Ep. 86: Weaning From Boobs, Bottles and Baby-Tracking Apps
February 24, 2020
Lactation consultant Jessica Claire, IBCLC, is back to discuss weaning from breastfeeding and answer listener questions! Also, Laura wonders if her baby is technically walking yet, and Shanna discusses her very un-scientific conclusion about why her toddler has been waking up screaming at night. Finally, they reveal their BFPs and BFNs for the week. Shanna’s toddler is 13 months and 2 weeks old, and Laura’s baby is 12 months and 3 weeks old.
- WeeSprout Double Zipper Reusable Food Pouches* The best way to get yogurt into your toddler without a major mess! *affiliate link
- Google Nest Hub Shanna loves this versatile digital photo frame.
- Taking Charge of Your Fertility* The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health, recommended by lactation consultant, Jessica Claire *affiliate link
- Jessica Claire, IBCLC Our guest's website. Lactation consultant based in Los Angeles.
- The Family Room A community resource in San Marino and Toluca Lake, California. Find our guest, Jessica Claire, leading breastfeeding hangouts every week, as well as Mommy + Me, music, and art classes!
- Siggi's No-Sugar-Added Yogurt* The only flavored, full-fat yogurt Laura could find without added sugar. *affiliate link
This episode's sponsors:
Big Fat Positive: A Pregnancy and Parenting Journey is sponsored by BetterHelp. Join over 1 million people taking charge of their mental health. BetterHelp connects people with licensed, professional therapists in a safe online environment. BFP listeners get 10% off their first month.
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Shanna Micko: Hi. Welcome to Big Fat Positive with Shanna and Laura. On this week’s episode, we have our weekly check-ins. We have a special interview with lactation consultant, Jessica Claire, where we answer your questions and talk to her about what it’s like to be a lactation consultant and we wrap things up with our weekly BFPs and BFNs. Let’s get to it.
Shanna Micko: Hey everyone. Welcome to episode 86. Hi, Laura.
Laura Birek: Hey, Shanna.
Shanna Micko: How are you guys? How old’s your baby?
Laura Birek: My baby is 12 months and three weeks, and we’re good. So this week has been pretty smooth sailing. We are just on the trained towards walking. I don’t know what you call it: the slow crawl towards walking.
Shanna Micko: The people mover toward walking.
Laura Birek: Yes, I think last week I mentioned that we had been on a staycation and he was watching his little friend Keri’s daughter walk around.
So that sort of inspired him to take two to three steps. Now we’re up to like eight-ish steps.
Shanna Micko: What? That’s official. Good job, baby.
Laura Birek: Do you think that’s official? I feel like I’m not calling it yet because he still has to be between two high objects. It doesn’t feel quite there yet.
Shanna Micko: The kid has figured out how to get himself up on his feet balance, move, step. That’s walking.
Laura Birek: Okay.
Shanna Micko: I am giving your baby a blue ribbon for walking.
Laura Birek: Well, you can deliver that to Pasadena, California. I’ll make sure to put it on his wall.
Shanna Micko: Thank you.
Laura Birek: I think it’s interesting because obviously it’s imminent. Whether or not it’s official or not, the jury is out. But it’s obviously very, very close and also I’ve realized that it’s not like a lot of these other baby milestones like rolling over. You either roll over or you don’t. There’s not a lot of in between.
Crawling, you can kind of army crawl or crawl backwards for a while, but it’s very clear whether you can crawl or not. Sitting up, you can either sit up or not. You sit the baby down, they fall over, they’re not sitting yet. But walking, it’s a kind of a more gray area. When do you call it walking because he’s been taking steps for a couple weeks now?
Shanna Micko: So you’re just calling it taking steps at this point?
Laura Birek: Well, I feel like I’m splitting hairs.
Shanna Micko: I feel like it’s all semantics here.
Laura Birek: It is. But that’s the point. That’s the point I’m trying to make is that it’s not this clear cut. You always hear stories, like you walked on this day. I don’t think there’s a day you can pick. It kind of happens and then you realize, oh, yeah. Now they are walking.
Shanna Micko: I will tell you I picked a day. It was the day she took her first step. So I don’t know. I don’t feel this gray area like you do. Yes, she continued to work on that skill and got much better and then could actually transport herself from place to place with that skill. But the day that she figured out that she could move one foot in front of the other, to me that was walking.
Laura Birek: Interesting.
Shanna Micko: So that’s why I think it’s walking. But I love that you have a different perspective on this. Why do you think you come from this school of thought?
Laura Birek: That’s a good question. Personally, if we’re getting into our little psychology couch, lying down I’m going to talk to my therapist Shanna. I feel like I like to earn my accolades, I guess. I like to be good at things. I like to make sure that I’ve really earned any praise and I feel like maybe I’m projecting that onto the baby. I’m like, you’re taking steps. I wouldn’t call that walking. Also, I feel like Corey’s on the same page as me. We’re both sort of like, it’s close, but it’s not quite there yet. Nice try, kid. Maybe that’s mean. I’ve heard that you shouldn’t overly praise your kids. Not that you shouldn’t praise them, but that there’s kind of a detrimental effect to just praising him for every little thing and so I’m trying to make sure that I praise his effort and praise the work he’s putting into it and not necessarily like the results. So maybe that’s it. Or maybe I’m just not ready to say I have a walker yet.
Shanna Micko: Oh, maybe. It definitely reminds me of the growth mindset, which is from that psychologist I think Carol Dweck or something. It’s like growth mindset or the other mindset, which is you have received praise all your life and you get worried you can’t accomplish things. That’s totally me. The growth mindset is appreciating the effort and working hard and that motivates a person. So I think that it’s good that you’re instilling this in him. My baby’s going to be deserving praise for every little like circle she draws and every step she takes.
Laura Birek: It’s a challenge. I can’t say that I don’t just praise him with “good job” all the time. I try to stop.
I try to not say good job to every little thing, but it’s so ingrained in us and I really think like, good job, baby. You took a step between the couch and the coffee table. That’s a good job. I know in my mind I’m supposed to say like, wow, look at you. You were really walking. You were really working hard on that, instead of being like, good job. You’re so special and smart and you’re the most special person in the whole wide world, which is what I really want to say.
Shanna Micko: I know. It’s such a balance. One phrase I’ve come to use is, “You did it,” instead of like, good job for every… I still say, “Good job” for a lot. But if she figures something out I say, “You did it.”
Laura Birek: No, that’s a really good one: you really did it. It’s hard to train yourself to not say, “Good job,” but that’s a really great replacement and there’s all this research that says that’s the way to do it. So I’m sure in the next generation they’re going to be like, parents in the 2010s and 2020s all they did was tell us, “You did it,” no one ever told us, “Good job,” and now we have complexes about it. So anyway, either he’s walking or he is not.
Shanna Micko: Okay.
Laura Birek: But we’re holding back. I think it’s going to happen in the next couple days, but we’re holding our judgment back.
Shanna Micko: Sounds like it.
Laura Birek: I’m holding off on putting it in my little baby tracker app too. We’ll see. That’s exciting though and I think he wants it so bad. I think it’s going to be real exciting for him when he finally gets to do it.
Shanna Micko: He’s just going to take off in a full run.
Laura Birek: I think probably. That’s how he’s done everything. He’s just like, can crawl, I’m going to crawl so fast. It creeps you out. All right. Anyway, that’s where we’re at on the physical milestones this week. The other milestone we had this week was, you’re going to laugh I feel like at this one, I finally stopped tracking every time I breastfed.
Shanna Micko: Okay. That is a gut laugh.
Laura Birek: I knew you were going to think I was insane. It’s hard to let go of the data collection, Shanna.
Shanna Micko: Oh, it wasn’t for me, but for you. I can see why this is a bit of your passion in life so I feel you.
Laura Birek: I do love data and it did really help me remember what side I fed on the last time because he’s a one boob feeder and if you mess up and do two boobs twice in a row, your other boob lets you know. You know what I mean?
Shanna Micko: That’s true.
Laura Birek: It doesn’t let me know at the time. It just lets me know like an hour later. It’s like, what have you done? I’m walking around totally lopsided, which is enormous and rock hard.
Shanna Micko: Yes, true. Oh, God. Ow. Leaking everywhere.
Laura Birek: I have to say the downside is that there’s definitely been times I’m like, which boob is it? I’m trying to remember and I just loved being able to look at the chart and be like, oh, I fed this much, this much. I want to export the data and see how many minutes I breastfed within the first year.
Shanna Micko: Ooh. Yeah, I need to know.
Laura Birek: I have to do that.
Shanna Micko: So why did you stop then if you love it so much?
Laura Birek: Well, I started forgetting and my guy wiggles around so much that I would try to pull my phone out to start the timer and then he would be trying to nurse upside down or something so I wouldn’t be able to do it and then I’d forget. Then I try to remember later on to add it in and finally it was just like, wait, what am I doing? I’ve been going back in to add the information after the fact. This is getting to some obsessive compulsive situation.
So I just sort of like let it go. I was like, it’s time to do that. You’ll be happy to hear we stopped tracking diapers at two months.
Shanna Micko: Oh, okay. Good. I was really worried about what that number was going to be.
Laura Birek: So the only thing we track now are naps, not nighttime sleep because you don’t really need to know. He sleeps through the night for the most part and there are occasional nights where he’ll wake up at like… I don’t need that data anymore. But I do need to know when he actually went down for his nap and when he woke up. We do that still. I’m still using the app, but that’s it. I am weaning myself off apps.
Shanna Micko: That’s good. Moving forward as a mom. Congratulations.
Laura Birek: Thank you. That was my week.
Shanna Micko: Woo.
Laura Birek: Shanna, how old’s your toddler not baby? It’s going to take a while for me to get used to saying that. What have you guys been up to?
Shanna Micko: I know. My toddler is 13 months and two weeks and last week I think I was mentioning she was having some trouble sleeping again and waking up at night and stuff and this week sleep has been better and I made a very unscientific correlation.
Laura Birek: Ooh, okay.
Shanna Micko: Remember way back in the day I had been giving CeCe that baby rice cereal that you’re supposed to give little babies and she was just having the worst time sleeping, waking up screaming and riving. At some point I was like, maybe I’ll stop giving her this rice and then she slept like a dream. This time she’s sleeping a lot better now and I realized that these teething crackers I’ve been giving her had rice flour in them, like puffs, teething biscuits, all that stuff is made with rice flour.
Laura Birek: Oh, no.
Shanna Micko: I had been trying to avoid a lot of that stuff because I was worried and I just didn’t even think about these teething biscuits. They’re the little Happy Baby… I don’t know what you call them.
Laura Birek: Moms or something.
Shanna Micko: I had run out of them, so she hadn’t been getting them for the last few nights and suddenly she’s sleeping comfortably again.
Laura Birek: Oh my God.
Shanna Micko: So I’m like, oh my God, I really think that this baby has a problem digesting rice. I don’t know if it just causes her so much gas that she wakes up with gas pains or what it is specifically. But I’m like, “Everyone in the house, this baby gets no rice. No rice.”
Laura Birek: Zero rice.
Shanna Micko: Yes, which is a bummer because rice is so great. Elle loves rice and we eat a lot, but I really think she has a problem with it.
Laura Birek: It sounds like it. It really, really does. I wonder if it’s something that you should actually bother with an allergist or just try to avoid it and move on with your life.
Shanna Micko: I know.
Laura Birek: But she doesn’t get any skin-like issues, so it does sound digestive. I wonder if it’s something they grow out of too, huh?
Shanna Micko: I hope so. I really hope so.
Laura Birek: Well, that’s a bummer.
Shanna Micko: But the good news is she is sleeping better and Elle is sleeping really good this week and almost every day this week we’ve all slept until 7:00 a.m., which is amazing and I’m knocking on wood.
Laura Birek: Dang! You must feel like a new woman.
Shanna Micko: I do. It really feels like sleeping in, but like I said, I’m knocking on wood so hard because I know the second I celebrate this it’s all going to go to shit next week for some reason or another.
Laura Birek: You definitely just jinxed it.
Shanna Micko: I did, but I had to share because I’m excited and when it goes right it just feels so good. It’s like, oh my God.
Laura Birek: Was it the thing where you woke up before them?
Shanna Micko: Sometimes yeah. I would wake up because the sun comes up. I don’t set an alarm anymore ever because they always wake me up. But sometimes the light in my room will wake me up and it’ll be 6:30 and I’m like, wait, what’s going on?
Laura Birek: What’s happening?
Shanna Micko: I still have a little bit of residual postpartum anxiety where it’s like, where are the girls? They must not be alive anymore and then it’s like Shanna, it’s not even 7:00 a.m. yet. They’re probably just sleeping. So I have to let some of that go, but I always stay in bed until they wake up and scream for me, mama!
Laura Birek: Does Elle get out of bed and come into your room? Or how does that work?
Shanna Micko: Yeah, she’ll get up and come into my room. Or if I’m already up with CeCe, she’ll come out into the living room and visit us in the living room or the kitchen or wherever we are.
Laura Birek: That’s great. Hold onto that. I love how if you had talked to me a year and a half ago and said you are going to celebrate sleeping till seven as a sleep in, I would be like, oh God. But now I totally get it. I’m like, ooh, amazing. I didn’t get woken up once. I think I still get to sleep in sort of because Corey does the morning shift with the baby. So he’ll wake up with the baby and then go out and then I’ll sort of have a very long protracted snooze essentially, because I’m not sleeping really well between when the baby wakes up and we live in a small house. I can hear the baby crying if he’s crying and mom brain will not let you sleep through that and I’m like, he’s fine. He’s with dad. But I do get to have my snooze where I’ll close my eyes for 10 minutes and then I’ll be eventually getting out of bed, which is very nice.
Shanna Micko: That is nice.
Laura Birek: But still, eventually getting out of bed is 7:30. It’s not exactly a sleep in. Oh, Shanna, you remember how I used to sleep in?
Shanna Micko: Oh, yeah. You were a night owl. You would stay up late and get up late.
Laura Birek: So late. I’d stay up until if the sun started coming up, I’d be like, oh, shoot. I should go to bed and then I’d sleep at 11 or noon and I could not understand why everyone was so annoyed with me.
Shanna Micko: You are so funny. I’ve always been a morning person, so this new schedule is not the worst for me like I’m sure it is for you, but still it’s just relentless, like really? Every single day I’ve got to start at 6?
Laura Birek: Babies, we asked for them.
Shanna Micko: Yes, we did and we love them. They’re wonderful.
Laura Birek: We do, but I have to say if anyone’s pregnant and listening to this and freaking out because if I had been pregnant and listening to this, I would’ve been like, oh my God, what have I done? It sounds like such a fucking cliché, but it really makes it all worth it when you wake up and your baby’s smiling at you.
Shanna Micko: Oh, yeah.
Laura Birek: It makes it so much easier to wake up.
You’re tired but you’re just so in love with this little baby and you just want to smother him with kisses. So yeah, it definitely has made the transition to having to be a morning person a little better for me.
Shanna Micko: Definitely. Chances are you’re going to be tired as shit by like 9, 10 o’clock the night before, so you’ll go to bed and get a pretty full night’s sleep anyway. That’s my life. But that might scare you too. You know what? Everything’s great. Everything’s going to be perfect. Have that baby.
Laura Birek: Yes, we encourage you to not be worried. It’ll all be fine. Actually, I do think that I’m a good example because I am a really, really, really extreme night owl. I think I’m one of the more extreme examples I’ve ever met. If everything else was removed, I’d probably stay up till at least three or four in the morning every night. As I’ve gotten older, maybe that’s moved back. But God, in my twenties, I would regularly stay up till three or four in the morning and sleep until like 11 if I could when I had a freelance job or was in grad school and if I can make the transition, anyone can make the transition seriously.
Shanna Micko: True.
Laura Birek: It really, really is. We’ll have to call my mom or my brother so they can attest to this. I was bad and I’m here to say it’s really, really not that bad.
Shanna Micko: Yes, here you are.
Laura Birek: Alive.
Shanna Micko: Alive and living proof.
Laura Birek: It is possible.
Shanna Micko: The other thing this week is that I signed CeCe and I up for a Baby & Me class at the YMCA that we are a member of and it’s so cool. The YMCA you join it and then they have all these classes that are just free.
Laura Birek: Oh, really?
Shanna Micko: Yeah, there’s all these kids classes, dance classes, art and then several different Baby & Me classes for different ages and everything. I was like, perfect. I’ve been waiting for a few months for the new session to start up and the one I signed up for was right near lunchtime, so it was perfect. I could take my lunch break and go over there and have some social time. So I was so excited and we missed the first class because of her nap.
Laura Birek: Always.
Shanna Micko: The rules of these free classes you got to take it seriously because they’re free. I think it’s like if you miss a couple classes or if you’re late, we remove you from the class because they need to provide an opportunity for someone else to come in because they fill up pretty fast. So I was already all worried about that. I’m like, oh God, we missed the first class, blah, blah, blah. The second class, we made it and I got there and every single baby was about three to six months old except CeCe who was 13 months old.
Laura Birek: Oh, no.
Shanna Micko: They’re just sitting there like blobs.
Laura Birek: Oh my God.
Shanna Micko: I was like, “Hi.” Of course, I come late because baby. So we walk in, everyone kind of just looks at us funny and I was like, “Hi, am I in the wrong class?” The teacher was like, “This is for the three to six month old babies,” and I was like, “She’s 13 months old.” The woman was like, “Oh, yeah, let’s look at the roster.” She’s like, “You did sign up for this class, but this is the wrong class and your baby doesn’t belong in this class. The older class is at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesdays. You can stay today and then next week start coming with the right age group.” I was like, “Okay.” So we awkwardly stayed while they did their stuff and sang songs and I was like, I can’t come at 10:00 a.m. First of all, that’s her nap time right now. Second of all, that’s the middle of my work morning. So it was just such a massive fail and I was so deflated and embarrassed that I don’t know why I didn’t sign up for the right… how did I not know that that was the right class? Anyway, mom fail.
Laura Birek: That’s a bummer. That’s really disappointing too because you’re like, I finally get to have something. I bet it wasn’t that clear. You’re very detail oriented.
Shanna Micko: I am, but I am overwhelmed and constantly multitasking. So I definitely see little things like this slipping through the cracks more than they used to or maybe it wasn’t clear. Their website is a little bit tricky to navigate for all these signups. So I don’t know. Point being we are not in Baby & Me class at YMCA.
Laura Birek: It’s tough because so many of those kid activities are aimed towards stay at home moms.
Shanna Micko: Definitely.
Laura Birek: You’re at home with your baby, but you’re working full-time. You can’t just leave in the middle of the day once a week. So it’s tough. For me, I’m freelancing and staying at home so I can make all these random classes and as you know, I like to fill our days with classes and stuff. I’m a little bit addicted to classes, but yeah, I can totally see how it filters out anyone who’s working and a lot of them are not on weekends as far as I can tell.
Shanna Micko: No, there’s no baby classes at this YMCA on the weekends for sure. MyGym offered a couple baby classes on the weekends, but I quit MyGym in favor of signing the family up for YMCA so we could all participate in stuff and Elle could swim and it’s like I got to figure out where to spend my money and stuff. We need more baby play dates or something.
Laura Birek: We do need more baby play dates. Especially now that my baby is kind of walking, I think they’d have a lot of fun together.
Shanna Micko: That would be fun. So that’s pretty much our week. Should we wrap this up and come back with our special segment?
Laura Birek: I think we should.
Laura Birek: Welcome back to the show, everyone. So this week we have a very special interview with our friend, Jessica Claire, who we’ve had on the show before. She is a lactation consultant, an IBCLC. What does IBCLC stand for again?
Jessica Claire: It’s really hard to remember but I can do it: International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.
Laura Birek: Yes.
Jessica Claire: There we go.
Laura Birek: Very good. Shanna is not with us today, but we are out in the field in Jessica’s office and so thank you for joining us again.
Jessica Claire: Thank you for having me. It was super fun last time.
Laura Birek: We love having you on the show. So we actually put up a call for questions about weaning specifically because as you know my baby is about a year old and Shanna’s is 13 months.
Jessica Claire: Right.
Laura Birek: That’s when people start talking about weaning.
Jessica Claire: Absolutely.
Laura Birek: So hopefully we can shed some light on it because it’s very confusing.
Jessica Claire: Yes.
Laura Birek: First of all, I just wanted to see if you could help us define weaning because I feel like you hear about baby-led weaning, which is a solid food thing, and then you hear about weaning from bottles, which is different from weaning from breast milk.
Jessica Claire: Sure.
Laura Birek: Can you talk about what weaning is when we talk about it?
Jessica Claire: I think there’s a lot of different definitions probably out there in the world, but the one that I kind of come back to always the process of weaning, say from the breast or the bottle really, starts when that baby starts getting other things in their mouth and typically that’s around six months is when the baby starts solid. Sometimes some pediatricians are going to recommend a little earlier. I typically recommend waiting not four months, but it’s at six months starting around that time and that’s when the weaning process is starting. Meaning, we’re beginning to eat and drink, possibly we’re giving little bits of water, something other than breast milk or formula for bottle feeding.
Laura Birek: Okay.
Jessica Claire: Weaning, especially if we’re thinking about breastfeeding, I always like to really encourage people to think of it as a process rather than an event that’s going to happen on one day. Similar to something like potty learning, typically a kid is not necessarily going to go from full-time diaper use to full-time potty use in the course of a day or even a week. Often it’s a bit of a process. So that’s one way to define weaning. It’s one I like because it’s kind of setting up like yeah, we’re still breastfeeding, but we’re beginning that process of introducing new things to the baby with the eventual goal of not needing the breast or not breastfeeding anymore at some point and that’s going to look different for every family: how long that process is, when it happens completely.
Laura Birek: For people who are done, they’re just done with breastfeeding whether it’s at three months or whether it’s at two years, how do you go about weaning I guess from the breast?
Jessica Claire: Well, just on a technical level, in order to ramp down breast milk production, you have to let the breast be full in between feedings and so technically speaking, let’s say you would be maybe dropping a breastfeed every few days to a week because you don’t want a cold Turkey. Like if you’ve been breastfeeding your baby eight times a day and then the next day you stop breastfeeding altogether, you could really end up with a nasty case of mastitis. So anything should be kind of a slower transition. I would say the fastest I would want someone to safely wean from full on production, I’m talking about an infant who’s nursing eight times a day to pretty much completely dried up would be about a two week window.
Laura Birek: Okay.
Jessica Claire: I wouldn’t try to do it faster than that and of course, you could stretch it out much longer than that too. Stopping production with an infant is a bit of a different game than with a toddler who has more opinions and more mobility and more verbiage even. So it kind of gets into setting boundaries as opposed to with an infant. If we were stopping breastfeeding say at three months, we would be gradually shifting over to bottle feeding and like I said, I wouldn’t want that to go probably any faster than about two weeks just for the breast health. Again, every mom is a little bit different. If she has a low supply to begin with, she’s going to probably be able to dry herself up much sooner.
If she’s only nursing her two-year-old three times a day and she’s like, you know what, I’m pregnant and I don’t want to nurse through this pregnancy or whatever. There could be a million reasons why. That would be more of probably a boundary-setting situation with the toddler where it’s like, this is one strategy, think about what’s the nursing session that toddler or we both are most attached to. That’s the last one we’re going to give up and typically that’s going to be the before-bed nursing and so if we’re talking about a two-year-old, we could make a little stick figure book with a little simple phrase on every single page that you write very, very simple: Roxy wants to nurse, mommy says only at bedtime, Roxy gets really sad. You can do things like that to kind of commemorate the end of something and also be prepared that your toddler is probably going to get really mad at you if they’re attached to breastfeeding. I think if in your heart of hearts this is going to be best for our whole family, you have to stay with that result like, no, here’s a cup of water, or here’s some milk, or here’s a snack. I know you want to nurse right now, but we can read a book and cuddle and you’re going to get really upset and I’m going to hold that space for you. But we’re not going to do this. Guess what? At nighttime, that’s when we’re going to nurse. So it kind of depends on the situation. Some kids are easier than others. Some windows of time are easier than others. So if a mom of, say an 18-month-old who’s going through a big developmental leap is having a bear of a time trying to wind down some of the nursing, she may want to wait a month and then try again kind of like the potty training idea also where there can be little windows of time that are easier to make shifts.
Laura Birek: Okay.
Jessica Claire: But one approach too is to don’t offer, don’t refuse with a toddler in particular where it’s like you’re not sitting down and offering breastfeeding and you could put limits on it, like we only do it at home or whatever. But basically when the kid asks, sure. I can sit here with you for a couple minutes and breastfeed because a lot of times it’s real short and that works for some moms where they’re just kind of like, however it unfolds, it unfolds for us and I’m not feeling like I need to wean the kid fast. That’s cool too.
Laura Birek: That makes sense.
Jessica Claire: Path of least resistance almost.
Laura Birek: I was going to ask, do you ever run into a situation where a toddler will wean themselves? Or is that pretty unheard of?
Jessica Claire: Yeah, it often will be where the child will ask to nurse and then a few days will go by and they almost forget about it. Maybe they’ll ask. You know what I mean? It begins to space out way, way, way, far apart from each other, all the nursings and of course the milk supply is going to go down because of that as well. But yeah, self-weaning is a thing, but if you’re wanting to try that path, you’re probably looking at least two years. It’s unusual for a child who’s been nursing on demand or whenever they ask to self-wean before two years old.
Laura Birek: Interesting. Okay.
Jessica Claire: But I’ve known especially little busy kids that really like to move their body and play a lot, which is a lot of children, I’ve definitely seen that. I worked with a mom once who was sad that her kid didn’t want to breastfeed anymore around two. We had to talk a lot about this is the way your child is telling you that he’s ready to move on. So it can happen in all different ways, but it’s a relationship and I think both parties need to be sort of acknowledged. If your kid is still showing a need to nurse, how can I meet his need without driving myself crazy, can be a question. Do I need to put limits? Do I need to have timeframe? Do we need to have just one place in the house where we nurse and that way he gets his nursing time in and I also get a little bit more body autonomy if that’s what I’m after? It depends on the mom.
Laura Birek: That’s great. We have some questions that people sent in, so I’m going to move on to those. Steph on Instagram asks, “Do I have to wean if I want to start trying for another baby?”
Jessica Claire: That’s such a good question. Fertility is a sticky widget. I’m sure you know. It’s highly variable. So I would say some moms can if they’re not fertile. So if you know you’re not ovulating and some moms of… How old was the baby, again?
Laura Birek: She doesn’t say.
Jessica Claire: So, yes, you can totally continue to breastfeed and get pregnant. There are some of us though, in order to trick our body into ovulating again, are going to have to switch up the nursing a lot or go much longer period of time without nursing because it’s that nipple stimulation, hormonal stimulation to the body that keeps the estrogen levels really low.
Some of us can continue to nurse and we’ll get pregnant naturally anyway, like our period is back and we’re ovulating. Others of us are going to have to maybe really vary how much, like cut down on the nursing or make sure we have one long stretch every day with no nursing whatsoever to jumpstart our body into ovulation again. Others of us, especially if we’re undergoing any kind of fertility treatments like IVF, most doctors are really going to want you not lactating and nursing at all. They want that variable off the table. This is not my area of expertise, but I would say I think they just don’t know and they don’t like having that extra variable in the mix when we’re trying to get pregnant in a very intentional assisted way. Does that make sense?
Laura Birek: Yeah, definitely.
Jessica Claire: A lot of people get pregnant while they’re nursing, so it’s not 100% birth control, especially as the baby gets older and spaces out their nursings more and more and often it’s when that baby starts sleeping long stretches and starts eating a lot more solids around a year. If the mom has been doing pretty intensive breastfeeding, that’s often when fertility will return. But it can be very spotty. If you were regular before, you might not be regularly ovulating. I love that book: Taking Charge of Your Fertility. I don’t know if you’re familiar with it, but she does have a section on lactation and tracking your ovulatory cycle and that would be a good resource.
Laura Birek: We’ll put a link to that in our show notes for sure.
Jessica Claire: But yeah, it’s highly variable. So I don’t have an answer.
Laura Birek: But you can get pregnant while you’re breastfeeding. I know there’s a lot of surprise babies from people.
Jessica Claire: Yes.
Laura Birek: Heard it was birth control.
Jessica Claire: Right. I would hate for someone to think they have to wean completely to get pregnant. That’s not always the case.
Laura Birek: This is from Karen on Facebook. She says, “As far as transitioning from formula to milk…” I think she might mean from breast milk to other kinds of milk, “I would love to hear what the lactation consultant thinks about alternatives to cow’s milk: soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, et cetera.” She said in a recent episode we talked about how my pediatrician said that the toddlers don’t need cow’s milk if they have adequate nutrition elsewhere. So she’s wondering if the alternatives line up.
Jessica Claire: Just to back up a little bit and then I’m going to answer her question. If you continue to breastfeed your toddler past a year I think three, four times a day, you really don’t need to worry about introducing liquid cow’s milk. The pediatrician often will tell you, now that your baby’s 12 months old, they need to get X amount of ounces. Maybe not your pediatrician, but many: X amount of ounces of whole milk cow’s milk between 12 and 24 months.
That’s assuming that the kid isn’t breastfeeding because most of the people in their practice are probably going to be weaning around 12 months if not before in the US. Not everybody. If you were to look at the nutritional profile of say almond milk versus a whole milk cow’s milk, they’re very different. I really wouldn’t assume that these boxed oat milk, almond milk, and they all have sort of different nutritional profiles, they really don’t have the same kind of nutritional punch that a whole cow’s milk would have. That being said, a lot of people don’t tolerate cow’s milk very well, including toddlers. I’m with your pediatrician. If the kid is not breastfeeding at all and you’re not a vegan say, I would definitely add whole milk yogurt, cheese, other sources of dairy fat, protein and minerals to the diet. But like I said, if the child is continuing to breastfeed past a year and you don’t want to introduce a lot of dairy products or it doesn’t work for your family very well, you’re going to be covered nutritionally.
Jessica Claire: So no, I wouldn’t sub say almond milk for cow’s milk. It’s more akin to juice if you actually look at this, especially if it’s sweetened. Coconut milk, although I like that, I use it in cooking and stuff like that. It’s very high in fat, very low in protein. So it’s very different even though it’s liquidy and kind of looks like milk.
Laura Birek: What about like goat’s milk? You hear about goat’s milk.
Jessica Claire: Yeah, goat’s milk is similar to cow’s milk. People say it’s closer to human milk. It’s not really. It’s a bovine milk. Some kid’s tolerate goat milk yogurt better than cow milk product: plain goat milk, liquid goat milk. So you just going to have to experiment.
But certainly there are lots of children all over the world that don’t get dairy products at all and as long as they’re getting a nutrient dense diet in overall and hopefully some breast milk too, they’re going to be okay.
Laura Birek: What about toddler formula?
Jessica Claire: This is such an interesting question. Really not recommended. Dairy consumption in the US has gone way, way down over the last four decades or so. People used to drink a lot more milk in general and yet the dairy industry continues to be subsidized by the government. So there’s a ton of surplus of dairy every year. A lot of it right now is going into these toddler formulas. Toddler formulas, read the ingredients, folks. It’s got a lot of added sugar to it. Much sweeter. There’s been a cry from a lot of health professionals this is contributing to childhood obesity. Unless you have a special need and discuss this with your doctor, of course, your baby was a preemie and isn’t gaining well as a toddler. There may be reasons to use them, but in general, you would switch from an infant formula or breast milk. If you’re weaning at a year, then you’d go onto whole cow’s milk, which is much less sugary and much less expensive.
Laura Birek: It’s a lot cheaper.
Jessica Claire: So I don’t recommend toddler formulas in general unless there’s some kind of special situation. They’d be working with the doctor, anyway.
Laura Birek: That’s the end of our listener questions.
I just had one final question for you, which is, do you want to tell us again how we can find you if people who need your help or want to join your breastfeeding hang?
Jessica Claire: Absolutely. Yes, okay. So my website is lactationconsultantla.com and my Instagram handle is jessica.claire.ibclc. Let’s see. Every Monday I’m at the Family Room San Marino starting in March 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and that’s a drop in, come with your questions and your baby breastfeeding hang. Then the Toluca Lake breastfeeding hang is going to be every Tuesday from 1 to 2:30 p.m. So I’d love to see some folks there because we’re just ramping up that space. That’s a brand new location place.
Laura Birek: Very exciting. All right. Well, thank you again so, so much. You’re a great resource and we’re so happy to have you help us.
Jessica Claire: I’m so happy to be here. Thank you for having me again.
Shanna Micko: We’re back and it’s time for our weekly BFPs and BFNs. Laura, you’re up. What do you got?
Laura Birek: I’ve got a BFP this week.
Shanna Micko: All right.
Laura Birek: So they are refillable food pouches for babies.
Shanna Micko: Ooh, okay. Tell me more.
Laura Birek: I knew these existed because the world wants you to do everything: make your own baby food, do all this stuff. My baby loves the pouches these days. He gets a little picky. Sometimes he likes in one week and then the next week he doesn’t like it. But anyway, he likes the pouches. But this is not about making my own purees to put in the baby pouches because I don’t have time for that. The whole point of the pouch is the convenience. You buy it, you hand it over, it’s fine and yeah, we’ve talked about how it sucks for the environment to use those disposable pouches. So this could solve that problem, but this is not why I bought them. I bought them because of yogurt.
Shanna Micko: Oh, that’s a great idea.
Laura Birek: Thank you.
Shanna Micko: That’s brilliant. I hate feeding my baby yogurt. I literally will not do it because I hate how messy it is.
Laura Birek: I felt like that thing where the cartoon character gets a light bulb above its head.
Shanna Micko: Yeah.
Laura Birek: I was just like, oh my gosh, I need to get these refillable pouches and put the fucking yogurt inside of them and then the baby could eat the yogurt without it getting all over him and I don’t have to sit there spooning him because he won’t let me spoon anything into his mouth anymore. He just wants to do it himself. But he does not have the dexterity or the patience to eat yogurt properly with a spoon. I could hand him a spoon and he’ll put it in his mouth and then he’ll put it on his head and then he’ll throw it on the ground. So the ones I got they’re called WeeSprout, W-E-E Sprout Double Zipper Reusable Food Pouches. I got them on where else but amazon.com and you could either get like a variety pack that are five ounces and seven ounces, or you can get like a six pack of either depending on what size you think your kids are going to want. They’re dishwasher safe, freezer safe, no PVC, phthalates, BPA, blah, blah, blah. All that stuff that people are worried about. So it’s a safe little pouch for them to use and honestly, it’s so easy to fill. You just pop open the bottom, you spoon the yogurt in, and then you close it and it’s got two zippers. I was all worried it was going to always squeeze out the bottom, but we haven’t had that problem at all. They’re pretty sturdy.
Shanna Micko: Awesome.
Laura Birek: They’re great. So we really like them and a six pack I think is more than enough. We actually gave one to a friend because you’re not feeding them yogurt six times a day. So you always have one available. So yeah, that’s been really, really great. We haven’t had yogurt for, gosh, like a month or two because I just hate doing it and now we can do it.
My other plug is Siggi’s if you have that in your area.
Shanna Micko: I was going to say, what kind of yogurt do you feed him?
Laura Birek: So specifically there’s a Siggi’s that is whole milk yogurt. I think it’s like 4% milk fat in there and the foil on top is blue and it’s a no sugar added whole milk yogurt with fruit in it.
Shanna Micko: Okay.
Laura Birek: So there’s like a raspberry flavor and then there’s a banana and cinnamon flavor. That’s all I’ve ever seen. That’s actually what we use because you’re supposed to give them like whole fat yogurt, but then it’s hard to find flavored whole fat yogurt that doesn’t have a bunch of sugar in it. Anyway, he loves the Siggi’s with the blue top. That’s what we do and it’s great because I think it’s actually really helping his tummy because it has the probiotics. You know that’s good for them. I’m assuming they don’t have a dairy intolerance or something. But I’ve noticed that he was having some problems with constipation and stuff and everyone says, don’t give dairy if there’s constipation. But I’ve noticed it improve with the yogurt. I think it’s because of all the probiotics.
Shanna Micko: Oh, I love that idea. I wonder if you could put smoothies inside of these little pouches. I’ve got one of those little… What are they called?
Laura Birek: Like the Ninja?
Shanna Micko: Yeah, I have a little Ninja blender. It’s so easy to just throw some stuff in there and make a little smoothie and maybe I could put that in a pouch and trick my baby into getting vegetables and fruit.
Laura Birek: You definitely could. I know that CeCe definitely loves those pouches and they’re totally familiar. The first time I gave it to him he was like, yeah, I know what to do with this.
Shanna Micko: Okay.
Laura Birek: So it’s great: WEE Sprout Reusable Food Pouches.
Shanna Micko: Awesome.
Laura Birek: So highly recommend. Get that yogurt on. Shanna, do you have a BFP or a BFN for us this week?
Shanna Micko: I have a BFP.
Laura Birek: Yay.
Shanna Micko: My BFP is digital photo album, which I kind of knew that these existed and just kind of wrote them off as stupid for no apparent reason. I don’t know why.
Just didn’t seem like anything I needed or wanted in my life.
Laura Birek: Wait, is it a physical thing?
Shanna Micko: I’ll get to what I have.
Laura Birek: Okay.
Shanna Micko: But a photo album is basically like a picture frame or something that will rotate digital images.
Laura Birek: Got it. So it’s not an album like folder on your phone, but a real physical thing?
Shanna Micko: No, something you would put on your shelf at home.
Laura Birek: Got it.
Shanna Micko: Yes, I kind of heard of these things as like, I’m going to get grandma this and load it with pictures of the kids or whatever. So I never thought that I would ever want one. But for Christmas I got Steve a new phone and for some reason Verizon was like, when you buy this phone, we’ll give you a free Google Home Hub. I didn’t even know what that was. Actually, specifically, it’s called the Google Nest Hub and it’s like a small iPad almost that sits on your counter or your bookshelf. It’s a size of like a paperback book or something like that and it’s a smart device for your home so you can connect it to your Nest to control the thermostat and your Sonos to play music and we’re all about that kind of stuff. We have like six Alexa’s one in every room of our house. So we’re totally into this kind of stuff and we’re like, yeah, sure. We’ll take that for free. Why not? Steve sets it up and the first thing I realize is that it connects to Google Photos and when it’s not in use, it rotates photos automatically from your Google Photos account. So he would tell it, “Show photos of CeCe, Elle, Steve and Shanna,” family members and stuff. It doesn’t show random photos of the picture of the receipt you took.
Laura Birek: Sure. A screenshot of a really stupid text message conversation you had or something.
Shanna Micko: Exactly. So it has been just a surprising delight to have pictures from the last few years randomly show up in a way that I can see them because right now they’re all just trapped in the cloud somewhere. I save all my photos to Google Photos, I delete them off my phone to keep space on my phone and then I never really look at them. They’re just there and it’s really fun. It’ll pop up pictures from when Elle was a newborn or when CeCe was a newborn or when Elle was one and it’s like, oh yeah, remember that? Elle loves it. She looks at the photos all the time and it’s just a reminder of lots of good memories and it’s easy to use and super fun.
Laura Birek: That’s a great idea actually because I’m in the same boat. I have so many photos and I only look at them every once in a while when I get a notification, like “This time last year,” and then I’ll go and look through. But I have so many photos and I love that Google Photos, I guess love might be a really strong word because on one hand I’m freaked out by the fact that Google Photos is so good at facial recognition. But I also love it because you can label faces in Google Photos and it’s crazy how good it is at identifying babies as they grow up.
Shanna Micko: I know. It’s incredible.
Laura Birek: It might not be as good with your babies though because they look so much alike.
Shanna Micko: When they were newborns, Google Photo did not know which was which. They mixed them up, but I think it’s understood now who is who.
Laura Birek: You train it. It asks is this so and so and so and so, but it’s so nice to be able to be like I do with us. If we’re looking for a photo of us together, I’ll just look for like, “Shanna and Laura,” and it’ll pop up all the photos we’ve ever taken together. That’s how we found that photo from 2007 or whatever that we posted on Instagram a couple weeks ago.
Shanna Micko: I know. It’s really cool. The only downside with this of course is that sometimes it will display just real shitty pictures or weird ones. Like today I was looking at it and I was like, what is that? It’s a selfie I took of myself sitting in the front seat of my car wearing Elle’s baby bib from a few years ago and I’m like, what is that about? Obviously, I have no recollection. I don’t know why I was wearing that. I assume I was doing something silly or something, so it’s like, okay. That’s cool.
Laura Birek: Oh, that’s funny.
Do you know who I think was a vanguard in this realm of showing pictures of a digital photo album? It’s our friends Jen and Steven. You know how when you go to their house their screensaver on their TV is just a rotating batch of photos and it has been for years.
Shanna Micko: Yes, that’s right.
Laura Birek: It’s always so fun. We will end up sitting there just watching the photos go through, even though it’s a screensaver and be like, oh, look. Look how little your baby was. They were onto something.
Shanna Micko: They really were and I never caught on. I resisted for some weird reason and now I’m a fan.
Laura Birek: I know. Now I want one.
Shanna Micko: Get one. The Google Nest Hub is great. I really love it. It can play a video of the news. It can play YouTube videos.
Laura Birek: Oh, interesting.
Shanna Micko: It tells me the weather. I actually prefer it to the Alexa because I like the visual part of it. I can bring it in the kitchen and it displays recipes. This is not an ad.
Laura Birek: Not an ad.
Shanna Micko: I just really like this thing.
Laura Birek: If Google wants to sponsor our show though, we are open.
Shanna Micko: Yes.
Laura Birek: Get in touch.
Shanna Micko: Hit us up Google. Oh my goodness. All right. I think that’s about it for this week.
Shanna Micko: Should we wrap things up?
Laura Birek: Let’s do it. Let’s let Google know where they can find us.
Shanna Micko: If you want to find us to let us know your weekly BFPs or BFNs or anything else on your mind, reach out. Laura, where can everyone reach us?
We also have a Facebook community group. Just search Big Fat Positive community and request to join. It’s a closed group, but I will add you right away and you can join in on all the amazing discussions we’re having in there including some super cute newborn photos.
Shanna Micko: Yes.
Laura Birek: So cute little smooches. Or you can send us an email: [email protected].
Shanna Micko: If you like our show, please spread the love. Tell your friends to listen to our show, leave us a rating, a review. We would be so grateful. We really want to get the word out about our show. So spread the love. Big Fat Positive is produced by Laura Birek, Shanna Micko and Steve Yager.
Laura Birek: Thanks for listening, everyone. We will see you next week.
Shanna Micko: Bye.