Breastfeeding Can Be a Challenge…
My tiny newborn has become a rambunctious toddler in what seems like the blink of an eye. Our breastfeeding relationship is still going strong, but it has certainly changed. I’ve compiled my top tips for breastfeeding a toddler based on our recent experience.
Breastfeeding my son as a newborn went something like this:
Cry. Breastfeed. Sleep. Poop. Cry. Breastfeed. Sleep. Poop. Cry. Breastfeed. Sleep. Poop. (To be clear, he was the one crying… most of the time)
Once we’d introduced solids and actually had him eating 2-3 times a day, we breastfed like this:
Breastfeed several times at night. Wake and breastfeed. Breakfast – solids. Play. Breastfeed. Nap. Wake and breastfeed. Play. Breastfeed. Play. Breastfeed. Play. Dinner – solids. Breastfeed and sleep.
And now that we are at the toddler stage, it is mostly the same as the above, just picture it with a child that Never. Stops. Moving.
Now that I’m trying to feed a child who mostly resembles a hyperactive chimpanzee, these are tips I’ll share with anyone trying to do the same.
5 Tips for Breastfeeding an Active Toddler
1) Be prepared for rejection
For the first 9 or so months, if I offered to nurse, my son accepted. Without even realizing it, I became accustomed to the gratification of always being wanted when I offered to nurse. As my son gained a bit of independence and ate more solid foods, he didn’t always want the breast. It is still hard for me to accept that even when i know he’s hungry and thirsty, he chooses playing the dirty tissue he found under the couch over my milk.
2) Be prepared for distractions
I heard that it could be challenging to nurse a distractible toddler but didn’t understand how hard it would be. Even when my son wants to nurse, he is so easily distracted. Anything distracts him. The sound of the washing machine entering the spin cycle. The feather poking out of the sofa pillow. The clasp on my nursing bra, which he has literally seen 8-20 times a day since he was born. Something different will work for everyone, but the best way for me to keep my distractible toddler focused while nursing is to sing to him. This way he can’t hear random ambient noise and he tends to maintain eye contact with me. This only works at home, though. If we’re out and about, I nurse him in the carrier.
3) Remember it is more than physical nutrition – nursing has emotional benefits for your toddler
Of course, by breastfeeding your toddler you are providing an excellent nutritional benefit, but your toddler won’t always nurse purely out of hunger. I’ve been grateful that I breastfeed as my son has started to throw small tantrums or stumbles and hurts himself. Nursing is like a magical reset button – it soothes him quickly and lets me get in a cuddle since otherwise he’s always on the move.
4) Don’t worry about shorter feeding times
As my son grew his marathon nursing sessions became shorter and shorter. For us, a full feed became 7 minutes per breast. However, the more active he became, the shorter his nursing sessions. 2-3 minute breastfeeding sessions throughout the day have become the norm for us, with slightly more time spent during his night feeds or if he nurses to sleep.
5) Mind your latch
After months of blissful pain-free breastfeeding, my son’s latch became shallower and suddenly I was running for my lanolin and silverettes. I am not sure what changed his latch – it could have been his molars, confusion with his sippy cup and straw bottle, or even a bit of laziness. I have often had to relatch him several times in one feeding to make it more comfortable.