Thursday, July 28, 2011

Babies’ Emotional Development: Social Referencing Part I.

Have you noticed when you take your baby to a new place or into a crowd of unfamiliar faces that she spends a lot of time looking at your face as she starts to explore her surroundings? By the time babies can move away from their parents (when crawling is well established around 8 or 9 months), exploration takes on a whole new meaning. As babies enter the world on their own, rather than in mom or dad’s arms, they have more opportunities to get into trouble. Fortunately, at the same time, they start to rely more on their caregivers’ cues (your facial expressions, body language and tone of voice) to determine which games, people, or objects will interest them and which should be avoided. Developmental scientists call this “social referencing” and it is a powerful tool to keep babies safe. In this post, we’ll share some details about this all important process.

Caregivers as Guides

The term “social referencing” is used to describe the moments when babies learn how they should react to unfamiliar objects, people, or events by carefully watching their caregivers’ reactions to these things. The caregiver becomes the “reference” as the baby decides to try the swing or keep away from the barking dog. Most parents will smile and encourage their babies to try swings but pull their babies back with concerned or fearful facial expressions if their babies approach barking dogs. By watching their caregivers, babies can learn what is safe or appropriate and what is not. Babies also gradually learn how best to behave in their specific environments (urban, rural, cold, hot, etc.) and culture (i.e., learning rules and customs). Overall, it’s a great system!

Negative vs. Positive Social Referencing

Scientists have found that caregivers' negative reactions seem to make a more powerful impact on babies than positive ones. This makes sense in that we are more likely to react quickly and dramatically when a baby reaches for an open oven door given that it is very important that the baby learns not to touch that door. Your efforts to get your baby to smile at grandma by using positive facial expressions and encouraging words may not get a strong and immediate response from your baby but consistency is important for your baby’s learning. You might find that your baby looks back at you whenever she sees grandma to make sure that your signals are still positive, at least until grandma becomes so familiar that the quick check is no longer necessary.

Social Referencing and Meal Time

Once you understand social referencing, you can really see how it may be an important part of mealtime when babies are given new foods. Parents all over the world instinctively tell their babies “yummy” (in different languages) and pretend to eat and like mushy baby peas. When you show positive reactions to foods, your baby learns which foods to try. Your negative reactions show baby which foods to avoid. Just keep in mind that the positive reactions don’t work as powerfully as the negative ones. Getting your older infant and toddler to try new foods may take several tries even when you serve them with a big smile and a look of excitement on your face. Alternatively, a strong negative reaction (even an unintended one, say, if you taste a food that is too hot) may stay with your baby for a long time.

Next time: We’ll share how social referencing differs depending on whether the reference is mom or dad.


1. Hirshberg LM, Svejda M. When infants look to their parents: I. Infants’ social referencing of mothers compared to fathers. Child Dev 1990; 61: 1175-86.

2. Mumme D, Fernald A, Herrera C. Infants’ responses to facial and vocal emotional signals in a social referencing paradigm. Child Dev 1996; 67: 3219-37.

3. Berger KS. The Developing Person. New York, Worth Publishers, 2003.

4. Carver LJ, Vaccaro BG. 12-month-old infants allocate increased neural resources to stimuli associated with negative adult emotion. Dev Psychol. 2007 Jan;43(1):54-69.

5. Vaish A, Striano T.Is visual reference necessary? Contributions of facial versus vocal cues in 12-month-olds' social referencing behavior. Dev Sci. 2004 Jun;7(3):261-9.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Babies’ Emotional Development: The Power of Synchrony

There is something magical about the very first time that your 3-month-old looks into your eyes and you can see what he is feeling. Your instincts take over and in a fraction of a second, you are looking back at your baby and changing your expression, reflecting the emotion that you see. These moments are some of the most powerful in parents' lives. Few opportunities come along in life that make you feel so connected to another human being. It is in these moments that you and your baby achieve what developmental scientists refer to as "synchrony." The ability to achieve synchrony with caregivers is an important way that babies learn how to express their feelings. In this post, we’ll share some research about how synchrony works.

A Special Relationship

We’ve told you in several posts about the importance of babies' social connection with parents. By the time a baby is 6-weeks-old, she is able to smile and makes noises at nearly everyone she sees. The smiles that she gets in return fill her with excitement and she is rewarded for exploring her world. Sometime around 3-months of age (and you all know that babies develop at their own pace), babies start to focus their efforts for connection on their special caregivers - mothers, fathers, and others who provide their care nearly every day. It is with these caregivers that babies achieve “synchrony.”

Moments of Attunement

Technically, synchrony is described as “a coordinated interaction between caregiver and infant, who respond to each other with split-second timing.” (Berger, 2003) When we use our faces to reflect our babies’ joy, surprise, concern, or sadness, they see and feel the connection between facial expressions and emotions. When we talk to them about what we see (“did the balloon surprise you?), we help them connect their feelings with words. Our instincts will tell us to exaggerate our expressions as we help our babies learn about emotions and our instincts are right! Babies respond better when we make our responses a little bigger than what we see.

The Magic of Play
When your baby was a newborn, he spent much of his alert moments staring at your face and struggling to copy what he saw. Once your baby begins to experience more of his world, it is your turn to be the one to reflect what you see. We’ve already shared how important playtime can be for your baby’s development. Along with the physical and cognitive growth that comes with playing with your baby, playtime can also be the most important time for synchrony. When your baby becomes excited by a new toy, you can use your face and words to show and tell him what he is feeling. The little repetitive games that delight your baby also offer opportunities for connection. Just remember to watch for cues that let you know when your baby is tired or overwhelmed by all the fun. By balancing moments of synchrony with needed breaks from the action, you are helping your baby learn to understand feelings, connections, and that his world is a wonderful and exciting place.

Berger KS. The Developing Person. New York, Worth Publishers, 2003.
Stern DN. The Interpersonal World of the Infant. New York, Basic Books, 1985.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Around the World: Parental Leave Laws

As part of our ongoing Around the World series, today’s post will explore parental leave laws in several different countries. The birth of a baby is a challenging and extraordinary time for parents. Parents need time to bond with their newborns and new mothers need time for their bodies to recover from the birth. Parental leave laws support new parents in 2 major ways: by providing job-protected leave to care for their infants and financial support during that leave. Unfortunately, not all countries provide paid, job-protected leave. This makes it difficult for parents, who rely on their salary to survive (which is the majority of us!), to be able to stay home during the early postpartum period. However, times are changing; many countries have combined their paternity- and maternity-leave laws into the more general parental leave to allow either one or both parents time at home with their newborns. Most countries provide between 12 weeks and 1 year of paid leave. Let’s look at some examples from around the world.

Maternity Leave Practices: The Numbers

One hundred and seventy eight countries guarantee some paid maternity leave under national law and 101 countries require 14 weeks or more of paid leave for new mothers. The average time new mothers worldwide can take off with pay after giving birth is 18 weeks. Three countries do not have a nationwide laws guaranteeing new mothers any paid time off following the birth of a child—Papua New Guinea, Swaziland and the United States. (Human Rights Watch, 2011)

Now for some specifics by country: the following table provides maternity leave information for countries that represent the majority of our readership. Next to each country we report the number of weeks of maternity leave mothers can qualify for and the % income that the mother receives during that time.
Source: Maternity at Work, ILO, 2010

The United States

As noted above, the United States is one of only 3 countries not offering paid leave at the national level. Some families in the US qualify for job-protected, unpaid leave through the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), a program that sets minimum standards for parental leave in the United States. However, about 40% of U.S. workers are not eligible for FMLA because employees of small companies (fewer than 50employees) and short-term workers (must be with current employer at least 1 year and must have met a requirement for minimum hours worked) are not included. (Ray 2008) Only about 11% of American employees have the option of taking paid medical leave with only 2 states, California and New Jersey, offering paid leave.

In California, income replacement is available to workers that pay into State Disability Insurance (SDI) through the SDI program and the Paid Family Leave Act (PFLA). There are no additional requirements such as number of hours worked for an employer or size of company. However, those that are self-employed or earn less than $300 per year do not qualify to receive SDI. For more about who qualifies, visit the following website:

In New Jersey, the New Jersey Temporary Disability Benefits Law provides up to 6-weeks of cash benefits to bond with a newborn or newly adopted child. There are three plans: a state plan, a private plan and an unemployment plan. For more information, click here.

Australia’s New Laws

There are two programs in Australia that provide paid leave to new parents. First, the Australian Government announced a new paid Parental Leave program for Australian families just this month. The program offers 18 weeks of Parental Leave, paid at the National Minimum Wage, for parents of children born or adopted after January 1st, 2011. Only the “primary carer” of the child is eligible for the program, and it is noted that this is usually the mother. Other special circumstances will be considered on a case by case basis. Secondly, there is a Baby Bonus available to all workers with an adjusted taxable income of less than or equal to $75,000. A first installment of $879.77 is paid to parents initially followed by approximately $379.77every 2 weeks for 12 weeks.) If parents qualify for the Baby Bonus, they cannot receive both the bonus and parental leave; they must choose one of the two. For more information, click here.

Norway: The Most Family-Friendly Laws Worldwide

Parental leave laws in Norway provide 42 weeks at 100% pay or 52 weeks at 80% pay and the mother and father can choose to share the leave period with a few stipulations: 3 weeks before delivery and 6 weeks after delivery are reserved for the mother and 4 weeks are reserved for the father. The rest of the leave can be used by either parent. Norway tops the list of family-friendly places to live providing 4 weeks paid paternity leave starting in 1993. Only 2.4% of Norwegian fathers took leave in 1992, but by 1997, over 70% of fathers took paternity leave. Each parent is also entitled to up to 1 year of unpaid leave per child, and this is extended to up to 2 years for a single parent. (ILO study, Gender Equality and Decent Work: Good Practices at the Workplace) Other countries are stepping up to the plate to provide parental leave for fathers too. Currently 31 countries require 14 weeks or more of paid leave for new fathers. (Human Rights Watch, 2011)
Most Scandinavian countries also offer other progressive ideas such as "daddy leave," guaranteed rights to childcare, and cash payments for home-based care.

Importance of Family Leave Laws

Countries that have parental leave programs show increased productivity, reduced turnover of employees, and even health care savings. Paid parental leave laws enable more parents to stay home and care for their infants during a vital time in their infants’ growth and development and supports parents that want to return to the workforce following this time. As we look into the future, we hope that soon parents everywhere will be supported by leave laws so that they can spend the precious newborn period and beyond with their babies while maintaining their employment.

References & Resources:

Parental Leave Policies in 21 Countries: Assessing Generosity and Gender Equality. By: Rebecca Ray, Janet C. Gornick and John Schmitt (September 2008).

Gender Equality and Decent Work: Good Practices at the Workplace. Maternity Protection International Labour Organization Convention No. 183, 2004.

MATERNITY AT WORK: A review of national legislation Findings from the ILO Database of Conditions of Work and Employment Laws. 2nd edition, 2010.

Failing Its Families: Lack of Paid Leave and Work-Family Supports in the US, Human Rights Watch, 2011.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Summer Safety

It’s mid-July and here in California’s Central Valley that means it is HOT! Because we know that many of our readers are experiencing summer heat too, we thought it would be good to use today’s post to provide information about summer safety for babies!

Keeping Baby Cool

Being too hot is very uncomfortable and, unlike adults, babies can’t do much to cool themselves off. Chances are if you are hot, so is your baby. Here are some tips for keeping baby cool when it’s hot outside:

• Dress baby in lightweight clothes, like onsies or t-shirts and shorts, made out of breathable fabric.

• Be cautious in the car – Even with the air conditioner on, babies can get really hot in the car. The padding and fabric used in car seats don’t allow for much air flow, and when put in the rear-facing position babies may not be exposed to the cool air from the air conditioning vents. To keep baby as cool as possible, minimize sun exposure by putting a shade in the window or positioning the car seat in the middle seat, furthest from the window. If you are going to be in the car for an extended period of time, stop periodically and make sure your baby isn’t getting too hot and, when possible, avoid car rides during the hottest parts of the day.

• Safe sleep – Remove the bumper from the crib to maximize air flow. You can also use a fan to keep the air circulating in the room while your baby sleeps. Thick blankets, pillows, and stuffed animals should not be kept in the crib with a sleeping baby.

• Hydration – Babies can get dehydrated quickly when it’s hot, but for babies under 6 months, the amount of breast milk or formula they are drinking is usually enough liquid to provide all the hydration they need. If you are concerned about dehydration, talk to your pediatrician.

• A little water and some plastic cups are all you need to turn your bathtub into a fun, cool, sun-free “pool.” If your baby isn’t sitting on her own, you can get in with her!

Sun Safety

Babies can get sunburned after just a few minutes in the sun and studies have shown that sun exposure during childhood is related to future risk of skin cancer, so it’s important to protect your baby when playing outside.

• The AAP recommends that infants younger than 6 months be kept out of direct sunlight and should avoid wearing sunscreen unless shade or protective clothing is unavailable.

• After 6 months of age, put sunscreen on your baby anytime she’s playing outside. Hats and protective clothing should be used when appropriate to provide further sun protection.

• When choosing sunscreen, choose one that is SPF 15 or higher, and labeled “broad-spectrum” because it protects against multiple types of UV rays. When applying sunscreen, follow the directions carefully to maximize effectiveness. It is best to apply it 30 minutes before going outside so that it has time to start working!

• UV rays are most intense on summer days, between 10am and 4pm. To minimize exposure, plan your outside play for early in the morning or in the evening.

• Sand, concrete, and water reflect sunlight and increase exposure, so be extra cautious when playing on or near these surfaces.

• The UV rays that cause skin damage are still present when it is cloudy or overcast. Sunscreen, protective hats and clothing, and sun shades should still be used even if it isn’t bright and sunny.

• It may take her some getting used to, but wearing sunglasses with UV protection will help keep your baby’s eyes safe.

Playing outside is a great way for your baby to explore the world and develop motor skills. We hope these tips help you and your baby have a fun and exciting summer, even when it’s hot out!


American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Environmental Health. Ultraviolet Light: A Hazard to Children. Pediatrics. 1999:104(2)328-332

Balk SJ, the Council on Environmental Health and Section on Dermatology. Ultraviolet Radiation: AHazard to Children and Adolecents. Pediatrics. 2011:127(3);e791-e871.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Secrets of Baby Behavior: Overstimulation

 My 3 year old, Olivia, just started gymnastics. Her class is held at 6 pm in a large warehouse-like building that includes a gymnastics area, where several classes are conducted concurrently, and a hockey rink. Olivia was so excited for her first class, so our whole family (me, my husband, and 7-month-old Charlotte) came to watch. As you can imagine, the sounds of squealing toddlers, giggling pre-teen gymnasts, and hockey practice echoing through the inadequately air conditioned building quickly became overwhelming for Charlotte. While I helped with Olivia’s class, my poor husband spent the entire hour trying to keep Charlotte calm. This week, we decided that Charlotte should stay home, so I took Olivia alone. As I sat in the waiting area, watching Olivia do her first summersault, I heard some fussing and saw a mom rocking her baby. I watched as she tried bouncing and singing, walking around, and even feeding her 3 month-old son, but nothing seemed to help him calm down. Finally, after about 20 minutes, the baby fell asleep. The mom looked relieved as she sat down next to me and said “I think he should stay home next week.”

After seeing another mother experience exactly what we went through just a week before, I was reminded how easily babies become overstimulated. Over the last 2 years, we’ve posted a lot of information about overstimulation. So, today I thought it would be good to provide links to previous posts that may be useful to parents going through the same thing.

Baby Behavior Basics Part 2: The Many Moods of Babies (June 2009) – In one of our original posts, we describe the 4 infant states babies move through when they are awake (drowsy, quiet alert, irritable, and crying). For each state, we explain what you will see that will tell you that this is the state your baby is in and what you can do to help your baby be calm and happy.

Baby Behavior Basics Part 3: Learning and Creating Your Baby’s Special Language (June 2009) – Babies give 2 types of cues to tell caregivers what they need. Engagement cues are given when they want to interact and disengagement cues mean they need something to be different. This post describes both types of cues and explains how each can be related to overstimulation.

Baby Behavior Basics Part 4: Crying: Your Baby’s Super Power (June 2009) – Babies can’t tell us with their words when they are overstimulated, so crying is an important way they tell us they need a break. For information about why babies cry, recognizing when a crying baby is overstimulated, and using repetition to help calm your baby, read this post!

Reader Question: How to keep your baby from being grumpy while grocery shopping (March 2010) – Like the gymnastics class, the grocery store can be a very overwhelming place for a young baby. The sights, sounds, smells, and even temperature change from aisle to aisle and can overload babies’ senses. In this post we provide tips to make the shopping experience a little easier on everyone!

Part 1: The Phenomenon of Late Afternoon/Early Evening Infant Crying (July 2010) –Many babies tend to get fussy in the late afternoon or evening and overstimulation is usually the reason. This post provides research about crying and why it tends to be more common later in the day. In Part 2, we provide tips to deal with late afternoon and early evening crying.

Too Much Fun: Preventing Overstimulation in Infants and Toddlers (December 2010) – In this post, we provide tips for minimizing meltdowns that can occur when our kids have had too much excitement. Although it isn’t possible to prevent your baby from ever getting overwhelmed, these tips can help!

Baby Science: The First 72 Hours (February 2011) – This post was written to provide the “baby science” behind what I experienced during the first few days after Charlotte was born. We explain why many newborns are very sleepy on day 1, how overstimulation can lead to fussiness on day 2, and why babies don’t always breastfeed perfectly the first time.

If you have questions about overstimulation, please send us a comment!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Babies' Firsts: The Science Behind Rolling Over

A few weeks ago, as part of our Babies’ Firsts series, we had the following questions for our readers:
  1. How old was your baby when he or she rolled over for the first time?
  2.  Did your baby roll from back-to-tummy or tummy-to-back first and how long did it take before he or she could roll both ways?
  3. What kind of adjustments or modifications did you have to make in your baby's environment to accommodate his or her new skill?
First, we’d like to thank everyone who commented! Your stories show that every baby is different and that even siblings who grow up in the same environment achieve milestones, like rolling over, at their own pace. Today, I’ll share the story about when my youngest daughter, Charlotte, learned to roll over and then explain what research shows about how and when babies tend to develop this important skill.

Charlotte’s Story
Charlotte is 7 months old now and she’s been rolling over for 3 ½ months. She first rolled from her back to her tummy while we were playing together on the floor. Although we had been having “tummy time” a few times each day, she never seemed to like it, so when she first rolled over, she promptly started crying. I helped her roll back onto her back, but within just a few minutes she was back on her tummy again. It went on like this for a few weeks until she learned to roll from her tummy to her back.

We had to make quite a few changes when Charlotte started rolling over. We had to be much better about keeping the floor clean and making sure that her big sister, Olivia, picked up her toys. We also had to start keeping all the dog toys out of reach and I bought a foam play mat to make our hard floor a little softer for her. All of the effort came in handy, because before long she was army crawling all over the house (but that story is for another post!).

Rolling Over Research
Everyone knows that there are 2 ways babies must learn to roll, from back-to-tummy and tummy-to-back, but many people (including me, until today) may not know that within each of these rolling methods there are 2 types, with and without rotation. Here is information about each type:

Prone to supine (tummy-to-back)
  • Without rotation – Rolling from tummy-to-back without rotation means that the shoulder and pelvis are aligned, body is extended, and the movement starts from the head.  It can start as early as 1 month of age, but only about 10% of babies can roll this way by 3 months; 50% and 90% achieve it by 6 and 8 ½ months, respectively.    
  • With rotation – Rolling from back-to-tummy with rotation is characterized by a shoulder and pelvis that are not aligned, movement originating from the shoulder, pelvis, or head, and rotation in the body.  Because the rotation is a more complicated movement, this type of rolling typically starts around 4 months with 50% achieving it by 7 months and 90% by about 9 months.
Supine to prone (back-to-tummy)
  • Without rotation – When a baby rolls from back-to-tummy without rotation, his head will be up, his body will be stretched and his shoulder will be in line with his pelvis. The movement will begin from the head, shoulder or hip, and his body will move as one unit. Fifty percent of babies can roll this way by about 5.5 months and 90% reach this milestone by 9 months.
  • With rotation – Rolling this way requires the baby to lift his head and stretch his body and the movement starts from the head, shoulder, or hip, but the shoulder and pelvis will not be aligned, the baby’s body will rotate, and the legs will move separately from the rest of the body. Just as with tummy-to-back, rolling with rotation is mastered a little later than rolling without; 50% achieve it by 7 months and 90% by 9 months.
So, the take-away message: The age at which babies master rolling over varies greatly! If you think about it, it makes sense given that rolling over requires the coordination and use of many muscle groups.  Regardless of the age of your baby, rolling over means that you have some baby-proofing to do! For more information, refer to Baby Proofing Part 1 (for birth to 6 months) and Part 2 (for 6-12 months).

Piper M, Darrah J. Motor Assessment of the Developing Infant. Philadelphia PA:W.B. Saunders Company 1994.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Summer Vacation

Because Monday is a holiday here in the United States, we are taking our vacation this week! Since the summer is a time when many families travel, we thought we'd refer you to previous information we've posted about traveling with babies:

  • 10 Tips for Traveling with Baby  - In one of our early posts, we provided 10 tips to make traveling with an infant less stressful.
  • 10 Tips for traveling (on your own) with your Baby - After spending most of 2010 traveling around California speaking about Baby Behavior, we realized that many parents are traveling with their children alone (without another adult). This post is a twist on the original travel post, written especially for brave parents who travel with their children alone!
  • Visiting Friends with Baby  - In this post we answer a reader question about visiting friends who don't have children or a child-proofed home, with tips for making the trip easier on everyone. 
We wish everyone a Happy Independence Day and a safe and exciting summer vacation! We'll be back next week with all new posts!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Reader Question: Breastfeeding and Pumping for 6 month old Baby

Earlier this week, we received this comment from a reader:

I have a question/comment that's not exactly related to this post. My baby just turned 6 months old today and we have been successfully and exclusively breastfeeding, but I need some encouragement and tips to keep going. I love breastfeeding when I'm home with the baby. I work full-time and just really don't like to pump at work. The pump isn't particularly comfortable and it takes about 40 minutes out of my work day and I could really use that 40 minutes right now. For the past few days I've really been thinking about not pumping anymore. I've read that infants do better breastfeeding for the whole first year, but how much better? I guess I want to know is it really worth it to breastfeed after the first 6 months?

We want to let you know that we completely understand what you are going through; as working mothers, we have been exactly where you are now. Returning to work is not easy and it takes a lot of adjustment for both mom and baby. Hopefully, by combining what we’ve learned from breastfeeding research and our personal experiences, we can help you continue breastfeeding for as long as you and your baby desire.

Pumping Problems

I admit that when I first saw a breast pump, I thought it looked like the most unnatural, uncomfortable device ever! After my first daughter was born prematurely (for the story of her birth, click here), however, I had to put my apprehension aside and learn everything I could about breast pumps. Now, after pumping for both my daughters, I know more than I ever thought I would about using a pump!

The most important thing to know about pumping is that it shouldn’t be painful. If you are experiencing 
discomfort or pain only when you pump (and not when you breastfeed) here are some things you can try:

  • If you are using an electric pump, try turning the suction strength down. The suction on most electric pumps can be turned much higher than anyone would ever need. Some pumps also have a “let-down” phase that can help the milk start flowing a little faster, so if yours has that feature, I recommend using it. 
  • Limit the amount of time you spend pumping. I know it can be tempting to pump until you feel like every last drop of milk has been removed, but pumping for too long can cause discomfort. I know every woman is different, so I can’t give you an exact time limit, but I found that 15-20 minutes was the longest I could pump in one sitting.

  • Make sure you have the right size breastshield (also called a flange). The breastshield/flange is the funnel-like part of the pump system that touches the breast directly. Most pump kits come with a standard size, but many women (myself included) need a bigger size. If your nipple rubs against the sides of the shield while you are pumping, you probably need a bigger size. 
  • Make sure the pump is working properly. It is possible that your pump isn’t functioning properly, causing discomfort. Many of the pump companies have technical assistance (check the company website for more information).
You also mentioned that pumping disrupts your work schedule. Since I am not sure the specifics about your job requirements and working environment, I am not sure what you can do to address that issue. Because I sit at a computer most of the day, I was able to pump and work simultaneously. If that is an option for you, there are some bra-like products that enable women to pump “hands-free” or you can create your own by cutting holes in sports bra tank top. If it isn’t possible for you to pump and work at the same time, you can try pumping during your lunch break.

Benefits of Breastfeeding – Does Duration Matter?

While much of the breastfeeding research focuses on the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding versus partial breastfeeding and/or full formula-feeding, there is evidence to show that longer breastfeeding durations provides increased benefits for both mothers and babies. The American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement, “Breastfeeding and the Use of Human milk” states that “Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child” and  “Increased duration of breastfeeding confers significant health and developmental benefits for the child and the mother, especially in delaying return of fertility (thereby promoting optimal intervals between births).”

Additional tips that may make breastfeeding work for you

  • Although breast milk continues to be a major source of nutrition as babies approach 1 year of age, keep in mind that as your baby gets older, he will be eating more and more solid foods.  Scheduling one of your baby’s solid food meals for when he is not with you can help you breastfeed more often when you are together.

  • As your gets more used to eating other foods, things will get easier and easier and eventually you shouldn’t need to pump much at all. You can talk to your pediatrician or a Lactation Consultant to get more information about the best way to spread out pumping.

  • Take time to consider all your options.  You mentioned that you enjoy breastfeeding and it is important to remember that your opportunity to breastfeed your son lasts for a relatively short period of time. Every family is different and only you know what is best for you and your baby, so take the time to make a well-informed decision that you will happy with in the long run.
We hope this information helps our anonymous reader and anyone else going through a similar experience.