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Thread: Nursing a toddler in public/around others...

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    Default Nursing a toddler in public/around others...

    I'm not sure if I should post this in this section or the one on breastfeeding in public as it pertains to both, but here goes...

    My daughter is almost 14 months old and we are still happily nursing day and night. She nurses on demand for the most part, although I do ask her to wait occassionally when we're out at a store and are almost finished with what we're doing. So far, I have felt really confident about my decision to nurse her when she wants to be nursed and the fact that we are going to continue nursing and my husband completely supports this. But I've noticed other family members are questioning the fact that we are co-sleeping for part of the night and continuing to nurse. So I've tried to stop nursing her around other people, which works sometimes but not other times. And I feel weird about this. I don't want to feel ashamed that I nurse her still because I do believe this is the right thing for her.

    Yesterday I threw a baby shower for my girlfriend at my house and my daughter asked to nurse during the party (I nursed her right before it started) and I asked her to wait. A little later she asked again and I felt uncomfortable nursing her in the room with everyone else (I only knew a few of the people there) and I really couldn't walk away from the party at that time, so my husband defrosted some breastmilk and gave her a bottle in the other room. I feel really unsettled about this. When she was younger, I nursed her anywhere she wanted to be, but as she gets older I feel that it's not as acceptable to others that she's nursing. I wish I didn't care what others think, and I need to figure that out. But I'm wondering what other people do in these situations with their toddlers as far as nursing around others as well as nursing in public. Is it still acceptable to nurse her around others/in public at this age? It doesn't really feel natural to tell my daughter she can't nurse in her own home. I'm confused.

    Thanks for your input!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    Default Re: Nursing a toddler in public/around others...

    My DS is 18.5 mo old. When we're out in public and he asks to nurse - if it's really inconvenient I'll ask him to wait. Otherwise I nurse in public pretty much any where and any time. I never use a nursing cover. Occasionally I'll nurse DS while he's in the ring sling. I've nursed DS at the playground, in coffee houses and at the museum. Nobody has ever said anything to me.

    At my house or other peoples' houses it depends on who is around. I usually avoid breastfeeding in front of my father because it makes him uncomfortable, so out of respect I go to the other room (yes - even at my home). If it's just my sister or a close friend I'll nurse DS in front of them. We were at a baby shower a couple weeks ago and DS said he wanted to nurse. I actually tried to go into the other room, but DS insisted that we sit on the sofa right in the middle of the party. So I sat and nursed DS. And nobody noticed, or if they did they didn't care.
    Lynn
    DS1: bf 7/2006 -> 4/2009; multiple food allergies
    DS2: bf 9/2009 -> ???
    ; multiple food allergies
    Breastmilk Donor - http://hmbana.org/index/donatemilk
    Click HERE to learn about baby led solids (BLS) / baby led weaning (BLW)

  3. #3
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    Jan 2008
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    Default Re: Nursing a toddler in public/around others...

    However pro long term nursing you feel, it is embarassing to others even if not to yourself, so I felt the best thing was to be discreet and stop it in public as soon as your child is old enough to understand.

    I nursed my son in public until he was probably around 2.5 yrs old. Up to then, I felt that although people may realise he was fairly big, they probably would not guess just how old he was! After that point I was able to explain to him that we could only nurse at home or with family. After about 3 we refined it further so that he understood we could only nurse when no one else was around. My daughter is not yet 2 and still small so I am still getting away with it.

    regarding co-sleeping and long term nursing, I have found that loads of people co-sleep even if they don't nurse. And you would be suprised how many people nurse long term as well. Some people can be very judgmental, but it's really none of their business. Do what you feel is right for you and your child. No matter how much you care about someone else or respect their judgment, they are not you and they cannot make decisions for you. If they choose to pass comment then they are in the wrong - none of us have the right to judge others for their child rearing choices.

    It's a good idea to practice some light hearted responses that will deflect comments - eg "you're not still nursing?" "yes but we'll stop when he's a teenager". Something like that, said with confidence tends to put a lid on it, but if people still choose to pass adverse comment then they are rude, and you are within your rights to say politely but firmly "that's my choice, and I am happy with it. It's a short time in my life but an important time in his and we will stop when we are ready". If you say these things with confidence, I think people will stop commenting.

  4. #4
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    Jul 2006
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    Default Re: Nursing a toddler in public/around others...

    I think at that age it is both perfectly acceptable to nurse on demand or to start setting limits on where/when you nurse.

    At this point (DS is 19 months) we rarely nurse in public anymore, but more because DS is having too much fun exploring and doesn't ask. When he does ask, if its inconvenient I can tell him "when we get home" or "wait until we find somewhere to sit down". A snack or some water usually can hold him over. If he really needs to nurse its usually because its naptime so I nurse him in the sling or mei tai which has the added advantage of being very discreet. If we have company over who I don't want to nurse in front of I will just excuse myself and go in a different room. I don't hide the fact that we're nursing, but I can be sensitive to my guests (and my own) comfort level. (This is also a great excuse to escape from the in-laws for a few moments!)

    Honestly I've never had anyone say anything negative to me about nursing a toddler. The closest is a surprised "Oh! You're still breastfeeding?!" To which I respond "Yes! Thank you! He's still nursing really well. And thank goodness because with all the flus and colds going around this winter Zach hasn't been sick once!" or something else like that. I just make it clear that I consider their comment a compliment and it usually stops there.
    Katie
    Just one more fanatical cloth diaper convert...
    Mom to Morgan (01/10/04) and Zachary (07/12/06)
    What are M & Z up to now?

  5. #5
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    Feb 2008
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    161

    Default Re: Nursing a toddler in public/around others...

    Please don't let family members that are ignorant about cosleeping and breastfeeding discourage you or make you uncomfortable. The bottom line is YOU are the mother and its none of their business. You should not feel badly about breastfeeding your toddler. She's still a baby, the same baby you happily were able to breastfeed in public just 14 months ago. Stay strong mama. THe only reason you would need to feel embarrassed would be if you're doing something wrong and you aren't. You're providing nourishment for your baby and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    Default Re: Nursing a toddler in public/around others...

    I have a 12 1/2 month old and have never really had any negative comments about my continued nursing except that my mother asks me every day How did she sleep last night? I never intended to cosleep but it just happened with us on a part time basis. It is definately not a bad thing bu for someone who has never coslept they have missed out on the joy of having an amazing loving little baby close to them at night looking like a perfect angel. I understand both sides of wanting to have a baby have there own space (sometimes I really just want my bed back and to be able to move more freely) and I understand the joys that having an amazing baby next to you can bring to them and you. If you are sleeping happy then please continue to cosleep, chances are the people who are being critical jsut do not understand. As for NIP, sometimes I think that trying to nurse in your own home around acquaintances is more difficult than nursing in public settings. I had a baby shower in my home over the summer when my dd was only 5 months and I excused myself to my room to nurse her (which is something I never do) but I just felt weird around my friends mom and her friends. I find that now that dd is older sometimes we have to go to another room not because we are ashamed but just because she is so curious about everything and gets distracted. I did nurse her at the mall play area today adn again at the picture studio( I thought some mama milk would make her happier for the photos) and that was the first time in a while but she really wanted it and I knew we were not leaving immediately so we just did.

  7. #7
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    Dec 2006
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    Default Re: Nursing a toddler in public/around others...

    Quote Originally Posted by MRB View Post
    However pro long term nursing you feel, it is embarassing to others even if not to yourself, so I felt the best thing was to be discreet and stop it in public as soon as your child is old enough to understand.
    Really? I disagree, because who decides what age makes others uncomfortable or embaressed? Some people are embaressed when a woman nurses her newborn in public, does that mean we shouldn't do it?

    My opinion is, how do we expect to see change in regards to people's opinions on nursing an older baby/child if we feel it necessary to only nurse our toddlers in private? We need to be this change that we want to see! What is the difference between nursing an infant and nursing a toddler in regards to appropriateness?

    Lyn
    Lyn
    Nursing the girl with kaleidoscope eyes


    Mama to Daniel (12/3/06) and Lucy Jane (8/28/08)

  8. #8
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    Feb 2008
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    Default Re: Nursing a toddler in public/around others...

    Well Said, we should be the change. I will remember that the next time I am out and nurse with confidence.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    361

    Default Re: Nursing a toddler in public/around others...

    My daughter is 22 months old. I work with her on nursing manners and as a rule try to limit nursing to just before and after sleeping. I am not miltant about it and will happily nurse her on demand if it is not an inconvenient time.

    As for public, I honestly do not care about how comfortable other people are with what I am doing. If they don't like it they don't have to look. The only person this does not apply to is my father in law. The poor guy just can't look me in the face when I am nursing my daughter. I wish it were different for him but he just cannot seem to get passed it. I have tried everything I can to ease his discomfort but to no avail. He usually leaves the room when I am nursing.

    The way I see it, if we are out and about and my daughter decides that she REALLY wants to nurse then and there, it is far less disturbing to the people around me if I quietly and discreetly nurse her than if I say no and she throws a fit. Most of the time she wil respond when I tell her we need to wait or offer a distraction. But if she is absolutely determined we just go for it.

    I know that a lot of people are uncomfortable with nursing toddlers but I just figure that it is my business and they need to mind their own. If anyone were ever to say anything to me I would probably just ask them to mind their own business as politely as possible.
    http://thesfamilychronicles.blogspot.com

    "At the heart of motherhood is the kind of satisfaction unequalled in any other profession on earth."
    -Tina Neidlein


    Isaac- 1/1/01 Nursed only 4 months, had no idea what I was doing.
    Nathan- 4/28/03 preemie, 1 month NICU stay and still managed exclusive nursing for 6 months, better.
    Anna- 4/15/06 Self weaned just after turning 3.
    Baby girl due May 14th

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    1,197

    Default Re: Nursing a toddler in public/around others...

    My son is 19 months old and I nurse him in public only if we will be out for a long time (like if we are on a plane). When we are in other people's homes we go to another room to nurse (we have to do it anyway since he is too distracted to nurse when there are people around). The same thing when we are at our house and we have other people over. If he was not a distracted child I would probably nurse without going to another room though.

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