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.