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Three Things You Should Know About Nursing A Toddler

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It’s breastfeeding awareness week. And I would like to make you aware of the fact that not all nursing relationships end by the child’s first birthday.  None of mine did, anyway.

I nursed Olivia until she was over two years old.  Twenty-six months, I do believe. I nursed her all through my pregnancy with Benjamin, and then I tandem nursed for five and a half months.

I nursed Benjamin until he was 21 months.  We weaned when I was six months pregnant with Levi.

Levi is 13 months old and his desire to nurse is not waning in the least.

I’ve learned a few things about nursing toddlers.

  1. Nursing toddlers is not only “okay”, but good for them! Emotionally, nutritionally, you can only benefit a toddler by continuing a nursing relationship.  Every part of breastfeeding that is touted as beneficial for babies doesn’t stop being beneficial just because they turned one!  Think about it: when do other mammals wean their young?  Some studies show it is when they reach 1/3 of their adult body weight, when they quadruple their birth weight, when they have been outside the womb six times longer than they were inside the womb, and/or when their first permanent molars come in.  [Source.]  These signs usually occur anywhere between 27 months to seven years old.  Compared to that, my children have been mere infants when I weaned them!

    So let go of the social stigma and enjoy being able to comfort, feed, and medicate your child the way he loves best.

  2. Nursing toddlers move.  A lot. Gone are the days when Levi would lay docile in my arms while nursing.  He has more gross motor skills and more energy.  And he wants to demonstrate both while nursing.  It’s not uncommon for him to be standing on my lap while nursing.  And woe to the child sitting next to me on the couch while Levi is nursing.  He or she is bound to be kicked.  And hard.

    To protect myself, I have found it helpful to just make sure I’m always holding his head firmly.  It doesn’t hurt me when his legs are climbing all over me, just when his head moves too much!  And if he has a problem with that, he just stops nursing.  Win/win.

    To protect my modesty, I just tend to go with distraction over nursing when he wants to nurse in public.  “Look! A toy!” works so much better with a 13 month old than with a three month old.

    So with those tips in mind, I just stop fighting his antsy gymnastics and enjoy the show.

  3. Nursing toddlers in tandem with new babies helps reduce sibling rivalry. The move from one child to two was incredibly smooth.  Olivia never jealously demanded that I “put the baby down” so I could pick her up.  She never envied Benjamin in any way I could notice.  I credit the fact that she was able to continue nursing through those initial transition months.  They built up their relationship as sister and brother as they nursed together.  And they let her feel secure in my love for her as I let her continue to love her in her preferred love language:  Dursing.

    Benjamin, however, had a bit more difficulty adjusting to Levi’s arrival.  He would demand that we put the baby down so we could pick him up.  Perhaps this was because he was jealous of all the nursing time he saw me share with Levi.  The behavior never got very bad and didn’t last very long.  It just made me sad that he felt I wasn’t spending as much time with him as he wanted me to.  Tandem nursing would have made that a lot easier.

How many of you have nursed toddlers?  Has anyone else out there tandem nursed?  Do you have any contributions you think others should know about nursing toddlers?  Please, do share!

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This post is a part of Three Things You Should Know.

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