Tuesday, November 9, 2010

On Nursing A Toddler

Today my daughter is 2 years and 7 months old. She still nurses multiple times each day. Does that seem like a long time to nurse to you? I nursed my son until he was 3 years and 4 months, until he weaned himself.

I've heard that many people believe that a mama chooses to keep nursing her baby into the toddler years as a selfish way to keep the child in babyhood. I don't believe this is true. At least, it's not true for me.

It happens so gradually. The baby turns 1. Then she turns 1 year and 1 day. And so on. Each day adds up until she's 2 years and 7 months old.

Goose learned to ask to nurse from the day she was born. First she asked by rooting and sometimes crying. When she was about 6 months old, she learned to ask by making the sign language sign for milk. Sometimes she would ask by lifting my shirt. When she learned to talk, she began to ask for them by saying her name for them: Deedees. These days she says, "Mama, can I have deedees please?" I only say yes if I also want to.

Sure, I enjoy nursing her. One reason I enjoy it is the closeness we share. Another reason I enjoy it is seeing the obvious comfort it brings her. When she's hurt, she asks to nurse and immediately feels better. When she's sad, she wants to talk about it and then nurse. Sometimes she just wants a hug. When she's tired, she nurses to sleep. Sometimes these days she nurses a little bit and then rolls over to go to sleep. She is teaching herself other ways to get comfort, but she still likes to get comfort from nursing. From experience, I know that gradually she will replace nursing with talking it out and asking for hugs and snuggling with a book, and anything else that brings her peace.

One nice thing about nursing an older toddler is the things she tells me about it.

"Your deedee milk tastes so yummy!"

"I love deedees so much!"

And best of all:

"Deedees keep me safe."



Amy said...

Very sweet post :) We just stopped nursing last month - Eric was no longer latching properly, and one day was really getting angry and agitated (I believe there was no milk left). I knew the end had come, and the next day when I told him there were no more "num nums", he just went to the fridge and asked for chocolate milk instead! He's still my super cuddler though, pinning me to the couch with hugs after work instead of nursing. I dread this winter's croup battles though, nursing was the only thing that really calmed his coughing, and helped clear his sniffly nose. It was also a miracle tantrum tamer.

Ms. Moon said...

Ah. I love this. I can never understand why women quit nursing when babies turn into toddlers. My daughter is still nursing her son- he's a bit over one now and has no plans to stop that I know of. And he won't take a bottle from me. Will not do it anymore. And at home, if she's there, if his daddy makes him a bottle, he takes it to his mama to give him. This makes me so happy for her- he associates her with the sweet comfort of milk, whether it comes from her breast or a bottle.

Lora said...

Oh you two made my day with your nursing toddler stories! Thanks for sharing. Sounds like Eric was ready! I'm hoping that Sylvia will wean as easily as that when she's ready. Ms. Moon, how very very sweet that for Owen, mama is sweet milky comfort. Love!

Joany said...

As the mother of a much younger toddler, I am still amazed how a bit of nursing instantly makes her feel better after a smashed finger or a bump on the head. How sad I will be when I no longer have that super power.

Dre said...

I think it should always be a mutual decision. If she and you both find comfort in it, why should it matter how old she is?

I nursed both of my kids until they weren't interested any longer. With my second, because of her health issues, I continued to pump and give her my breast milk through a cup for as long as my body could keep up a supply.

It's such a personal decision, and I honestly feel as though my kids are extra snuggly, extra cuddly, extra willing to let me hold them (even as they grow too tall to fit in my lap) because of our choice to nurse as long as we wanted to.

Lora said...

What a wonderful post! I nursed my precious boy until he was 3 years 7 months old and everyone (except my most wonderful supportive mother in law and amazing husband) was disgusted. My parents even refused to visit until we weaned. But I know it was the right thing for us and cherish that time we shared. Stand firm and always go with your gut. You are one Hell if a wonderful mama!