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How to calm a toddler who strongly prefers calming through nursing?!

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hi mamas, 


My 2y4m DD loves to nurse. I mean, LOVES it. I accept it because I know she has always been high needs about nursing. When she was a newborn she nursed for what felt like 70% of the day! Now, she nurses in the morning, throughout the morning if we stay in the house, while we are walking in the front carry, before lunch, after lunch, before nap, after nap....you get the picture? Also, before bed and 1-2 times at night. I actually don´t mind about 75% of the time, but 25% of the time I do. 


I have been thinking of trying to set limits, but I am not sure how, for several reasons but especially because she has several times in the last few days had total and complete meltdowns when I have tried to tell her to wait (once we were out at a playgroup and once we were home and I wanted us to finish our lunches). 


I think nursing has been and is a great tool in helping to calm DD (and kids in general, really), and I would not expect her to calm herself to sleep yet for example, but DH and I have been discussing it and I feel conflicted because I dont want to deny her something that calms her, but I do think it would be great if she could expand her toolbox of self soothing maneuvers. She does have the ability to settle herself. I have seen her do it. But most of the time, she wants to nurse to help restore her balance. DH says this makes it very hard for him to watch her, because she will demand "nummies" and there is no way he can help her get them, and then she freaks out. 


So, I guess my question is, does anyone have any experience with a high needs 2yo nursling, and does anyone have tips on how to help a child calm themselves without nummies (when they are sitting right there in my shirt and we both know it?!) or on setting limits with a high needs nursling?


Thank you so much for reading. 


post #2 of 11

Hey......did I write this post!?  ;)  Mine isn't quite two yet....but so there on many levels! What I've started doing is some distraction combined with hugs and patting his back and gentle talking. Doesn't totally distract him or calm him, but it does seem to be helping. I wear a lot of hoodies and he climbs up onto my lap or wants up into my arms and just unzips my hoodie, so that can be challenging especially when out and about! 

post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 

Haha, thanks for the support Momsteader!


I think I am getting in the right frame of mind about this. I don´t want to push (too hard), but I also think I have finally wrapped my head around the fact that if I want less nursing, it´s gotta be me at the helm now. Phew, it is tough to admit!


I am keeping a list of the times she nurses, and trying to stretch the times in between nursing sessions and distract her. We have had (only?!) one tantrum about it so far today. I feel pretty good about (although the day is not over yet!). So far she has "only" nursed 4 times since waking. I think that is progress! Haha :)

post #4 of 11
Staying busy in general helps. Getting away from your regular nursing spots (use back carry, stroller, or let her walk)
Try having her leave you to go to fun activities with others (library, park, food etc)

Basically, try to break the habit of nursing when bored and find other ways to soothe. Much easier when the boobs are not around.
post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 



Yeah, she won´t sit in a back carry. 


But otherwise, I cannot BELIEVE how easy this is going so far! (knock on wood!)


The first day we had some tantrums but now it is the third day and she has only nursed once! I am shocked. I have put in a lot of effort to get out of the house, have snacks ready, and I went out last night, which helped, and we went out to a special event today, but wow. I almost feel like an idiot for not doing this earlier, but I know that is not being nice to myself because we were traveling for almost 6 months and it was not the time then. Anyway, if anyone else is in my boat, please know: it might not be as scary as it seems, if your LO is ready for less! 


Now DH is going out of town for a few days, so that might be challenging, but I am ready for it. 


Thanks :)

post #6 of 11
Absolutely being out of the house helps! I also get her to walk as much as possible. Now of course I'm totally on the other side of the fence:DD weaned shortly after her second birthday because of my pregnancy. She was a real trooper though, nursing 2-4 times a day with no milk for months so I'm really hoping she'll pick it up after baby is born. Anyways just wanted to chime in and congratulate you on your progress!
post #7 of 11

My DD is only 15 months, but a fiend too.  I found a great deal of relief in night weaning, following the Jay Gordon method.  Maybe that would be helpful for you too?  During the day, I also try to get her out and exploring as much as possible, when we are in the house for too many consecutive hours she will start her "milk pumping hand" (signing milk) every half hour it seems. I had a similar experience to yours in that DD gave up the night nursing MUCH easier than I thought, I mean the first night was little rough but really not that bad at all. I do need to work on the day too, only because she is suuuuuper slow to take to solids and would go all day with just nursing happily.  I want to get pregnant soon so this needs to change! 

post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hi, there :)


element 2012, I dont think night weaning is for us right now - the nursing at night does not bother me (usually) and if I had to choose either day or night to focus on, I would definitely choose daytime BUT, and update:


Here we are a little over a week later and it is HARD going. I have been keeping a journal of how often she nursed and sort of why we end up nursing. It is so hard to come up with enough distractions day after day. PLUS then she nurses WAY MORE at night, like 6x. I think she has a daily number of feeds she sort of needs to get in. I am happy to do a couple more at night, but not this many. So I have been allowing more in the daytime. We are back up to about 8 feeds during the daytime, including after she wakes up and nursing to sleep. I cannot believe she is at 8x a day even with much distraction, more solids, and a concerted effort on my part. Yesterday she got so mad at me when I tried to postpone/decline to nurse that she bit me :*(


I guess this is where I lead with the heart and not the head. I don´t need to wean her completely now, I want to protect our close relationship and she has learned that she can wait sometimes (we have only nursed in public once since we started this, and that was when she got hurt at a birthday party this weekend), so to me that means it is not the time to take more measures now. Slowly, slowly, she will grow out of this need, and I will periodically nudge her to see if she can move forward a bit! ;)


I am a bit nervous because we want to get pregnant again (I just had a miscarriage at 7 weeks :( ), but if I need to reduce nursing more then because of pain, I will have the courage to do so!


Thanks for all your comments! Good luck to others in the same boat :)

post #9 of 11

Newgirl, when did fertility return for you with your vigorous nurser? DD has been night weaned for about 6 weeks now and I see no indication that AF is planning a return.  I'm going to have to get the number of day time nursings waaaay down.  I would guess we're at about 8-12 now...?  How do people count that by the way? If your LO nurses for 5 minutes runs off and is back 15 minutes later to nurse more, is that one or 2?

post #10 of 11
So sorry to read of your loss Newgirlintown :-(

You sound absolutely wonderful!

Take care, SM
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 

Whoa sorry I forgot to check in!


element2012, I got my period again when DD was 20 months. I definitely didnt do anything to lower nursing sessions, but I think I got a few weeks of nights with 5-6 hours in a row without nursing, so maybe that helped, or maybe it was genetics or I dont know what. Personally, when I am trying to count to make myself feel better, I would count those two sessions as one that you mentioned, but in reality (and from a fertility/hormonal standpoint), probably every time you have a letdown is a separate session!


And, thanks, SM - I am blushing!


Latest update is that DD has had a bad cold and we are visiting my in-laws so she needs to bf a lot again. It is too hard to distract her. I stopped counting but I think we are up to about 10 times per day, maaaaaaybe 8. It´s tough! I don´t mind, especially when she is sick, but it´s hard after all the work I put in to have such a set back. Slowly but surely, I guess :)

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