Oh yes, you heard that right. Nursing a toddler is way more challenging than a newborn- at least, for me it is!!
1. They have teeth. When you have a toddler with a lip tie and tongue tie, and therefore a shallow latch, those teeth can hurt your nipples! Every nursing session takes perfect positioning and a manual lip flange to ensure of comfortable latch. No Nursing Gymnastics for my toddler!
2. They can vocalize "I want your milk mama" whenever they please. In line at the grocery store, at a play date when meeting new people, or at the kindergarten tour with big brother. Oh lets not forget that time she REALLY NEEDED milk while I was getting my blood drawn. Telling a stubborn girl "no mama milk right now" is like the end of the world. It usually ends in some tears before moving onto a baby doll or some snacks. I've had to get really creative in my "NO" tactics. I can say no about 10 different way now, with out actually saying the word NO.
3. It's more than MILK. It's comfort, security, mom time, and bonding. This little girl loves her mama milk for so many reasons. These are all great reasons to continue breastfeeding and to wean gently. These are also the reasons my daughter will have a meltdown when I'm trying to write a blog post and she REALLY needs some mama milk.
4. Weaning for us doesn't involve switching from breast to a bottle of breastmilk, formula, or cow milk. She has no idea that human babies drink from bottles. In her eyes, baby dolls are the only thing that get a bottle. It's also a relationship between the two of us. I'm basically stopping a relationship, one that we started a few minutes after she was born. I cannot just say "okay all done, no more milk, ever again". It's not like a band aid, the quicker you rip it off the less it hurts. I'm dealing with a little human being, who's feelings matter me to. We've found that setting real boundaries with when and where mama milk happens, has helped with my "I'm so over this" stage of breatfeeding my toddler. Boundaries are not easy to set though. Yes, those came with many many challenges.
If you're nursing a toddler, what has been the most difficult part? Comment on the blog post to tell me!
I'm not writing this to talk anyone out of a extended breastfeeding relationship. I don't really like calling it extended, because it's normal for 2 year old to breastfeed. This is just physiological breastfeeding and weaning. Normal. Remember, WHO recommends breastfeeding for at least 2 years!
It's just that we here all about the challenges of breastfeeding infants, what to do to help overcome obstacles, how milk is made, when to start solids, all that good stuff.
Toddler breastfeeding is just not something we talk about very much.
I could say about 100 awesome benefits of nursing my toddler. But I'm being real. Most days are hard, because toddlers can be crazy. These are my thoughts. Happy Breastfeeding!!
PS. If you're having trouble nursing your toddler, reach out to a local breastfeeding group. You're sure to find some like-minded mommies that are going through some similar ups and downs, just like you!
Mother of a nursing 28 month old. :)