Breastfeeding: The toddler chronicles By Lauren Rivera, RNC-NIC, Certified Breastfeeding Counselor

Toddler Breastfeeding

I have now entered that stage in my breastfeeding journey with my 20 month old that is no
longer tender and sweet like those precious newborn days. Bedtime has become more of a
struggle, he wants to nurse while performing toddler acrobatics, switching from side to side,
over and over again, while simultaneously pinching and tugging at my other nipple despite my
countless attempts to make him stop. If you’ve reached this point in your journey, I’m sure you
are nodding in agreement. I question if I can go on while I take an elbow to the face or headbutt
to my nose. At times it feels like I’m trying to tame an octopus!
I wait for him to give in, when he finally calms down and starts to find his rhythm, I notice he
starts to get heavier as he drifts off to sleep. I then relax and hold him a little too long knowing
this is my last baby and I won’t have these moments ever again.
He still needs me, but he shows his developing independence more and more each day. I didn’t
do a great job at teaching him to self soothe, he still cries out at night “maaaa maamaaa!” This
time when I hold him he is still sleepy and just wants a reminder that I’m there. If he nurses, he
is calm and just wants a few drops of milk and to settle back into the crook of my arm.
He doesn’t nurse as much in the daytime anymore, but if he does, he gets so excited, it’s hard
to tell him no. Sometimes he puts my shirt down and proudly exclaims “I’m done !” when he is
finished. I laugh to myself every time.
I know by many societies standards we have reached the point where we “should” stop. We all
go through this struggle, we want to nourish them and provide the protection they need
especially during Covid times. At the same time it can be so frustrating… All of the sleepless
nights, waking up feeling dehydrated and exhausted.
I hear you mamas and I feel your pain. I recognize the physical and mental exhaustion.
We hold them a little too long, give in a little too often, but they are only this young once and
before we know it they will be all grown-up, not needing us in the same ways anymore. So for
now, I will hold him and nurse him a little longer, he needs me, and I know I need him too.