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Help, need support Nursing Older Children 4 and up

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
Hi,
It's been a while since I've checked in. But, lately, I'm finding I'm needing some support. My ds who will be 6 in March is nursing to sleep and sometimes in the morning. The problem of course is with family. It becomes more of an issue when we travel to my parents. They live in an RV fulltime. It's small and there is NO privacy. I've asked ds to not ask to nurse in front of them because they are uncomfortable with it. He is usually fine. Except when we were there last week, he asked to nurse to sleep. Then he fell all over himself trying to cover up, which looked even worse.
"I'm sorry mommy, I forgot not to ask in front of Grammy. Grammy go to bed please." I felt so bad for him. Then my mom gave me one of those looks. The last time she was at my house, he asked in front of her and she said the standard "don't tell me he is still nursing." Then as my dh drove her to the airport she started crying to him how it was wrong and how he couldn't support this and how something must be wrong with me. He totally support me and told her that it was really not her business and that ds will stop when he is ready and that I'm really ready for him to but he isn't (true).

I guess I'm starting to feel uncomfortable and a little worried. He asked in front of a whole group if one little girl still had nannies. I said something about when she was a baby. I've talked to him about how most kids his age don't and that it is fine that he does and can chose when he wants to stop. but, sometimes I get worried even about losing him if someone causes trouble.

It's just that he seems so old to me to be nursing. I'm a LLL leader, so I have all of the info, but no one else I know is nursing an older child. I'm also afraid he will never stop. I know that is not true. But, I can't shake these uncomfortable feelings and worries now. He's an only child and will be, so I'm sure that has something to do with him nursing so long. I know there is nothing wrong with it, but I sometimes worry.
post #2 of 29
It sounds like HE is also feeling the pressure to be uncomfortable with it. Maybe you could start kindly weaning him? Find another comfort to help him sleep?
post #3 of 29
Hugs! I only nursed my dd till 3.5 and made her wean after ds was born. I totally support you though. Perhaps he would be interested in expressed milk and cuddle time during visits with the grandparents? I would probably nurse regardless,but even now with ds who is 2.5 I sometimes go into another room when dd has her friends over.Not that it is an issue for me personally,but they might tell their parents they saw my breasts and then their goes dd's friends

Anyway I just wanted to know I support you,and maybe one day I will BT too with my ds. Hopefully you can find some other mamma's that have already BTDT,because I am sure there are some.
post #4 of 29
i don't have any brilliant advice, but i just wanted to add some additional support and hugs your way.........along with some encouragement. after hearing negatives about what we are doing for so long sometimes we just need to be reminded of the positives. my daughter is 16 months old and shows no signs of slowing, and we are both happy with it. but family and friends do think we're weird.........some even think we are perverted. although this makes me furious i have to simply realize that if it were THEIR child they would feel how natural and loving it really was.



i hope you find some peace in the situation simply knowing that you and your child are doing what is right for YOU.

hugs, mamma!

post #5 of 29
Hey momma, you are doing nothing wrong! Check out the writings of Katherine Dettwyler (sp?), the anthropologist that determined the natural age of weaning in humans to be between the ages of 2.5 and 7 years! My ds just turned 5 and still nurses at bedtime (most nights). We all know that breastfeeding is normal and natural. Unfortunately some people do not. Use your own judgement when it comes to nursing in front of people that may be hostile (even if its your own family). You don't want your child to think there is something wrong with breastfeeding, because there isn't!
post #6 of 29
My dd will be 4 in less than a month, and shows no signs of weaning, which pleases me, since I know it takes 7 years for the immune system to fully develop, and she depends on the immunities in my milk in the mean time. It is great that you are doing what is best for your child. Breastmilk is SO healthy, and the longer a child breastfeeds, the healthier that child will be, IMO. I also think it is very important for the child to be the one to lead the weaning process. It is so great that you have a supportive partner, who stands up for you! Another source of support might be the CLW Yahoo group, but I don't know if it is still active: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/clw_older_nurslings/
post #7 of 29
When I was nursing my dd we got the usual comments also. After the age of 4, I too, basically told her not to tell to many people about it. I told her there was nothing wrong with nursing but a lot of people don't know anything about nursing children your age.

I did this because I didn't want her to feel bad about nursing. The comments sometimes are horrible.

Do what you and your son feel is right. Nobody else has to know and assure him that his mother and him are perfectly normal
post #8 of 29
Just another voice of support. One of my nurslings is almost four and I will let her nurse until she's ready to wean. I'm sorry your family is being so difficult and unsupportive about this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vegiemom
It sounds like HE is also feeling the pressure to be uncomfortable with it. Maybe you could start kindly weaning him? Find another comfort to help him sleep?
I respectfully disagree. So, because the child is now aware that society is not comfortable w/EB he should have to wean?? By that same rule none of us should bf, and certainly not NIP as society's not comfortable with that either.

Also, to the OP, please do join the older nurslings yahoo group that Sustainer provided the link for. It is still active. We also have a CLW thread in this forum you may want to check out.
post #9 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaAllNatural
So, because the child is now aware that society is not comfortable w/EB he should have to wean?? By that same rule none of us should bf, and certainly not NIP as society's not comfortable with that either.
Ditto! I'm with MamaAllNatural on this. I wanted to say it before, but I couldn't find the words. Thank you, Mama!
post #10 of 29
Hi imakebelieve. I am sorry I missed this thread before

I have to laugh to myself when I see "older nurslings threads" and they refer to 4 year olds :LOL My son is nursing, and happily has not had any negative feedback. I firmly believe that if a child, whether they be 2, 4, 6, 8 or 10 asks to nurse, they are expressing a need to nurse. It may not be the same need they had as an infant or a toddler, but they need to feel close and warm and, for them, nursing is top of the list to meet those needs.

My dd (turneed 9 this fall) is still asking to nurse off and on...it is usually brief and often just a nuzzle, but she is not ready to be "weaned" (so she says)

We certainly don't talk about it outside the family, and I even hesitate to discuss it here because of the potential for misunderstanding and reprisal. She is a healthy, very sensitive, loving and independent little girl. There are times I feel uncomfortable or wonder if we are doing the right thing, but so many moms have come out and been supportive here, and when I look into her eyes and my heart, I know it is completely natural. Is she on the later end of the weaning curve, sure, but that's ok. Now, we try to be sensitive to her and the last thing I want is a negative ending to this beautiful relationship.
post #11 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by vegiemom
It sounds like HE is also feeling the pressure to be uncomfortable with it. Maybe you could start kindly weaning him? Find another comfort to help him sleep?
He is actually one of those kids that doesn't care what others think. He would do it anyway. He is very confident. I wouldn't wean him because of what others thought. Nursing is very important to him.

To the others, thanks for the support. It just gets really hard after one of my visits with my parents. I start dreading bedtime. I really try not to spend time with them, for this and other reasons, but I can't completely avoid it.

I'm always glad to hear of others nursing older kids. My one friend whose daughter is older is out of town, so I can't talk to her. Most of the other LLL leaders kids weaned by now, so I feel kind of alone. Though they are also supportive. Thanks everyone, I feel more normal now.
post #12 of 29
My 8 year old also likes to nuzzle at the breast and talk about her breastfeeding days LOL. She doesn't nurse but still takes comfort at the breast. It is quite endearing.

She seems so grown up and independent by day, but at bedtime she's still a mammas girl
post #13 of 29
We are nursing at almost 3 1/2 yrs and will continue for awhile. You have my support and sympathy at the comments that others make. I have had none to my face but goodness knows what has been said about us nursing when we are not around It is what is best for both of you so if you are both happy then forget the others!
post #14 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Firemom
My 8 year old also likes to nuzzle at the breast and talk about her breastfeeding days LOL. She doesn't nurse but still takes comfort at the breast. It is quite endearing.

She seems so grown up and independent by day, but at bedtime she's still a mammas girl

Thanks Firemom

It is a funny thing, how independent and active they are by day...and yet still sweet babies by night (or early morning) :LOL
post #15 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Firemom
My 8 year old also likes to nuzzle at the breast and talk about her breastfeeding days LOL. She doesn't nurse but still takes comfort at the breast. It is quite endearing.
My 8yo does this too!!

I'm not comfortable with having her resume nursing (she weaned to a bottle at 14mo thanks to me following bad advice from a "friend") but I can totally see how "medium sized kids" still need to be "little" sometimes. She likes to snuggle up to me and say "nuse" and pretend to nurse (snuggling next to my breast, over my bra, sometimes making little sucking noises.) I did offer her the breast again when Jack was born (she was 5 at the time) but she wasn't really interested in doing more than snuggling and pretending to nurse.

It's incredible how different kids can be- Leah is very secure and independent and likes her snuggle time but doesn't like to pretend to nurse (unless she's playing Mommy and "nursing" a doll or her brother.) Then again, she was a "velcro baby." Hannah was a much "easier" baby (meaning she didn't get the same level of attachment, with me being overwhelmed with 2 babies and a failing marriage.) Hannah is still very clingy and "immature" in lots of ways.
post #16 of 29
I know you asked for support only from those nursing children 4 and older, and my DS is only 3 but I just wanted to say:

for giving your son the awesome gift you are.



My DD will be 6 next month, and while I consider her to have weaned at 50 months, she tried to nurse (put her mouth on my nipple "tried"--- I let her, she just wasn't happy with the outcome) on occasion until this last summer (so 5.5). It was clearly something she needed. I just want to second almost everyone elses comments--- 5 (even almost six) is still well within the boundries of "normal" and really, what could be healthier? In a society where everyone purports to be disturbed by kids "growing up too early" it is just another sign of hypocricy (of which there are many) the way people insist that children who very much still need to nurse "need" to "grow up." : Six year olds immitating teen sexual gyrations is seen as "cute" and "age appropriate" while cuddling with mom, playing dress up and nursing are seen as detrimental.

I am sorry you are getting flack for what is truly best for your child. Please, though, be proud for the fact that, while bothered by comments, you PERSIST in giving your son what he needs. If I could feel I did the same, I would be a proud parent indeed.
post #17 of 29
I just wanted to respond with my immediate thoughts before I read through all the responses.

My first thought is to make sure that your ds knows that there is NOTHING wrong with him breastfeeding at this age. It is so important that he know this. It is completely NORMAL, and this wouldn't even be an issue if many more mothers would just trust their children, trust themselves, and let them wean when they are truly ready. I'm sure you know this, but I sense a huge conflict within yourself. By acting this way around your Mom you are telling her that she has reason to worry (which she doesn't), which just magnifies her concerns and creates a snowball-effect of a problem. If you are not comfortable nursing ds in front of your mom because of HER problem with it, however incredibly ignorant and disrespectful on her part (sorry I can't help but feel so and for her misjudging you--her own child--like this, to the point that it negatively affects her own grandchild : ), then I would find another way to still fulfill ds's breastfeeding needs without making him feel like he has to hide it. Could you talk to your Mom about it? I believe it is none of her business but she has already been brought into it and it seems she needs understanding that you are not wrong. But most of all, talk to your ds about it, and let him talk about it too (especially with what happened in front of grandma). I can't help but feel like ds needs some damage control from all of this. If you believe there is something wrong, and he believes it too, then you are setting the stage for him to be scarred by something that should be leaving a lasting positive impression full of comfort and love, not fear and shame.

I know how hard it is to continue doing what feels so instinctually right when other mothers around you have not followed the same path. But you have to remember why you are nursing him.

Do what feels right to you and your son, and no one else. You are very lucky to have a supportive husband. I would build on that strength and let it help you carry out your parenting ideals without the intrusion of other people's ignorance. If we live our lives in fear of adversity then we are giving in to the very ignorance that we are adamantly against.

post #18 of 29
Just wanted to add....

FWIW, my Mom didn't breastfeed and was completely ignorant about breastfeeding in general. So as dd got older and older and was still breastfeeding, my Mom was completely baffled. I approached her with a "this is how it is, this is how it will be, and this is what is right for us" kind of attitude and she gave me respect for it. She had her moments when I needed to remind her with an article or a talk about my philosophy (or facts, whatever), but she has always come out of it with more knowledge and more respect for who I am as a parent. She tells me that she wishes she knew all of this when she was a parent.

My point is that maybe we should never assume that other people will not understand or respect us because they don't/didn't parent like us. If approached without hesitation and shame, with complete certainty and confidence, without any room for criticism or argument of our parenting choices, then maybe we can gain the respect we deserve for our efforts (and hopefully one or two people will learn from us...). I still don't think my Mom understands me :LOL, but she respects me because she knows that I believe in what I am doing. Nothing will stand in my way when it comes to doing what is right for my daughter.
post #19 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Firemom
I told her there was nothing wrong with nursing but a lot of people don't know anything about nursing children your age.

I did this because I didn't want her to feel bad about nursing.

I approached it this way too, after dd (then 4) told a neighbor friend (then 7) that she nursed. I told her that there were still children who got to nurse but that many children (including neighbor) weren't so lucky and had to wean way before they were ready (if breastfed at all). I felt this helped her see how others might misunderstand breastfeeding as just for babies, but it also gave her a sense of how lucky and proud she was to be able to continue as long as she needed.
post #20 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaAllNatural
I respectfully disagree. So, because the child is now aware that society is not comfortable w/EB he should have to wean?? By that same rule none of us should bf, and certainly not NIP as society's not comfortable with that either.
Ditto.

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