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Thread: I don't know what is 'normal' nursing behaviour...

  1. #1

    Default I don't know what is 'normal' nursing behaviour...

    My almost 14 month-old loves to nurse, generally. His amount of nursing doesn't seem to decrease with his increased food intake. And nowadays he knows exactly how to access my nursing openings (even tried to nurse through my t-shirt!). Some times he wants to latch on for only 2 seconds before he runs off to play. He has done this countless times in public. Personally I don't have a problem with it. It is normal right? I actually find it cute and endearing. However my husband thinks its embarrassing in public, and that I have been 'letting lo have his way too much'. I have friends who give me tragic looks when they see that. Well, I can't be running off to look for a nursing room every time lo wants to latch on for 2 seconds, can I? Besides, I don't expose myself at all.
    Seriously I don't know how to 'discipline' him to nurse only at 'appropriate' time and places. He doesn't really understand instructions yet. What do you do with your nursing toddler? Any tips to share?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: I don't know what is 'normal' nursing behaviour...

    Your LO's nursing behavior is normal for such a young toddler. As a toddler's independence grows, he's going to feel the need to check in with mom in order to feel reassured and confident. And checking in, for a nursing toddler, means a hug, a cuddle, and nursing! There's no need to put limits on his public nursing unless YOU are uncomfortable with it, and it sounds like you're not!

    I feel that confidence is a nursing mom's best friend, so I would simply continue to nurse proudly in public. If your friends give you tragic looks, just smile broadly and say "I just LOVE how he still runs to me for nursing. These little 'touch base' sessions are so funny and cute. And they definitely help him feel more confident and independent."

    When it comes to your husband, I would tell him that his opinion on nursing a toddler will be relevant when he himself has nursed a toddler. He may be embarrassed, but you're not. What you do with your body in public is your problem, not his. If he quibbles, you can explain that nursing is not just about nutrition. It's a mothering tool, and mothering through nursing allows you to have a calmer and more confident toddler. What's wrong with that?

    When you feel the need for limits, you'll find a way to impose them, and imposing them/communicating them will be a lot easier when your child's language skills improve. I personally didn't put any limits on public nursing until my kids were into the 18-24 month age range.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: I don't know what is 'normal' nursing behaviour...

    Of course your child’s behavior is 100% normal.

    You can simply ignore your friends. Surely you don’t agree on everything and that is fine.

    As far as your husband goes, there may be a basic parenting philosophy difference here that warrants addressing. 'Letting him have his way' may be only about nursing in public now, but it might involve other things in the future. Is there anything fundamentally wrong with 'letting a child have his way' when 'his way' is not in any way harmful to him or others? (Or, as in this case, actually healthy?)

    I think limits are far easier to set when they are rational. You would not let your child run into a busy street so he won’t get hurt, you would probably remove him from a situation where he is hitting another child so the other child can feel safe. You might not buy him ice cream from the truck because for his health you are limiting sweets (or you cannot afford a $4 ice cream bar.) But must there be limits everywhere? What possible purpose is there in limiting access to the breast-a normal, healthy place for a child to find nourishment and comfort? As long as mom is ok with it, it's ok. At any age.

    Some parenting 'experts' suggest putting all manner of arbitrary limits on young children-what to eat, when to eat, what to eat when....or where and when to sleep, how to get your child to sleep, how NOT to get your child to sleep, how and when to play, etc. etc. Usually these recommendations (that can sound like orders) have no basis in science, development or psychology and have the primary result of tying parents up in knots trying to make their kids comply.

    Hard and fast rules can backfire on parents. For instance, some parents say a child should NEVER snack shortly before dinner. But I have found that as long as the snack is HEALTHY is actually increases the amount of fruits or vegetables my kids eat if I let them have a salad or carrots or an orange a half hour before dinner.

    What if you stop letting your child nurse at the park and the result is a miserable outing? What if your child cannot nurse in the food store and the result is a tantrum that ends the shopping trip before you are done? Is anything gained? And what is lost?

    Left to his or her own proclivities, a 14 month old does only that which is normal. He is good. He is kind. He wants only to love his parents and be loved in return. His wants and needs are one and the same. He is not taking advantage, trying it on, spoiled or any of the other negative terms we see placed on little innocent children.

    Suggested Reading
    Mothering Your Nursing Toddler (Bumgarner)
    Kiss Me! (Gonzalez)

  4. #4

    Default Re: I don't know what is 'normal' nursing behaviour...

    Thank you both so much! I feel a lot better and reassured!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2011

    Unhappy Re: I don't know what is 'normal' nursing behaviour...

    Nursing your child on demand...even those little drive-by latches...is a beautiful way to instil a sense of confidence, independence, and being loved in your child. Don't for a second feel that you should deviate from parenting by intuition because someone outside the nursing dyad says/suggests you should. This is your area of expertise, your relationship, your body. Full stop.

    On a less preachy note, my DS is 18mo, and I would describe our nursing relationship now as being the most fulfilling it's ever been. He still nurses 8-10x/day, including 2-3x at night, and I love being able to be his safe/happy place. Because he has a great, secure emotional foundation with me, he's a more than usually independent toddler. It's just wonderful!

    As for NIP, I don't set any limits. Provided he asks nicely and says "please", he can nurse anywhere, anytime. That's the beauty of breasts!

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