When Vickie Krevatin’s son, Jessy, was still an infant, she discovered he was pretty high needs. She found that keeping him close to her, night and day, really seemed to make a positive impact on his well-being, and as she was a breastfeeding mom, nursing seemed to help calm him down as well.
Fast-forward to her son’s preschool years, to a time after his troubled parents took him to be evaluated due to his erratic behavior at school. Young Jessy was diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed Equasym XL, which is a brand of methylphenidate — sold in the U.S. under brand names such as Ritalin and Concerta. Krevatin was still breastfeeding him at the time of his diagnosis and still continues to do so at age 4. Why? Because she feels it’s an effective parenting tool that helps keep her little boy calm and collected if he’s feeling out of control.
She’s likely right. What moms who nurse their children can all agree on is that breastfeeding is about more than the delivery of food. Mom’s warm embrace, their physical connection and that level of comfort are priceless, even as her child grows older.
Breastfeeding as a parenting tool starts very early. For example, when you take your baby to get her immunizations, some practices will encourage you to nurse your baby during or directly after she gets her jabs. And as a baby grows and begins to move around, she’ll probably start collecting tumbles and bruises, nearly all of which can be helped with a quick nursing session.
Breastfeeding can also help “fill in the blanks” when your child is ill and either can’t keep anything down or refuses to eat completely. Breast milk not only provides nutrition but vital fluids as well — which can deplete quite rapidly in a feverish or vomiting child. Sometimes a child that is breastfed can stay out of the hospital for that reason alone.
Breastfeeding also nearly always guarantees an easy transition to naptime or bedtime, which ensures that you’ll get at least some amazing, precious sleep of your own.
And enough cannot be said about breastfeeding helping to stop a tantrum, alleviate anxiety or take control back during a total shopping meltdown nightmare. Sometimes kids just need a moment to reconnect with Mom to recenter themselves before they tackle a new situation or are at their wit’s end.
So while the jury is still out on whether breast milk itself has any ameliorative powers for kids with ADHD, there is no question that Jessy reconnecting with his mom probably helps him out tremendously. While kids don’t breastfeed forever (even those who nurse into their preschool years), helping a child with whatever tools are at your disposal, including nursing, is a smart thing to do.