If you’d told me 20 months ago that I’d still be breastfeeding, I would have laughed. “Not ME! I’m only going to nurse until she turns one.” Well, that was my idea — but my daughter had other ideas! Despite planning to only breastfeed to one year, I now find myself way past that deadline and without signs of weaning. Here are a few of the reasons I’m still nursing my toddler.
1. She has 24/7 access.
I’m a stay-at-home mom, so my daughter is with me 24/7. This means I’m almost always available for nursing on demand. That’s not to say I’m nursing all day, though. Since my toddler turned one, I’ve been cutting back on afternoon breastfeeding. I’ve been able to distract my toddler with books or by taking a walk in the stroller during the times I know she wants to nurse. Some days, she’ll go all day without nursing and only breastfeeds right before bed.
2. It makes for tantrum-free naps.
Most afternoons, my toddler nurses quickly to sleep for naptime. I’ll admit it; being able to breastfeed her down for a nap without the tantrums or meltdowns is fantastic. This won’t last forever, I know. And she’s going to have to learn how to nap without the breastfeeding. I’ve been alternating a nursing session with a walk in the stroller to relax her for sleep instead.
3. I’m still producing!
With my two older boys, I was working full time. This meant I was pumping and simply not producing as much milk as I am now. At one year postpartum, I was no longer producing much milk and the boys self-weaned.
Since I’m still producing milk this time around, I can’t stop nursing my daughter cold turkey. It’s been a very long and drawn out process of shortening the nursing times and cutting out complete sessions in an effort to minimize supply.
4. She won’t take a bottle or pacifier.
Despite introducing both to her at an early age, my daughter never took a bottle or a pacifier. This meant that only I alone could feed her or comfort her. If she’d been able to take a pacifier, I know that the paci would be her evening comfort instead of me!
5. She’s a stubborn toddler.
Sometimes I’m able to distract my daughter from nursing on demand. We never nurse outside of the house. And I limit daytime breastfeeding to one short session. I’m in control of that. However, nighttime weaning has been more of a challenge. And having a stubborn toddler who won’t take no for an answer is hard! I know she is way past the stage of needing a snack at 3 a.m., but an all-out screaming tantrum at midnight that wakes the entire household sometimes isn’t worth the fight. So I give in.
6. I just want to sleep.
Speaking of giving in… sometimes I just want to sleep! And if my daughter wakes up in the wee hours and wants to nurse back to sleep, I do it. I just lay her next to me in bed and pass out. Probably not the best habit to get in to but heck, desperate mamas need their rest!
7. I’m ready to wean her… but she isn’t.
Yes, I was ready to be done with breastfeeding at one year postpartum. I made a lot of effort to cut back on sessions by shortening the duration and using distraction methods — but even the best laid plans fail.
And that’s simply because my toddler isn’t ready to wean yet. I’m not up for anything drastic and because I’m still producing milk, I can’t quit on the spot. I also don’t want to cause her any stress by stopping before she’s really ready. So just like anything that has to do with toddlers, sometimes you just have to let them take the lead!