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The Nursing Toddler: Extended Breastfeeding with Confidence

the nursing toddler FBBreastfeeding a toddler comes with its own set of worries and challenges. Enjoy your nursing toddler and find confidence in your unique breastfeeding story with these encouraging tips!

As I held my daughter in my arms, I couldn’t help but feel nervous. My 13-month old had been walking since the week before her first birthday. She wasn’t just toddling. The girl was running! And climbing. And dancing.

She had officially rock and rolled her way into toddler-hood. She was thriving.

And there we were for her one-year checkup. So why was I so nervous?

Because I knew what the pediatrician would say.

“You know you can switch her to whole milk now, right?” Yes, I’m aware.

Or, “Of course, babies need the higher fat from whole milk that they can’t get from breast milk.” Um, not accurate.

I knew it was coming. And apart from those little comments, I loved our pediatrician! But those tiny remarks somehow made me think twice about nursing my toddler.

Was I really doing the right thing nursing my toddler? Was I taking the slow weaning process a little too slow? 

If you’re nursing a toddler, you know that this stage of breastfeeding can be fraught with doubts and worries. In addition, things change as your child gets older, and it can be bittersweet to feel like you’re losing that connection with your baby.

Remember, every mom and child have their own unique breastfeeding story to tell.

In that pediatrician’s office, I realized that if I truly enjoyed breastfeeding my toddler (which I did!) I had nothing to be nervous about.

Ultimately, our story belonged to us.

Since then, I went on to nurse my daughter for another three months until we slowly weaned.

On our own terms. In our own time.

Does your breastfeeding story include a nursing toddler?

Here are three simple tips you gain back your confidence and really enjoy nursing your child in this new and fast-paced stage!

Related Reading: 5 Amazing Things You Should Know About Extended Breastfeeding

the nursing toddler

Three Encouraging Tips for Nursing your Toddler

Tip #1: Take what you can get.

Toddlers are like little tornadoes. From the moment they take that first step it seems like they’re in a constant race to outrun your arms. Needless to say, this can make breastfeeding a toddler pretty tricky at times!

I nursed my son until around 13 months and my daughter until 16 months. In those mobile months, my motto was, “Take what you can get.”

As toddlers, both of my kids were extremely curious and absolutely impossible to nurse when they were fully awake. What worked for us was to reserve nursing for quiet times like right before a nap or bedtime.

I tried not to nurse to sleep, just as a personal preference since it helped with sleep routines. Instead, I’d just get cozy with my toddler and offer nursing as a wind-down routine. Later, I’d put them in bed awake, but drowsy.

Tip #2: Form new mini-traditions

As your toddler grows, it seems like your heart aches for those newborn baby days. You never thought you’d wish for that again, right?

Suddenly, you can feel like you’re losing the connection you had with your child. It makes sense, really.

You’ve had this special activity that’s been reserved just for the two of you. Eight-plus times a day, for over a year. That’s a lot of little moments together, and it seems like nothing can replace that.

As I nursed my toddlers and thought about weaning in the future, I focused on creating new special moments of connection with them.

I like to call these mini-traditions.

For example, find a favorite song to sing together every day. Take a daily trip to the mailbox with your big boy or big girl. Sit down with a treasured book after lunch. Start a hobby or daily ritual together.

Create a mini-tradition that you can carry past the breastfeeding years. Most importantly, build in those moments of togetherness with your child so that when you do wean, you’ll already have a plan to fill that connection void.

Will you miss those baby days?

Yes! And that’s OK.

Savor those moments breastfeeding your toddler.

But also remember this… there are plenty of moments ahead that will be just as sweet as those you’re leaving behind.

Wondering if it’s time? Here’s how to know if your child is ready to wean.

Tip #3: Trust your instincts

There’s one more tip that will help you really enjoy nursing into the toddler years: Trust your instincts.

If you feel like nursing until age three, go for it! Ready to wean at 18 months? That’s your decision, too.

The important thing to remember is that however long or short you choose to breastfeed, it’s your story.

Remember, don’t get caught in comparison traps. Don’t stress about what others will say. Surround yourself with communities like this one that will support your breastfeeding choices.

Finally, just relax and enjoy this wonderful stage of nursing.

You made it this far! Enjoy the journey.

In Summary: Remember These Tips for Breastfeeding Toddlers

  • Take what you can get. And don’t sweat the rest!
  • Form new mini-traditions to help you bridge the emotional gap as your child grows.
  • Trust your instincts and celebrate your breastfeeding story.

As I walked out of that pediatrician’s office with my baby girl on my hip, I felt my confidence begin to rise.

I knew that when the time was right, we would wean. But until then, I determined to enjoy the toddler chapter of our breastfeeding story! And I couldn’t be happier that I did.

Share with us below! What’s unique about your toddler nursing story?

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