My boob-obsessed toddler
Do you have this deep dark secret that nobody outside your household knows?
A secret that is not a big deal but society turns into a huge deal?
Does your toddler who can walk, talk, has a full set of teeth, and a huge personality still breastfeed?
If so, no worries you are not alone. I too have a boob obsessed toddler.
I am currently writing as one sits atop me, and I struggle to type.
I did not plan for my daughter to nurse this long, it just happened.
As a parent who you become is usually a surprise, you do things you never thought you would.
You do these things to take care of your child, keep them happy, and do what your gut tells you is best.
At this time I do not have weaning tips (obviously).
BUT I have been able to live with it, so I want to share the struggles I face and how I deal with my breastfeeding toddler.
As moms we figure it out and having a nursing toddler is no different.
How nursing became our life
When my daughter was an infant, I, like most women, had a lot of trouble breastfeeding. It was painful, exhausting, and my daughter was bad at latching (it still hurts today, I just got used to it).
While I was on maternity leave, I focused on nursing, and we rarely gave her a bottle.
When we did try to give her a bottle, she refused.
When I started working again, she would fast the entire day and nurse all evening and night. I had her on my boobs the entire time I was with her, from the moment I got home from work until the next morning when I headed back to my workplace.
It was an extremely stressful time for us. You can read all about it here Our Breastfed Baby NEVER Drank From A Bottle, How We Survived
The end result was I had an exclusively breastfed baby despite my working full time.
The second I got home from work, she wanted the boob, this continued even as she began eating solids and drinking water. It continued as she turned one, two, and as of me writing this post, she will be three in two months.
We all have our reasons for breastfeeding longer than expected!
Struggle #1 Twiddling or playing with your other nipple as she feeds
When your baby first twiddles, it is surprising yet cute as hell, then you look it up and find out it is perfectly normal. In fact, you learn that it helps get the milk out faster.
But you do not want this to become a problem, so you try to stop the behavior. You give your baby toys, try to distract them, etc.
If you are like me, these tactics will not stop your stubborn baby. My daughter screamed bloody murder whenever I blocked her beloved nipple (still does).
As an older toddler, twiddling occurs beyond breastfeeding.
It happens every time I pick up my daughter. Whether we are at home or in public.
She knows not to do it in public, but it is a habit. It is also her go-to for any emotion she feels. Scared, shy, angry, excited, happy, crying, she has to grab the nipple.
Her strength makes it a bit painful now.
Those little fingers are strong. Then if her nails grow out even the tiniest bit, it becomes even more uncomfortable.
There is also increased sensitivity to my nipples while I PMS and am on my period.
How I deal
At this point, I try my best not to fight with her on it. I go with the flow. If we are at home and it’s not bothering me, I let her go for it. When we are in public, I gently move her hand and remind her not to grab me.
She remembers and gets a bit shy now when I correct her.
We also keep her nails trimmed and hands as clean as we can.
Struggle #2 Pulling down my shirt
While breastfeeding a toddler, they are aware of everything and how things work.
Unlike a baby, they know where the boob is and how to get their paws on them. That means that your shirt gets pulled down (very similar to twiddling).
As a toddler, your child can even get to the point where they say very clearly, “take off your shirt.”
Mine even tells me to take off my bra, its funny, but it makes me question if I am doing the right thing.
How I deal
The main thing I do is figure out what to wear when we leave the house. If I am going to a place like my mom’s house where I am fine feeding her, I wear something loose. If I go to a place where nursing is totally out of the question, I wear a shirt that is hard to access.
My daughter knows that nursing in public is not something we do anymore, but making it harder for her to expose me is a good tactic.
I do the same at home, if I need to get work done, I wear shirts that make me not as accessible. I explain to her once I am done, we can lay down together, and she can nurse.
Struggle #3 Entertainment while nursing
It is bad enough that toddlers and kids are getting a ridiculous amount of digital entertainment these days. It is a whole other ball game if your toddler has to have entertainment while on the boob.
My daughter enjoys watching TV or her iPad while she nurses.
If she is not being entertained while nursing, she gets up to find something. If she has a hard time playing the game on her iPad while nursing, she gets upset.
I have yet to meet someone who is going through the same thing I do, so maybe it’s just me on this…
How I deal
I give her an ultimatum; she can either have her “baba” (what she calls my boobs) or her iPad. Her decision and reactions vary.
Sometimes she will take her iPad elsewhere and move on.
Other times when she is tired, she will put the iPad down.
Then there are days when she wants both, and I have to discipline her.
For the most part, I let her watch something she likes on the television while she nurses (unless I can tell she is tired then we nurse in silence). I try to put her iPad away before she breastfeeds.
I will be honest, there are days when the struggle is real and I do let her have a device while nursing.
Pregnant mums here are some articles to help you out!
Struggle #4 Working at home during the COVID-19 lockdown
I am currently starting my eleventh week of working at home. I could probably write a whole book about how the COVID-19 lockdown has had effects on my breastfeeding and parenting in general.
But the short version is being home 24/7; means the baba is available 24/7. Or at least that’s how she feels it should be. I am here for her entertainment.
I have found myself working with her nursing on me now more than ever.
If I want to keep her quiet during a conference call, I just stick her on and viola a calm child. If I FaceTime with family, I keep my phone at an angle as she does her thing.
While at home, I never had limits on her nursing due to her “no bottle policy.” Of course, I work, so it was a great way to reconnect.
I never in a million years thought I would end up working from home for pandemic reasons. Which is why this time has been so difficult.
Before everything got canceled and shelter in place became the norm, we were significantly cutting down the number of times she nursed a day. She would breastfeed very briefly when I got home, but still at night.
Now it is just a free for all.
How I deal
I am still figuring this one out. I got a desk (we got rid of our home office when she was born) and try to make the area I work in a boob free zone.
The early mornings when she wakes up is the most challenging time. I plan my day accordingly. I spend my work “breaks” with her and we try to do something other than nursing.
My husband distracts her with projects and playing. Especially playing outside.
It is not just that she wants to breastfeed only, she just wants me in general.
She is learning to play more independently and is starting to understand that I just need to get work done. Each day is different.
Struggle #5 Society
There is this never-ending battle between a mom and the expectations that society places on her.
People have this idea in mind of what a good mom should do.
For example, while pregnant you are constantly told to breastfeed.
But when you try to do so it is a huge struggle with limited resources.
It is as if all the help you got during pregnancy disappears as soon as the baby is born (at least where I live).
Then people expect you to bottle feed your child immediately and to stop nursing after a few months. You just feel it.
That is why most people do not know I still nurse. It is like this secret side of my life that I do not show because I don’t want to hear it.
There are no guidelines for when to stop breastfeeding and breastfeeding for over a year feels like it is frowned upon.
So when your child is a year old and still wants to breastfeed suddenly, you get this ‘your still nursing‘ vibe.
It is just this crazy upside-down world when it comes to breastfeeding.
How I deal
As mentioned above, I just do not talk about anyone about it unless we are close, and they support me. I no longer nurse in public unless I am around family, and she really needs it (which is very rare).
Still, when I read a story or see something on television making fun of women who breastfeed beyond two years old, it bothers me a bit. I get over it fast, but still, why the stigma?
Struggle #6 Co-sleeping
I mentioned above that my daughter never drank from a bottle. That is why I nursed after work, all evening and through the night. I even woke up my daughter in the early morning to feed her before I left for work.
With that being said, she obviously slept with us as a baby, and she still sleeps with us now.
Habits like these are hard to stop.
I let her sleep with us because it was the only way I could get rest.
Now, she relies on the boob to fall asleep. A habit that is really hard to break.
Sometimes I find myself holding her for hours as she sleeps, and I wonder how I let it happen. My achy back and lack of sleep lead me to wonder too.
Then I remember our early struggles.
It was hard on my husband during the day being home with a hungry baby. All I did was worry at work.
I remind myself that I did what I had to do.
Plus, she is only going to be my baby for a little while longer, and this is a significant aspect of our relationship. It will be something I will probably miss more than I realize.
How I deal
I don’t deal with it. Every night we go to bed together, and we wake up together. I would not trade it for the world.
As mentioned above, I also remind myself why we co-sleep. We all have our reasons.
If you are wondering how my husband and I are intimate with a child in our bed, let me tell you we make it happen. We have a guest room upstairs with a full-size bed. When in the mood, we meet upstairs after she falls asleep. It is hard work to have alone time, but worth it for our marriage.
Struggle #7 Toddler attitude
When you first nurse, your baby is tiny and can’t talk. They are the opposite of a toddler. Toddlers are huge (compared to babies) and talk up a storm.
Toddlers also express themselves much more.
They tell you exactly what they want when they want it. They can be loving, get mad, are impatient, and just have a variety of emotions.
Sometimes breastfeeding can find itself in the middle of what you and your toddler are going through.
Especially when tantrums erupt.
How I deal
When my daughter is about to erupt from having a bad day of emotions before I let her nurse, we calm down first. I do not let her get on her baba when she is upset.
Once she is calm, we go to a nice quiet spot (usually in another room) to reset. On those extra tough days, this usually turns into a nap.
Struggle #8 Acrobatic toddler
What once was a little baby that perfectly fits your arms is now an almost-kid who you swear grows a few inches each night.
With that growth comes a little jitterbug that never stops moving.
Toddlers will contort their entire bodies to get in position to gain access to their breast milk. It does not matter how uncomfortable it makes you or if the angle contributes to your future breast sagging.
Sometimes when I fall asleep on my stomach, my daughter will wake me up by pushing my body so she can reach her babas.
She also likes to switch from one breast to the other. That means climbing over my body like I am a jungle gym.
How I deal
This is mostly just a little annoying. I deal with it by laughing at my daughter’s craziness and admiring her determination.
If she gets out of hand, I let her know, and she calms down. Or I tell her that it is not the time to breastfeed. Unlike a baby, her nursing sessions are short unless she is tired.
Being the mom of an almost-three-year-old nursing toddler is not something I ever saw myself becoming.
I never set out to breastfeed exclusively when she was a baby, and I sure did not think it would be such a HUGE part of my life.
As moms we do what we have to for our children. We do what we can to make them happy regardless of what we are doing makes us a “good mom” for the trolls in our lives.
If you are in the position where you have a boob-obsessed child, that is okay. You are just doing what works for the both of you.
If anyone ever makes you feel like what you are doing is wrong, just remember they do not know your story or what you went through with your child.
Everyone is different, and every child’s needs are different.
I sincerely hope you found how I deal with my breastfeeding-addicted toddler useful. All we can do is support one another and you have my support here.