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Colin is 18 months old. I'm not ready to wean; I'd like to continue nursing until he's two or so. But I am also having strong feelings lately that I am ready to nurse less than we're nursing.

 

Some context/details:

1) When I am home, he probably nurses about 15-18 times in 24 hours. He is totally okay when I'm at work, though.

2) He will often demand to nurse and then just nurse for a few seconds.

3) He's way into nursing gymnastics, preferring to nurse standing up (or climbing around) unless he's very sleepy, and often wanting to climb/change positions while still latched on.

4) He's teething (molars). Need I say more?

5) He gropes a lot while he nurses. I try to stay covered up and absolutely don't allow touching or twiddling the off nipple, but he is still pretty grabby with his hands.

6) He still wakes up at night. Sometimes a lot.

7) It's very hot in Baltimore in August, and we don't have central air conditioning. Sometimes it's agonizing just to have him ON me that much.

8) He eats table food well, a good range of foods, and he drinks well from a cup.

 

I am feeling "touched out," and I also have sore nipples from the combination of teething, frequent latching (and his latch has gotten pretty lazy), and gymnastic nursing.

 

I am happy to keep up the longer feeds, like at naptime and bedtime and when he's just waking up and when I come home from work. The short drive-by active "feeds" (how much is he even getting?) and the six-times-an-hour feeds and the middle-of-the-night feeds are stressing me out.

 

Just in the last few days I have started trying to distract him sometimes when he asks for "see-sees," offering a cup or snack or trying to interest him in a book or toy. I don't want to wean, but I don't want to nurse on demand anymore. It really feels like time to make this change.

 

Any advice, suggestions, tips, stories, support, commiseration?

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...Just in the last few days I have started trying to distract him sometimes when he asks for "see-sees," offering a cup or snack or trying to interest him in a book or toy. I don't want to wean, but I don't want to nurse on demand anymore. It really feels like time to make this change. ...

 

I think that's a very reasonable way to approach this with a toddler. You don't have to say "no", but put him off (either "in a little while" and distract him, or say "we'll nurse at naptime -- right now let's play trains/have a snack/etc")...

 

Maybe give him something to hold and play with while he's nursing, or just hold his hand so he's a bit less grabby? Some women wear a long necklace of larger beads while nursing so the toddler can play with it and twiddle... Just something cheap, wooden beads maybe, as long as it's on a strong enough cord that it won't break when tugged.

 

But it's certainly possible to place some limits on nursing a toddler without weaning all together... Sounds like you're on the right path already!

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I can sooooo relate.

 

When dd was born, and people asked how long we would nurse, I joked that we would wean the summer before she left for college.:D

 

Now I'm afraid that may really happen!!!:w00t: She is NEVER going to wean!!!

 

She is 3.5 and since I am pregnant, I haven't heard her swallow in four months (breastmilk levels drop off when pregnant)...but she is still going strong!

 

In the meantime, here is how we cope:

 

1) I never say no. I don't want this to become a power struggle. Instead, I give her a choice: "Do you want Alphabet or Counting breastmilk?"

 

For Alphabet breastmilk, I sing the alphabet, then pop her off. For counting breastmilk, we count to fifty, or whatever number has been negotiated. In the meantime, my (now preschooler) knows how to sing the alphabet and count almost to 100, as well as understanding that 90 is more than 80, and 60 is more than 50.

 

If that is not enough for your little one, insist on reading a book when his session is done, before singing the alphabet a second time.

 

2) As for the waking in the night, hang in there if you can, and invest in large bottles of baby tylenol. I remember dd nursing/gnawing 4-8 times in the night before asking Loverboy to drug her. (We also co-sleep). Looking back, I should have drugged her much earlier in the night.

 

Also, for dd, the minute that her 2yo molars came in, everything changed. She started sleeping through the night, and I relish every morning when I have had a good and full and uninterrupted night of sleep.

 

3) I remind myself that

 

a) when these nursing days are gone, they are gone for good.

 

b) off all of the former nursing moms that I have listened to, I have only met ONE who wishes that she had weaned earlier. All others wish they had nursed longer.

 

c) I cannot think of any food healthier for my preschooler. Only breastmilk has the perfect balance of good fats and protein and calories.

 

Recommended Books:

Mothering Your Nursing Toddler

http://www.amazon.com/Mothering-Nursing-Toddler-Norma-Bumgarner/dp/0912500522/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1281454740&sr=8-1

 

How Weaning Happens

http://www.amazon.com/How-Weaning-Happens-Diane-Bengson/dp/0912500549/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1281454786&sr=1-1

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He is old enough to learn some nursing manners. The gymnastics and grabbing need to end. You can redirect him kindly but firmly and I bet he will get the picture soon. Also you could tell him that it is just for sleeping and waking up so he gets to nurse before bedtime and naps and when he wakes up from those. This cuts you down to about 4 nursings a day, gives him plenty of snuggle time but doesn't treat you like a 24 hr. open bar.;)

:iagree:

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I'm going to jump off the cliff on this one:

 

I don't honestly know how long we are meant to nurse a child. I see other mammals wean their offspring when they eat solid food (kittens and puppies) I nursed all my children, I never regretted it. I also weaned them around a year, mainly because I was ready to get my body back. I think nursing is comforting to a child ( so is a pacifier and I took that away at 18 mo).

I am not a harsh mother, I didn't let them cry themselves to sleep, if fact I'm probably too leanient of a parent. This is a personal decision and you have to make it for you. If you are looking for permisson to stop nursing, you have mine and my blessings. It looks like he is not really comforted by nursing, nor longing for the closeness, nor needing the nutrition. You are tired, abused and hot. Remind yourself: why are you nursing and make your decision, whatever one you make will be right for you. Remeber: as mothers, sometimes what is best for the mother (mentally, emotionally, physically) is what is best for the child as well.

 

Trust yourself, I think we are built with a limit in us that when we reach it, it is healthy for both mom and child. Ex: when you get tired of picking up their room, you teach them to do it, when you are tired of doing their laundry, you teach them to do it, when you are fed up with them not picking up their toys, you toss the toys. All this is healthy for the child and mother. If you are done nursing, you are. Anything more and you will be resentful. Another mother could nurse till college, others never start. You have your limit, whatever that may be--listen to your inner limit.

 

Lara

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I'm going to jump off the cliff on this one:

 

I don't honestly know how long we are meant to nurse a child. I see other mammals wean their offspring when they eat solid food (kittens and puppies)

 

 

 

Primates nurse their babies for several years.

 

But yes, definitely, impose some gentle limits.

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Thank you all so much for the support. I've been feeling incredibly guilty about this.

:grouphug:

 

Oh, don't feel guilty. You've nursed longer than the national average. :-)

 

I don't see anything wrong with a young child "using" his mother as a pacifier. Sometimes our littles just need us to comfort them, and nursing is the most comforting thing there is. However, I also don't see anything wrong with giving him some boundaries on his behaviour while he nurses, nor with helping him sleep through the night.

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Been there...only mine was a still (non-moving) nurser. At 18 months though I've known many a kid to increase their nursing attempts around that age (and again around 26 months). With my son, I too was touched out and so I told him that "the comforts" (that's what we called my breasts) only came out at nap time and bedtime and (even then) I told him that they could only stay awake for a few minutes as they needed their rest too. So, after he'd nursed 5 or so minutes, I'd tell him they had gone to nightnight and that I was going to cover them up so they could sleep. It worked perfectly. We did this from about 21 months til I WEANED him from this at 31 months. He'd still be nursing now at age 4 if I hadn't weaned him. I don't think the anthromorpizing (sp?) is too bad as it couches things in terms they can understand; it's better than saying, "Your touching all over me is getting on my nerves." And, at first he wanted to nurse at night (which he generally only tried once/night but it still woke me up), so I'd say, "It's still nighttime and the comforts are still sleeping" and, for whatever reason, he never tried to shake them awake. So he quit trying to nurse at night after about 2 weeks of this tactic. Sometimes he'd ask during the day and I'd pull my shirt and look down at um' and say, "They're still resting....maybe later...why don't you go get that dumptruck (I'd redirect him). :-)

Edited by mhg
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I nursed my daughter until she was 22 months. Then I started distracting her into doing other things. In my case, I am conflicted over whether it was the right thing to do... She has food allergies, and I did not recognize that until I was done nursing because I assumed the liquid diapers were a result of breastmilk. I do think my milk kept her from getting sick because she was sick ALL the time after I quit nursing her until we took her to an allergist. Before that she was hardly ever sick.

 

On the other hand, she has sensory processing and auditory processing problems, which I have read are linked to a low level of omega 3s. I never ate fish or took fish oil while breastfeeding because I was afraid of mercury, and I had a very poor diet before she got allergies and I realized what we needed to eat to be healthy. Looking back at what I ate before I learned about healthy diets, and therefore had in my body to give her, I wonder if she would have gotten more nutrients from formula. She would at least have gotten omega 3s... There's no way she got any from me- that's for sure. It wasn't there to give. But that's just mommy guilt.

 

Another side effect of nursing that I did not recognize was that nursing was exhausting to me. Again, I think this is a result of my poor diet at the time. I didn't have much in the way of vitamins and I must have been giving everything I had to her. When I quit nursing I had SOOO much more energy.

 

But that's my story of what happens when you nurse and you don't know how to eat properly.

 

But just to say to the pp, you can add me to your list of people who might think they should have quit nursing sooner. I'm very conflicted, but I do wonder if I should have quit sooner, and if Grace might not have the sensory problems she has if I had quit sooner...

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My DD is like OPs child without the gymnastics. She just wants to switch to the "othside" every few minutes. I am sure this is because my milk supply is dwindling. If I am in my recliner she needs to have "ninny" and can say it, cry it, pull my shirt up etc. I don't tell her no if I am just sitting here but I do say no at church, walmart, in public etc. She will not nurse discretely, the more skin showing the better in her opinion:001_smile:.

 

This is absolutely my last child and it took me 8 months to get my milk to come in for adoptive nursing and I never dreamed I would still be nursing at 18 months. I had hoped to go as long as she would and let her self wean but thought she would wean a long time ago....she still likes it so she can still have it. I get asked all the time "when are you going to take that away from her" I am sooo going to borrow the line "I plan on weaning her the summer before she leaves for college!":lol::lol:

 

My sister is in negotiations right now with her DD who is going to be 5 the end of August that she will be done having "ninny" on her birthday:eek: I don't think I will let DD nurse until then but who knows???

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I also nursed all my babies, each stopped on their own, 1 at 16 mths, 1 at 12 mths and 1 at 24 mths. I don't know why they were "done" but did impose different "gentle rules" as they grew older. The grabbing, gymnastics, and shirt raising were not allowed, neither was the "fake" nursing. My sister, in the dental profession, said that this could also damage the roof structure of the mouth causing a need for braces later.

 

Hope this somehow helps. I always thought I would be nursing until college bound! lol

Dianna

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I can sooooo relate.

 

When dd was born, and people asked how long we would nurse, I joked that we would wean the summer before she left for college.:D

 

Now I'm afraid that may really happen!!!:w00t: She is NEVER going to wean!!!

 

She is 3.5 and since I am pregnant, I haven't heard her swallow in four months (breastmilk levels drop off when pregnant)...but she is still going strong!

 

In the meantime, here is how we cope:

 

1) I never say no. I don't want this to become a power struggle. Instead, I give her a choice: "Do you want Alphabet or Counting breastmilk?"

 

For Alphabet breastmilk, I sing the alphabet, then pop her off. For counting breastmilk, we count to fifty, or whatever number has been negotiated. In the meantime, my (now preschooler) knows how to sing the alphabet and count almost to 100, as well as understanding that 90 is more than 80, and 60 is more than 50.

 

If that is not enough for your little one, insist on reading a book when his session is done, before singing the alphabet a second time.

 

2) As for the waking in the night, hang in there if you can, and invest in large bottles of baby tylenol. I remember dd nursing/gnawing 4-8 times in the night before asking Loverboy to drug her. (We also co-sleep). Looking back, I should have drugged her much earlier in the night.

 

Also, for dd, the minute that her 2yo molars came in, everything changed. She started sleeping through the night, and I relish every morning when I have had a good and full and uninterrupted night of sleep.

 

3) I remind myself that

 

a) when these nursing days are gone, they are gone for good.

 

b) off all of the former nursing moms that I have listened to, I have only met ONE who wishes that she had weaned earlier. All others wish they had nursed longer.

 

c) I cannot think of any food healthier for my preschooler. Only breastmilk has the perfect balance of good fats and protein and calories.

 

Recommended Books:

Mothering Your Nursing Toddler

http://www.amazon.com/Mothering-Nursing-Toddler-Norma-Bumgarner/dp/0912500522/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1281454740&sr=8-1

 

How Weaning Happens

http://www.amazon.com/How-Weaning-Happens-Diane-Bengson/dp/0912500549/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1281454786&sr=1-1

 

:iagree: I sooooo feel your pain. My youngest was 3.5 when she weaned, and at 18 months she was a bit obsessive. I can't imagine doing it with no central a/c. Truly, my hat is off to you.

 

It's time to teach nursing manners. You can gently insist, "That hurts Mommy. You must sit/ lie/ be still to nurse." Pop him off if he is doing things that hurt you. I'm not saying the nursing session has to be over at that point, but enough to get the point. Toddler nursing is a relationship. It's the time to teach relationship skills (like thinking of the other person) that will carry him throughout life.

 

You're doing a great thing, and I encourage you not to wean. Maybe go spend a lot of time in air conditioned places, though.

 

I used the alphabet or counting nursing often, when I thought it was just going to be a fly by or was a middle of the night thing. I can't imagine night nursing without co-sleeping. It's a life saver. Tylenol/ motrin if he is in pain from teething might help too. (And once or twice I gave her benadryl when she didn't need it so I could sleep.... :001_unsure: )

 

I think it is fine to offer a cup/ food/ distraction (book, etc) at times. I think that's healthy. They nurse for food, and for comfort and cuddles, but sometimes they just nurse because they are bored. And that's fine sometimes, but it's not good for you, or ultimately for him, for you to become angry and resentful because of that fact. You don't have to wean to do that. In fact, weaning loses you an opportunity to teach important social and relational skills.

 

Hang in there, Mama! You're doing a good thing, and there IS a happy medium between nursing every hour on the hour and weaning.

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This is a personal decision and you have to make it for you. If you are looking for permisson to stop nursing, you have mine and my blessings. It looks like he is not really comforted by nursing, nor longing for the closeness, nor needing the nutrition. You are tired, abused and hot. Remind yourself: why are you nursing and make your decision, whatever one you make will be right for you. Remeber: as mothers, sometimes what is best for the mother (mentally, emotionally, physically) is what is best for the child as well.

 

I don't think I do want to wean, although there are certainly times right now when all I can think of is "Ugh, I never want anyone to touch me ever again." I think that if I could cut him down to 4-5 times a day I would be ready to keep going for another 6 months to a year. Sometimes it does really feel like an important connection. And of course it's reassuring to know that he's getting good nutrition even on the days that he does science experiments and art projects with his solids.

 

On the other hand' date=' she has sensory processing and auditory processing problems, which I have read are linked to a low level of omega 3s. I never ate fish or took fish oil while breastfeeding because I was afraid of mercury, and I had a very poor diet before she got allergies and I realized what we needed to eat to be healthy. Looking back at what I ate before I learned about healthy diets, and therefore had in my body to give her, I wonder if she would have gotten more nutrients from formula. She would at least have gotten omega 3s... There's no way she got any from me- that's for sure. It wasn't there to give. But that's just mommy guilt.[/quote']

 

There is SO MUCH mommy guilt around this issue. Please don't feel responsible for your daughter's special needs. Mothers accept responsibility/blame all out of proportion to the level of control we have.

 

Toddler nursing is a relationship. It's the time to teach relationship skills (like thinking of the other person) that will carry him throughout life.

 

That is such a fantastic way of framing this. Thank you.

 

You're doing a great thing, and I encourage you not to wean. Maybe go spend a lot of time in air conditioned places, though.

 

I can't imagine night nursing without co-sleeping. It's a life saver.

 

We co-slept until he turned one, and then moved him to a crib because no one was getting any sleep. Now he's in the crib until whenever I totally lose patience, which sometimes is almost morning and sometimes is as early as 1:30. On a good night, he'll wake around 3 to eat and then move into our bed at 5:30 to nurse and doze. On a bad night, I may be up every two hours, or he may refuse to be put down for an hour after a night waking. But the crib still seems worth it, because in our bed he rolls around a lot and kicks.

 

I followed links from the kellymom toddler nursing site and found the suggestion of having him co-sleep a night or two with just his father. That might be a good option for us for nightweaning, if my husband is willing to try it. Just the idea of a couple of uninterrupted nights somewhere else has me dizzy with excitement.

 

I think that I'll also try implementing the rule about needing to lie reasonably still on my lap if he wants to nurse. That should cut down on a lot of my physical pain, both because he won't be doing gymnastics and because he won't be latching on as often.

 

Thanks, everyone.

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One thing that I've found particularly helpful for my children is to offer them a cup instead. When I wanted them to night wean, I offered milk in a cup at first, as an alternative. Obviously I don't want my children's teeth to rot due to a milk sippy every night, so I quickly switch to water. They take their water cup to bed every night until about 3 years old.

 

During the day, I will distract with something fun or offer a cup if I don't want to nurse right then. Usually DS is perfectly happy with a sippy cup of milk! Then later, when I know he's tired/cranky/overwhelmed by toddler-life and we just want to snuggle, I let him nurse.

 

I'm sure each kid can be distracted by different things - those are just what worked for mine!:)

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My sister is in negotiations right now with her DD who is going to be 5 the end of August that she will be done having "ninny" on her birthday:eek: I don't think I will let DD nurse until then but who knows???

 

I have one who nursed almost this long. She was very, very attached to nursing. Then one of our friends had a baby and we went over to see them when the baby was about a week old. Seeing the baby nurse made her realize that she didn't need it anymore since she was so much bigger and she quit on her own.

 

I read a story somewhere about a similar situation - the mom and dc negotiated that she would stop on her fifth birthday - and they even planned a party, the dc seemed excited and happy about it, etc. Years later when she was reminded of it, she started crying and said, "That was the worst day of my life." At that age, they are most likely going to remember how they weaned and I wouldn't want to end 5 years of nursing on such a sad note.

 

So maybe your sister should find someone with a newborn baby and take her to see the mom nurse it. Couldn't hurt!

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My youngest was pretty much exactly like your son around 20-22 months. Except she was a compulsive twiddler. If I didn't let her to twiddle with the other nipple she pitched a horrible fit. Between that, the teething, and the gymnastics, it was beginning to be really miserable to nurse her. But like a pp, as soon as she got her two year molars, she was a different child. It was not long after that that she weaned herself, right before she turned two.

:grouphug:

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I don't think there is anything wrong with a five year old nursing. I was actually a little sad when Catherine weaned (with some encouragement, tho not insistence, bc of some medications I was taking) at 3.5. I was hoping that she would remember it. It was such a huge part of our relationship, and she had gone so long, for her not to remember it seemed a shame.

 

Of course, my 6.5 year old still often requests "milk in a bottle" when we read stories at night. And my five year old is a pacifier addict.

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I had a big beaded necklace I wore with my ds when he was that age. He would twiddle with the necklace instead of me. At that age I did reduce his nursing down to 3-4 times a day by redirecting and offering a cup. It worked fine for us. We continued to nurse another 6 mos that way, both of us happy. Then he self weaned at 24 months. I would definitely start imposing manners-particularly with the gymnastics. That would drive me nuts!

My oldest self weaned at 19 months. He was a good nurser and I didn't have to deal with any of your issues with him.

Good luck!

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I didn't read all the poste but I do know from nursing my own four kids, some until they were 3, others younger, that the fingering the other nipple helped more milk to be produced. Just so you know, though it drove me nuts! Some of my boys weaned on their own, others I negotiated when it was ok to nurse and when it wasn't. I had a dress that was not possible to nurse in and I wore it part of each day for a while. LOL When I waned at night, oh that was hard but I really had to listen to my inner voice saying that i needed more sleep more than he needed to nurse, I wore a bra to bed and clothes that we ere impossible to nurse in. Hard, hard week on both of us by dh was so supportive and it paid off, especially since my son slept in our bed still at that point. Good luck with it.

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Extended nursing will not have a negative impact on orthodontic development, unlike extended use of artificial nipples.

 

DD nursed until about a month after her 5th birthday--she was told she could cut her hair the way she wanted, decorate her body (temporary tattoos, body art markers, etc.) as she wished, and get her ears pierced once she weaned.

 

She cut her own hair off, badly enough to necessitate a professional haircut (a VERY short one), and that was that. Weaning was the consequence. By then she was down to just a couple of times a day anyway, and would go a few days without being bothered (if I wasn't around). We replaced the morning nursing session and other comfort moments with her rubbing my belly and cuddling (which she still does sometimes--adding a kiss for the baby now:D).

 

I totally agree with others that it's time for your toddler to learn some nursing manners, and that setting limits or seeing if you can distract them first if they're not upset or sick are likely called for. At 18 mo., though, my DD was still probably getting over half her calories from breastmilk, and was a long time from being ready to nightwean. She did nap at daycare fine (I was in school then so she was in an in-home childcare part-time), and ate more there than she would at home...

 

Regardless, it's a good time to start teaching manners!

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I worked all day today and got a nice 8.5-hour break with no one touching me. Colin nursed a lot in the hour after I came home, but it was all very polite - quietly on my lap or standing still in front of me, with no poking and grabbing. He was easy to put to bed tonight, too.

 

So I don't know - maybe he can sense change in the air. ;-)

 

I talked to my husband and we agreed on some arrangements. I'm going to start insisting that he hold still for nursing and that he not grab, bite, poke, or climb. You all are right, he certainly does have the language and cognitive ability now to understand that those are the rules.

 

I'm going to start talking to him now about see-see (nursing) being for daytime, and that see-sees need to sleep at night. On our next free weekend, we'll try having my husband take the night wakings while I sleep downstairs on the couch.

 

I really don't think he needs to night nurse for calories, even on days that I work. Tonight for dinner he had fried rice (three big shrimp, egg, peas and carrots, rice) and 4oz milk. Then he had two big pieces of mango, some grapes, some Cheerios, and another few ounces of milk for a bedtime snack. The boy can eat. :001_smile:

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