Q: My daughter’s pediatrician said that we need to stop letting her breastfeed at night. She’s 6-months-old. How am I supposed to do this? I don’t want to just let her cry.
A: Assuming baby doesn’t have any complicated condition, I would look for a new (and more natural-minded) doctor because that advice is highly inaccurate. Your mother’s intuition is spot-on + it’s there for a biological reason.
At 6-months-old, your baby is still very much a baby. She needs you.
Responding to her needs by breastfeeding is arguably the healthiest, easiest way to help build attachment + positive food associations and increase her nutrition + immunity.
Babies’ needs do not cease to exist simply because it is dark outside. Their stomachs are still the same sizes in the nighttime as they are in the daytime.
The body accounts night feeds when establishing milk supply. Where babies get about 30-50% of their milk supply at night, not nursing at night can drastically change your nursing daytime experience.
The World Health Organization recommends nursing for at least the first 2 years of baby’s life:
Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond.— World Health Organization
I could go on forever! But the key takeaway is this:
Your instincts to respond to your baby’s nighttime cries with breastfeeding are completely normal. Your pediatrician’s discouragement of that — especially without a greater explanation — isn’t normal.
You deserve to have a doctor who feels like a teammate — someone who would at least have a dialogue with you where you feel comfortable to exchange information + ideas. Sounds like you’ve just been “told” and that’s uncomfortable!
At the time of answering this question, I’m still breastfeeding my 20-month-old and she’s the healthiest, happiest little girl. Keep doing what feels best to you. Nature won’t steer you wrong!