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To the Mom of a Nursing Toddler

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It’s ok that you’re the only one who can get your child to take a nap.

It’s ok that you’re the only one who can put your child to sleep at night.

It’s ok that you can’t imagine a night away from your child.

It’s ok that you can imagine a night away from your child.

It’s ok that you sometimes resent your child’s very big need for you.

It’s ok that you sometimes feel so full with radiant love when you think of your child’s very big need for you.

It’s ok that your child always, sometimes, “still” nurses in the middle of the night.

It’s ok that you offer to nurse your child when you are tired and you want to sit still on the couch for a few minutes.

It’s ok that you offer to nurse your child to ward off a tantrum.

It’s ok that you “still” offer the breast.

It’s ok that you sometimes really, really don’t want to nurse and you offer something else instead.

It’s ok that you sometimes feel touched out.

It’s ok that your skin sometimes crawls while you nurse.

It’s ok that you spend lots of nursing sessions zoned out on your phone.

It’s ok that you find warm, cozy pleasure in nursing your child.

It’s ok that you can’t imagine not sleeping right beside your child.

It’s ok that your child doesn’t sleep with you so much anymore.

It’s ok that you don’t know when you’ll wean.

It’s ok that you have no idea how your child will ever stop nursing.

It’s ok that you have a plan to gently, slowly wean your child.

It’s ok that you want to speed things along with weaning.

It’s ok that your nursing toddler nurses more than your friend’s nursing toddler.

It’s ok that your nursing toddler nurses less than your friend’s nursing toddler.

It’s ok that nursing glues the two of you together, and you “still” often feel lost when you are separated from your child.

It’s ok to wonder when you will have your life back, your body back, your sleep back.

It’s ok to savor the smell of the two of you melding together.

It’s ok to not want your old life of “freedom” back.

It’s ok to want only this.

It’s ok to resent this.

It’s ok to feel all the feelings all at once.

All of it is normal.

Mammals have nursed their babies into toddlerhood and beyond for millions of years, feeling the complexity of emotions along the way.

Nursing never has and never will look just one way for every mother and child.

Listen to your child, listen to yourself.

Accept what is. Don’t read into things too much. Go with your instincts.

Feel the love.

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67 thoughts on “To the Mom of a Nursing Toddler”

  • Thank you. Today, I felt guilty for offering to nurse through an upset my 2 year old had. And then I turned around and felt guilty for offering water and a snack when all I wanted to do was have a cup of coffee without gymnurstics. It is so darn complicated and beautiful and you helped bring my shoulders down.

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  • Thank you. This made me cry. I am right there. She’s 27 months also. And I am sooooo incredibly tired and feel my whole essence both disappearing in to the long nursing nights and the brain – vacant days as a result, mixed with the emotions of knowing it’s coming to an end ‘soon’ (whenever that will be) with lots of judgements around us, albeit ‘well meaning’ and the whole melting pot of emotions that can be breastfeeding. We also lost another baby this time last year and I know that its affecting my capacity to gently wean… all I want to do is hold our little lady close and give her the warmth, love, security and attachment that she still needs and asks for but at the same time I feel this massive pull to just allow my body to rest and recharge. I have been advised gently by the osteopath whom is very holistic and pro-AP and gentle weaning that my body is so incredibly tired that I should consider the impact that continuing to breastfeed, is having on my physical and emotional aspects of myself. I have a 6 year old and BF him until he was 17months so I know I guess ‘how’ to wean but each child is so very different, as you say. I have asked for support from my HV but she wasn’t helpful at all! Said all ‘the right things’ but I could tell from her eyes that she wasn’t really where I was with all this and didn’t say anything helpful at all. I have contacted La Leche and they replied via email and invited me to a group miles from my house. They said they would reply again when I declined to attend and haven’t. I am reading about gentle weaning wherever I can, but you know what? I just can’t seem to summon up the energy to ‘do’ more than we are. I am going a long the lines of don’t offer / don’t refuse and taking it as slow as we can. If I can crack the not needing to nurse constantly between the hours of sometimes 12 – 4 or sometimes more, then that would help. We co-sleep for part of the night so it’s not like I am getting up and down. But it is disrupting all of our sleep. Hers too. She just needs a bit of comfort and then goes back to sleep. The other night she did stay in her cot until 4 am after going back down at 12 midnight. That was unusual. I was happy to have her snuggle back in to bed after that because I managed 4 hours uninterrupted sleep. If she wakes, she just wants me and won’t settle with anyone else. That’s ok but it does mean that my partner feels redundant and is very supportive but I think deep down, he is feeling the pinch of all this and is keen for me to wean and get her in to a big girl bed so everyone can have a more peaceful night. I am a bit at a loss as to what to do next. On some level, I am wondering whether to wait until the end of the month when the anniversary of losing our other baby girl passes, because it’s probably too much to do all at once. But then again am I in this space of “it will be better / easier / gentler etc, when I xxxxxx” and that utopic time never arrives :0) Part of me wonders about just stopping but that too is so terribly traumatic for everyone involved and feels all wrong. Any thoughts or advice or sources for info would be gratefully received. Your post was so very helpful and well timed. Much love and light to you all too x x x

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    • I am so sorry to hear of your loss and what you are going through. I didnt want to wean my child either but was really run down and depressed. My body really needed a break mentally and physically. I had told myself in the beginning to just make it to 6 weeks, then it was 1 year then 2 years. And before 2 years I was cracking. I am not sure I did anything to promote weaning or not as I was in such a fog. But what did work better than ever expected was I had surgery on my wrist that required me to wear a sling. The sling covered my chest and somehow my child handled not nursing (whereas he never did b4!) because mommy was hurt. I don’t know if it would work if you wore a sling or if he just knew I had tangible physical pain. But it was so easy (at night it was a bit tougher) that I have never forgotten it. It was so quick that I had to take stuff to dry up my milk because I was so engorged by the sudden weaning. I am not even saying this is the route to take but you try something more sudden you may be surprised how well it goes. Whatever you decide remember it will take time to heal.

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    • Hi Ruthie, I am sorry for your loss. There is a support group on Facebook called “Sweet Drop Cafe”. You can ask any questions from breastfeeding, weaning, co sleeping and etc and moms and LC will help answer your questions or concerns. You are not alone. There are other options to co sleep that will not effective your husband. Hugs to you.

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  • Hugs to you, mama πŸ™‚ It sounds like you’re having a really rough time. You are mourning the baby you lost, trying to mother two children, and are being pulled in all kinds of directions. Be gentle with yourself. If you can even just take an hour a week to do something for yourself, you will reap the benefits. Meditation is also a wonderful way to feel your feelings, let them go, and breathe. As for nursing, you sound conflicted. Remember that it’s not all or nothing. If you feel you need to cut back a little, that doesn’t mean you are weaning. You can try that and see how you feel. I have heard lots of moms have had success with the Jay Gordon method nightweaning. Either way, just see how your toddler does. You will know if it’s not the right time to nightwean. You can try later if it isn’t working for her or you. Just remember there are lots of choices and the best one is the one that works for both of you. Take care. xoxo

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  • Thank you. I try to tell myself everyday that what I’m feeling is ok – and it was so reassuring to read it from someone else. The days can feel long but the years are short eh xxx

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  • I love this.

    My son is 28 months old and “still” nursing. I get touched out often. He wants to nurse at night. It can be frustrating. What I do when nursing makes me feel uncomfortable or I’m too tired is tell my son that the boobies need a break and that he can nurse again in the morning. Sometimes he cries. Sometimes he crys a lot. If he is upset we do other things like holding hands or singing after he nurses.
    It’s a nursing relationship. I can’t become a walking boob just to make him happy. I offer when I feel like it. Some days I don’t offer at all. I ask him if we can nurse later. We both make compromises every day.

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  • As a mommy currently nursing my fourth and final baby, at nineteen months through a bad case of mastitis every word if this rang true. We have nursed through a very rough year, our bond kept me sane. Thank you for this <3

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  • Thank you so much for this. I smiled the entire time reading it. My last little one will be 4 in three weeks, and she is still happily nursing, and I have so frequently felt so many of the items you mention above. She’s the only baby out of the 3 I have breastfeed that nursed past the age of 1, and if I could turn back time and do it all differently with my kids that I stopped nursing so early I would in a heartbeat. Education, and support (like this post) are so important. In any event, thank you.

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  • Thank you.

    I never post comments. Ever. I don’t like thr vortex of who is right or wrong or how the comments sections go from well meaning to vicious. But this was what I needed to read today. To know our decision, is ours and ours alone…my decision and my child’s decision. Not my loving husband, my well intentioned great-grandmother, supportive mother or inquisitive friends. For that, thank you.

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  • ive never been able to nurse my son but hes 2 now and still takes a bottle a couple times a day…..everyone i know gives me a hard time about it ‘hes too old for a bottle’ and such, but this made me feel better about my decision to let him continue….thank you so much

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  • Thank you! My little girl turns 2 on Tuesday and already I have the ‘give up the boob’, ‘next Tuesday boobies away’, ‘she’s too old’ and ‘did you ever watch little Britain?’….

    This makes me feel better. So thank you x

    – working mum of 3

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  • So many mixed feelings for us mamas of nursing toddlers! Your post is so very, very true. Most of the time I love nursing my son (currently 2 and 9 months), but there are definitely days where I start seriously thinking about forcing weaning, even though most of the time I am firmly for self-weaning. Sometimes I just gaze down at him, and other times I feel touched out. Sometimes I wish others could get him to go to sleep, and other times I love being needed. Sometimes I resent the middle-of-the-night nursing session that still happens most nights, and other times I love the peacefulness of it being just the two of us awake. Overall, though, I am so happy my son is still nursing. I would not give this up for anything.

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  • I burst into tears as I was reading this, LO is 23 months old. It is as if you have written every thought that has plagued my mind for the past few months, ill feel great and confident about it for days, even weeks at a time and then one night she’ll wake me up several times throughout the night to nurse and cries everytime I try to unlatch. Or the impossibility of having a late night out, we tried to have her stay the night at gmas for the first time about 2 months ago, she cried for mommy and daddy every two hours. I felt horrible and guilty and Im afraid I can never leave her! Or someone makes a backhanded comment to me about it. I have resorted to being a “closet nurser” around certain company. And the conflicting feelings! I love the deep bond we share and I am so afraid to let that go. I hope she still will like to cuddle just as much (maybe even more?) After we wean. Thank you again for easing this pain a little XOXO

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  • So glad to see others are going through the same thing! My baby will be 2 in Jan. I can’t wait for her to be finished nursing. I feel selfish for this but I’m exhausted. She hasn’t had a bottle since she was 4 months and refuses to drink milk from her sippy cup. It doesn’t matter if it’s breast milk, chocolate milk, strawberry milk, etc. I get so frustrated at times.

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  • Thanks for this. I get a lot of “you are STILL nursing!?!”, and i pretty much cannot think about it without loving it, hating it, being embarrassed, being proud, wanting to stop, being afraid of stopping, etc. Any emotion is always felt simultaneously with it’s opposite. So thank you for getting it, and juat sharing a little bit of quiet understanding and approval of it all. πŸ™‚

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  • Still nursing my over 3.5 year old. Daylights savings has been kicking our arses this week and much more comfort has been needed. I think what struck me most was, “It’s okay not to know….”
    Thank you. There are days when you feel very alone and today after reading this, I felt a little less so.

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  • Wonderful reminders! Thanks!
    Mine just turned 2 and I love that he still nurses to sleep and I wonder how long that will go on!! πŸ˜‰

    I’d like to share/referance/link this on a post I’m writing about Toddler Sleep, if I may?

    Thanks!

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  • THANK YOU!! I’m soooo done nursing my 25month old but can’t imagine weaning him either! At times I’m SO touched out and times when I can’t get lost deep enough into his beautiful eyes as he stares at me so comforted and safe. He’s number 5 and I know he’s my last so I’m trying to savor that. Milk is low so it’s not comfy for me anymore. He nurses to sleep and as much as dream about him being done I also don’t want him to be done before our trip to Disney in Feb! Makes flying and putting him to sleep in a strange place so much easier. Not to mention it’s such a comfort through a non stop vaca. *sigh* someday he will be done, someday he will not need me as much, someday I won’t feel his Lil hands reach for me in the night. Someday I will miss all of it. Thank you for this. Nice to know that even if none of us was able to make a decision about weaning, we are all here in the same boat. <3 to all you ladies and nursing toddlers:)

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  • Due to a medical problem with my heart, I had to abruptly stop nursing when my son was 6 months old. My only regret is that I wasn’t allowed one last nursing session. I felt most of the above at one point or another. I was shocked about how deep the grief was when I had to stop especially because we had so many obstacles in our nursing relationship. Knowing he was my last made it all the more difficult.

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  • Thank you!

    And on a slightly unrelated note, do you have any links to resources about dry-nursing during pregnancy? I did try Google but the results were slightly scary…

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    • Sure! Kellymom.com and llli.org are trusted sites for good info about that. There is a great book you can check out called Adventures in Tandem Nursing by Hilary Flower. Many moms nurse through pregnacy. I encourage you to find you local La Leche League for more like-minded mothers πŸ™‚

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  • Thank you for these beautiful thoughts. Brought tears to my eyes

    I am afraid to post much as my abusive husband searches the internet for my “unhealthy support” of breastfeeding.

    We separated a few months ago and he has force weaned my almost 3 yr old. He was able to get emergency custody and support of a judge.

    It has been devastating for me and my toddler who still to this day begs or asks to nurse on visits and I have been court-ordered to tell him no.

    It breaks my heart on so many levels.

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    • I’m so sorry. I encourage you to contact your local La Leche League (www.llli.org) They can see if there are any laws in your area to protect you or help to find you some legal counsel. Meanwhile, you and your child have built a foundation of trust through nursing and you will find it in other forms if this weaning is permanent. I hope it doesn’t have to be. It doesn’t sound like either of you are ready. Love and strength to you.

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  • Thank you so much for this. It’s just what I needed to see. I still nurse my 2 1/2 year old twins. We also cosleep and yes they wake every night and nurse to sleep again. At the moment I find it easiest for me as I am alone and have their sister who just turned 4 years. A few of my friends ask if they still nurse and when I say yes they make the comment isn’t time they stop. This just leaves me feeling like I’m doing something wrong. I am doing my best and actually It’s non of their businesses.

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  • Wow. That made me cry…in a good way. I am still nursing my 3 YO and wouldn’t change it for the world. Thank you for giving words to my feelings and making me feel that its ok. πŸ™‚

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  • Great post. I think all first time moms should read this as they are the ones thinking/overthinking about lot of these things. After my first baby I realized that it is a unique experience that is different with different moms and there is no single check list to follow or track your baby’s behavior against.

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  • I nursed to 18/19 months and felt many of these things. A combo of things made me stop. But before that it just didn’t feel right yet. No judgment here. You ladies nurse your tots all you want until the time is right for yall. I have an infant again and have no idea when he’ll want to stop or me for that matter.. And I don’t worry.

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  • well on my opinion i was feeding my baby at school and this woman told me what i was doing and i said feeding my baby and well i felt bad by the way she was lookin at me and well i had to stop cause she was makin me feel very weird so well i dont really care but i steel feed my baby girl shes 1 and my last baby.

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  • I love this article, I am a 6 month pregnant still nursing mother of a 27 month old I will continue to nurse, tandem nurse, until both of my children are ready to wean on their own. I am so sick and tired of the rude comments, the stares and the judgment that me, yes a visibly pregnant woman is still nursing a toddler who is already 39 inches tall so he looks much older than his actual age. I can relate to this article at every level and am so very grateful that you wrote this.

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  • Hello!
    I came across your blog at such a right time in my life. I was feeling guilty of not wanting my 18 month to wean. My guilt is gone, I am happy nursing her. Thanks. Blog like yours restores my faith in humanity. Much much thanks.

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  • Thank you for publishing these articles. I enjoy them very much and look forward to following you and reading more.
    As a young mother who currently still feeds her 2 year old I get a lot of mixed reactions and feelings when people see or hear that I still breastfeed. I can’t lie, I used to think it would be totally weird to even have an infant ask for boobie but honestly if i could, i would not change a thing. I never saw myself in this position but you know what,when he gazes into my eyes and the oxytocin kicks in … it’s like we’re from another time, and no one cares/criticizes how you feed your children. And all I feel is love and all I see is beauty….My son will never be in arms in the same way ever again, and that’s why at the end of the day, when I too have had my share of mixed emotions too, I still cherish the time we have β™‘

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  • Geez this is so great to read as I sit on couch nursing 2.8 yr old daughter, wondering if she will nap as I stare at the messy house! Love being a nursing mammal!

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  • Read this while laying in bed with my 20 month old while she dream nurses for her nap. We’re going through a phase and if I get up she’ll wake up and she desperately needs her sleep. So here I am. Sometimes I hate it, sometimes I cherish every moment. You hit the nail on the head! <3

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  • Thank you so much for this post. It was exactly what I needed to read at this time. I’m “still” nursing my 23 mo old and am about to become the last of my mommy friends to be nursing her toddler. I don’t have a plan to stop, but am starting to feel pressure from people about it. I love that you covered all of the beauty and frustration that goes along with nursing a toddler, but what I love most of all is the permission you give to just feel all of it and find comfort in the unknowns. Again, thank you.

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