What's Breastfeeding a Toddler Like?

For some this is a norm, for others it seems far fetched.  The WHO (World Health Organization) recommends breastfeeding up to the age of two years or beyond. Yet most mothers in the USA aim for 6 months to 1 year of breastfeeding.  

Breastfeeding a toddler has it's own advantages and trials.  Once you've breastfed for a year, keeping it up throughout toddlerhood is usually an easy thing.  But like most parts of the mother/child relationship, breastfeeding will need adaptation and change over the years.  While I still breastfeed my 3 year old, it looks nothing like it did when she was an infant.  

During her newborn period, I was focused on a good latch to avoid pain, was worried about if she was getting enough milk, and it seemed like I was breastfeeding more often than not.  Now that she's three she latches herself, I never worry about how much milk is in there, and we only breastfeed once or twice a day.  She hardly ever gets sick, and when she does it passes quickly. When you breastfeed a toddler, you don't need to buy pedialyte and such - you can just keep breastfeeding, even if they're throwing it up. 

Throughout her second year of life, we eliminated pacifier use (that was a lot easier than expected), switched to nursing only in beds because she was too distracted to nurse anywhere else, and tried a couple different night-weaning techniques that didn't work.  Eventually we settled into a new normal that we were happy with.

That's not to say it's all rainbows and happiness.  I've had to create rules because I often feel frustrated while nursing (hence just nursing once a day).  Getting her to stop breastfeeding throughout the night was a battle of its own.  It's a lot like creating boundaries so that your toddler doesn't snack on food all. day. long!  

What does an average day look like for us?  At night my husband puts her to bed (well, not that easily, haha).  When she wakes in the morning, she walks to our room and asks for milk.  I let her do two rounds of breastfeeding, which takes maybe 5 minutes.  I have to wear a night shirt to bed because if those suckers are out in the morning, she will just keep wanting to nurse. She asks to nurse once or twice throughout the day, and I remind her that we only breastfeed in the morning now.  

When people ask when we're going to wean, I wonder just what they think breastfeeding an older toddler is like.  It took some experimentation and boundaries to get where we're at, but we could keep this up for some time and I wouldn't mind.  

1 comment

CJ

Thank you for this article!! It’s always so reassuring to hear about other extended breastfeeding journeys. I am still breastfeeding my son who is almost 2, do you have any tips for the night weaning?

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