Written by guest blogger, Andrea J. Blanco, IBCLC
My seven year old is really, really into the Super Diaper Baby series. So much so (embarrassing story for which I will pay for dearly in 10 years coming up right now) that the other day, he fished through all the dirty clothes to find 8 (yes, 8!!!!) underwear to put on simultaneously along with a cape so that he could reenact parts of the book. I’m not entirely sure why clean underwear couldn’t be used, but hey, welcome to the gnarly world of 7 year old boys. I’m still getting adjusted. Anyway, whenever he yells “SUPER DIAPER BABY!!” all I hear is “SUPER BREASTFED BABY!!!” (you better have read that in your booming announcer voice; if not, please go back and reread).
Super Breastfed Baby is not a baby anymore. He’s a toddler who can leap off everything, get all bruised up and bounce right back up. He can run amazing distances while laughing hysterically at you chasing him and fall over 15 times, but who’s counting? He scoffs at the mere thought of you trying to clean. Or sit. Or cook. Or sleep. He knows what he wants and isn’t taking no for an answer. This is the breastfed baby magnified – the one that I was reminded of as I read some of your comments to Toddler Nursing Part I and Toddler Nursing Part II of the Toddler series. Super Breastfed Baby is who we’re going to tackle today.
The Scenario: You and Super Breastfed Baby are home and you are trying to get things done around the house.
I hate to say it, but nothing about this will ever get easy. But it can get easier. Having a child, nursing or otherwise, around the house means being very strategic in all that you do. Your toddler wakes at 7, you say? Well then, 6:15 is the time to set the alarm so you can chop veggies for tonight’s dinner, put a load of laundry in the washer, and prepare a to-do list for your partner. Waking earlier than your little one doesn’t work for you? Try naptime or after bedtime. When they’re awake what they want is to be entertained. By you. Because you’re the awesomest. EVER. And no one else can compare to the way YOU entertain them. And when you aren’t in the entertaining mood? You still have breasts. Which they love. All I keep thinking as I’m typing this paragraph is “That which you resist, persists.”
It’s easy to get caught up feeling like “I HAVE TO DO THIS NOW”, but sometimes, if you stop for a second and give in to Super Breastfed Baby’s demands (of nursing or block building or nursing while block building), you will find that time to do what you were looking to do suddenly appears afterwards. And if it doesn’t appear? And you still have to vacuum? Rip a play out of my dear friend’s book and wear your baby right around naptime. She vacuums the floors, makes the bed, washes the dishes and sometimes even mows the lawn with her toddler strapped to her back in the Ergo. Most times he’s too busy loving the view, but sometimes, her little superhero falls asleep while she’s at it.
The Scenario: You and Super Breastfed Baby are, well, just home.
You may have noticed that when you’re home or *gasp* sitting down, your normally easy to distract child becomes Mr. Grabby Pants (which definitely feels like a superhero quality), demanding to nurse every. five. minutes. This one is a little trickier to fend off because mommy sitting = easy target. Most toddlers nurse that frequently out of boredom and/or familiarity. If you’re like most moms, for the last year, most of you and your baby’s breastfeeding took place either sitting or laying down. So it just means that your little princess was paying attention and now that she sees you sitting or laying down again, she thinks it’s nursing time. If you have realistic expectations of what’s about to happen, then you may be better prepared to deal with it. Another way to fend off Mr. or Ms. Grabby Pants is to “relax” in a new or exciting (but safe) environment. Toddler areas at local museums or indoor play gyms tend to be enclosed – use that to your advantage. Your busy, curious, newly independent toddler will be much less likely to think of nursing when there’s other stuff to do and see.
The Scenario: You and Super Breastfed Baby are at an impasse and you’re not too sure you want to continue nursing.
You’re trying to set boundaries, but it seems nothing is working. It’s not so much that you want to wean Super Breastfed Baby (or maybe it is), but you would like for nursing to feel like it’s more on your terms than at his demand. First, there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with you feeling that way. Nursing is a mutual relationship – both you and your child have to want to continue. As I mentioned in Part II, if you’re feeling like you want to slow down the demands of nursing or even wean, first try to pinpoint which is the MOST difficult nursing time for you. For me, it wasn’t the morning, nap and night – those I could deal with. But it was all the in-betweens. However, I didn’t realize that I could deal with, and actually cherished, the morning, nap and night until I was able to really cut back on the in-betweens. It took lots of creativity and motion, but after a few weeks, he didn’t even realize the in-betweens were missing. As with any change to a child’s sense of normalcy, employing gentle techniques combined with lots of love and patience along with waiting (if you can) until the child is communicative enough to understand, even if he doesn’t agree, will yield the best results.
The Scenario: You and Super Breastfed Baby have found your groove, but sometimes, she acts like there isn’t enough milk.
Super Breastfed Baby is one smart cookie. Maybe it’s that x-ray vision or her supernatural senses, but something has alerted her that there is less milk. Did you read that sweet momma? LESS MILK. Less milk is different than “NOT ENOUGH” milk. A few months ago, when you started solids because your little one showed all the signs of being ready, the weaning process began. Your body naturally slowed down its milk production to meet your baby’s needs and has continued to be super efficient in adjusting to those continued needs. Yes, you do have less milk, but, in conjunction with the other foods he’s eating, he’s still getting exactly what he needs. In addition, Super Breastfed Baby knows what he’s doing when he seems to be kneading the breast or trying to “play” with the other nipple. He’s actually trying to elicit a faster flow of milk for himself. For most moms, the kneading is nowhere near as exasperating as the nipple twiddling. Toddlers need to learn manners, too, and where better to learn them then at the breast where they are happy and relaxed and met with love? If you’re trying to curb behaviors such as nipple twiddling, be consistent each time. Explain to your toddler that it hurts momma. Use words she can understand. And repeat each and every time. Sometimes, along with consistency, a little bargaining might help, too. “Instead of hurting mommy by touching my breast that way, you can [insert substitutive, less exasperating behavior here]”.
So many of my past New Year’s Eves were spent with a baby in arms, or in a sling, or on the breast, picking confetti (or food) out of their beautiful, thick brown hair. Some years, it seemed I would never have my body free at midnight – or ever. My Super Breastfed Babies are babies no more…I can’t even say they are in jest. This year, we weren’t nursing at midnight. I wasn’t holding them. Yet, there we were, all of us snuggled up and interlocked when the clock struck 12. Maybe not as it had been in years past, but then again, not much different either. Maybe it was because, as others would say, I “nursed them *forever*”. Or maybe it’s because, through the nursing process, I realized there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.
Happy New Year!
Andrea Blanco is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant at The Milk Collective Lactation Care, working with families in the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area. She is the proud mom of 2 loving, spirited boys, who teach her humility, patience, humor, and the rules to more sports than she thought she’d need to know every day. When she’s not helping families achieve their breastfeeding goals, you can find her on the sidelines, at karate tournaments, or with her toes in the sand. She can also be found at themilkcollective.co, on Instagram @themilkcollective_ , facebook.com/themilkcollectivelactation or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you have any additional questions for Andrea about nursing a toddler? Share them in the comment section and we'll ask her to write another article!