Old Enough to Ask

Dear Daughter,

As I write this you are “old enough to ask for it”, and have been ever since you were born. You are four weeks old and most definitely “ask”.

According to some, “when they can ask for it, it’s time to wean”. I wonder how many babies those people have spent time around. Most babies I’ve met have clear ways of saying “I’m hungry!”

You are an excellent communicator. You meet my eyes and form your mouth into a circle, pushing your tongue out at me. “Mama, I need to nurse.”

You turn your head towards the breast and bob your head up and down as you search. “Mama, I need to nurse.”

You startle from your sleep in a whining cry and pull your legs up towards your chest. “Mama, I need a diaper change, I just peed.”

You grunt, turn red, and then start to tsk at me as you pull your legs up toward your chest. “Mama, I need a diaper change, I just pooped.”

You fuss and pull your legs up to your chest, kicking unhappily. “Mama, I have gas. Can you lay me down and bicycle my legs?”

You pull off of the breast and bob your head around the nipple whining. “Mama, I am still hungry but I have to burp now.”

You pull off of the breast, fuss, pop back on for a few sucks, fuss, pop back on and then fuss again. “Mama, I finished this side and want the other side now.”

You pop off, look up at me and lay there calm and happy or half asleep. “Mama, I’m full and happy. Thank you.”

There are so many things that you say already, that you have said since birth.

Maybe those people mean that when you learn to ask with an “official language”, then it’s time to wean. I don’t understand this. I see your ability to communicate your needs as a sign that you understand what it is that you need. I do not stop kissing you or hugging you because you become able to ask. If you were older and asking for broccoli or squash, would I decide that signified your readiness to never eat them again?

One day you’ll have children of your own and will hear many things like this. Be careful to always ask yourself the question of “what does one thing have to do with the other?” Speech has little to do with your child’s immune system and digestion.

Listen for the language that your child has since birth. Beware the silly things that people say. Ask yourself always “what does one thing have to do with the other?” Often the answer to that is “nothing at all”.

You have asked to nurse since the moment you were born. It does not matter to me what language you use to make your needs known. It only matters that you are making them known and that it is my job to give you everything you need, and some of what you want.

<3 Mama

  5 comments for “Old Enough to Ask

  1. Laura Dekkers
    May 14, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    I have just recently found your blog and am so grateful I have. As a mother of 2 nursing now for 4 years straight, it fills me with pride and love reading what I know in my heart to be true. Thank you for your beautiful and insightful essays, they bring light to my days.

  2. Michele
    May 14, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    You’re turning all these anti-AP notions on their heads. Thanks for the great blog.

  3. Bri
    May 15, 2012 at 2:50 am

    I love the way you have worded this. I would bet money the people that are so against this have not thought of it in this way. So glad to have found your blog. <3

  4. Meghan
    May 15, 2012 at 3:05 am

    I’ve used this same argument many times, but it’s lovely to hear it so eloquently expressed. Thank you!

  5. June 13, 2012 at 4:37 am

    Brava! I think that comment is uneducated and prejudiced. I was nursed until about 3 1/2. I signed “milk” before I said it. I’m pretty sure I signed “cookie” before I said it too. Why is nursing the only thing that should stop once you start being able to verbalize it? I will never understand people’s aversions to breastfeeding.

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