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Disclaimer: The information in this post is for educational purposes only. I am not a doctor. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the opinions are meant to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. You should always consult your healthcare provider.

Breastfeeding Toddlers — When They Won’t Settle Down!

Breastfeeding toddlers is a whole other ball game. Most likely the days of latch and supply issues, falling asleep during a feeding, and weight gain concerns are things of the past. Now, your only goal in life is to keep your nipple attached to your body! So how can an extended season of breastfeeding be enjoyable for mom, too?

Breastfeeding Toddlers


Curiosity kills the cat…or the nipples. As babies grow older, their desire for independence and their curiosity for the world around them grows, too. The smallest sound causes them to “pop off” and sometimes forget to open their mouths. Ouch!

Babies who are used to a particular environment (such as a quiet nursery or bedroom) often respond to a sudden change in their environment with interest. Breastfeeding in different areas of your home and out in public, when possible, may keep baby from being so in-tune to his current, new surroundings.

Of course, if curiosity is simply getting the best of them, “let them explore and come back for more.”

Little Gymnast

Sometimes toddlers think that time with Mommy and milk also means “try out for the Olympics.”

Legs up in the air, legs swung back behind them, rolling around, twisting their head, arms through the neck and sleeve of my shirt, fingers in my nose, glasses pulled off my nose, hair pulled, eyes poked, teeth cleaned, and jewelry yanked. This can easily describe any one of my nursing triplets! (If I let them, that is.)

Two (or More) Little Gymnasts

Whether you’re breastfeeding two different aged children, twins, triplets, quads, or more (if you’re breastfeeding quints I want to meet you..seriously), the gymnastics can be kicked up quite a few notches. Now you have a competition going: who can out tumble who while at the breast. As a mom, you’re faced with the challenge of who to address first. Make the wrong move and your nipple could pay!

It’s important to address both little gymnasts as soon as possible, otherwise they may make a game out of egging one another on.

Towards the end of the first year, my trio played “pull the booby out of the sibling’s mouth” which made the sibling cry. And sometimes it made me cry if that sibling was in mid-suck!

For the second year of breastfeeding, I had them nurse one at a time. It was just easier and involved fewer corrections.

Don’t Settle

Breastfeeding Toddlers When they Won't Settle DownAs the mom, be sure you don’t settle for the mindset that says you simply have to endure their antics! Left unaddressed, these types of behaviors can put strain on your nipples which could lead to serious issues like blocked ducts! It is a very loving thing to address a child’s unacceptable behavior, even in this arena, and help them to know what is acceptable.

In our home, we have a “be still” rule. If somebody isn’t being still while breastfeeding, they are removed from the breast. When the crying calms down and they can ask for milk (and ask they can!), they can resume nursing. You better believe they’re calm and still after that, too! It doesn’t take long when they are so eager to get back to momma’s milk.

This put down technique is done matter of factly so that the toddler makes the connection that jumpin’ and jivin’ while nursing is not ok.

If you have a toddler who just can’t seem to be still, you can actually give them something to play with while nursing. I wear a simple chain with a cross on it. It is sturdy enough that they can’t break it while nursing but they can hold onto it, if they like. Other mamas wear scarves or specially designed breastfeeding necklaces. I want my babies (ahem, toddlers) to know Mama isn’t always saying “no”—sometimes it is good to say “yes!”

One day we’ll look back on these days and laugh, I’m sure. For now, let’s teach these sweet babies that it’s good to be still at the breast!

What has helped your toddler to be still while breastfeeding?

Jennifer Fountain is the founder of Growing Up Triplets and is a contributor to other blogs, including Breastfeeding Place. She writes about raising their three-year-old-triplets, taking the family back to living simply, and endeavoring to honor God in the midst of it all. She has been married to her hubby, David, for nearly five years and is madly in love with him! You can follow Jennifer and the three peas on Google+FacebookTwitterPinterest and the blog.


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