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Toddler Nursing DISASTER.

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
I've posted about this before so it's something of an update. DD is 15 M.O. and is ADDICTED to breast-feeding. I mean, if I say "no" to breastfeeding, she has EPIC tantrums that are beyond hysterical. She is an avid, passionate, totally devoted sort of breast-feeder. The problem is that she wants to nurse off-and-on ALL day long, every day and a few times at night on top of that. She will literally pull at my shirt and bra all day long, and fondle my breasts and twiddle my nipples through my clothes NON-STOP. Is that at all normal? It's very annoying and kindof embarrassing (and I'm not the easily embarrassed sort). I try to stop her, but sometimes I have her in one arm and some groceries in the other and she has her hand plunged down my shirt caressing my breast very obviously. Anyway, on a good day it's kindof funny, on a bad day it's really obnoxious.

Long story short: I've tried really hard to set boundaries with her -- setting times and routines for the nursing, holding my ground when I say "no" when the time is not right, not letting her rummage around in my bra constantly, etc....

She does not respond well to any of the boundaries. She is a miserable wretch when I'm around unless I'm topless and "available." She is perfectly fine for other people when I am gone. I come in the door and she falls apart. She is just SO INTENSE about it. Honestly, I think that she has probably scared several people who might have been open to the idea of nursing a toddler. She's just a "cautionary tale" of what could happen.

I always planned on nursing her until she was 2 or 3. I thought if it wasn't working to nurse "on demand" we'd just cut back to bed-time and nap-time or something. She can't handle that. She doesn't understand that schedule. I can't handle what's happening now. I think I need to wean her to preserve my sanity and our relationship, but I am sad about it and hope I don't regret it.

Some background: I work full-time, I'm sleep-deprived, and I struggle very hard with depression. I'm an introvert and I feel like I need my "body back." But I'm still feeling guilty. I guess I'm just posting for moral support but also to vent. I'm also wondering if I'm missing a possible "solution" that would help us to breastfeed longer without a nervous breakdown on my part. Also, I'm confused about why breastfeeding seems to make her generally unhappy (she's pleasant right after wards, but becomes very clingy,whiney, and cries a lot the rest of the time).
post #2 of 26
My first thought is when you say no, do you offer something else, like a sippy cup or a snack? Sometimes, I know with my own DD, that she's just thirsty or hungry, and bewb is the closest thing to her.
{hugs} though, as I know how hard it is to say no and follow through when they are just so upset about it.
post #3 of 26
At 15mo, I found my DS was still very much a baby. Sure, he was more active, but he still *needed* to nurse, sometimes quite frequently. With time, it lessens, but at 15mo, it was still his primary source of nourishment, not to mention comfort and security.

It sounds like she's desperate to establish her attachment to you when you come home from work. It's hard, but it does pass eventually.
post #4 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Baby_Cakes View Post
My first thought is when you say no, do you offer something else, like a sippy cup or a snack? Sometimes, I know with my own DD, that she's just thirsty or hungry, and bewb is the closest thing to her.
{hugs} though, as I know how hard it is to say no and follow through when they are just so upset about it.


Yes, I definitely do offer food and drinks to her when she wants to nurse. She hits them angrily away or sometimes she grabs them so she can slam them onto the ground. She's not subtle.
post #5 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jocelyndale View Post
At 15mo, I found my DS was still very much a baby. Sure, he was more active, but he still *needed* to nurse, sometimes quite frequently. With time, it lessens, but at 15mo, it was still his primary source of nourishment, not to mention comfort and security.

It sounds like she's desperate to establish her attachment to you when you come home from work. It's hard, but it does pass eventually.

While I certainly pictured myself breastfeeding her 4-5 times/day at this age, I NEVER pictured being available for DOZENS of drive-by latch-ons and how MISERABLE she gets when she's around me and not nursing constantly. She seems like a very unhappy baby around me. She's fine for other people. Is that a normal thing that "does pass eventually?" I'm not trying to be rude at all, I just think if this is a normal part of nursing a toddler, that advocates should be more open with people about it. Because I dread coming home sometimes over it.
post #6 of 26
She sounds like an intense child...is she like this with everything, or just nursing?

The good news is, children with this kind of intensity are often gifted, intelligent, very aware...hence their intensity.

The bad news is, they're extremely difficult to parent!! Everything becomes a battle, her behavior may be regarded as "bratty" or "spoiled" by others (who are more accustomed to more placid, easily distractible children).

I suggest you read the book Raising Your Spirited Child. http://www.parentchildhelp.com/Spiri...9/Default.aspx It's a great book, it identifies the personality types of children who are "more" http://parenting.ivillage.com/gs/gsb...,,45pv,00.html

It really helped me with my oldest son. Eventually we were able to create an atmosphere at home that he was comfortable in. Then we were able to read his cues better in public so he would not have meltdowns. Later we discovered triggers including a gluten allergy. He wasn't obsessed with nursing like your daughter was, but it really doesn't matter what triggers the undesirable behavior, it only matters that you find a way to function.

[and before I get flamed, I'm not saying that nursing a 15 month is undesirable, I'm saying that the OP is having issues dealing with her dd's intensity, and THAT is undesirable. So I'm not suggesting that she wean ]

Language was a HUGE thing for us. My son was actually very verbal, which made it hard for him. He could reason at a high level, his cognitive understanding was greater than his emotional maturity, which led to many many meltdowns. And his meltdowns were extreme, destructive, self-injuring even. I would find myself saying over and over and over "no you may not have a banana right now..." while he was thrashing around on the floor, literally kicking and screaming.

In our case, nursing was a tool I used to help him "come out of" his tantrums, but obviously in your case the tantrums are surrounding the nursing. So that won't be your answer. You will have to find other tools to utilize to help her through periods when she demands to nurse and you are unable or unwilling. The book will help you.
post #7 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by LilacMama View Post
While I certainly pictured myself breastfeeding her 4-5 times/day at this age, I NEVER pictured being available for DOZENS of drive-by latch-ons and how MISERABLE she gets when she's around me and not nursing constantly. She seems like a very unhappy baby around me. She's fine for other people. Is that a normal thing that "does pass eventually?" I'm not trying to be rude at all, I just think if this is a normal part of nursing a toddler, that advocates should be more open with people about it. Because I dread coming home sometimes over it.
No, I wouldn't say that this is normal. I also work full time. My kids do need a re-connecting period when I first come home. If I try to get straight into cooking dinner, cleaning up, doing laundry, whatever, then I will deal with whining, crying, neediness. So I have learned to walk in the door, put my stuff down, and immediately sit down to nurse the two that are nursing, and spend time talking to/snuggling the one that is not nursing. They NEED that time. But it only lasts 10 minutes or so, then I can get up and get working on things that need to get done. They follow me like little puppies, "helping" me, talking to me, etc, but that's how we handle it.

On weekends or days off there are a few times when I need to sit down and focus entirely on them, but again it's only for a few minutes at a time. Otherwise we can go about our daily routine without major tantrums surrounding nursing or even surrounding mommy's attention.
post #8 of 26
The amount of nursing you are describing seems totally normal to me. At 15 months of age, DD was barely nibbling solids, so of course she was nursing for the majority of her nutritional needs.

I can see room for improvement in nursing manners, though. I am NOT cool with nipple twisting Is she insecure about whether she'll get to nurse, by any chance? How much solids is she eating, is she still nursing for majority of her needs? When she asks to nurse, what is your typical response? Or describe your typical response for specific times of day, like when you get home, or when you're cooking dinner, watching TV, cleaning up, at night, in the morning? I just mean, does she usually have to wait a few minutes until you finish XYZ, or do you drop everything right when she asks, or do you sigh with impatience or ...? And believe me, I'm just trying to get a sense, if she has to wait a few minutes that's no crime And since DD turned 4 I find myself sighing with impatience when I nurse her ONCE a day. So just more details might give us a better sense of what's going on.
post #9 of 26
I have no real advice for you, but I just wanted to say that your situation sounds really way more intense than usual. If my son had been that demanding about nursing, I don't know that we would still be nursing at 27 months.
I think that child-led weaning is a wonderful thing to do, but I think your happiness and mental health takes priority, and it sounds like something needs to change.
15 months is kind of a hard age because they're right on the brink of being verbal, but not quite there yet. When they're past that 18 month mark, it starts getting a lot easier to communicate and set limits.
I wonder, is there an LLL group in your area? Maybe you could get some practical advice there on how to set limits.
post #10 of 26
Thread Starter 
Wow. THANK YOU so much for the replies! I'm really letting this whole thing get to me, emotionally, and I truly appreciate the support and ideas. 2boyzmama, you hit the nail on the head -- she is VERY high needs and has been since about 2 weeks of age. Normal suggestions people have for babies don't really work for her a lot of the time. And don't even get me started on the sleep issues. I will look into your book suggestion.

I spend one-on-one time with her every day -- playing, cuddling, nursing... Honestly, the more I nurse her and play with her, the more "clingy" she gets. Sigh. I DO think that being pre-verbal is a big factor with her frustration and she does know some sign language. But she does have BIG FEELINGS about things and she expresses them by tantruming and hitting.

I typically have nursed her when she asks for it (she uses the "milk" sign) unless we are in the car or in the middle of something. But when I'm at work, her dad obviously can't nurse her. She has fun with him though -- when I get home she falls apart.

When I back off of nursing, she will eat a good amount of solid food. When I nurse on demand, she will eat almost nothing solid. Her preference is the breast, no question.

Part of my "issue" is embarrassment, to be honest. I'm not embarrassed to be nursing a toddler, I've always been fine NIP... It's the fact that I have a toddler who is screaming bloody murder and pulling up my shirt and demanding to nurse RIGHT THEN that embarrasses me. And if I play it cool and just nurse her, then 15 minutes later, she starts it up again. It just makes me feel like such a disorganized moron who has no control whatsoever over the situation.

To clarify, she does want to nurse, probably 20 times/day (in short bursts).... That's normal? I've tried tylenol and ibuprofen to see if that helps, but it doesn't.
post #11 of 26
Hmm, I can definitely see how that can be wearing. I kind of focused on the number of times for nursing (which I think matches my experience) and not so much the way she asks for it, not because you weren't clear about it but because that's sort of how I filtered it through my experience.

Does she scream and demand for everything she wants? Like, if she wanted a certain toy out of her reach or something, would it be the same?

It does seem like it's specifically a high-needs situation.

I can totally understand the embarrassment thing, I get cranky when my DD FLIPS OUT about something, particularly when FLIPPING OUT is the FIRST tactic she tries. That makes me very cranky. I'm not nearly so cranky when flipping out is the last thing she tries, after all reasonable attempts. I wish I could say I had some ideas about it but I don't.
post #12 of 26
Thread Starter 
Well, she can get pretty frantic and insistent about something like a toy, but it's nothing like the breastfeeding related tantrums. She doesn't start in with screaming and freaking out right away -- she does ask reasonably politely (for a 1 year old) first, but cannot accept "No" for an answer (sippy cup of water be damned!)
post #13 of 26
Try posting this in gentle discipline and maybe even over in special needs. Focus less on the breastfeeding and more on her behavior. She wants something, she wants it NOW, and she will tell the whole world that she wants it by completely losing control. You have to teach her that control. You have to teach her appropriate responses. She needs to learn to correct way to ask for something, she needs to learn when to be patient, she needs to learn that screaming bloody murder is never appropriate. Of course she wont' learn that overnight at 15 months old...this is a lesson that will stretch out the rest of her life. But start now. Equip yourself with how to handle those types of responses.

One thing I do with my oldest son (who is now 5, but I started this around age 2 when his behaviors were getting so extreme). I "narrate" the day to him, including telling what is coming next, and how I expect him to behave at each step. For example:

"Ian, we are leaving in 5 minutes. I'm going to give you a count down every minute. When I say it's time to go, here's what you need to do: come down from the play place, get your shoes on, put your jacket on, walk holding my hand out to the car. Mommy will help you buckle in. So...when it's time to go, what do you do? Come down, put on your shoes, put on your jacket. Can you say that? Come down, put on your shoes, put on your jacket. Good job Ian!!! 5 more minutes!" Then I say it all over again at 4 minutes, 3 minutes, etc. Then, even if he was kicking/screaming when time was up, I would talk him through it "mommy explained that this was what would happen. I said three things, remember? Come down, put on your shoes, put on your jacket. Do you remember? I'm now helping you" all this while he was kicking/screamining.

Sometimes I had to physically restrain him, I would literally wrap my arms/legs around him while saying (loud enough that he could hear, but calmly if at all possible) "I am holding you because you may not hit/kick/scratch. As soon as you're done I will let you up. Are you ready to stop now?"

As he got older I would say things like "This behavior is not acceptable, I am now going to turn my back until you are using polite words again." Then when he stopped screaming, I'd turn around and say "Yes Ian, did you have something to say to me?"

And now, at age 5, all it takes is a *look* from me, sometimes I quietly ask if we need to go to the nearest bathroom to have a "private talk". But most of the time he is able to stop himself before he gets so overwhelmed and out of control.

If her general personality is like this, then it's something you need to equip yourself with tools to deal with it now. From this short description you have given here, it's not a breastfeeding issue. It's her personality. You don't necessarily want to change her personality (because like I said before, it has great benefits later in life) but you do need to teach her how to control herself.
post #14 of 26
I completely disagree with the people who say this isnt normal. Its normal for your child and for mine My dd was the exact same way. She was wanting to nurse all day and all night at 2 yrs. If I told her no she would have crazy fits and pull my shirt off and hit me and herself. She couldnt handle it. The only thing that helped was to let her nurse as much as she wanted and after a few days she would back off. I think its a HUGE sign of insecurity on her part. Also I think she is very very young and nursing most of the day should be normal for her. I really know how you feel, I struggle with depression and anxiety and almost have a social phobia. So it gets hard, she is also a mama's girl. She wont go to anyone, not her dad or grandma. Only me. It took a year of on and off to try and night wean her and it still didnt help. She was till waking up crying to nurse. I did end up weaning her at 3 because the relationship was making me miserable. I couldnt stand the abuse I was taking. The only reason I kept nursing for so long is becuase it was so important to her. I would have nursed her until she was five if she was a bit more polite about it. But when Im in the middle of supper and she wants to nurse I couldnt stand the screaming and hitting. She would never ever take something else to replace the booms. Not food or drinks, nothing. So it was me or a terrible fit.

So I dont have any real advice, just that I know how you feel and it will get better. Like a pp said, she will be an intelligent and free spirited child which is amazing! But this is the down side, she will be very intense. Its her personality, you cant change that. Just remember she is young and she needs to nurse for many reasons. I hope you can find a way to continue the relationship for as long you both feel its appropriate.
post #15 of 26
How long have you persisted with the limits? I know when I was getting DD down to a more manageable schedule she had some tantrums. I think it took about a week.

Maybe target the issues one by one? Like twiddling/groping. I have never, ever allowed that. I honestly treat it like I do her touching a hot stove. I hope this doesn't sound too cold but I don't care what kind of tantrum happens. It's simply not an option. I'd sooner wean than endure twiddling.
I hope you can figure out some solution!
post #16 of 26
I'm chiming in here. My 22 month old is the exact same way. He eats a lot of solid food for everybody else who watches him, but when I am home with him during the day (I work evenings and weekends), he wants to be on my breast constantly. Literally, if I sit down, he asks to nurse (by making the milk sign - he's not verbal yet). Every. Time. It's not even necessarily a drive-by, either, he'll sit and actively suck for 15 minutes, then get down and play for 15 minutes, and then come to me asking for milk again.

It is completely insane.

We did night-wean him at 18 months, he nursed constantly throughout the night (we co-sleep) and I couldn't handle not getting decent sleep any more. Occasionally in extenuating circumstances I do nurse him at 430 or so in the morning - and again, he will stay latched on and actively sucking until I finally get up at 700.

I have no advice, I'm just hitching a ride on the advice you're getting from others. Good luck, and I hope your DD isn't still doing it in 7 months when she's as old as my DS.
post #17 of 26
I guess my sense is that it's normal and ok, if it's normal and ok with you. Clearly it's not.

Those high emotions and her intensity suggest that she may well be gifted but it doesn't help you deal with her tugging and pulling at you all the time. I wonder if seeing a classical homeopath might be something you'd consider?

My DS is currently seeing one for his pitiful sleep and we're having AMAZING results. The homeopath happened to notice some of his intense/aggressive/tantrum-y behaviours as well and is helping to deal with those through homeopathic medicine - again, the results have been impressive.
post #18 of 26
My 15 month old is also an avid nurser who loves to shove her hands down my shirt and 'check' that her num-nums are still there.
I brought up her constant tugging, yanking, twiddling, drive-by nursing, and yelling for it ("Num! Num!") at the last LLL meeting and was assured that indeed it is normal for a 15 month old to want to nurse tonnes still, but that manners could be improved.
On days that I work, I walk in the door and DD wants to nurse right away, so we do ... I don't even have a chance to go to the bathroom or take off my uniform! I have very long days as a paramedic, sometimes upwards of 14 hours, and DD is absolutely fine with my DP, or with her grandma or auntie. But the minute I walk in, she'd demanding her num-nums. LLL warned me this would happen, so clearly it's quite common.
We're working on the manners ... DD certainly thinks of my breasts as her property. And I understand that.
post #19 of 26
I know she's still young, but my pediatrician nursed her daughter until she was 4 years old and when she was an older toddler her daughter was trying to pull her shirt up in public when it was a good time to nurse so they named a chair in their house 'the nursing chair' and that was their special place to nurse (unless there was a reason to nurse out of the house - vacations, out for the day, etc). So, while your dd is still young for this, maybe its something to keep in mind for when she is older if she's still nursing??

If it is an attachment thing, does she have a special blanket? Would she bond to one if she held it when you nursed her so that eventually she could go to that blanket if she needed some comfort other than playing with your nipple?
post #20 of 26
I completely agree with this post!!! I have 2 kids that need this sort of talking through. and one thign I've learned is that there bad behaviours, meltdowns and s forth are NOT a reflection of my bad parenting. Kid who are more intense are generally very smart and affectionate but they have a difficult time with changes and they become very reliant on certain things even when those things are no longer acceptable. not that XBFing isn't exceptable!!! not throwin temper tantrums when you can't is. it happens though!

I think you need ot not view her tantrums or foul mood as evidence of ywhat you're doing not working. HELP her through the flou mood, but giving in when you mean business will likely make her very insecure. kids who are extremely intense individuals need a lot of help establishing boundaries, they also NEED to be allowed to cry when they get overwhelmed. confort them, but don't try to stop their tears by giving in. otherwise you make it harder and more confusing on them.

if you know your child is going to cry whenever you say "not right now" be ready for it. pick her up and love on her, or give her space and walk away (whatever she likes better). Ler her cry if needs to - don't try to hush her. it's like telling her that you don't have time for her feelings ot be understood. you can be understanding and loving and helpful without giving in. stand your ground. she WILL come around. it will just take time. longer than you want probably haha. and don't think tantrums mean she isn't working through it - a lot of times tantruming is a way of a child to wrk through something. just like when we call upa friend to "vent". kids just needs to learn how to vent in healthy ways.... it comes with age. for now tantrums do the job




Quote:
Originally Posted by 2boyzmama View Post
Try posting this in gentle discipline and maybe even over in special needs. Focus less on the breastfeeding and more on her behavior. She wants something, she wants it NOW, and she will tell the whole world that she wants it by completely losing control. You have to teach her that control. You have to teach her appropriate responses. She needs to learn to correct way to ask for something, she needs to learn when to be patient, she needs to learn that screaming bloody murder is never appropriate. Of course she wont' learn that overnight at 15 months old...this is a lesson that will stretch out the rest of her life. But start now. Equip yourself with how to handle those types of responses.

One thing I do with my oldest son (who is now 5, but I started this around age 2 when his behaviors were getting so extreme). I "narrate" the day to him, including telling what is coming next, and how I expect him to behave at each step. For example:

"Ian, we are leaving in 5 minutes. I'm going to give you a count down every minute. When I say it's time to go, here's what you need to do: come down from the play place, get your shoes on, put your jacket on, walk holding my hand out to the car. Mommy will help you buckle in. So...when it's time to go, what do you do? Come down, put on your shoes, put on your jacket. Can you say that? Come down, put on your shoes, put on your jacket. Good job Ian!!! 5 more minutes!" Then I say it all over again at 4 minutes, 3 minutes, etc. Then, even if he was kicking/screaming when time was up, I would talk him through it "mommy explained that this was what would happen. I said three things, remember? Come down, put on your shoes, put on your jacket. Do you remember? I'm now helping you" all this while he was kicking/screamining.

Sometimes I had to physically restrain him, I would literally wrap my arms/legs around him while saying (loud enough that he could hear, but calmly if at all possible) "I am holding you because you may not hit/kick/scratch. As soon as you're done I will let you up. Are you ready to stop now?"

As he got older I would say things like "This behavior is not acceptable, I am now going to turn my back until you are using polite words again." Then when he stopped screaming, I'd turn around and say "Yes Ian, did you have something to say to me?"

And now, at age 5, all it takes is a *look* from me, sometimes I quietly ask if we need to go to the nearest bathroom to have a "private talk". But most of the time he is able to stop himself before he gets so overwhelmed and out of control.

If her general personality is like this, then it's something you need to equip yourself with tools to deal with it now. From this short description you have given here, it's not a breastfeeding issue. It's her personality. You don't necessarily want to change her personality (because like I said before, it has great benefits later in life) but you do need to teach her how to control herself.
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