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Thread: Still nursing 4 year old A LOT and picky eating

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Washington DC
    Posts
    53

    Default Still nursing 4 year old A LOT and picky eating

    My son turned 4 in December, and still nurses a lot. The days he goes to preschool it is about 3-4 times a day (morning, after school, mid-evening, and before bed). During the weekend it can be 4-6 times (morning, before nap, after nap, bed, and sometimes a few random times in there). I can sometimes put him off for a while, make him wait for nap/bedtime, or sometimes he will skip one of those all together (but not often). His sister (just turned 2) still nurses too, so if he sees her nursing, he wants in on it too. But my daughter has never been as obsessed with nursing as he is. He always nursed more than your average kid.

    My question, I know it seems silly, but will he actually stop on his own? I know everyone says "he won't go to college nursing" and I know that. But seriously, it is SO important to him, and such a huge part of his routine I can't see him stopping anytime soon. I love the bonding, but as he gets older I am more uncomfortable with the preoccupation with nursing. He has slowly dropped from 6-8 sessions to 4-6, so I guess it is slowly decreasing.

    I do limit the time if it's bothering me and give him 1-2 minutes, and other times I give him no time limits. Sometimes I delay a few hours. But he never forgets. I just can't see this ending anytime soon. I'm worried about explaining a 5, 6, 7, or 8 year old nursing as he makes friends, to family, or anyone else. Or having the conversation that we "don't talk about nursing with anyone but us" like it's a secret, and I don't think it should be. But lets be honest, not everyone understands a 6 or 7 year old nursing. And when i bring it up now, I get strange looks already.

    On a side note, he's a VERY picky eater, and only eats about 20 foods. Could this be related at all? I can't imagine he gets that much milk from nursing anymore.
    working mom to Pete, born 12/26/12, and Alice, born 2/20/15.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    10,754

    Default Re: Still nursing 4 year old A LOT and picky eating

    Hi, I am currently nursing a 4.5 year old. I have previous experience nursing my older 2 kids until they weaned at 4.5 and just over 5 years, respectively.)

    What I found in my personal experience is that when there is a younger sibling who is also nursing, then the older child tends to want to nurse more often and nurse longer. I think this is perfectly understandable and could be for several reasons, but my guess is that it is partly because of course older sibling wants to attention and physical contact younger sibling gets when nursing. But I also think there is a more pragmatic reason- mom had a baby more recently means more milk, plus two kids nursing means more milk. More milk, more reason to nurse! I am pretty sure there is very little if any milk now when my daughter nurses. Consequently, she has less reason to nurse. When my oldest was tandem nursing with his younger brother, he was still getting a good amount of milk.

    So, personally, I did take proactive steps to reduce my oldest child's nursing session frequency. First we stopped bedsharing (at least at the start of the night) when he was about 3 and a half. Then I began limiting his nursing to morning, nap, bedtimes and "emergencies" (as defined by me.) So nursing sessions reduced to about 3-6 times in 24 hours with my help. As time went on I continued to encourage my son to reduce nursing and he stopped entirely shortly after turning 5.

    Younger son, who always wanted to be like his big brother, stopped nursing entirely spontaneously at 4 and a half. He was just too busy with his big brother to bother with nursing anymore. (This changed very temporarily when his baby sister came along two years later.) I was not ready for younger son to wean so quickly and I was sad! Now it makes me sad when my daughter says there is no milk, as I know the end is near.

    Would older son have stopped nursing on his own? I have absolutely no doubt he would have as his world opened up (starting kindergarten, etc.) But he probably would have nursed frequently for at least several more months than he did. And he may have wanted to nurse at least for bedtime and wake up for a long time. And actually I would have been fine with that. In many ways I am not sure why I encouraged him to wean except feeling some vague pressure about it. Today I would have made a different choice, but that is me.

    So my question to you would be, where is your discomfort coming from? Is it internal or external based? If internal, what is your concern? Because as far as I know, there is no evidence in the least that nursing into later childhood ever hurt anyone. On the other hand nursing is a relationship between 2 people and if you are done or wanting to reduce nursing more or more quickly, that is perfectly ok.
    I just can't see this ending anytime soon. I'm worried about explaining a 5, 6, 7, or 8 year old nursing as he makes friends, to family, or anyone else. Or having the conversation that we "don't talk about nursing with anyone but us" like it's a secret, and I don't think it should be. But lets be honest, not everyone understands a 6 or 7 year old nursing. And when i bring it up now, I get strange looks already.
    There is nothing wrong with keeping private family decisions/practices/situations private and teaching your children to do the same. Generally speaking we have become a people who overshare private things beyond all decency IMO. I have found that there is no way to please everyone. People will disagree with any number of your parenting decisions so why court controversy? I learned I could keep things private and share only with likeminded people when I chose, or not, from the experience of breastfeeding older kids. We have a right to protect ourselves and our children from unwanted confrontation. Mind your own beeswax is what my mom used to say!
    On a side note, he's a VERY picky eater, and only eats about 20 foods. Could this be related at all? I can't imagine he gets that much milk from nursing anymore.
    No. If you are worried about a picky eater, I strongly suggest the book My Child Won't Eat. by Carlos Gonzalez. It will be a reassuring read.

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