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Thread: Nursing 3 year old

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2007

    Default Nursing 3 year old

    I am still nursing my just three-year old son before naptime and at bedtime. He nurses for only a couple of minutes per side and we conclude the ritual with some cow's milk from a sippy cup and many kisses and hugs. But he often asks to nurse at other times, specifically in the morning upon waking and after his nap. Two days ago, he said somewhat mournfully, "You can't nurse in the morning in bed," a nursing that I eliminated more than four months ago.

    After pressure from my husband, I began refusing the morning nursing and the post-nap nursing, but I now feel that this has been a mistake, as my son has become quite irritable and cranky over the last few months. Developmentally, he's on pace though not terribly social with other children and shy of adults, something my husband feels is "not normal" and seems to want to attribute partially to continued nursing, as he believes it's making our son "dependent" and "scared of the world." Our son is in a parent-tot playgroup and is scheduled to begin nursery school three mornings a week independent of me in January.

    I feel beleagured by my husband's comments and I feel that our son wouldn't be asking to nurse if he didn't need it at some level, maybe to help face the challenges of development. We have a 10-year old son who nursed until he was just shy of three and whom I weaned relatively easily after feeling exhausted and doing care-taking of a dying relative. He nursed only once a day by the end.

    I would like to move fully into the "don't offer, don't refuse" philosophy, but feel that I need to communicate to my husband why I feel this is the right thing for our son. I don't anticipate warm and fuzzy responses however. Thoughts and guidance would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Not around here as much :(

    Default Re: Nursing 3 year old

    Well I don't feel as if I have anything really 'helpful' to offer - other than support. Funny thing about breastfeeding, is people want to blame everything they deem a 'negative' that happens with a child, on it. It's truely bizzare. Then when a child isn't nursed, what do they have to blame it on? .

    I think its a wise idea, given your boy seems to be a little more sensitive, to take the dont offer/don't refuse approach as it will help ease his discomfort... as well as yours

    I think if your hubby is a reasonable man, you can let him know just what you've said in your post, and ask him to support you because for all you know, your boy could be precicely the same if you weren't nursing. Who knows, the aconnection he still has with you may actually make it better. one will never know.

    Is your older son a capable young man, even though he nursed to the same/similar age?

    Your hubby probably feels that his son is on the road to not being a man. Does your hubby place much importance on being "manly"? If so you can let him know michael Jordon was nursed until he was over 3 - and he's just "fine" He and others... try to appeal to his sense of do whats right for the child and allow him to grow in his own time.

    sorry for rambling
    Good luck!
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2007

    Default Re: Nursing 3 year old

    Thank you for your quick response.

    Our 10-year old is pretty well adjusted but did need to see a counselor for a couple of years in total to deal with being bullied at school and controlling his responses to others. He is shy too, but he has some good friends and is becoming more outgoing. I am very shy as well.

    I believe that my husband's issue is really with what he perceives as social anxiety on the part of our 3-year old, but I also feel that this has nothing to do with nursing and much to do with what my husband perceives as "normal," without reference to any actual data on variability in child temperaments and sociability. Our son's been in the parent-tot playgroup since April, we go twice a week; he has a regular babysitter whom he adores; he relates with other adults whom he chooses to relate to. I can't really see how nursing is causing negatives in his life. The lack of it on demand seems to be making him fairly miserable at times.

    Perhaps he does need to be with more kids his age more often, but the pressure to wean him when he's clearly not ready to wean is making things very difficult for me.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2006

    Default Re: Nursing 3 year old

    If there is anxiety and baby is using nursing to relieve some of the stress, won't rationing breastfeeding just feed the desire to ask repeatedly? When you feel like you need something to cope, simply removing it from sight doesn't ease the sensation that it's missing. I would think that until he feels comfortable with becoming more independent of you, that it would be really critical for him to know that he can count on nursing. Just some thoughts.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    Default Re: Nursing 3 year old

    , but the pressure to wean him when he's clearly not ready to wean is making things very difficult for me.

    I think you've hit the nail on the head right there...
    maybe if you tell your hubby this it will help.
    Sometimes they just cann't see or feal what's going on with kids like we can.

    IT got to the point with my dd that I had to close the subject with my hubby..
    I didn't complain about breastfeeding anymore...
    and when he brought it up I would say she will stop when she is ready and the subject is closed.

    She was just a little bit older then 4 when she weaned on her own with out much hassle because she was ready.
    I don't know if that helped any I sure hope so!
    All your sons cranky ness could just be a stage.. They all have thier ideas on how things should go at that age and they realy can fit about things.
    IT might not have much to do with breastfeeding.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2007

    Default Re: Nursing 3 year old

    Thanks to you all for your thoughtful responses. You've given me some good ideas in dealing with my husband's negativity about my continuing to nurse our son. I never thought I'd be nursing this long, but here we are and it doesn't seem natural at this point to stop nursing a child who is so clearly telling us in such an independent and brave way that he needs to continue nursing.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007

    Default Re: Nursing 3 year old

    I agree with everyone else.
    I am nursing my sons aged 4 years 4 months and 2 years 2 months. Some days I do wish my elder son would wean, but I know he's not ready.
    Generally my husband is supportive, but a few times recently he has said something about it being time for DS1 to wean. He is a little immature compared to others of his age (DS1, not DH ) and DH said he wondered if weaning would "make him grown up a bit".
    I disagreed and said that rather than weaning making him grow up, growing up would make him wean. Nothing further has been said on the subject since.
    Good luck!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2006

    Default Re: Nursing 3 year old

    My daughter was "shy" and anxious for a while too. She weaned at three and a half.. I did push her but I also kept her needs in mind and only pushed her as far as she was ready. She was very proud when she finally weaned. She is not shy now. You know what has helped her become more confident? Not weaning, but having special time with daddy. Lately they have been going skating together and it is SUCH a special time for them. They all "bloom" at different times but if you want to encourage him to become more self confident, then I'd advise dad to act more accepting of him and take him out on fun adventures. Have him do things just a little challenging but doable.

    Also, if he wants the weaning process to progress more gracefully, he should just be quiet about it and let you be in charge of that. He should anyway, but when I explained to dad what the whole "big girl" pressure was doing to dd he backed off and shut up about it... and it was much easier for both dd and I to figure out a graceful transition from the nursing relationship.

    What worked for me with my dh was to put it on him.. if you want her to be less dependent on mom, then be the next step for her. Get involved with her. Dad is the first example of "the rest of the world." If dad becomes a safe place (not a place that takes his nursies away), then the rest of the world starts to seem safe too. Dad stepped up and dd bloomed. But maybe that's not the order. Maybe dd was ready to move beyond mommy and thus daddy was more eager to get involved... I don't know.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2007

    Default Re: Nursing 3 year old

    I say a child will wean on their own. Forcing it early can cause emotional scars. That's what I've heard.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2007

    Default Re: Nursing 3 year old

    Here is some research on the subject: http://www.kellymom.com/bf/bfextende...ts.html#social

    Nursing toddlers are WELL ADJUSTED SOCIALLY
    According to Sally Kneidel in "Nursing Beyond One Year" (New Beginnings, Vol. 6 No. 4, July-August 1990, pp. 99-103.):

    "Research reports on the psychological aspects of nursing are scarce. One study that dealt specifically with babies nursed longer than a year showed a significant link between the duration of nursing and mothers' and teachers' ratings of social adjustment in six- to eight-year-old children (Ferguson et al, 1987). In the words of the researchers, 'There are statistically significant tendencies for conduct disorder scores to decline with increasing duration of breastfeeding.'"
    According to Elizabeth N. Baldwin, Esq. in "Extended Breastfeeding and the Law":
    "Breastfeeding is a warm and loving way to meet the needs of toddlers and young children. It not only perks them up and energizes them; it also soothes the frustrations, bumps and bruises, and daily stresses of early childhood. In addition, nursing past infancy helps little ones make a gradual transition to childhood."
    Baldwin continues: "Meeting a child's dependency needs is the key to helping that child achieve independence. And children outgrow these needs according to their own unique timetable." Children who achieve independence at their own pace are more secure in that independence then children forced into independence prematurely.


    MYTH: Extended breastfeeding makes a child overly dependent and can cause psychological harm.
    FACT: On the contrary, meeting a child’s need for breastfeeding fosters independence on the child’s own developmental timetable. Both research and the experiences of mothers worldwide indicate that children who nurse past a year have excellent social adjustment. Per the American Academy of Pediatrics, “There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychologic or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer.”
    Mom to Lainey (11-8-06)

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