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Adoptive Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding with an older baby

Does anyone have experience nursing an older baby or young toddler?  Any experience/advice would be appreciated.


You didn’t say if you are adopting an older baby or if you want to breastfeed your baby into toddlerhood. 
I haven’t breastfed my adopted children (adopted at 3 yrs and 15 mo), but I have been nursing my biological child for 2 years and counting.  She nurses once or twice a day now, and even though she’s highly vocal and very independent, she still feels like my little baby when we have “mama milk” time.  I think breastfeeding creates a great bond.  I didn’t try to nurse my adopted toddler because his foster parents had already weaned him off the bottle, and I don’t think CPS would have been supportive.

Posted by housefrau on Jun 13, 2013 at 6:22pm

I have nursed my adopted baby into toddlerhood, and have worked professionally helping other adoptive mothers to breastfeed.  Yes, please tell us whether you are interested in nursing an adopted baby into toddlerhood, or are adopting an older baby or toddler that you would like to breastfeed.

Posted by Alyssa IBCLC on Jun 13, 2013 at 6:47pm

It can be tricky but its possible, and it can help foster attachment in older babies that missed out in an orphanage. Reach out to your local La Leche League for tips and advice. You will likely need a supplemental nursing system, and it can be tricky to coax and older infant/toddler onto the breast, but not impossible with lots of love and patience.

Posted by Lyds780 on Jun 13, 2013 at 10:35pm

There’s a new book that just came out called BREASTFEEDING WITHOUT BIRTHING:  BREASTFEEDING GUIDE FOR MOTHERS THROUGH ADOPTION, SURROGACY, AND OTHER SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES (by Alyssa Schnell)  Praeclarus Press.  I’m reviewing it right now, and it’s great!  Has information for someone in your situation.  smile

Posted by mamaof2browngirls on Jun 15, 2013 at 6:12am

Thanks. My son is 19 months now.  He has shown some interest on his own (his birth mom nursed him, and he was living with her for his first year) but he hasn’t a clue how to latch anymore.  I nursed my bio daughter until she weaned herself and found it to be wonderful for our bond.  I still produce a few drops of milk and would be happy to nurse my son if he would like to, either on my own or with a lact-aid.  But I just wonder if its possible for him to re-learn to latch properly.  FYI he is still drinking from a bottle.  I talked to my LLL but no one had experience with nursing an adopted toddler.  Thanks again!

Posted by Faith3 on Jun 18, 2013 at 9:58am

There are lots of ideas for helping an older baby or toddler to learn (or re-learn to breastfeed).  First of all, we never want to push the issue - but rather let him rediscover it himself.  This may be more likely to happen if you are practicing skin-to-skin (him wearing only a diaper, you bare from the waist up), babywearing (in a carrier that does not have a layer of fabric between mother and baby), or when placing baby near the bare breasts when he is in a light sleep or drowsy state.  An excellent way to offer skin-to-skin is to take a bath together.  The warm, wet “womb-like” environment of the bathtub can be a “reset” button for older babies to awaken those newborn instincts to nurse.  It may also help to show your little guy some images of breastfeeding.  This video shows lots of skin-to-skin and up close breastfeeding:  Not all of these ideas are right for every mother/toddler, but I hope you will find some helpful.

Posted by Alyssa IBCLC on Jun 19, 2013 at 12:41am

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