Nursing a Toddler

Updated on August 31, 2007
S.H. asks from Mountain View, CA
7 answers

My son just turn 25 mths last week and he still wants to be nursed. I have asked the peditrician who said to keep on nursing as long as you are comfortable with it. I have asked alot of other people and read articles stating that mothers do it till the child up to 5 years old. I would like to know any input from any mothers that have gone thru longer then two years and how the outcome is. And how many times a day do you nursed?

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answers from Las Vegas on

I nursed both of my children (now grown). My oldest quit on his own when he was two. He decided that he was a "Big Boy" now. He also decided that he didn't need diapers anymore--he was big enough to use the toilet. My second child was quite different. She nursed until she was 4 years old. Being in La Leche League helped me a lot, but I still got a lot of flack from our family and friends. My daughter just needed the close physical contact--it wasn't about nutrition any more. She wanted a canopy bed (like her friend had) so we used that as incentive. We told her that when she was big enough to stop nursing then she could have a canopy bed. She set her fourth birthday for her own goal--she went over it by a couple of months--but she eventually did it. Neither of my kids were still nursing when they went to college as my dad used to tell me. In their own time (and ours) the mission was accomplished. Looking back now, I wish I had savored those precious moments more instead of being so anxious for them to be done--so I wouldn't be criticized so much by family and friends that didn't accept the practice of nursing a toddler. With you working full time, your toddler may need that close physical connection with you even more. And yes, he will eventually outgrow it and he won't be nursing when he goes to college! Good luck and enjoy the closeness with your precious son while you can!



answers from Modesto on

Hi S.. I nursed my first child for 14 months, while supplementing with formula because of health issues (mine). I didn't produce enough milk from the very beginning and the hospital had me start supplementing when she was in with jaundice.

With my second child I was determined to last longer if I could. We nursed for 27 months total, no formula at all. Eventually he had gotten down to just morning and night and I was ready to wean when I got mastitis (OUCH!). The doctor told me I had to nurse more to get it out of my system. I was ready to cry because we were almost done and I was in so much pain. So, we upped our nursing and then lowered it again and I stopped offering in the morning and he would forget. Eventually I stopped offering at night as well and he would just fall asleep on his own.

A lot of people have a problem with nursing a toddler and I get strange looks every time I say that we nursed that long, but I fully believe it is up to you and how you feel about it. He's 4 now and I can't imagine him having nursed the last year and a half, but that's probably just because we didn't do it. I will say that he is very close to me; he's my little shadow, but he seems to be pretty well adjusted and I don't think he's any more clingy than any other child his age with a stay-at-home mom.

I agree with your doctor and think that you should go as long as you are comfortable with it. Good luck!



answers from Sacramento on

Congrats! Toddler nursing is an interesting adventure to be sure! It is also a wonderful way for mom and child to reconnect after a separation - it helps child more than you can imagine.

On to my nursing experience. I nursed my first for only 14 months. Had I known then what I knew with my last 2 kids I'd have nursed far longer - but living with my mother made it very difficult to follow my own child-rearing beliefs and I weaned too early (I was also only 19 when #1 son was born...)

Baby # 2 nursed for 38 months - yes that is 3 yrs and 2 months! We had a more than rough start to breastfeeding and I was determined to nurse him for as long as he wanted - much to the dismay and numerous rude comments by my mother's side of the family. I didn't realize he would nurse through my last pregnancy and take me into the realm of tandem nursing!

Tandem nursing was quite a challenge but well worth it. It took sibling rivalry and threw it out the window! Something I hadn't know would be a benefit. And when my milk came in (with a vengeance!) it was a godsend to have him around! Baby would finish off one VERY full breast and I'd look at the other (ouch!) and look at Ben and say "Hey! Kid! You want some daki??" (daki was his word for nursing - we never could figure out why he called it that...) He'd just laugh and come snuggle in my lap and he felt better and so did I. We didn't lose that relationship just because the new baby had arrived.

A few months of tandem nursing became enough for me and we weaned gently - we tandem nursed for 9 months. During that time he nursed anywhere from 2-6 times a day depending on his day. Towards the end I only allowed nursing first thing in the morning and last thing at night using the "don't ask don't refuse' method and lots of distraction to assist with weaning. :) It worked well.

Baby #3 (PJ) was MINE. :) He was a homebirth baby and was very healing for me in many ways. We nursed for a total of 4.5 yrs. The last year I wanted to be done but a nasty separation made it difficult for him to wean. The extended nursing had strong emotional benefits for him - keeping him more stable than my other two boys. And it had unexpected long term benefits for him and I together - we are still VERY close - he is now 10.5. He remembers nursing with lots of warm fuzzies!

During PJ's last 2 yrs of nursing he would sometimes nurse frequently and sometimes not. It really just depended on where he was at emotionally in his development, and if he was having a rough day (we all have them) or not. If we were really busy, out and about, etc., he would nurse less than if we were home for the day.

Bottom line? Toddlers have varying nursing patterns. There is nothing wrong with nursing a toddler - the other poster made a great point: temper-tantrums seem to be fewer! If a kid has a temper tantrum it is usually because they are extremely frustrated about something - popping them onto the breast is a great way to calm them down and then they feel better and you don't have to listen to a screaming child!

I wish you much enjoyment in your toddler adventures! It is a wonderful time. I wish that many more mom's were able to experience this particular time - it is a joy...





answers from Stockton on

Congratulations for nursing this far!
You are amazing and I bet your little one has truly benefited from this wonderful relationship.
As he gets older his needs will change and you two will establish a whole nother routine.
As long as you are comfortable is what will work for the both of you.
Within my own experiance as time goes by the nursing sessions change especially do to social obligations or other interuptions. Lots of distractions created during the day led to a sleepy time at home only nursing realtionship.
I have nursed passed 25 months and tell you I wouldn't do it any other way. We totally bypassed many issues and power struggles. I award Breast feeding for keeping my house healthy, giggly and almost tantrum free through out the 2's into the 3's. Solves so many issues. I am glad to hear that your Dr. told you to go as long as you are comfortable, I was told when ds was 18 months to go cold turkey. I switched Dr's.



answers from Stockton on

Congratulations on nursing for 25 months!!!! My mom nursed my brother for 26 months and me for 18 months and i think it was her influence that made me choose to breast feed. I planned on nursing my son for 6 months, by then i decided 9 months and by 9 months i couldn't imagine weaning and had plans on letting him nurse until he self weaned. I ended up weaning at 13 months due to pregnancy difficulties so i lost both my breast feeding relationship with my son and my pregnancy. My son is now almost 17 months old and i still feel guilty for weaning, it makes me sad! I think you should go with your instinct if it is to keep nursing then go for it. I also think it is wonderful to have a pediatrition who is encouraging you to continue as long as you are comfortable with it. Many breastfeeding mammas would love to just have a pediatrition that didn't ask "how much formula is the baby drinking" or push formula. Enjoy your nursing relationship!!!



answers from San Francisco on

I am still nursing my little boy (3yrs 9mo) and I love it! It got us through some tough times in age two and early three- (not to mention two rounds of terrible stomch flu without a trip to the hospital).

When my son was 2- nursing was more frequent for a couple months- (2-3 real nursings a day plus one at night), and then it would be minimal for a while (1-2 short, snack nursings per day and one at night). Now that my son is 3 and 9 months- he does not nurse at all during the day- he nurses for a couple of minutes at night and then once in the morning. If I offer during the day- his answer is usually "no thank you." Occasionally (a couple of times a month) he asks to nurse during the day. A couple of times a week he does not nurse at all for 24-48 hours. I expect he will be fully weaned in the next 6 months.

Two and three can be challenging- but nursing is a great tool for toddlers and it can make being a parent much, much easier. Too many parents think that the problem with the two-three year age range are solvable by weaning- but that is not my experience. A quick nurse lets your child know how much you love and care for him/her even when you are frustrated, it heads of a melt down at the grocery store, it makes waiting for the food to come at the restaurant better. It cuts down on sick days from all of the playdate and preschool illnesses your child is exposed to. And when you are gone at work all day- it makes you that much more special- you are the only one who can nurse your child.

Not all of it was bliss- I did have days that I did not want to nurse my child. And it was challenging during his needy times to nurse that often- but I am so glad I hung in there through the rough patches because nursing got easy again- and then it was heaven. If I had weaned him, then I was left with fewer parenting tools at my disposal, and I would not have gotten the rush of feel good, calming hormones that come with nursing- making a challenging day feel better and more manageable.

The natural, biological age of weaning is somewhere between 3 and 7 so 4-5 is very middle of the road. The world wide average for weaning is 4 years. If you are happy and nursing? Then keep going. It is the best gift you could give yourself. If you are looking for more support there is a yahoo group for sustained nursing-





answers from Fresno on

Hi S.,

Since you have gone back to work you will have to pump anyway. My thought on this issue (and there are several) is that if the child is old enough to tell you he's hungry, or goes to unbutton your blouse, time to switch! He may not too young for a sippy cup. I understand that mother's milk is the best nourshiment for a growing baby, but your baby is a growing toddler. It is a difficult bond to break, I know. If you decide to forgo the sippy cup, go to a bottle. He'll fuss, but he will adapt. If I were in your position I'd be working on solids and a sippy cup. Good luck to your and your sweet boy; and extra good luck with balancing work, family, house, husband and your little guy. Your hands are full!! They say that if you can hang in there for the first year, you've got it made. He's off to a good start, now it's time for a new chapter! Good luck, and let me know how it goes.

V. T.

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