Toddler Breastfeeding: It’s Enough To Drive You Crazy!
For the past few days breastfeeding has been really difficult. I love to breastfeed and I’m a big advocate of it if you are able too.
Right now I am struggling.
If you are feeling fed up with the constant toddler breastfeeding then this article will be right up your street.
I believe in being honest as a mother and not trying to hide bits of motherhood to the outside world.
This is one of those times where being transparent can help other mothers like me.
My first 3 children, I stopped breastfeeding around the 1 year mark for various reasons.
This time around we’re doing things a little differently. This time I want my baby to breastfeed until he’s at least 2 years of age.
Ideally, I’d like him to self-wean but hmmm we’ll see.
It throws everything that you know and are used too off balance.
It’s a mild form of the 4th trimester to me where everything is just one big zombie blurr.
What is toddler breastfeeding?
Toddler breastfeeding is basically as it says. It’s when you choose to continue breastfeeding your child from the baby stage through to when they are a toddler.
Is there a difference between toddler breastfeeding and breastfeeding a newborn?
Yes and no.
When you breastfeed your newborn baby. That is usually your babies only nutrition channel.
The majority of the time your toddler will be getting their nutrients elsewhere as well as from breastfeeding.
A lot of mothers choose long term breastfeeding because of the health benefits that it can have for their toddler.
How long do toddler breastfeeding sessions last for?
It can be difficult to say because every child is different and it really depends on what they want to breastfeed for.
Toddlers will breastfeed for other reasons outside of being hungry.
Sometimes my toddler will feed for 2 minutes and sometimes he will be on the breast for a good 20 minutes.
If you are experiencing this, it is completely normal and you are definitely not alone in this.
What are some of the reasons toddlers breastfeed?
Toddlers breastfeed for a number of different reasons:
The breast is the comfort place for your child. It is what they have known since they were a baby and it is the place where they feel the most security.
It is normal for your child to want to comfort feed when they feel upset or a little bit insecure about something.
It’s is up to you how much or how little you want them to be able to do this.
Much like on demand breastfeeding, you have to make the choice as to whether you will allow your child to freely feed or only partly do this.
This is the reason for my article today. Teething can cause your child to feel quite upset especially if they can’t verbalize what is wrong.
For the past few days, my son has been a little cranky. Anyone that knows him, knows he is super chilled and hardly ever cries.
Not for the past few days though.
To be fair he hasn’t cried a lot but there has been a lot of displeasure in things that usually wouldn’t bother him.
He refuses to leave my side for anything. Distraction methods are only momentary and the breast has become his pacifier.
He wants to feed ALL DAY LONG.
This is just not an option for me. Being a mother means you have about 100,000 others things to get done by the end of the day.
Having a teething and upset baby just doesn’t accommodate this.
I know some people might say well just take him off the breast but personally for me that doesn’t quite work.
I want to be able to help him as much as I can and (for me) that means allowing him the breast if it helps him.
Whilst this probably sounds very noble it means that until this episode is over I will likely be a zombie mom from lack of sleep.
If your child is unwell this will also cause them to want to breastfeed more often.
I have noticed that as my son has a growth spurt, either physically or mentally he tends to feed more.
I’m not sure if this is because of the need for extra nutrients or some other reason but I do know that it happens.
Other things that go along with toddler breastfeeding
1. Pinching and twisting
Toddlers pinch when they are feeding. They don’t lay there nice and still like a newborn baby. They feed whilst twisting your other nipple.
They have no consideration for the pain it causes when they pinch and twist it just somehow relaxes them.
It happens, it hurts, you tell them not to do it again, chances are they will.
This is my life.
Some children choose to bite and others don’t. The funny thing is that my son will bite the nipple ever so gently.
He must know there is a level of pin involved. To him it is funny.
I have made that all-time mistake of laughing the first few times he did it only to tell him that it was naughty (talk about mixed messages).
I have since learned my lesson. He now gently bites after each feed because it is still funny to him.
I don’t laugh any more (obviously) but it is stuck with him no matter how many times I tell him.
I’ve even had the few times where I have refused to give him the breast if he bites and usually for that feed he won’t do it but for the next one he probably will.
He never does it painfully but just enough that I would notice. I think he’s a bit of a teaser in his personality. I’ve no idea where he gets that trait from (must be his father)
Have you ever seen a toddler sit still for more than a few minutes at a time?
Me either. Breastfeeding does not change that. When toddlers breastfeed they twist and turn, move around and all kinds of stuff whilst holding onto the breast.
It’s quite an achievement I must say. Not very fun for mom though.
The best thing you can do when this happens is to tell your toddler to sit nicely to feed otherwise you won’t give it to them.
Even if your toddler is not verbal yet they can still understand most of what you say.
Don’t mix your words just be very serious and firm and eventually they will get the message.
It is probably the only thing that will keep you going when things get tough.
So far whilst I write this post I have fed my son 6 times. He wasn’t really hungry, he just needed me.
Seeing the relief you can give your child can be just enough to keep you going.
Don’t let anyone give you mom guilt and make you feel bad for doing what you think is right.
I know tonight will likely be another long night especially as I have to cook with a toddler around my ankles but its ok because this moment will soon pass.
I will remember it one day and laugh and so will you.