When you are a new parent, it might be hard for you to let anyone other than your spouse handle that brand new baby. You might wince in terror as your mother struggles to comfort your new daughter, or starkly refuse when your grimy little brother asks to hold the baby. However, after awhile, most parents loosen up. Unfortunately, if you get too laid-back about childcare, you might make decisions that could impact your kid's education. My blog discusses several aspects of child care, so that you can decide what will work best for your family. After all, a few difficult decisions now could impact your kid for many years to come.
Figuring out how to send a breastfed toddler to daycare and making sure they continue to receive the proper balance of breast milk and solids can be difficult for both you and your daycare provider. You will have to figure out a pumping schedule that works for you, maintain proper storage, and find a daycare provider that knows how to handle human milk. However, choosing to wean your child while they are attending daycare comes with other complications. Whether your child has already started daycare or is about to start daycare, and you want to wean them from breastfeeding, here are some basics that you need to know.
Possible Regressions Associated With Major Life Changes
Enrolling your child in daycare will be a major life change for them. As such, they may exhibit both sleep regressions and feeding regressions. This may mean that even if your child is sleeping without assistance from you, they may want to nurse before naps and bedtime and have a more difficult time falling asleep in general when they first start daycare. They also may want to nurse more often, for short periods of time.
To help with the transition, you should consider weaning at least a month before your child starts daycare, or make sure they feel comfortable and confident at their daycare before you start to wean. Some signs that your child may be okay weaning while at daycare is that they rarely cry when you drop them off, and they will accept a snack rather than breastfeeding when you pick them up from daycare.
Weaning From the Pump
The first type of weaning many mothers opt to attempt is known as "weaning from the pump." This consists of dropping bottle or cup feedings but maintaining regular breast feedings, usually in the morning, afternoon, and before bed. Expressed-milk feedings are usually the easiest to stop, because they do not offer as much comfort as breast feeding.
However, if your child is more than one year old, your childcare provider may be receiving supplemental funding for offering nutritious meals to your child. For meals to count, they have to contain either breast milk or cow's milk. Some parents find that if their child drinks cow's milk at daycare, their child will begin to self-wean. If you are attempting to wean fully, this can be a positive thing, but if you still want your child to have the nutrients from morning and nighttime feedings, you may need a note from your doctor stating that your child cannot drink cow's milk.
Alternative Methods of Comfort
If you decide to wean your child fully, they may need alternative methods of comfort. Even if you are only weaning from the pump, your child may be losing some of the comfort they received from drinking expressed milk. You may introduce a special plush toy or blanket into their bedtime routine, if they are used to falling asleep while breastfeeding. These are easy for your child to take with them to daycare.
Depending on the age of your child, they may also still be sucking for comfort. You may find that they suddenly want their pacifier more often, especially while they are away from you. While this may worry you, it is important to note that many dentists recommend children give up their pacifiers between 2-4 years of age, meaning they do not pose a physical risk if your child continues to use them while they are at preschool.
Finally, you should be sure to offer the same amount of physical connection that breastfeeding offered your child. If your child is used to breastfeeding as soon as they return home from daycare, you should set aside the same amount of time to cuddle and connect.
Weaning can be difficult, whether you are with your child full-timer or they are in daycare. However, with a solid plan that you and your daycare provider agree on, you can successfully wean your child with few issues. Discuss your options with daycares near you, like Kid's Country Child Care & Learning Center, before settling on a center.