I’ve read loads of those “what to expect when you’re breastfeeding” posts, who hasn’t! There’s tons of them and they’re all so useful (who knew nipple cream had so many uses!) but I haven’t read many posts about what it’s like if you decide to breastfeed for longer than 6 months, a year, or even more and there’s a few things I wished I’d known…
Breastfeeding a Toddler
I accept not all toddlers are the same, just as not all babies are, so here’s some advice from me and other bloggers.
- Be prepared for nipping, scratching and twiddling. Grace has always been a nipper, and I cannot get her to stop scratching at moles and freckles. However, you might be able to stop this, like Hayley from Devon Mama:
I’m still feeding my son at 23 months, for me it’s been important to set boundaries of when milk is and isn’t available to him. He went through a very grabby stage of pulling my top down in public, scratching at me to get it which I hated.
- I’ve found toddlers choose their own positions, kneeling, crouching, upside down. Honestly, it’s like a gymnastics class over here! There’s also “the dreaded chewing gum boob! When they’re feeding but look somewhere else – taking you with them!” as Natalie from Crummy Mummy calls it!
- Something to definitely consider after your baby starts eating food and you nurse less is contraception. Claire at This Mummy Rocks agrees “the less you breastfeed the more likely your fertility will return and hormones will start to play a part in your mood.”
- It’s as easy to get touched out from a toddler as it is with a newborn, and that’s normal. Kate from Counting to Ten says
if it gets too much for you some days it’s ok to say “no”. I get touched out at times and tell her “there is no mummy milk at the moment”.
- Can’t remember which boob you fed from last time? Doesn’t matter, your toddler will decide which one they want. As Luschka from Diary of a First Child says “each child will have their own relationship with your boobs – which they will often see as their own, so don’t be surprised if they have their own feelings about when to end the relationship too!”
- Find some like-minded people to be a supporter or positive role model in your breastfeeding journey.
Zoe at Lycra Widow agrees “A lot of people believe extended breastfeeding is anything beyond 6 months and finding support can be hard when feeding toddlers and preschoolers!”
Siobhan from The Baby Boat Diaries has found this though “There is a fantastic support network on facebook in the group Breastfeeding Older Babies and Beyond. The group is specifically for those feeding beyond 12 months”. I’m off to look that up!
- Breastfeeding a toddler can give you some downtime, it’s hard keeping up with them! Veronica at My Parenting Journey says “Breastfeeding was a way for me to relax and take time from all the nuances of being a mom. It was a time for both me, and my babies to just relax.”
- Another great point which I hadn’t thought about is to look after your toddler’s teeth. “Just like normal milk and formula breast milk contains sugars so if you’re going to breast feed after little ones have teeth make sure you’re cleaning them properly after feeds!” says Ayse from arepops.com
- Anna who blogs at Midwife Mama Bear says breastfeeding is great for helping toddlers deal with their new emotions “childhood tantrums can normally be attributed to one of two things. Hunger or feelings that overwhelm the child. Both of these things can be easily fixed by latching on”
The Key Thing
I think this is a great list of things to keep in mind when breastfeeding a toddler or older child, but the key thing to remember (which came up from Sarah-Jayne who blogs at Keep Up With The Jones Family , Becky from The Mummy Adventure and Georgina at geegardner.co.uk)
- Remember it’s your baby, your body and your business, and be proud of your choice.
- You are entitled to breastfeed anywhere and everywhere your baby or toddler is allowed to be, that doesn’t stop when they stop being tiny. The law is on your side
- Ignore anyone and everyone who is not yourself or your child.
Don’t be Afraid
So don’t be afraid to continue to breastfeed after everyone expects you to stop. Do what feels right for you and your baby, and if you need support get in touch! I’m here to chat, and I know these other mums would be here for you too!
Are you a breastfeeding mum? What’s your thoughts on extended breastfeeding? I’d love to read them in the comments below.
Why not take a look at my Letter to Breastfeeding Mums.