Phases of a Nursling

Phases of a Nursling

All sleepy eyes, yawning mouth, contentedness, tiny burps you need to coax out. It’s always a little bit of a scramble to get them in the right spot, that floppy head, those randomly flailing limbs. It’s so sweet when they latch.

The moment. The moment when your baby looks up at you and catches your eye and they know that your breast is your breast and that your smiling face is the one they get to see when they nurse. Unlatching, just to smile. It makes your whole day.

That first glorious time where you present your breast and they latch by themselves. To those with newborns, believe me, it’ll happen. Nursing in public, suddenly easier. Their head covers a lot of real estate.

Distraction. Your voice is interesting. So is the cat. So is the window. So is something in front of you that you can’t even see but your baby can.

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Grabby and pinchy and you swear you just cut her nails. She’s casual about nursing. Seeing your breast or feeling for your breast, your baby just grabs it, sometimes with what you swear are a full set of claws. They start to revel in the closeness and the softness of you.

The first bite. This is not the most fun for the mother. She might chomp down before you have any inkling of the teeth trying to break through. It seems a neat new trick she’s learned. But it hurts. A lot. And you try not to yell, though it’s impossible. It’s even worse when they get teeth. To the mamas in this phase, it’ll pass. I promise. When those top teeth come in, you have to teach them to latch all over again. Making the wide open mouth-face you want to see them make.

You become the milk bar. Open at all hours. Your baby knows exactly where your breasts live. She’ll somehow expose them when you’re talking to a friend. Outside. In the cold. You just start to feel the frigid air when she latches and smiles. And you just shrug at your friend. It’s casual.

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Gymnurstics. You know when you’re there. Baby stands. Baby straddles you. Baby tries to look at something behind them while STILL BEING LATCHED. Baby climbs on your shoulder from behind you and flips over in a gold-medal worthy gymnastics move to latch themselves completely upside down while balancing their wiggling feet in the air.

Perpetual motion. Often running away from you. Climbing. Crawling. Walking. Until she’s tired. Or hurt. Or sad. Your baby nurses when she needs you. It’s a perfectly calm moment in an other wise frenetic day.

Your baby asks you. Out loud. She has a name for it. “Nun.” “BooBoo.” “Nuss.” She points. She displays great displeasure when you don’t move quickly enough. Even though she is old enough to ask. Even though she eats solid foods and is brave enough to leave your side, she still asks for nursing, for mama time. Maybe they will take a long snuggle break. Maybe they just want to know that they still can. Not everyone gets here. If you do, enjoy hearing how much your baby — your child — loves to nurse. Because they’ll tell you.


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Which phase are you in?




 About Olivia Hinebaugh

Olivia Hinebaugh is a stay-at-home-mom to a three-year-old boy and baby girl. She is an aspiring novelist and steals time whenever both kids are sleeping to clack away at the keys. She tweets about mothering and writing @OliveJuiceLots

She can also be found on Facebook.



First two and Bio photos by Lauren Preti.

8 thoughts on “Phases of a Nursling”

  1. My second nursling is just barely a year and I had the urge to both laugh and cry reading this! <3 There’s nothing better than this!

  2. All of these phases have happened for me and she’s only 14 months… nursing as long as she wants, spot on adorable article.

  3. Ooo…Distraction and grabby/pinchy with sharp little claws here…. It’s way too late for me to be up.. this beautiful article made me feel like crying hehe. :)

  4. So sweet and I recognized my experience in each of these. My daughter is a week shy of 3 years old and definitely still asking. And discussing, and negotiating, and pretending, even when I refuse (my boundaries are bedtime and wake-up time). It is sweet except when I’m exhausted and touched out!

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