B.D. asks from Bluefield, WV on January 03, 2010
Can't Get My 16 Month Old to Stop Wanting to Nurse
My soon to be 17 month old wants to nurse still. He will cry and bring me his blanket and will not calm down, until I give in and nurse. It is usually at nap time , and right right before bed, and also if he wakes up at night. Any suggestions would be appreciated. I sometime fill like it is past time to stop, even if it gives us both down time were everything is calm and quiet.
So What Happened?™
I decided that I wanted to keep nursing. We are trying to come up with a system that will help him sleep better during the night, so he is not up all hours wanting to nurse. So Far I started to nurse hime 1 or 2 hours before he goes to bed and let my husband put him to bed with a cup and rocking. So far this is working on getting him asleep. now it is time to work on keeping him asleep. Thanks for all the advice, and encouragement on nursing. Most of my friends stopped nursing before they even turned 1. So I couldn't find anyone that nursed as long as me. Thanks again
S.C. answers from Nashville on January 04, 2010
I agree with Kathy - it's quite normal for your son to still want to nurse at that age, and very normal for you to let him. Don't rush to wean! Nursing at this point is still beneficial for both of you, and you shouldn't wean until you are both ready. Your son is clearly not ready, and you mentioned that it gives you "down time" that's calm and quiet, so it sounds like you are still benefiting from the nursing relationship too! Treasure this time and the closeness with your son because it won't last long!
Often children will wean themselves when they are ready w/o much work on your part. If you need to help the process along, have you tried pumping and offering a bottle or sippy cup while cuddling him in place of nursing? Or substitute other comforting behaviors. With my 3 month old, we usually play music and dance him to sleep. Since he is used to this routine, a lot of times his eyes close the second the music starts! He still nurses to sleep too, but I like that he doesn't HAVE to nurse to fall asleep.
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S.P. answers from Raleigh on January 04, 2010
One option is to view nursing him as ok, and organic instead of something you have to "give in to." Maybe he needs it for a reason, and letting it stop and taper down as he is ready is a way to understand and respect his needs. Just a thought. It's not like he's interferring with your daycare. I nursed my child beyond 17 months, and I'm glad I did. We stopped when she was ready. Good luck!
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S.S. answers from Nashville on January 04, 2010
I am a mother of three children, now 14, 11 and almost 9. I had never expected to nurse my babies into toddlerhood and longer; it was not in my plan. Well, I did not have a "plan", and I am so grateful that I didn't or else I would have missed the most amazing experiences and gifts that come from nursing and attachment parenting. Here's what I want to share with you: our babies and toddlers are really smart, they have an internal compass that tells them what they need from the inside out, and nursing and feeling close to their mothers is a primal need from what I know and everything I have read for 20 years.
So, here's my questions for you: how do you feel about continuing your nursing relationship with your 16 month old? Where is this idea coming from that makes you feel like it is past time to stop? Is it coming from you or a family member or friend? It's important that you listen for your own voice and find out what's important to you.
The following information may be helpful in your consideration:
The La Leche League (LLL) is a worldwide organization that supports mothers to breastfeed their babies and toddlers and it is there that I learned that the World Health Organization reports that worldwide, mothers breastfeed their babies an average of 4.2 years! So, that may help you put 16 months in perspective and empower you to choose when you want to wean your baby who sounds like he still really needs you. I would never change the amount of time I spent nursing my children: I have a total of 10 continuous years of breastfeeding and with it the intimacy of relationship with each of my children. They are well-attached and independent, the combination I hoped for them. Weaning can be a mutual decision if you allow your baby and toddler to take the lead. I encourage you to check in with yourself, your heart and soul and from there make your decision to continue or stop breastfeeding. It sounds like you have a lot of responsibility at home with a daycare, but the beauty of it too is that you are at home and your son has access to you. I did wean my toddlers from night nursing at about 2, and I have some suggestions for that if you are interested. That may help to relieve some of your stress if you are waking often at night and then more tired in the daytime. Let me know and I can share what I did. Also, the LLL is a great resource and you can look for a meeting online in your area.
Breastfeeding is such a personal choice, but that choice is so often influenced by outside voices that disempower a mother especially when we are not sure what direction we want to go in...So, being informed and feeling supported to make the best decision for you and your child is so important. We get one shot at nursing each baby, and when that baby wants to keep nursing, well, that's a gift that can keep on giving to both mother and child and you cannot measure the long term benefits that's the amazing thing, there are soooo many! Wishing you all the best and peace in your decision. That you have an almost 17 month nursing relationship is already amazing! Well done, congratulations!
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K.P. answers from Memphis on January 04, 2010
I'm not sure why you think it is "past time to stop" -- is it because you don't know anybody else who has "extended breastfed"? Perhaps you can meet up with your local La Leche League, or get in touch with internet moms who are b/f their 2- or 3-y/o. Our society seems to think it is a bad thing to breastfeed past the first year of life; but that is not the case. Your child is still getting nourishment and antibodies and protection from disease because of nursing (though not as much as when he was a baby); and he's still getting the comfort from nursing that he needs.
My younger son was like that -- he loved to nurse!! He's still a clingy cuddle-bug and mama's boy -- very much needy of physical affection. I weaned him when he was about 22 m/o, and sometimes I regret that and wonder if he is clingy now because I made him stop nursing then.
One of the biggest factors in breastfeeding is the support a nursing mother feels -- if her husband, mother, and/or friends are supportive of her desire to feed her child like nature intended, she will be likely to do it; for myself, when my husband stopped supporting my efforts (started saying things like, "Isn't it time for him to stop nursing? Isn't it time for you to wean him?"), I quickly weaned. If you don't have supportive friends, maybe you can find some online -- look for "extended breastfeeding" groups you can join. There are many mothers who breastfeed even beyond 3 years. It sounds like your baby isn't ready to wean yet, so I would suggest continuing to nurse. You'll likely find that you will spend as much time comforting him without nursing as you ever spent nursing him (maybe more), so I don't know that you'll be gaining anything but a whiny, needy child who doesn't understand why your comforting breasts are now off-limits to him.
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R.M. answers from Nashville on January 04, 2010
I had originally planned to wean my son around 18 mos. But he was not ready. I am not really a fan of very late extended breastfeeding so I was hoping to be done by then. But I think if you are going to wean, it should be at like a year, I know mine would have given it up then, but no way at 18 mos.
So at 26 mos I am still nursing. We had a lot of big big changes in our house this past fall and he stopped sleeping through the night and has had some adjustment issues. I think weaning would have been too much for him to handle. But extended breastfeeding doesnt have to be like what you see on tv (or in real life) when a 3 yr old comes running up and pulls up mom's shirt in public. At this point mine only nurses like once a week, never in public, only in the mornings. No one even knows I am still nursing except my husband because they havent asked. I never nursed much in public anyways especially after a year, so he doesn't associate nursing with anything but being at home. Although, I DID cut out the nighttime feedings after a year because I was trying to get him to sleep through the night.
You should just evaluate why you think you want to be done. Is it the middle of the night feedings? Having your husband go tend to him for a couple weeks if he wakes up should take care of that. Is it because you are too busy with the daycare? Then you need to be prepared to spend other "special" time with him because it sounds like that is part of what he needs- comfort and mommy time. If you find another form of that, he might give up that feeding easily. Also, if you are going to wean him, stick to it, or if you know you will give in anyways, just say yes immediately. Don't let him cry and then get his way. He thinks now that you will give in if he cries about it. It will make it harder when you do really decide to wean him. And he might start making the association that if he cries he gets what he wants for other things as well. Good luck on whatever you decide to do!
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M.M. answers from Nashville on January 04, 2010
My son is 28 months old now and we stopped at 26 1/2 months. He was not ready, but I was ready. So, at 22 months, I began the weaning process. I started it early because I did not want it to be a traumatic experience for him. Every week, I would take away one nursing session. As we progressed along the way, each week would include one, two, and then, close to the end, three. In the final two weeks, he was having a really hard time. But,, I stuck to my guns, and held him more during the day, did not sit down at all, and kept him busy with activities all day long. Night nursing was the last to go, as we cosleep together. The final day, I decided to tell my son a story, he is very smart, so it worked great. I told him that there is this little boy screaming with hunger because his mommy does not have milk. The stork (showed him a photo) came and took his milk from my boobies and carried it to the mommy so she could feed her starving boy. He began to scream, No, No. Then, I proceeded to tell him that he has teeth and is able to eat wonderful things like meatballs, ice cream, carrots, brocolli, and all the fun and exciting things that little babies can not eat because they do not have teeth and need milk. But, he is a little boy now and has lots of teeth. Anyway, the more I explained that the little baby was crying and needed the milk because he did not have teeth, the more he was okay with giving his milk away. I still tell him this story every now and then when he wants to hold a boob and ask for milk.
My suggestion to you is make certain this is the time for you and your son to let go of the nursing. Because once it is gone, that's it! DO NOT let others, immediate family members especially, pressure you into quitting. Both my Mom & Mother-in-law would have had me quit by 12 months. As you can see, I do not let other people make such an important decision for me and my son. If you are ready, start the process. If you are doing this because of pressure from spouse, etc....Become knowledgeable on the nursing and share your knowledge with these individuals. I used these weapons everytime someone started in on me about nursing so long.
Wish you and your son the best! Good luck!
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V.C. answers from Wheeling on January 04, 2010
In my experience (having had 2 of each), the boys definitely wanted to nurse longer than the girls did. As long as he's only nursing to go to sleep, I'd say just go with the flow! (little pun, there! LOL) It's bonding time that you'll probably look back on in a few years and say, "WHY did I want to cut that short??" Enjoy it. At least when he's weaned, it'll be clear-cut. With bottles, they can carry them around WITH them for years!
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R.D. answers from Jackson on January 04, 2010
You need to ask yourself a question first. Are you ready for him to stop or do you feel pressure from other people to stop. Only stop if you are ready...don't worry about other people.
Now, I believe he is using nursing like a toddler would use a paci...for comfort. So I guess you could approach it like you would getting rid of the paci. Don't make yourself available at those times and let your supply dry up. Or like most people say to do with a paci...go cold turkey and find alt. methods to create comfort (snuggle time and such).
Good luck with it.