parents and grandparents do.