September 27, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Breastfeeding Toddler

A few days ago, after a l---o--n--g day with my nursing toddler, I turned to my Facebook friends and wrote:

"OMG my toddler nurses like a newborn and I'm going crazy!!!! Growth spurt, teething? Who knows?"

Immediately, SO many of my other mom friends chimed in that they were going through that too!  So - for those of you reading this that may not have the privilege to know any other moms in real life that are nursing toddlers - I thought it might be helpful for you to know that frequent nursing in a toddler is totally, totally normal.  As is going nutty because of it :)

My nursling is currently just a few weeks away from her second birthday.  And she loves her boo boos - as she calls my breasts.   Here is a typical day in her life (and mine!)

5 am - laying next to me, wakes up raring to nurse.  Nightweaning worked great to give me the 10 to 5 block of sleep, but at 5 - if I say no, she will go ape shit.  Yelling, crying, flailing - and then worse - staying awake!! So invariably, we begin our nursing day.  She nurses - both sides - and her sloppy sleepy latch causes her razor sharp teeth to bite into my breast.  Ouch! I become wide awake, waiting for her to finish so I can get my breast out of her mouth and go back to sleep.

6 am - wants to nurse again.  Ditto all of the above.
7 am - yup.  same again.
8:30 am -  The desire to start cleaning the previous days' messes gets the best of me, and - after nursing! - I get up to start the day.  She begins her day making messes in the places I just cleaned :)

9:15 am - try to offer her breakfast of oatmeal.  Or toast.  "Boo boos now!!" she says.  I try to stall her.  "Wait boo boos!" I say.  I want to eat my own breakfast and work on the computer without someone sucking on my boob.  She waits for a few minutes - I eat some of my own food, type a little - and then, without me even realizing it...

9:20 am - She's wormed her way onto my lap, pulled my shirt down, and is sucking on my breast.  Yes, I mean that - I take my attention off the screen to realize that I went through all the nursing motions without even knowing she was there!

9:25 am - She plays with her big sisters.  Ah - so very glad that they are homeschooled and have plenty of time to play with her (and distract her!)

11:30 am - "Boo boos now!" Again.  I say "Wait for me on the couch."  She doesn't.  She knows that I'll get preoccupied with something else (smart girl).  She takes my finger, leads me to the couch - and I sit with her, and take her onto my lap.  I take a moment to realize how nice it is that my nursling gives me the opportunity to sit and be still a few minutes in my hectic day.

1:00 pm - Cranky, cranky baby.  Nothing makes her happy - not sisters and their Barbies, not taking a bath.  Nothing.  I realize it's nap time for her.  I pick her crying little body up - sit on the couch - say "Boo boo time!" She latches on.. nurses.  Her eyes slowly close.  She is beautifully asleep.  I admire how gorgeous she is.  Heart melts.   

1:30 pm - She wakes up.  Because my kids don't.  ever.  sleep.  Yup, lucky me.  Yay!!

1:30 to 3 pm - Homeschooling.  The girl that is not currently working with me watches the baby.  Toddler's too busy to nurse.  Unless the girls get frustrated with her and yell at her.  In which case she cries.  And wants to nurse.

3 pm.   She announces she's "hunga." That's hungry - to you and me.  I offer her a cheese stick. She eats a bit, then chews some up and spits it on the floor.  Yay.  More pick up for mama!!  As a dessert, she asks for boo boos.  We nurse again.

3:30 pm.  Big girls have dance lessons.  

3:45 pm.  Sitting on the couch watching them dance, toddler sticks her hand into my shirt and announces it's boo boo time.  Without further ado, she affixes herself onto my breast.  It's easy for her to do given the tank top portion of my mom uniform.  I quickly pop my hand up to cover her face/mouth and my breast/nipple.  I try not to cause too many coronaries with my nursing in public :)

4:15 pm.  Class still in session.  Same as above.  Boo boo time again.

5:30 pm  Making dinner.  She wants boo boos now!! "You need to wait baby.  Mommy's making dinner.  Go play with sisters."  She hangs on to my leg.  I get frustrated.  I call the big girls and bribe them - If you take your sister upstairs, I'll pay you $4! Bribe worked.  Sisters to the rescue - and I finish dinner without having to stop to nurse.

6:00 pm.  Husband's home.  Hooray!!!! We sit to eat dinner.  Toddler stands in her chair.  Eats a few bites.  Spills her water.  Gets down.  Mozies over to my side.  "Boo boos now!" she cries.  I'm irritated.  I want a bright line rule -  "No boo boos while I eat!"  Husband calls toddler over.  She doesn't come.  He picks her up and puts her on his lap.  She cries.  I give in, put her on my lap, and give her (reluctantly) boo boos.

6:30 - 9ish.  Play time with sisters.  Play time with Daddy.  Maybe one or two boo boos - a minute here and there.  Just enough to touch base.

9:30 pm.  I can tell she's tired.  She's whiny, and cranky.  I say "seepy time baby.."  She crawls onto my lap, drapes her big girl body over me, and latches on.  I caress her soft baby hair, her silky smooth skin.  I tell her I love her.  Her eyes close.  She nurses for ten minutes or more - and when her little body is limp, I unlatch her and put her down.  I admire her.  I feel grateful for her.  I feel grateful she's asleep!

And then - I have an evening to myself (or with husband) - and I stay up too late.  And then rise again in the morn, and do it all over again.

Nursing a toddler is hard work. It can make you frustrated, and irritated as all get out. But - I do it for two reasons: first, my breasts are her rock.  Her safe place to land.  They are there when she's tired, they are there when she's frustrated.  My breasts are her panacea.  And second - because nursing is also so very incredible.  I love taking those quiet moments to hold her and love on her.  It feels so good in my heart to be in love with her so.  


  1. Thank you, soul sister. I had just such a night last night and found your book, and your blog, and felt the kindred spirit. Somehow it's easier knowing that there are many of us going through it together.

  2. I just found your blog...Thank you so much for posting this! I am having one of those weeks with my nursing toddler. I have been so firmly committed to nursing him these last twenty months but this week seems so tough. I feel like he wants to nurse all the time when we are home. I finally had to start trying night weaning because I just couldn't handle nursing every two hours at night and then working the next day. And, I don't have any real life friends who are nursing their toddlers, so thank you for the reassurance!

  3. Feels so reassuring that I am not doing anything wrong by giving in when my 13 month angel wants to be nursed. She is in the day care for about 9 hours during workdays and the one thing she wants as soon as we get in the car in the evening is dudu! I also nurse her during night time...whenever she wants.

    Just today after the doctor's visit he warned me that this can harm her teeth...and night feedings should stop immediately, even if it means that she cries it out. My heart doesn't agree. Had been browsing the web trying to figure out what to do, and came across your wonderful book -instantly bought the pdf version! Its so beautiful! Thanks so much :)
    (BTW - also read on kellymom that BF does not cause cavities...hurraaaah!! Will not take the doctor's advice any more)

  4. Thanks for sharing this. you just pretty much described my life, except I have three boys. My baby is seventeen months and still going strong. He says boo boos too. In fact that and mamma are the only things he says! It can be exhausting but its so worth it!


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