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Thread: 3 yr old nursing frequently

  1. #1
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    Aug 2006
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    Default 3 yr old nursing frequently

    I'm new to this forum, though I have been a member of LLL for several years. My son turned 3 last week. He still wants to nurse every time I sit down during the day, he still nurses to sleep, both at nap - when he will take one - and at night. He normally wakes up between 3 and 7 times a night to nurse. At nap time we sit in the rocking chair and read several books while he's nursing and then SOMETIMES he will fall asleep. Sometimes I can actually get up and leave him asleep in the chair, but inevitably he will wake up within an hour and want me back in the chair to nurse him for the next hour, but he will NOT go back to sleep. He will NOT stay asleep no matter where he is, day or night. He's VERY active, but I don't consider him to be hyperactive. (I've seen my share having taught elem and mid school for 15 years.) Anyway, I'm very careful with his sugar intake. He only drinks water, by choice and he's not big on candy or other sweets. Now, when he nurses he's begun to pick at a little mole on my stomach to the point of pain, redness, and definite irritability. When I make him stop, he cries and says "I just love your mole and I love to pick at it.) Picking includes rubbing vigorously, pinching, pulling, etc. I have enjoyed my entire breastfeeding experience immensely and I do want him to wean naturally, but I am frazzled right now. You know... I get to the point that I think, "I DON"T EVER WANT HIM TO NURSE AGAIN!!! EVER!!!" I don't mean it, I'm just frazzled and frustrated and need some encouragement, advice, kind words,... Anything would be appreciated, both about wanting to nurse constantly AND/OR the picking issue.

  2. #2
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    Jan 2006
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    Default Re: 3 yr old nursing frequently

    my dd does that picking stuff it drives me bonkers. And doesn't help my skin!
    could you put a band aid on your mole for a few days untill he forgets about it? it would feal funny to him.Not so fun to mess with?
    I try and keep her nails short also.. She just turned 3 in june.
    She wakes up alot too, she starts out in her own bed and that helps so I have been getting a good 4-5 hour strech in there before she wants to get in bed with me.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: 3 yr old nursing frequently

    River's Mom -

    My daughter did that with the moles on my neck and stomach. I actually went and had some of the "tag" moles removed because she had ripped a few off!

    I started covering them up with band-aids...it's a hard behavior for them to knock :O)...

    Amanda

  4. #4
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    Default Re: 3 yr old nursing frequently

    I have a 40 month old who still nurses. I can't remember when the picking started but it was a while ago. He started pinching and scraping my other nipple while he was nursing. I'm talking until it bled. And when I would try to stop him, he would scream. I'm not sure how long it took, but I had to get him to stop. I explained why I didn't want him to do it over and over and over and over. What ultimately happened is that now whenever I nurse him, I have to cover the other nipple with my arm. He still reaches for that other nipple if I take my arm away even for a second. So I know about persistent. Anyway you have to get him to stop picking your mole. Either witha band aid or by covering it with your hand. After explaining to him over and over why you need him to stop picking at your mole, I might go as far as saying, if you pick at my mole, I'm going to have to stop nursing you right now because I need to protect myself. And then when he wants to nurse again make a deal with him. I will nurse you right now if you promise not to pick at my mole.

    As far as the constant nursing at 3, I'm sorry but I can't relate. I guess I'm lucky, Mez has slept through the night for at least a year now. But for at least 18 months, this was the child who woke up ever hour or more. I was a zombie for the first 18 months. Sometimes the lack of sleep would make me feel angry about our breastfeeding relationship. When I felt like going crazy, I would get my husband to take him out for a walk or bike ride so I could get some sleep. Even if it was just for 1/2 hour. I also needed these short periods of alone time just for me. So that I wasn't resentful of my child. Do you have someone who could take him out for short walks around the block so that you can have alone time?

    -Lauren

  5. #5
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    Default Re: 3 yr old nursing frequently

    Ouch...it's perfectly ok to place limits on breastfeeding with a child of this age without weaning. I really feel for you! My two year old has cut herself down to two feeds a day, over time - I found the rest of the time she was just fiddling, kicking, and playing around, and it was incredibly frustrating. We've ended up with a morning feed and an evening feed, and she doesn't fool around. She'll ask sometimes for 'boobie milk' at other times, but I've found she isn't usually interested - it's basically a cry for attention, or she's just in an 'I want' mood.
    I love to cuddle with her, but I find hair-pulling, picking, pinching behaviours immensely irritating. I decided at some point that it just wasn't happening, that it was my body and I was important too - so if she hurt me, I'd warn her and if it continued I'd just take her off. If she settled down, she could have it later, but if not...well, one missed feed at this age doesn't dry me up. I've found I have no resentment about breastfeeding and can enjoy it a lot more now.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: 3 yr old nursing frequently

    I appreciate all of the input. Most days I'm ok with it all, but sometimes it get frustrating. I just don't want to be doing things that will prolong the natural weaning process. The only times it bothers me to nurse him is when I am in the MIDDLE of something, like cooking supper, on the sewing machine, etc. (I mean, it IS ok to tell him "Not right now," right??) or when we are in public. I don't mind nursing him when there's a place to do it, but out in the middle of the mall on the little benches is a bit much for me at his size. It never bothered me what people thought until he's gotten so big and tall. I can't hold him like a baby very well anymore. AND I'm afraid the saying, "When the need is gone, he'll stop breastfeeding," is untrue! I don't NEED Dr.Pepper, but I REALLY ENJOY it!!! Hence, I am going to continue to drink it, though I have no need for it at all! I guess I just need assurance that this won't go on forever and someday I WILL get to sleep through the night again. (The most he's EVER slept straight is 6 hrs when he was 6 mth old, and it was evidently a fluke, because it NEVER has happened again!) Did I mention that I'm 45, almost 46, and tired?? I need a light at the end of my tunnel!
    Again, I really do appreciate all of the input!
    -Susan

  7. #7
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    Default Re: 3 yr old nursing frequently

    I have a 3 year old who is not breastfeeding, but this may be helpful. I think there is a balance with children this age in giving them enough "control" over their lives, but still maintaining some level of parental control in most situations. In general, one way to give a toddler a feeling of control is to offer a choice instead of an ultimatum. I also "bargain" with my 3 year old daily and I always try to answer his questions honestly and explain my actions to the extent possible.
    I think it's okay to set limits, and I think you sound like you need to.
    Good luck!

    Molly

    Loving mama to JP (DS, 1/03 ~ nursed 6 mos), EL (DD1, 9/05 ~ nursed 4 yrs), EJ (DD2, 3/08 ~ nursed 3 yrs 9 mos), and
    JM (DD3, 6/12 ~ currently nursing), all born naturally
    Devoted wife to SAHD P, my hero
    A few of my favorite things that I've discovered on the forum: co-sleeping, baby-wearing, tandem nursing, baby-led solids, cloth diapering, APing, selective vaccination...the list goes on

  8. #8
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    Default Re: 3 yr old nursing frequently

    Quote Originally Posted by Rivers Mom Susan
    The only times it bothers me to nurse him is when I am in the MIDDLE of something, like cooking supper, on the sewing machine, etc. (I mean, it IS ok to tell him "Not right now," right??)
    Yes! It is perfectly ok! My two year old is capable of understanding things like 'boobie soon' or 'boobie later', so I'm sure your three year old can

    I would go as far as to say I think it's important for them at this age to understand that while their needs are important, other people have needs too and their needs aren't always going to be met immediately, whenever they want. If I'm busy or over-touched I sometimes tell my daughter to go and find her sippy cup instead, and if she's thirsty, she does. Sometimes what she really wants is affection or attention, so I tell her "Mummy is busy right now and I can't cuddle you, but I can give you a kiss and a hug for now" and I do. She seems to get it, even if she isn't always immediately satisfied with this response.

  9. #9
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    Jan 2006
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    Default Re: 3 yr old nursing frequently

    As the mom of a nursing 3 1/2 year old and 18 month old I feel for you! I also second placing limits. Lots of great ideas have been shared. I also found letting my oldest son know when I am not able to nurse him has been helpful in him learning mommy is a person with needs, too. Sometimes he cries when I say I'll nurse him after lunch or in 10 minutes. But I try to follow through so he'll know he can trust me when I say he can nurse. He is slowly being able to accept more limits. And there is a light at the end of the tunnel!! Some children really will end the nursing on their own when ready, and others might need some gentle guidance.

    I find my oldest nurses non-stop when he is feeling vulnerable: changes like preschool, potty training, new person in the household, too many trips can set off a nursing marathon for days in our family. Or he nurses more when he is on the verge or going through a developmental leap. When he is going thru these times, he looks to me and the "nursies" for comfort--to know he is safe and loved. He also nurses more when bored (or when I sit down LOL) I try to find activities for him to do a few times a day, or a friend to play with, or if he is restless I visit the park or our backyard. I try to get some time for myself alone at least once a day and remember things won't always be this hard. Limits do sometimes help, and time can also help. Every situation is unique, and you'll know best.

    I also have taken him on a walk with his bike when he is getting tired. Daddy time has helped, too, when I am feeling like throwing things and yelling (reached the end of the rope, ;o)

    Good for you for making it to this point! Your son is so fortunate to have such a caring mom like you. Take good care of yourself and continue to post back so we can know how you're doing and what helps you feel more comfortable with your nursing relationship!


    Eve

  10. #10
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    Aug 2006
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    Default Re: 3 yr old nursing frequently

    My son is 18 months old and his nursing pattern is like your son's. One suggestion I have is that, I find that if I forget my own needs too often, I become increasingly angry and resentful, and I end up overreacting to something he does that would otherwise not bother me so much. So, as far as setting limits goes, I think it's important for both your sake and his. Sure, sometimes you have to make personal sacrifices, and do things when you're sick, tired, etc. but, when it comes to protecting yourself from physical pain (i.e., picking at a mole, a nipple, etc.) I think you are benefiting your son by teaching him that he should respect the needs of others. And yes, he may scream about it, but, it's not the same as a small baby being left alone to cry it out in a crib. He probably needs to register his protest, which is understandable and acceptable.
    Good luck!

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