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Thread: A Very Reluctant 4 yr old

  1. #21
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
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    16

    Default Re: A Very Reluctant 4 yr old

    Thanks maddieb -
    my baby is almost 6 mos old now. It's a joy to nurse the infant, but I dread having to nurse the toddler.
    As mentioned, I never had an issue with "extended breastfeeding" and I figured I could tandem nurse. I used to love hearing my toddler's little pitter patter into my room in the morning, but sadly now I dread when he comes to the door because I know he's only coming in to nurse, and it often wakes the baby who is in my room.
    I offer cuddles, which we both appreciate, and sometimes he falls back asleep which is sweet.
    But in regard to tandem nursing, a few weeks into it (and nursing them separately/at different times) I had an irrepressible feeling that this wasn't for me. Unfortunately my entire body feels a sense of revulsion and I just want to scream...so I do "countdowns" and offer toddler snacks & distractions.

    We've been able to cut back on the bedtime nursing, and nursing in public, but ideally I think I would just like toddler weaned completely....Maybe that can't happen until the baby is no longer nursing either?

  2. #22
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    24,845

    Default Re: A Very Reluctant 4 yr old

    You can definitely get the toddler weaned before weaning the baby. It just might be more difficult than if you did not have the baby there, showing the toddler what he could have if only he could convince mom to give it to him.

    Any chance of sending the toddler to preschool or a playgroup for a few hours per day?

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    10,752

    Default Re: A Very Reluctant 4 yr old

    I agree, you can certainly wean your two-three year old before baby. Anyone can wean any child at any age, it is simply the process and "ease" that differs situation to situation. There is no such thing as "can't" wean. But the process can be longer or shorter or more or less unpleasant depending on a number of factors. One reason weaning can seem to not be happening is because something is holding mom back from being firm and consistent. A common reason is that mom is actually not ready to fully wean herself, in which case of course there is no reason to wean (unless it is medically required.) A mom can dislike some, or even most things about nursing, but find it helps her enough in some areas that she is not really ready to stop. I imagine a balance scale, with the benefits of nursing on one side and the benefits of weaning on the other, and until the scale tips clearly to weaning, mom can feel reluctant and weaning stalls.

    Once the scales have tipped well to weaning for mom, what might still hold her back from the weaning process is exhaustion, (probably the most common issue- weaning takes effort, and many moms with young kids do not have a ton of extra energy lying around to make that effort.) Other barriers might be reluctance to be firm or "guilt." For reasons I am still trying to understand, I have observed (and experienced myself) that moms tend to feel enormous guilt when holding one child to a different set of behavioral expectations than another, especially when both children are still very young. In particular, moms tend to feel exceedingly protective of the older child who has a baby sibling.

    But the fact is, a nearly three year old can do without their mother's milk and the specific comfort of nursing, and a 6 month old cannot. Physiologically your older child is read to wean, even if emotionally she still wants to nurse. Her desire to nurse is normal, but so is your wish to no longer nurse. (It would also be normal for you to not want to wean, or for a three year old to no longer wish to nurse- wide variety of normal in other words.) It is ok to tell your child that nursing is for babies but not for three year olds. If it is true in your house, then it is the truth!

    If the scales are tipped to weaning for you, then it may be it is just time to bite the bullet and be more firm/more creative in getting full weaning moving along.
    You are already timing/limiting the length of nursing sessions. That is a great technique. Now I would suggest, look at overall day to see if there is some predictable nursing pattern for your older child, or not.

    If there is, I would suggest choose one of those sessions to eliminate first.
    If there is not, you can either first make such a nursing schedule (We nurse in the evening and the morning and at naps only, or some other pattern that works best for you) OR, skip that part, and simply pick a nursing session that is fairly regular and target that one for elimination. And take it from there.

    When eliminating nursing sessions at this age, redirection/substitution is very effective. A three year old can have so many other things aside nursing. A snack, a drink, a walk outside, a book read, a special game, etc. If you like, you can save very special snacks or drinks or books ONLY for those times.

    As effective as limiting, redirection and substitution are, there are going to be times your child wants to nurse and you just have to say no. You can try "Yes, later" -meaning a time that is NOT being targeted at the moment for elimination. And this can work well, especially if it is a set time your child can understand "Yes, after lunch, before nap" as an example. But eventually there will be no more sessions to eliminate. "No" can be a very hard thing to say and a very hard thing to hear! It will be painful for both of you. But it will be ok.

    There are a couple of children's books out there about weaning you could look at and read your child, if appropriate.

    Enlist help with the redirection whenever possible. Can someone else take care of you child at "nursing trigger" times like wake up and bedtime?

    Two good books on weaning for mom are The Nursing Mother's Guide to Weaning and How Weaning Happens.

    Hanging out with non- nursing friends might help your daughter. I agree, look into preschool or arrange playdates or play groups with moms whose children have weaned or do not nurse.
    Last edited by @llli*maddieb; May 1st, 2016 at 09:49 AM.

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Posts
    16

    Default Re: A Very Reluctant 4 yr old

    Thanks for all the insight!

    Will look into children's books on the topic.
    Toddler will start preschool part-time in September, so that will be a whole new transition for everyone.
    If anything, tandem nursing is incredibly helpful when I'm experiencing a "backup" of milk (like today). I brought this up a couple of months ago to a LLL leader who said there were "pumps for that," (of course there are!) but being as I didn't have a pump at children's museum today, toddler was more than happy to oblige for a minute while baby was napping in stroller (unfortunately manual expression is not a technique I've mastered)
    So you're right maddieb that there could be that partial reluctance on MY part as well.
    As for being around toddlers who are weaned, he has plenty of playdates with kids who don't nurse and it's actually mortifying for me when he starts asking to nurse or tugs at my shirt in front of the other moms. I often find myself making excuses or hiding in another room with my child while he nurses for half a minute!
    Lately though I say to him, "We won't be nursing at _____, so you'll have to wait til we are back home..." And for the most part, he has adhered to this. I can see him start to ask, then stop himself. But if he's hungry or tired (I have to have snacks avail pre-emptively & make sure it isn't past usual naptime) or if he's gotten hurt, then he'll insist on nursing.
    So anyway, lately I prefer to be around moms who ARE nursing toddlers, like at LLL, and then the atmosphere is much more relaxed & my toddler often doesn't even ask to nurse at all! I find that interesting!

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    10,752

    Default Re: A Very Reluctant 4 yr old

    So anyway, lately I prefer to be around moms who ARE nursing toddlers, like at LLL, and then the atmosphere is much more relaxed & my toddler often doesn't even ask to nurse at all! I find that interesting!
    Ha that is funny, and makes sense to me actually.
    Yes toddler acting as a "relief valve" is definitely handy!
    An old LLL saying is that "Every Weaning is Unique." I have found that to be very true. It is a story you and your child write together and there is no perfect or preferable "script."

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