So, I posted about a month ago about how my 16 month old DS has majorly ramped up his nursing as of late. He's in the process of getting his one-year molars, and I'm sure that's part of it. He can stay mostly on the boob for hours at a time, if he has his way--I can think of a day last week that he was mostly on the boob for about 3 or 4 hours straight in the morning, and then two days ago when we were flying cross-country, he was nursing nearly non-stop the whole plane ride (5 hours), which I allowed because it was the only way to get him to sleep and it was a nighttime flight. He'll get off the boob and play for a minute or two but then he wants right back on. I can't even fasten my bra and pull my shirt down before he's looking to nurse again.
I guess I'm just wondering if it's normal for him to want to nurse SO MUCH at this age? I'm a little worried that nursing seems to be the main way I have of comforting him. Shouldn't we be developing other comfort mechanisms at this age? He can be comforted by Daddy or his grandma without nursing (obviously) so he accepts other forms of comfort from other people, but from me, it's always nursing he wants. Occasionally I can just give him a hug or rock him when he's upset or tired, but usually he wants to nurse. It just seems like at this point he shouldn't be using the boob so much as a crutch and I should be able to comfort him in other ways. I am worried that I'm holding his development back by not encouraging him to seek comfort from me in other ways, and also it just really wears me out psychologically to nurse him for hours on end, unable to get up and pee, unable to eat, etc. He's usually a very happy kiddo but he's also emotionally intense. When he's upset about anything, he is REALLY upset and doesn't calm down easily (except with nursing, that calms him right away). He can be pretty fussy and clingy at times, but that's usually related to being hungry or overtired, or not seeing much of me for a few days because I'm working more than usual, or changes in his routine (visitors, traveling, etc.). I don't think he's insecure and that's why he needs to nurse all the time. I guess I'm just wondering how I transition him to accepting other forms of comfort besides nursing? I don't mind nursing for comfort when he's tired, hurt, etc. but these hours-long marathons are getting old, and I worry that it's not even good for him.
Thanks in advance for any help or input. Maybe I'm worrying over nothing and this is normal, I would love to hear from mothers of older children if your kids were like this as young toddlers and if they grew out of it on their own or how you helped them. I just don't want to be stuck non-stop nursing a 2 or 3 year old who can't be comforted in any other way.