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Thread: can we re-teach a toddler how to nurse?

  1. #1

    Default can we re-teach a toddler how to nurse?

    I am VERY sad.
    My toddler is 2y4m. When she was about 16mo I was pregnant of her little sister, and somehow my milk changed/ended. Not sure which. I just remember her coming and trying to nurse a couple of times and saying "it was all done". At the same time my nipples get some "crusty brown thing" which the docs said later was due to hormones and I remember her also saying "yuck".
    Anyway... in this between she weaned. I thought it was her choice and natural, and accepted.
    Now my baby is 5mo.
    This morning my toddler came to me, lift my shirt, layed in my arms, and tried to latch. She placed my breast on her mouth and just kept quiet for a while. I tried to suggest she try to suck it liek when she has her bottle, and she just said: "Baby's turn to eat" and left.
    I felt awful! I just wish I could have done something. I wish I had been better educated and not let her give up nursing.
    I just have this giant sense of loss for her and myself.
    (
    I am not sure if it would work to try to relactate her. I don't know if she could learn, if she would have the patience to try, or even if she would like the taste (after having regular milk for a while). Still... I kind of mourn it now

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
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    Indiana
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    Default Re: can we re-teach a toddler how to nurse?

    I really don't have any suggestions on getting her to latch I just wanted to send my support. My 2 year old kind of does the same thing and I've decided if it makeshim happy to just "have a turn" then I'm ok with it. As far as her liking the taste I've heard both ways. DS has had the occasional bottle of pumped milk and he dosnt seem to mind. Good luck with whatever you decide.
    Married to my High School sweetheart 5-15-04

    SAHM to:
    born 6/1/10 tongue and lip ties nursed 13 months with sore nipples and mutually agreed it was time to quit!
    born all natural 1/27/12 nursed for 16 months and lost interest
    1/1/14
    born all natural 11/4/14

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    Default Re: can we re-teach a toddler how to nurse?

    I know of at least one circumstance where a child was brought to the breast around 2 years old, so I would not say it's impossible at all but quite possibly more work than you may want to attempt. You could just simply see if she continues to express interest and being open to letting her try.

    I think you handled your child’s normal and natural curiosity/desire about nursing really well. It sounds to me like you let her try, and I take it she was unable to remember how to nurse or to extract milk, and she reasoned what that meant in her mind and came up with that cute comment about it being baby’s turn. I understand regretting you could not nurse longer, but if your child self weaned at that point then she was "ready." It is quite common for toddlers to self wean while mom is pregnant (or for mom to encourage weaning at that time due to nursing becoming uncomfortable in pregnancy.) Some children than come back to the breast after baby comes and there is lots of milk, others do not. But your child’s behavior does not indicate to me that weaning at that point was in any way not OK with her.

    If you would like your two year old to have the benefit of your nutritious milk, and you don’t mind doing some pumping or hand expression, you could try giving her expressed milk in a cup, popsicle, smoothy etc.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: can we re-teach a toddler how to nurse?

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*lllmeg View Post
    I know of at least one circumstance where a child was brought to the breast around 2 years old, so I would not say it's impossible at all but quite possibly more work than you may want to attempt. You could just simply see if she continues to express interest and being open to letting her try.

    I think you handled your child’s normal and natural curiosity/desire about nursing really well. It sounds to me like you let her try, and I take it she was unable to remember how to nurse or to extract milk, and she reasoned what that meant in her mind and came up with that cute comment about it being baby’s turn. I understand regretting you could not nurse longer, but if your child self weaned at that point then she was "ready." It is quite common for toddlers to self wean while mom is pregnant (or for mom to encourage weaning at that time due to nursing becoming uncomfortable in pregnancy.) Some children than come back to the breast after baby comes and there is lots of milk, others do not. But your child’s behavior does not indicate to me that weaning at that point was in any way not OK with her.

    If you would like your two year old to have the benefit of your nutritious milk, and you don’t mind doing some pumping or hand expression, you could try giving her expressed milk in a cup, popsicle, smoothy etc.
    I had a similar experience with my son when I became pregnant with his sister. He ended up weaning before he was ready. After DD was born, I let him nurse when he asked and it would be quick. I thought he wanted to see if I'd let him, but he came back pretty regularly so we started working on latch. It took time and it was frustrating. I thought he would just give up but he didn't. He was just under two when he unweaned and had been weaned for about 6 months I agree with lllmeg, follow her lead. If you are trully open to it (and you don't have to be! Breastfeeding for 16 mos is AWESOME. Don't sell yourself short ) and she comes back to nurse, begin working on latch RIGHT AWAY! You don't want her bad latch to cause nipple pain/cracks etc especially since your nursling is so young and needs the complete nutrtion of your milk. With my son, he always had to wait until baby sister was finished. But now that she is over 1 they often nurse together.

    The experience you describe with your DD doesn't seem sad to me at all though! It sounds like she came in and role played a bit and that you lovingly allowed her too. Is she having a rough time? is she struggling with you nursing the baby? Otherwise unhappy?
    I'm Colleen
    Mama to
    Silas born May 2009 ~ Nursed 18 mos, weaned during pregnancy, unweaned at 24 months, still nursing when he feels like it
    Lola born March 2011 ~ The Mary Lou Retton of toddler nursing
    Married to Brandon
    Using cloth on both bums

    We hibernate together



  5. #5
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    Apr 2010
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    Sweden
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    Default Re: can we re-teach a toddler how to nurse?

    Hi there! I also wanted to give my support. Sometimes we feel bad about situations even though we really handle them quite well. I agree that it sounds like you handled your daughters asking to nurse in a very supportive, loving way. It just might be that it anyway brings back memories and both of you, or maybe also just you really need some time to mourn that she did not nurse longer than 16 months (which is not at all short, but if it is a loss to you, that is reality).
    I thought to share my experience when I was pregnant with my second son and the first one still nursed. I also basically dried up and he complained (at a little over two) that there was no more milk. I expected (although didn't want either) that he would wean. But he actually kept on nursing at dry breasts for months until the milk came back. I'm telling this to let you know that I do believe that your daughter at that stage weaned because she didn't want to nurse anymore if there was no milk. If you now let her feel her way with what she wants to do, just know that she could, that you would let her or even really wanting to try again.... what a wonderful mom you are! So sensitive to the needs of your children! I did hear at some point that it can work for a toddler that has weaned before to nurse at the same time as the little one because that way it is much easier to suck appparently.
    Anyway, I hope that you find a way for all of you that works and take your time to mourn that things were what they were when you got pregnant again. Good luck!
    Mascha

  6. #6
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    Default Re: can we re-teach a toddler how to nurse?

    I had a very similar situation with my children. I stopped nursing my 8 month old son when I was pregnant with my second son because of soreness. I always felt terrible that I didn't keep going. He is now 2 1/2 and my second son is 16 months. My oldest has asked to nurse about 10 or so times and I always let him. Usually he just puts the nipple in his mouth and smiles and sucks a little and then says "I got some" and that seems to be good enough. A couple of times he has nursed for about 30 seconds to a minute. If he asks, I oblige. I think it is a comfort for him to know that it is not off limits to him. If he wants to,he can. If he started nursing again I think it would be more of a comfort for me because of that intense bonding that you feel. Now that he is 2 1/2 and on the go, sometimes I wish he would snuggle up with me and nurse! I will just continue to allow him to if he so desires.
    I'm Chris
    Proud mama to my two boys, Elijah and Archer and one baby girl Elsa.
    my 6 month old daughter and with number 4
    with my husband Tom

  7. #7
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    Default Re: can we re-teach a toddler how to nurse?

    Although I nursed throughout my pregnancy and after, my weaned son occasionally asks to nurse. Even though it been way less than a year he has forgotten how. I'm sorting me feeling on this. I think that their attempt and the fact that you let her when she asks signifies that she is ok with it now and that she remembers your closeness and remembers nursing fondly. .
    Mommy to Maxwell 10-9-07 weaned with love (a party and a remote control monster truck) on his 4th birthday
    My Boy 3-16-10
    And my sweet pea Sam 2-12-11

    Watch Your Language

  8. #8

    Default Re: can we re-teach a toddler how to nurse?

    thank you all for the support.
    Since that first day she had a few more situations.
    while the first day she actually hanged with the breast in her mouth for a while (a minute maybe), all the others she just kind of kissed it, and didn't even open her mouth.
    I am letting her lead. There is a part of me who wish she could do it, or even would go back to it (I can see she misses old times and that would be a great connection to have now).
    I am trying to give her some more one on one time, but it is not always possible working full time, nursing full time, and having a total of 3 kids who are very demanding in their own way.
    I am keeping working though
    thank you again

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