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A Letter to My Nursing Toddler

By Megan Leary




My dear toddler,


You were tired. It had been a long morning in the car and then visiting with strangers. You rubbed your eye with one hand and said, “Nurse?”


At home I would have scooped you in my arms and cuddled you close while you nursed yourself to sleep. Then I would lay you in bed and give you a kiss. But this time I reacted differently. You saw me look sideways at the room of strangers who have never been a part of your life and meant nothing to you. You saw me shift awkwardly in my seat. You saw me blush. You were confused. I hurt your feelings and you didn’t understand why. I made you feel like I was embarrassed by you. I was. You took a step back. You looked around the way I had, wondering what made me nervous.


I looked at your confused face and made a decision. I picked you up, pulled up my shirt, and nursed you. I kept my eyes on you because I didn’t dare look at the room. I put a soft smile on my face so that you would know everything was okay. In that moment I made an unspoken promise to you to never make you feel ashamed for asking to nurse again.


You don’t understand that its taboo for a mother to nurse her toddler in our culture. You don’t understand yet that the natural act of nursing makes people uncomfortable. Why would you? It’s not something you were born to understand. It’s not something in nature for you to feel shame for. It’s not embarrassing for you to find comfort in something you’ve been doing everyday of your entire life that brings you close to me. Something that makes my busy legs stop. Something that makes my busy hands caress your hair and cheek.


My love, I promise to never do that to you again.


xoxo, Mom



Megan Leary

About Megan Leary


I am a work-at-home mama of one darling girl and handsome baby boy! I am an advocate of natural and home birthing. I am passionate about pregnancy, breastfeeding, cloth diapering, eating well, and most things natural in a mama's life. Visit me and my friends at our blog www.hippieswithbabies.com.

Comments (18)

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So precious ... so true!  Thank you for sharing this experience with us.
Made me cry. Very honest and lovely.
Thank you so much for this reminder. My daughter is 2.5 years... I am often embarrassed that I still nurse her. My son was really done by the time he was 2 (had no real interest in it) ..my daughter is different. Nursing means so much more to her... and so I keep going. =). <3
well done you for meeting your child needs, its hard, but is such a beautiful journey we all go on as a bfing mother and child. 
My bonus baby, started nursery in January and I was convinced she would self wean like her older 2 siblings did in their first month as 3 yr olds in nursery. Not her - if anything we have stepped up a gear, to help her to feel safe. When she is ready to wean will be time enough for us, xxx
I love this sooooo much - brought tears to my eyes. 
Made me cry too! My little guy turns 3 next month and still wants to nurse. I've had similar experiences and been disgusted with myself for putting the ignorant intolerance of the general populace where I live (no one nurses more than 6 months if at all) ahead of my baby's needs for even a minute!
I loved this.  Thank you.
My daughter is a little over 2 and still very attached to nursing. I would prefer that she wean so that I don't have to deal with feeling embarrassed but I'll keep nursing her as long as she wants which is probably going to be past 3 the way things are going. It's the first thing that she requests/demands when I get home from work.
My daughter is over 11 years and I nursed her for more than 2 years (27 months to be precise). Whenever she was hungry, I have nursed her without feeling shy or embarassed. My husband and several friends have asked me how I was able to do that. Somehow, at that time, I felt that it was the right thing to do for my baby who had no one else but me to turn to. I have nursed her on international flights, in malls and several other places that I cannot remember now, but I know that I will never regret having done that in my lifetime.
I love this!  I am currently living in a culture where breastfeeding into toddlerhood is normal, and I happily breastfeed my 2 year old son almost anywhere.  However, we will be in the US for 2 months later this year and I am already starting to think about how I will handle nursing in public.  I admire you for putting your child's needs first - I think if people saw more examples of toddlers nursing in public it would become more normalized
I've never experienced it as "taboo" here in the U.S. I know some individuals make it uncomfortable but I have never been met with anything but acceptance and understanding. I nursed for 19 months. She's 2.5 years old now. I wish I hadn't weaned so early. I miss it. It was a perfect reason to slow down and get away from my computer (I work at home). She still asks to "have a talk" or "cuddle" from time to time and in those instances it's nice to remember.
Thank you, everyone! One of the greatest things about the mothering communities is that there is always reassurance that you are not alone. I can't tell you how much all these comments mean to me. :')
tears....so sweet - the article and our babes.
I have honestly had my own reservations about nursing toddlers, even though I know how natural it really is. And I have pondered how long I will be willing to nurse my son, and haven't come to much of a conclusion. But this was beautifully written, and so absolutely touching that I also have tears in my eyes. I know that I wouldn't be able to look at my son (3 months old now) and tell him no, for the sake of others, or even for myself. As long as he wants to I am for it!
Thank you. 
Loved reading this.  My almost 3 year old is tandem nursing with my 3 month, which is new for me! But knowing that his nursing time will be over in the blink of an eye, I try to savor my quiet time with his chubby hands patting me while he nurses.  I know it will be one of  my favorite memories of him!
great post! I loved it
wow... that was beautiful.  thank you for sharing this.  i wish my daughter was still nursing but she quit me at 13 months and my body producing a short time after that.  alot of respect to all the nursing moms no matter the age of the child. 
Mothering › Toddler Articles › A Letter To My Nursing Toddler