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Thread: Limits on nursing a toddler

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2012

    Default Limits on nursing a toddler

    My DS is 25 months and we are still nursing (much to my surprise -- it is not at all what I planned before I had him and I wasn't sure I'd make it past the early days...but I digress).

    I have no immediate plans to wean him completely but as he nurses A LOT I am finding that sometimes I really need to limit it. It's easy to set limits when we are out (I don't mind BFing in public but sometimes it just isn't very convenient) but at home it's a big problem. If I say "no," he literally claws at me until he gets one of my breasts free. If I stand up and go away, he follows me begging and pulling at my clothes. If I say "yes but for 1 song/1 story/a count of 10" he will.not.get off when that limit is reached and when I unlatch him he fights it and claws at me and so on. This little determined guy will literally nurse in any position so there is literally no position that I can assume in which he isn't trying (seriously, if I am standing he has tried to climb up my body). He will absolutely not relent until he gets to nurse and until he determines he is done or gets distracted by something else. I have tried to explain that mommy needs a little break or that he has to ask and respect my body. He does seem to get those messages as he repeats them but he seems to think that 1 second is a break and that asking means he gets to do it, so they aren't helping to actually get a break.

    Any ideas?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: Limits on nursing a toddler

    My thinking is that you should stay out of the house as much as possible.

    Obviously you can't be out of the house all the time, so when you're home, I think you have 3 potential paths: either give in, distract, or stand firm and keep repeating the "no means no, later means later" message. The first is the path of least resistance, but it will eventually result in less nursing because this is a stage and it will pass, and because kids sometimes cling tighter when they sense that mom is trying to pull away a bit. Distraction will work- but you'll be spending a lot of time trying to distract your kid, so it doesn't really give you a break. The third option will result in lots of resistance- clothes pulling, whining, etc.- but it's probably the fastest path to reducing your child's demand.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2012

    Default Re: Limits on nursing a toddler

    It sounds to me like the problem is with consistency. He is learning that if he begs/persists/bugs you ENOUGH, he will eventually get what he wants. I think it's really important, when you set a limit and say "no", to stick to it. Otherwise, he learns that all he needs to do is keep fussing and sooner or later you'll give in. I know this can be exhausting. My little guy (26 months) is very persistent, too, and I posted a month or two back with the trouble I was having setting nursing limits with him. However, if you can manage to be consistent, it will eventually get better, and maybe sooner than you think (it only took a week or two with us, once I decided I really did intend to set and enforce limits). If you are wishy-washy and can be persuaded, he will sense it. If you are confident and firm, he will sense that too. What I have found works well is to give DS a concrete time when we will nurse again, that he can understand. Not "later", as that (to them) might mean "ask again in 10 seconds" (it is 10 seconds later, after all!). I say "we will nurse again after dinner" or "we will nurse again once Mommy is out of the shower with clothes on" and that works much better than saying a vague "later" or "maybe in a few minutes". They have no sense of time so giving it to them as a concrete marker seems to help. Other things that help: get really good at distraction and offer it brightly. Preferably make it something that is incompatible with nursing (e.g. going outside) or a favorite activity/snack. Make sure you are cheerful when you set the limit and say "no". I was feeling guilty and ambivalent about setting limits and as long as I felt that way, my DS didn't respond well to limit-setting. When I realized that after all, he is 2, not a newborn, and he doesn't need to nurse every five minutes any more and my own needs are legitimate, I was able to set limits cheerfully and firmly and DS accepted it much better. As a result, I am feeling much better about our nursing relationship than I was a few months ago and am really treasuring that time with him again. We still nurse about six times per day, so quite a bit (especially as I'm a working mom) but we don't nurse at the times that drive me crazy anymore (like when I'm trying to shower or make dinner) and that's really nice.
    First-time mama to Joshua, 10/29/11. 38 months ; now trying to wean. for 14 months; now finished with pump weaning!

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