emotional eating/comfort breastfeeding a toddler - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 11 Old 03-19-2004, 09:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I do believe in extended breastfeeding. But I worry that what I would be doing with comfort nursings would be the equivalent of giving my todler a cookie when she falls down (a very healthy cookie, of course).

I certainly don't want to teach my kids that food is comfort for emotional and physical stress.

Would it be better to, once nursing is about comfort and not nutrition (maybe at 2yrs) to comfort in other ways (hugs etc) and have scheduled nursing time? I will still have milk because I plan on having another baby in hand when first is two and tandem nurse (I am too old to have time on the biological clock for child spacing)
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#2 of 11 Old 03-19-2004, 09:55 PM
 
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When it gets to that age, it's not really about *eating* it really is more about the comfort. When my toddler wants to *eat* he wants food. When he's tired, cranky, or sad he wants to nurse. And I have noticed that after a lunch where he's eaten a LOT of food, he'll nurse MUCH less, which makes me think that his body does know when it has enough in the tummy. He's content then to have me hold him, rock him, sing, etc.

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#3 of 11 Old 03-19-2004, 10:36 PM
 
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I also see nursing to be the very best way of comforting my toddler. It's not the same as giving her a cookie. Think of it as meditation, because that is how it affects her. Nursing gives her a chance to calm down and unwind. I have absolutely no problem with nursing her when she hurts herself, or just gets too upset for any reason. For me, it's far preferable to nurse her than have her tear my heart out with a huge fit. Sometimes it just seems she wants to "connect" with Mommy for a few seconds, then she's ok and goes back to playing.
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#4 of 11 Old 03-19-2004, 11:42 PM
 
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i know what you're saying, and that's a very thoughtful question. i think thinking of it as meditation is a great way to look at comfort nursing. its a safe, happy, cozy space. it's quiet and comfort and home. nothing at all like a cookie

Erin, 33, salty southern mama, sitting by the sea with my DH35, DD10, DS4, &DD2!
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#5 of 11 Old 03-19-2004, 11:47 PM
 
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So far both of mine eat for hunger only, not for comfort.

By the time they're older it looks to me like they make a distinction between the nursing and eating or drinking other foods. When DD's hungry, she wants something from the pantry or the 'fridge. When she's tired she wants to nurse.

"What will you do once you know?"
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#6 of 11 Old 03-20-2004, 12:14 AM
 
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Had never thought it about it quite like this myself and honestly, I just can't make that connection.

Nursing is (IMO ) an ideal way to slow down, connect and comfort DS (3+ years). Anymore, DS doesn't ask to nurse when he gets hurt and earlier on, he'd only ask to nurse if he got very badly hurt (eye into the corner of the table at a good clip sort of injury) and that tells me that he needed to stop, focus and be comforted. I've never used treats (i.e., cookies et al) to soothe him during rough times and I don't see anything in DS that would suggest he sees nursing in this way. Usually if DS is asking to nurse other than morning and bedtime, it's because he's tired (needs to slow down), overstimmed (needs help to refocus), or he's coming down with something (needs comfort).


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#7 of 11 Old 03-20-2004, 12:30 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I was only making the connection because when they nurse for comfort they are also eating, as in still swallowing nice tasting caloric liquid (that is, if your breasts still provide milk as I imagine mine will when I have a toddler and baby at once). While I know I am certainly offering much more than just a cookie, I still worry about the child making a connection betweeen comfort and swallowing sweet sustanance. I eat when I need comfort; it feels calming. I don't want to encourage such emotional patterns in my children. But I have not nursed yet, and it sounds like all of you who have see nursing as something very different than eating, so maybe I am worrying for nothing?
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#8 of 11 Old 03-20-2004, 01:17 AM
 
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I still worry about the child making a connection betweeen comfort and swallowing sweet sustanance
naw, i wouldnt worry. yes, when you have a nursling of your own, you'll see

Erin, 33, salty southern mama, sitting by the sea with my DH35, DD10, DS4, &DD2!
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#9 of 11 Old 03-20-2004, 01:13 PM
 
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I really think that with a toddler/older child who is nursing, it is mostly about comfort/being close to Mom/the physical act of sucking.

That's why lots of toddlers/children suck their thumbs - sucking is comforting for babies/young children.

So how much more comforting is it to be able to suck when you are also cuddled up close to Mom?

I see where the question is coming from, but I don't think it's anything you need to worry about. Little kids know what they need - usually a lot better than the adults around them, no matter how much we try!
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#10 of 11 Old 03-20-2004, 01:37 PM
 
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I think that this post/question is a valid one. My DD is 26 months and in the past two months her nursings are almost all of the "I'm tired and cranky and need something help me get through this" variety.

I don't believe that NURSING is the equivalent of offering food for comfort - but I have noticed (as have others who know her) that my daughter will accept food as a comfort when she is in a situation where she cannot nurse (for example, I had to go to the ER and we had to leave her for 5 hours with my brother and his wife)...she was mindlessly chowing down on everything in their house - very unlike her.

So, I think that the problem arises when you cannot nurse - or are unwilling to nurse (a parent-led weaning) - then certain children might look to food when they are not necessariy hungry.

I found that when we were going through a period where I was not nursing her "on demand" as much - she had trouble telling me WHY she wanted to nurse. Now that she is older and I usually let her nurse whenever (with some distractions, etc.), she is better about eating when she hungry, drinking water when she is thirsty, and having her "nummies" when, as she says,

"I need my nummies!"
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#11 of 11 Old 03-20-2004, 03:43 PM
 
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At the times when my 18-month old nurses for comfort, she doesn't actually take much milk anyway. Babies learn pretty quickly how to suck to get milk and how to suck so they don't get milk, and they use the appropriate method for each situation. So nursing for comfort isn't so much about "eating" as is it about the closeness to mama.

I understand your concern, but I don't think it's anything to worry about.
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