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My adamant 27 months old nursling--like a newborn . . . just looking for input

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  • My adamant 27 months old nursling--like a newborn . . . just looking for input

    Happy holidays, everyone!

    I just wanted to share some experiences and ask a couple of questions about nursing an older toddler and maybe get some perspective on some things.

    My wonderful, spirited, strong-willed daughter is 27 months old and has recently been nursing like a newborn. She has always been very attached to and adamant in her pursuit of milk, and this has become even more noticeable as she has gotten older. I'm not surprised by this completely, but it has raised some challenges for me, for us, for my husband.

    I believe in child-led weaning and truly think that it's as nature intended, so I've been attempting to stay that course for her, for us. That being said, I have no role models in my life who have done such a thing, and so I've been a bit on my own in terms of navigating family questions/pressures and changes in her nursing and even just connecting with others who have done similarly with their children.

    Around Thanksgiving, she had a stomach bug and couldn't keep anything down--even breastmilk--for several days. I used this time to test out the whole falling-asleep-without-the-breast thing (it seemed to work!) and thought,"Hmmm, maybe this will transition to a new way of falling asleep!" Her bedtimes have been a bit rocky as a toddler--she takes quite a while to fall asleep, and it's been crazymaking for me at times.

    Since that time, she has expressed that "it makes me sad when I can't have milky" and things like that when I try to have her wait to nurse (if I'm in the middle of something) or put her off for a while. And I'm completely okay with that type of expression, because we can talk about it. But more than that, she throws the most knock-down, drag-out tantrums that she will stick with for as long as it takes to nurse. She kicks, screams, hits, all the while saying over and over (and over!),"I need mommy's milk! I need mommy's milk!" There is no comforting her, no talking, no hugging, nothing.

    Today I had to go to the dentist for a double crown, and when I got home, my husband looked completely exasperated and my daughter had a red, blotchy, tear-stained face. He told me that for 65 minutes, she carried on and had a mega-tantrum because she wanted mommy's milk. He said he tried everything: comforting, distracting, etc. etc. She couldn't stop.

    Once she nursed, she regrouped. But it's so sad to watch her do that. And sometimes I guess I worry whether or not it's normal . . . whether other kids go through this, whether other parents go through this.

    When we're in the grocery store, she'll yell out "I want mommy's milk!" and I'm uncomfortable with it, because she's big for her age (looks more like a 3 year old), and I just don't want to deal with that in public. I've tried to explain the whole privacy thing, but when she wants it, she wants it.

    She will grab my shirt, pull on me, yell, whatever it takes to nurse.

    I'm just not sure what to do sometimes. It's obvious that she's anxious about mommy taking away her milk, and I'm not even sure how to broach that, because in truth, I could decrease with her just a bit and it would be okay. Nursing every hour at this point isn't necessary for her. She's regressed in other ways as well, talking about being a "teeny tiny baby." This has affected her appetite and willingness to eat, as well. She's just lost interest.

    All in all, it's not exactly stressful, but it's present and sometimes difficult. She is quite strong-willed, and I'm not sure if I should just keep nursing on demand and that truly "a need fulfilled" will be "a need outgrown" or if I need to steer her toward decreasing nursing. My gut weighs heavy on just letting her do it on her own time. But I sometimes feel so pressured by my family and societal pressures. My mom, who has generally been supportive, has been making comments about her becoming more independent and being away from me more and "well, if you work on weaning her some, then I can put her down for a nap while you're gone sometimes."

    I just don't know anyone who is doing what I'm doing that isn't actively planning to wean, who is fully committed to child-led weaning. And that makes me a bit wobbly sometimes, because I'm lacking the support I need to stick to what I believe in.

    I just wondered what people thought of it, if you've had similar experiences, if anything sounds unusual or awry. I guess I just wanted some input on all of it.

    I'm not sure how much of this makes sense, as I've just been a bit stream of consciousness about it all.

    Thanks for reading and for your input. It's nice to know there are others out there who may relate. I don't really have anyone else to talk to.

    Happiest of holidays to everyone out there.
    Corinne

  • #2
    My 24 month old is the same

    I've been waiting for a topic like this to come up because I'm experiencing the same thing with one of my 24 month old twins. She wants to nurse all night long still (her twin sister sleeps for 11 hours straight) and I'm exhausted. She will wake up every two hours all night long asking to nurse. I haven't had a full nights sleep since they were born two years ago and I'm so tired.

    Like your daughter mine will kick and scream and tantrum if I tell her no or if I'm not available and my Husband is trying to comfort her. Nothing will work to settle her except her "own boobie". She has always loved nursing since the minute she was born and it got us through nine months of horrible colic. I love nursing my twins and I too wanted to do baby led weaning but at this point I'm feeling like I just want out! I'm worried the older she gets the more adamant she'll be about wanting to nurse around the clock and I don't think mentally or physically I can keep doing this.

    We just started trying some of the advice of Dr. Sears:
    http://www.askdrsears.com/html/7/t070800.asp

    I've tried telling her before I bed that her own boobie is going to sleep and she can have it again in the morning. She says good night to it and seems to understand but in the middle of the night when I tell her to go to sleep and she can have milk in the morning she hits, kicks and screams on and on.

    I wish I could offer you some sound advice but I'm in the same boat!

    Comment


    • #3
      I am not an expert, and I am new to this forum, but I wanted to at least chime in and offer you my understanding and support.

      Baby #3 is 33 months old (and still nursing) - #1 and #2 both nursed until they self-weaned sometime around 3 1/2.

      With all three of them, it was DEFINITELY well past age 2 when I would say they crossed the threshold where they were getting the majority of their actual nourishment from food.

      My #1 son was extremely high-need, and nursed all the time. #2 was very laid back, and easily adjusted to nursing through my pregnancy, and tandem with her baby brother for the last few months she nursed.

      My little guy still nurses a couple of times at night, as well as during the day, and it's still the only way he goes to sleep (naps or bedtime). Yes, it can be tiring, and yes, it would be handy if Grandma (or Dad!) could take over sometimes.

      But, although it feels like forever when you're in it, it actually DOES end. I had a big gap in the middle - my challenging #1 child is now 16 years old! Guess what? He sleeps through the night.

      Hang in there!! Find a local LLL or AP group, or at least spend time with like minded folks online... It *is* hard to go it alone in a society that's so stubbornly backwards...

      Comment


      • #4
        Wow! I admire you all so much! What dedication to motherhood. Your children I'm sure are better for it.

        Though I only have an 8-month old, I wonder whether your daughter is clinging onto breastfeeding because she feels a special closeness to you. Some kids need more hugs. I know I sure did! Just a thought... maybe your daughter wants to continue breastfeeding because it fulfills a need to snuggle. If you try to understand the motive behind the breastfeeding, maybe you can find a way to fulfill that need other than by giving the breast.

        Hang in there! I think you're doing a great job!
        Take care,
        Karla

        Comment


        • #5
          Oh, your entire post makes sense. My son is turning 3 early Feb and he nurses very often. He nurses most often when he is sick, or upset. Its not every hour, he spends a lot of time playing with his cousins but its probably every 2-3 hours that he nurses, when he thinks of it, sometimes less often if he is really busy.

          I found early on, 12 months, that he was more emotionally demanding and upset, hard to put to sleep when I fed him wheat/gluten, he would also nurse incessantly . Due to pressures, (my mother), I tried giving him bread again, because I started doubting myself and although his mood seemed relatively stable, he did have a harder time falling asleep, and then he broke out in a horrible rash on his elbows - related to gluten intolerance.

          I know my son nurses more often when he eats certain foods. Perhaps your daughter is eating or drinking something that is upsetting her appetite, causing blood sugar fluctuation, or ? some disturbance. Then again, when he is upset he nurses, so perhaps she is seeking comfort and getting that emotional need satisfied by nursing. The idea that could lose it would make anyone more nervous and clingy. Its good that she is able to get both sustenance and emotional comfort from you. The benefit of the emotional comfort part of nursing cannot be overstated, even though its often used as an excuse to break the bond between mother and child.

          My Mom, my sisters, often tell my son "your too old, get off that breast" when I nurse him. (I live with my Mom) He has taken to telling her, "Look at what I'm doing Ma", calling her attention to him, then he starts nursing, and when she fusses he laughs while nursing. Its really quite a hoot. lol I was so worried that their attitudes would shame him, or that there would be bad feelings/ real pressure. But my mother ends up fake fussing at him, laughing too. And he knows that the nursing not going to stop.

          Early on he called nursing, uungha, sorta sound effect (swallowing sound) he made as a baby to indicate that he wanted milk. I am so grateful that we had that name for it, so I don't have to get embarrassed by him asking for milk. It was simply the luck of the draw that it happened that way. I think it was motheringcommune . com magazine that recommended a fake name to avoid embarrassment, (by the way they have great forums about extended bfeeding!) but I didn't find out about that until he was already 2. I would suggest you lay off the privacy thing, my son, almost three, still mostly doesn't care. Perhaps you could make a fun play name for breastfeeding? Make it a fun thing that she wont mind saying, something fun between you two. Something that gets her milk and tickles. My son called me by my name when he was 1, and he called my mother Ma. Well, he still calls her ma, which is fine, but he now calls me Mommy. I got him to make the switch because I told him, call me Mommy, and I tickled and was very playful with him when I did it. I told him, I love it when you call me Mommy.

          I don't know a thing about being pregnant and breastfeeding. My concern is that I always need to take supplements or I feel unwell. But I heard that many woman can do it, and they can tandem nurse toddlers and infants at the same time. It looks like you have everything handled. I think your daughter is smart and knows there is a baby coming, and she wants to know that she will get the same valuable love and affection that was hers before the idea of the baby came along. My son, almost three, started playing like he is a baby again too, recently. I think its because he knows he is growing up, changing. And he sees the extreme amount of affection and love he got during his role as "the baby". I completely indulge him, and pour the affection on him. I also say hes my big boy baby. When he is doing something he loves, I say, oh, babies can't do that. You are my big boy, and I give him affection. Although recently he has been telling me STOP. (new thing, independence) Hes outgrowing too much hugging. lol He is starting to need his space.

          Kids are very smart, and and they want to secure your love and affection. You are doing so well giving her that love. Its nice to see that we mothers are actually following our instincts even when there is NO support around. Things like this tell me society is changing, and mothers are brave and protecting their special bond with their children. My aunt told me "Don't I know he is not a baby anymore?" Well, he still has his baby teeth. I didn't say it, but its true. lol So what if he speaks English and uses the toilet. (another new thing, no more potty, toilet time YAY!) lol He has a baby cousin who will be born in a few months, I hope I can prepare him to feel good about his new role.

          So if I were going to offer my two cents to someone already doing really well without any help, I would say, try a rotation diet with your daughter to eliminate any potential food sensitivities/allergies(if you really feel she might have a problem) give her and yourself a lot of positive feedback, ie pat yourself on the back, and make sure the you and her BOTH feel secure that you are doing very well, and can handle whatever is coming to you, without a worry about loss of love between you and her. She doesn't sound messed up in the least. She sounds perceptive and smart. She doesn't know how to put into words what she wants, so she is doing her best to find and secure those responses, and she seems afraid that she is going to lose out. You never have to address any of those people having opinions contrary to your desire. Communicate directly with her, and show her by your actions that you understand her pain and are there for her. She is not messing up, she is smart and aware.


          Rainia

          ps YAY for brave Mommies everywhere, I wasn't going to put the YAY part because its so over the top, but we are doing such good in following our instincts and doing whats best for our children ie society at large that I just have to put a YAY for us out there!

          Oh year I am new to this forum (came via facebook link to your question ) but I've been putting my opinions out there on the interwebs for quite some time now. lol, for what its worth. lol

          Comment


          • #6
            My dd nursed until she was almost 28 months old. Just prior to this (around 24 months) she nursed every 30-60 minutes day and night. I was losing my mind. But a few short months later she weaned. I hear that it is not uncommon for kids to go through periods of increased nursing around 2 and 2.5 years so you might be experiencing this. It's also possible that she'll go through this intense period and then start to really cut back until she's down to just a few nursing sessions a day and then none. Extended nursing is a wonderful thing and surrounding yourself with like-minded mamas is really helpful. As a pp suggested, find your local LLL or API chapter to get the support you need to make it through these more difficult times.

            But, I also want to put out there that nursing is a two person relationship. It needs to work for both the child and the mother. If you are feeling out of balance and the family is also suffering, you might want to explore your feelings regarding nightweaning or the "don't offer, don't refuse" method. There are many subtle things you can do to discourage nursing without forcibly denying her. With my dd, I tried the don't sit down method, keeping her busy, busy, busy. I would whisk her off to parks and playgroups all morning and she would forget to nurse. She'd nurse at nap time and after nap I'd take her back out to parks and playdates and she wouldn't nurse again until bedtime. This was definitely a process, but once she was down to just 30 seconds of nursing before bedtime, I was able to ask her if we could stop nursing. I was pg with ds and nursing was quite painful for me. I said, "would it be okay if we stopped nursing?" and she said yes. She got a little teary and I asked her what she was feeling. She said, "I'm sad because nursing is over." We both cried a little bit, mourning the end of that beautiful relationship and then we snuggled. My daughter was never a snuggler, but once she weaned we got to begin a new and wonderful relationship of hugs and snuggles. I was both sad and proud. She never asked to nurse again.

            Good luck in your decision. I hope you get the support you need whichever route you choose. And no matter what, this will not last forever. When you're in the trenches it can feel never ending, but your nursing relationship will just be a wonderful memory soon enough.

            Comment


            • #7
              Oh, I wanted to add, I do this thing with my son. I tell him, okay, you can nurse for a count of five. Then I count to five and then he stops. Again, this is approached as a game, espeically initially, and he mostly goes along with it. Because we make that agreement I guess. He even comes to me, "count 5, just 5 seconds, just 5" so now he is using it on me when I am resistant to him nursing. Kids really learn. Although he does sometimes say, "Don't start counting yet, don't count yet." I give him leeway at those times,postpone, or I tell him I am not going to count at all, just drink. Its really been a help.

              Comment


              • #8
                Hang in there, mama. My son was like that until around 32-33 months and one day he started nursing less and I was finally able to ask him to wait without a tantrum. I nursed a very tall toddler in public so many times. Now, at 3.5 he is asking for it more often because I have a newborn, and he freaks again at night if I try and put it off, but that's because he hears his sister nursing.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Hiya
                  It can be really hard when our children are "out of step" with our social norms, if your daughter was asking frequently for a pacifier it would be much more within the comfort zone of a lot of people.
                  It sounds like you have a very on the ball toddler who knows her own mind, and believe me at some later date I'm sure her determination will stand her in really good stead.

                  Around 2ish is a really difficult time for toddlers, with a lot happening mentally. There is the scary shift from baby to toddler, which some intense children can find pretty overwhelming. Even more so if they're bright as they rapidly begin to process more advanced concepts which can be a bit daunting and they seem to on another level almost regress and cling to babyhood.

                  Similarly lots of toddler step up their nursing around this time, honestly 2yr olds feeding like a newborn is really quite common for some children if they're allowed, and yes I absolutely buy into your concept of a need met now is a need less later.

                  All that said, nursing is a two way street and implementing some nursing manners/boundries may be an option. If this makes things more doable for you and ultimately allows you both to be happy to nurse for longer, it can be worth it. Because the other thing about more intense toddlers is they will absolutely also pick up on a vibe of you being reluctant or less than happy, which at a time they are seeking reassurance can cause them to seek it more. When you set the boundries, if you stick to them she will get the message quite quickly - what I mean by that is if you tell her in advance we are only going to nurse at home (if you don't want to nurse in public - I'm not suggesting it's not ok if you do!) and then stick with that and remind her "when we get home". if she kicks/yanks/screams I personally would remain very calm and acknowledge you can see how much she wants to nurse, and you know it's really hard for her - but she needs to wait until you get home, would she like a big cuddle. The first couple of times it may take your daughter a while to calm down and accept the cuddle, but if you remain really calm and empathic ie you understand etc, she will understand this. Ultimately breastfeeding can have boundries like anything else - if she demanded something else and kicked and screamed would that persuade you to change your mind?

                  Another good technique can be to observe triggers ie what prompts a big explosive reply compared to "I'm sad" etc (you mention she responds in different ways) some mums find say the end of the day when a toddler is tired can be much more testing, so if you can observe a pattern you can either make the decision to agree to these feeds, or have more advance warning it's going to cause a meltdown and intervene first.

                  Lastly a tip that works really well for some mums is to offer LOADS - literally everytime you see she is occupied with something offer to nurse , hourly, half hourly whatever is convenient. This is the single most effective way I know of getting toddlers to cut down their nursing; something very freely available is far less exciting....

                  Just a few ideas, hope to help a little

                  I also want to share with you an article a friend of mine wrote about her frequent feeding 2 1/2 year old. Several months later he cut down a lot and self weaned at 3 1/2.

                  T is what most people would call a frequent feeder. On the 4 days that I am home, he nurses approximately every hour, sometimes more frequently. On work days, he has at least 5 or 6 feeds, more if we can fit them in.

                  He's not bored, or insecure, or demanding, or controlling. He can accept my request to wait without a fuss unless he's really unwell or tired. He also accepts no for an answer if he's had a feed 15 minutes earlier. He understands that I can no longer carry him round the supermarket to nurse him and that I'm not willing to lift up my top and let him nurse while I push him round in the trolley, despite his suggestion that I do so!

                  He nurses with this frequency whether bored or stimulated or engrossed in something. He nurses with this frequency whether well or slightly under the weather, or really unwell - it's the length of the feed that changes. He nurses with this frequency when he's been apart from me all day at the child minder and when he's with me all day whether we're out or at home. He nurses with this frequency whether hungry or having just eaten, whether thirsty or just had a whole beaker of moo juice/water/apple juice.

                  T nurses with this frequency because, within reasonable limits, as mentioned before, I allow him to do so. I enjoy nursing him, I love that we are so close and that he is so affectionate, whether nursing or not (cuddles are not dependent on breastfeeding). I love knowing that I am providing him with nutrients and antibodies that he can get from no other food source. The fact that he is 2 and can tell me when he wants milk has no bearing on the frequency with which he is fed. I have no problem at all with nursing my toddler 20 times a day if that's what he needs. And T does need it. It's his way of touching base. It's his way of securing his place in the world. It's his way of reassuring himself that I am always there for him. When he's really busy or excited nursing helps him to stay calm and focused. When he's bored or tired nursing helps him remember that Mummy's there to alleviate his boredom or to rock him to sleep. When he's in a new situation he takes comfort from the fact that I am prepared to reassure him in the most intimate way possible. And when he's in a familiar situation nursing is his way of reminding everyone that the bond he has with me is unrivalled.

                  I have no problems with T continuing nursing with this frequency well beyond the age of 2 or 3 or 4. It's unlikely that he will, but if he does I will only be grateful that he has given me the privilege on continuing this relationship with him. I like the way that his nursing forces me to sit down (now that he's bigger) and take a break, put my feet up, close my eyes and escape from a very busy and demanding world into a world where only me and my toddler exist in perfect harmony. I can see no reason for us to limit his feeds to before nap cuddles, or after fall comfort, or early morning snack. He breastfeeds because it is good for him nutritionally, emotionally and mentally. He enjoys his milk and says it is yummy. It's there for the sole purpose of nourishing him.

                  People will always comment on T nursing, whether it be on the fact that I am *STILL* breastfeeding or the fact that he feeds *so often*. I've long since got used to the comments about it being only for comfort, or for my benefit and can usually ignore people who say that I am making him dependent, clingy, a mummy's boy and worse. The point is that there are very few people out there who will ever understand the special relationship I have with him, very few people who will get to the stage where breastfeeding isn't annoying, a chore or something they feel they *have* to do and I will ever be grateful that I have had and am having the chance to experience this magic.
                  Last edited by Charlotte; 12-23-2010, 12:56 PM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Well this is a very welcome thread. I may have posted something similar a few weeks or months ago ... had I had the energy or time to write it that is!

                    My son, aged 28 months, has JUST started to ease up nursing. His brother was born in May and we have been tandeming since then.

                    It has been hard, not least as my husband found it quite challenging (to say the least) at first and I found it hard not having his support (at first). He used to say that in the wild animals are often weaned when older even though they don't like it when younger ones come along. Though he has come around I should say, partly by witnessing us and seeing the effect of nursing on him. And I have grown in confidence in just doing it anyway when necessary and working through my own embarrassment factor, his shouting "boobie" at the top of his voice on an airplane being a singular example!

                    I must admit to not always being the calm, accepting, giving mum that perhaps I would like to be and going slightly stir fry crazy with it at times. I worked on establishing the right boundaries for me and on saying to him, when it felt too much, I know you really want milk now but Mummy is really tired, then trying to hold him if he was upset or let him otherwise know I was there.

                    I am afraid to say though there have been a few times in the middle of the night where I have yelled out of sheer exhaustion (Mummy is TIRED).

                    It was hard as it was not easy to talk about with friends - the most likely response I anticipated being "well why don't you wean him then".

                    It is a balancing act to be able to get my needs met and to respect my own body and sense of a need for boundaries while at the same time following my instinct to continue to give him what he needs.

                    It sounds as if the strong emotions she is expressing are quite challenging for you. It may be worth looking at those and seeking to get some support around them if they bring up strong emotions in you. It can be really hard to be present when your child is expressing really strong emotion --- I certainly have found it hard when my son gets very upset around this issue. There is the desire to make it all better and make it go away!

                    How would it feel to talk to your child, along the lines of (with enough emotional emphasis to "match" the intensity of the feeling she is expressing) - "I can see you are feeling really really upset now. It seems it is really hard for you to not be able to nurse. Mummy is tired (or whatever reason is nursing is not possible right now) but I am still here for you/can hug you/." It does NOT mean that you are failing or that the whole extended nursing business is not working if she gets emotional when unable to nurse. Remember it is ok to put limits in that feel right for you (only you know what those will look like) and there are ways of communicating and supporting your child through. Don't lose heart.

                    It seems in my parenting journey that every time I begin to doubt my own instincts something comes back to reinforce them. I trust my child to eat enough even if he does not eat enormous amounts and varieties of food and then just when I start to wonder, is he really getting enough, after he seems to exist on very little for ages.... he eats some more. Or, in this case, I trust that my child needs to nurse, that nursing is our way of connecting and vitally important particularly in the adjustment to having a sibling and then, just as I am beginning to doubt and feel overwhelmed by the intensity of his nursing, he gradually imperceptibly eases it off.

                    I must say I have never heard before tonight that some children often nurse more around 2 or 2.5. Very interesting and makes a lot of sense though...

                    That is my tuppence, hope it helps a wee bit, you are definitely not alone here!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      You've gotten some great feedback so far, thank you, everyone! And here are a few more responses that were posted on the Facebook page in response to this:

                      Comment 1
                      I don't have advice but I watch with interest. My daughter is nearly 25 months and will absolutely not go to sleep without nursing. She's addicted to it and desperate for it all the time. At the moment its easy to distract her but I'm worried as she gets older there may be a defiance issue regarding me saying no and her remaining steadfast. I'm also pregnant right now so there could be a situation with new baby getting what she so desperately needs. I don't know how you can remedy the situation. its extremely difficult. X

                      Comment 2
                      I recommend the book, "How weaning happens." also, I found that as my daughter was able to eat more "real" food, she was more willing to go longer between feedings. Good luck!!

                      Comment 3
                      My 28 month old has days like this. When she does, I hunker down and just let her nurse it out -- I think toddlers can feel stress and pick up on body language more than adults. Perhaps she is picking up on some of mom and dad's hesitation and it's making her anxious that nursing will bs taken away? With mine if there are plenty of other things going on she isn't as interested in constant nursing. I'd recommend reading Mothering Your Nursing Toddler for support.

                      Comment 4
                      My almost-three year old (two weeks til his birthday) is really similar. He's bright, independent, well-adjusted...and will NOT give up the boobie. It can be stressful some days, but anxiety definitely plays a big role for him. He's much more adamant about nursing RIGHT NOW if there's a lot going on or people around him are tense or if his five month old sister is nursing. She's a NICU baby and generally prefers pumped milk from a bottle so it kind of freaks him out when she actually wants to use one of the boobies instead.

                      I still nurse him in public, but I pick my moments. If we're someplace busy or hectic, I try to distract. It might end up in a bit of a tantrum - though he generally just whines and doesn't go into a full-on freak out - but it's generally just because he wants to check in with Mommy for a moment. If we're someplace he can nurse for 30 seconds, that's often all it takes for him to be okay.

                      It's harder on me the days that he decides to take most of his nourishment from the breast. He's perfectly capable of eating real meals, but often doesn't. I don't mind being his supplement, though it can definitely be exhausting at times. Admittedly, this is when having a really good support group has been a blessing.

                      He also still nurses to sleep. Every. Single. Night. Yes, it's exhausting. No, I don't particularly care for waking up in the middle of the night to nurse...though that's one of the blessings in cosleeping. I don't have to do anything other than lift my shirt, snuggle my boy and fall back asleep.

                      Nursing a toddler can be stressful - especially when they're clinging to it like a life-line - but I KNOW it's what's right for him, and for us. I trust that I won't be nursing a twelve year old. As frustrating as it can be when he's adamant about nursing, I know I'm going to miss our special times together when he decides that he's done.

                      Hang in there. You can (both!) do this. ♥

                      Comment 5
                      My 3 yr old begs and cries "I want to nurse you Mommy!" I am also nursing a 4 month old so very often my response is "its your sisters turn right now, you can have a turn later" if he asks at other time I let him know that I hear what he's saying but I'm doing something else at the moment. He only gets frustrated if I ignore his words, as long as I respond then he stops asking for a little while. For example "I'd like to eat my lunch right now, we can nurse someother time."

                      Comment 6
                      You could also try, "how about we read a book instead" your toddler may just be looking for snuggle time.

                      Comment 7
                      I have been feeling the same way. My daughter has been a "good" nurser. Usually only nursing at wake up, nap, bedtime, and a few times through the night. However at 18 months it seems she took an interest in nursing more, and now at 20 months asks for it all the time!!!
                      We don't nurse in public. And a lot of things work sometime and don't work others so we just work through them all... I was and am hoping we can go back to the 3 times a day and a few at night.... MaMa really liked that sechdule.

                      Comment 8
                      My son would do this, too, at about that age. For us, once I realized that he was just looking for something to do, I started to keep him more engaged and entertained in other ways so the thought to nurse would occur to him less. We eventually got it to just before/after nap and before bed/first thing in the morning. Or of course if he got hurt or was very upset. Good luck and hang in there. You are doing a great thing!

                      Comment 9
                      My son is only 7 months old, but I nursed until I was 4. My mom and I never talked about it until I became a mom myself. She never minded to nurse me in public when she felt I really needed it, but if it wasn't convenient and we were going to be home soon she just said "when we get home." I've asked her about pulling on her shirt (I see that complaint a lot), but she never let me do that. There are rules to nursing (no biting, no pulling at her shirt, no grabbing her breasts, etc).

                      I don't go anywhere without my son. Everyone who knows me knows that. I take him to the dr, dinner, shopping, parties, etc. He is never without me. I slept in my parent's bed until I was 10. It is only like this for a short period of time in our lives.

                      My mom and I are very close and the way she parented me has definitely affected us for the better. I'm very independent and did an exchange program in Spain when I was 16. I'm a big believer that children become more independent when they are ready. It takes some longer than others. I'm grateful for how I was raised

                      Sorry for a long comment but I was just trying to offer reassurance that you are doing great despite some frustrations. Gentle parenting doesn't mean that you have to make yourself miserable. If you need some boundaries, you can set them without feeling bad about it. Other comment on here offer great advice about distraction and snuggling.

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                      • #12
                        Wow! Happy holidays to me! Thank you all for the wonderful responses, suggestions, support, etc. etc. etc. I feel so blessed to have a forum like this with wonderful like-minded mamas to bounce things off of.

                        I realized while reading the responses that, while there are challenging times (such as the tantrums), I do really believe in what we're doing. I think sometimes I just need a little extra support to know that others are out there doing it too and that, while not (unfortunately) culturally normal, it is normal and what's best for her. And really it's best for me too. I get tired sometimes. Frustrated sometimes. Feel spent sometimes. But this is still working for me ultimately. I'm not ready to give it up. And you all helped me know that in the deepest sense of my being.

                        When I started this with a newborn, I never even thought about nursing a toddler. I just hadn't gotten that far in my mind. I have to say--with all the things I have asked about and needed support for--I can't imagine raising a child any other way. It makes so many things easier. The quest for independence is balanced with regular check-ins and moments of intimacy that are really necessary for my little love.

                        I will work on the boundary-setting. That's a good idea. I haven't known how to do that so well, so I will work on that. And I rarely feel sleep-deprived--I'm lucky--so the nursing to sleep and through the night are not big deals for me.

                        As I said previously, I think I just needed to hear from others who understood or took time to be supportive. Again, blessings for me from all of you. I so appreciate it.

                        I will reread these posts again and again, especially when things get hairy, as I'm sure they will at times.

                        Thank you, thank you, thank you all.

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                        • #13
                          One more response from Facebook:

                          "Growth spurts (28 months and 35-37 months for me) have been trying, but they do not last. Some days my ds nurses 4-5 times in 24 hours, other days it can be 10 times @ 39 months.

                          I never leave him either (like the previous comment), except a rare shopping trip for an hour or two when he stays behind with Daddy. We have no concern for "when" he leaves our bed. Some nights he sleeps 5 hours before waking up for num-nums - other times, I have to wake up more. He is 39 months.

                          I doubt he will be completely weaned by age 4, but he and I talk about having a weaning party around that time. However, he gets stressed at such talk, so I am careful. I have told him he can wean when he is ready, but I also draw a line when my needs must take priority. For example, when he was 2, I could barely dry off after a shower (or sometimes had to cut my shower short) just to accommodate him. But now that he is 3, even if he puts up a fuss, I make him wait while I take care of some basic needs like getting dressed. People who don't do what we do would never understand that. But do we care more about what they think or what we know is best for our child?

                          He has never had an ear infection (which is not the case for most kids) and does not seem to have inherited my food allergies.

                          Once, he had a tantrum that lasted 15 minutes. Other than that, he has never had one that lasted longer than a minute or two - and rarely at that. He comes to me for a reassurance or soothing "sip" that might last 5-20 seconds and returns to play. It helps him recenter and get grounded when his emotions overwhelm him.

                          If he really perceives that he needs num-nums and I refuse, that is the most upset he ever gets. By trial and error I have learned when he is simply bored or when he really needs to reconnect. I wasn't able to effectively put him off until he was well on his way to 3. A 2 year-old doesn't have the conceptual understanding to appreciate delayed gratification or patience. They won't "reason" no matter how structured your explanation is to them.

                          This is the greatest gift I can give my child for his growth and his future. Like any great effort, the rewards are greater than the frustrations overall. Hang in there and make the choices that are best for you and your family. These experiences of others are just that to help you identify and cope. But ultimately, you know best and always will know what is best for your child."

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