Director Jewels: Thoughts on Nursing an (almost) Three Year Old Toddler

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Thoughts on Nursing an (almost) Three Year Old Toddler


Why yes. My toddler does still breastfeed. His birthday is in February and at the rate we are going, I am pretty sure I will be nursing a three year old.

I definitely didn't intend for this to happen. We had a lot of breastfeeding problems when we started out and I honestly didn't expect to make it through the first week. So if you had told me that three years later, I would still be nursing this little boy several times a day, I would probably have laughed in your face. Or perhaps cried. It was an emotional time of my life.

So, if it wasn't my intention, maybe you wonder how it happened? It's really simple - one day at a time. I have never picked a day to start weaning him, so his breastfeeding has decreased at his own pace. As he becomes more interested in other things and more foods, he needs me less. I don't typically advertise the fact that he still nurses, though if someone asks me, I'm not ashamed. It's mostly considered a private family decision and will stay that way (except for here - where in complete contrast I'm talking about it openly to the entire world. HA!).

Breastfeeding a toddler is...interesting. It's no secret that there are amazing benefits to nursing an  older child such as increased brain development, mental and social development and nourishment at times when he may not otherwise eat (like when he was unexpectedly sick on vacation). Then there are the moments when I think "I'm really still doing this?" as he flips upside down and kicks me in the stomach all in the name of nursing.

Lincoln, for about the past year, has called his nursing sessions "dee." Never milk, never milkies, never anything else - until very recently, when he overhears me asking Addie to come nurse. That usually elicits an "INKY NURSE TOOOO!" It's actually nice that he has an alternate word, because it makes things less awkward when we're at Target and he's shouting "Dee! Dee NOW!!!"
I don't know what my goal is for his nursing anymore. It started as one year, then eighteen months (or, to just survive pregnancy), then two years...and now, I just don't really know how I feel.

I've started setting some limits. An almost three-year-old does NOT need to nurse as often as his baby sister. He seems to only really think of breastfeeding when he is bored or tired. But it's cold outside, which means we aren't leaving the house much - which equals a lot of boredom. Generally speaking, he is at about 3-4 nursing sessions a day right now: morning, bedtime, and a couple times in between. It depends on the day - sometimes he asks only once or twice and sometimes he asks all day long. I've been telling him no if he asks just before a meal or just for the sake of boredom. He's usually not pleased about it, but can be distracted.

Some days I think to myself, this is IT. No more dealing with toddler teeth and hands down my shirt or poking my belly button. But, usually when I start to feel this way, I come to the realization that in the grand scheme? Three years is not such a very long time. So we'll forge on. For how long, I'm not sure. Maybe he'll decide to stop tomorrow. Or maybe he'll be almost four.

A part of me never wants to reach the day that he stops. There aren't many baby characteristics left in him, my lively wild boy. And I don't want to tell this last one goodbye.

2 comments:

  1. Well done! I wonder if you are still breastfeeding now. My son decided to stop about a week after his sixth birthday. I'm so glad that I left it to him to decide when to stop. He is eight now and still remembers breastfeeding, which I think is a lovely memory.

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    Replies
    1. My daughter is three and still nursing sometimes, but my son stopped when he was about 3 and a half.

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