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Demanding Nursing Toddler

The Parents Network > Advice > Advice about Breastfeeding > Breastfeeding a Toddler > Demanding Nursing Toddler


I have made the choice of extended breastfeeding at certain times of the day. My daughter is just over two years old, and very much loves nursing. I too enjoy the connection and feel it important to nurse her at least until she's three. My problem is the way she asks for it. She'll often say, "Nurse!!!!" in a very loud and demanding voice and begin to bang on her own chest like a gorilla or poke at my breasts rudely. She'll fling herself into nurse position, nuzzle at my chest, and kick and whine and holler if I try to offer other alternatives. I often find myself embarassed around others, and somewhat insulted by my daughter's manner of request! Sometimes I just nurse her outside her normal nursing times just to stave off the tantrum. But then I feel like I've "given in". Has anyone had this problem and how did they deal with it? I try to stress to her to ask quietly, and to say please, and to offer alternatives (juice, snack, hug, etc) when the time is inappropriate, but so far not much has changed!
I nursed my toddler too and I can still see the benefits today, so I applaud your decision to let your daughter enjoy extended nursing. However, toddlers can be demanding. What worked with my daughter: we made a rule of no nursing in public. I sometimes made exceptions, but if she ever shouted or had a tantrum, I NEVER gave in. I tried to use the nursing as a reward, or sometimes let her nurse when she was upset but BEFORE she started to behave badly. She soon learned that shouting and having a tantrum were not effective (amazing how fast they learn to get what they want!). Also, we used a code (nonsense) word for nursing so when she asked for it in public it wasn't so embarrassing. Unfortunately this society is very disapproving of extended nursing, so it's too bad that we have to hide this way...
As the mother of a nursing toddler, I can relate to all of the comments I'm reading about strange looks, rude comments, feeling embarrassed, et cetera. I feel very strongly that I don't want my daughter to feel inhibited or ashamed in any way about nursing her own toddler in public. That is why I refuse to hide our nursing relationship. We nurse pretty much whenever and wherever we want to. I am as discrete as possible, and have taught my daughter that if she wants to nurse, she must leave my shirt down so that with the combination of it and her head, no breast is exposed. I do not, and have never used a drape. If people are shocked or offended by seeing me nursing my baby, it's only because it's so rare to see such a thing in our culture. How can we ever expect that to change if we buy into the ignorance-based reactions of other people by becoming closet nursers?
Another parent wrote "However, waiting for a child to wean themselves seems to be a myth, unless one is willing to continue nursing until four or five" I would not consider it to be a myth. My daughter weaned herself at age 2 yrs and 11 mos. I only rarely told her a flat "no", though I often redirected her, especially at the very end ("you just nursed an hour ago--are you hungry for food?" "Do you want to nurse, or do you just want to be close to mom?"). And she did go through a period of increased requests in the last month or two, though each time it was clear she just wanted to make sure that she still *could* (she would nurse for about 1 minute, and be on her way). At the end, she asked only a couple times a week (though I could see that she was actually still getting milk, even though not much). She hasn't asked for about 3 months now, so I think we're really done. Baby-led weaning is possible, and it doesn't necessarily mean you'll wait till they're 5.
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this page was last updated: Dec 28, 2004


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