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Returning to work - Is it helpful or not to Breastfeed my 12-month-old at Daycare

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  • Returning to work - Is it helpful or not to Breastfeed my 12-month-old at Daycare

    I have recently returned to work and my son of 1 year is having a hard time adjusting to daycare. It is important to me to continue breastfeeding and I am able to visit the daycare to feed him. It is equally important to me to help ease his difficulty of going to daycare in any way that I can.

    So far, I have only been working half days. In another six weeks I must resume full days. He cries terribly every time I leave and I am starting to wonder if my visits are making it harder for him rather than helping him.

    Does anyone have an opinion or helpful advice? My original thought was that it might give him a greater sense of security that I visit, hold him and feed him a few times a day, but now comments from my partner and others have me worried that I am interfering with his adjustment to the new situation.

    I am a baby-wearing, co-sleeping, breast-feeding, baby-led-weaning, older first time mother who discovered Jean Leidloff and Sue Gerhardt when my son was three months of age and found that the type of parenting recommended by both was in complete synch with my feelings. I am sick about having to return to work, moreover having to return full time and would like to change that but cannot. So suggestions on coping are welcome!

  • #2
    Have you been doing this already? How long? How often would you vist him?

    I think it would be helpful to him if you can do it. I know that when you first start getting a child used to an alternative care location the leaving is the WORST PART. If you vist him you will be leaving an extra time or two during the day. Is it harder to have you gone longer or to be sad at you leaving multipile times? In a way I think that he will get used to you leaving (and returning!) quicker then other kids because of this extra practice. You are condensing 'leaving your kid at daycare' practice and doubleing it. Other people may interpret it as adding to the stress. I think giving him extra shots of breastmilk during the day is good too!
    You will have to play it by ear and see how he is doing. The best thing about going back is watching them play a little before they know you are there! I also like to do a little check on the workers!


    • #3
      Thanks for your helpful reply. I hadn't thought of the doubling-up-on-leaving aspect before and it sounds sensible. I am told my son is slow to settle in daycare generally but my gut feeling is that he would have been slower yet without the additional visit(s).

      To answer your questions, yes, I have been taking my son to daycare in some form for the past 7 weeks: roughly 2 weeks of half days with me present for all but up to 1/2 an hour, 2 weeks leaving him gradually up to 2 hours, and the past 3 weeks for half days (4 hours) with me visiting somewhere in the middle (after 2-2.5 hours) for a 15-20 minute feed and cuddle.

      Once we are at full days (and I *have* to be within another month) I am able to visit him 3 times daily: once during my lunch hour (though only 30 minutes can be spent with him) and for 2 shorter breaks during mid-morning and mid-afternoon.

      The lunch time visits are a commitment I am prepared to make for the long term. The additional breaks at mid-morning and mid-afternoon are quite hard on me, both physically (it's a 15-minute cycle ride each way) and in terms of stress (my employer is *very* unsympathetic and I am in fear that they'll make it difficult for me to take these extra breaks, so for now I am quietly making up the time in the evenings).

      My hope is that my son will be able to make due with only the lunch time feed and visit by the time he is (say) 18 months. For now, he is slow when it comes to actually taking in solids and eats almost nothing at daycare. I think that the 2-hour stretches are as long as he can go from his normal patterns, especially in the mornings.

      It is rare that I find my son playing when I return to feed him. He is sometimes sleeping (but gasping in a way that tells me he had recently been crying). If he isn't crying already, he cries deeply upon my return and it takes a while before he is calm enough to feed. It's really awful.

      Thanks again for the advice and comments.


      • #4
        Oh, that sounds hard! Maybe just the lunchtime visits for you to get some rest. I assume you have no other child care option, closer for example. I wouldn't push myself for those little trips on my bike. That is just me and admitedly I am not very athletic. Do you feel secure in the staff? Has he picked a staff member to be a secondary attachment?


        • #5
          I feel that until he is able to get more solid food down, he needs the extra visits so I'm prepared to continue for the short term (i.e., a few more months). Since I'm working half days at the moment, it's only the one visit, and then I take him home at lunch time instead of staying. I'm not very athletic either but I'm becoming much more fit, which ain't a bad thing.

          I've not been able to find a closer child care option but I do keep an eye out for one. As for the staff, I have mixed feelings. I wonder if I would feel secure with anyone in a daycare. I believe he is becoming attached to a staff member but the fact of the matter is that she doesn't love him and this is where the whole option of daycare can perhaps never really live up to my hopes for him. Having said that, there are two others there a lot when this primary carer is not, and I do feel comfortable with their temperments, attitudes and level of 'tenderness', so that is good.

          I think that the whole situation will get better but it's hard to be patient when mixed with feelings of guilt for not being able to be home with ones child in the first place.


          • #6
            I think that the whole situation will get better but it's hard to be patient when mixed with feelings of guilt for not being able to be home with ones child in the first place.
            well said.

            I have only occasionally needed childcare for my own children (luckily) but worked in many kinds of childcare (nanny, 1yr old teacher at a childcare co-op, babysitting etc). I hope the situation improves for you both.



            • #7
              I think that the whole situation will get better but it's hard to be patient when mixed with feelings of guilt for not being able to be home with ones child in the first place.
              i'm right here with you.

              I returned to work when DD was 11 weeks old. The daycare was just minutes from my work and I did it slow'ish - though i think your introduction was much slower and better than mine. But, I have always, ALWAYS gone to see her at lunch. That time has helped to break up the day, allow her to be with me at the daycare in hopes that would help her feel comfortable there, allow me to get to know the staff and keep an eye on them, etc.

              Now we have an in home sitter and I still come home for lunch to nurse DD and see her. For a while she didnt get upset when I left, but now she is again. I asked the sitter if she thought it was more disruptive for me to come home and she said no b/c she felt that DD looked forward to seeing me at lunch and she calms back down very quickly.

              Doesn't make it any easier to leave her and she cries most times now, but overall for our family we feel the benefit outweighs that.
              Last edited by KaitlynsMamma; 02-02-2010, 10:43 AM.


              • #8
                Follow up

                Thanks for the reassurance that I was helping my child by continuing nursing at lunch. I still see him every day at lunch and will continue to do so, should he have weaned himself or not, until he is in school.

                It is now clear, almost a year on, just how much he has benefited from the lunch time visit. He had to change rooms once because of his age, and adjust to a new room and staff, and he adjusted extremely well - both in himself and certainly compared to others making the same transition.