4 year old nurses constantly and I am losing it! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 09-17-2012, 11:54 AM - Thread Starter
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My DD turned 4 in August. I committed a long time ago to child-led weaning. I work full time and she's been away from me for the bulk of her day since she was 18 months old. We co-sleep. She primarily nurses when we get home from work/pre-k and at bedtime.


However, on the days we are off if I even so much as think of sitting down she asks for "nummy" and shows zero motivation to let nursing go. Lately, my breasts are hurting and I cringe at the thought of her nursing. I try to talk to her about reducing the amount of time she nurses, husband tries to do things she likes to distract her etc but nothing works. 


I just had to sneak into the bathroom to pee because had she known I was sitting down she would have come in to nurse.


I hate to force her to wean. Nursing is a comfort for her and a good way for us to reconnect. However, it's to the point that if I even tell her we need to wait a few minutes she is sobbing hysterically.


I feel like nursing is even affecting her - she seems mad sometimes when she wants her nummy. 


Any advice? We are losing it around here!

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#2 of 6 Old 09-19-2012, 09:06 AM
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I have nursed my LO for 6.5 years so I pretty much have been through it all ;)..

I don't know all details to be able to make full and accuarte assessment of your situation

but here is what I did put together at looking at what you wrote and comparing to my experiences:


  • your child's birthday was just month and a half ago? right? my child has to this day the most intense growth spurt around her birthday and specifically for about two or so months after it it might start right on the day or few weeks later but sometimes around her birthday. It will never bee like haf year after her birthday, it is around the date. She ALWAYS would nurse more not because it is her birthday of course :) but because her body was asking for more because the body was conditionned to do so and was doing so for the last that many years so what you are experiencing it might be the natural continuation of making your body to make more milk as her brain is aksing for more supply knowing that body is growing.. so this is all biology in motion from my perspective, nothing personal.
  • Another contributor  possibly might be - again looking at the dates.. school started like just weeks ago and she might be compensating for the closness with you and the nursing that is the biggest source of comfort for her and she does not have you now for the whole day so when she can finally get to you she wants all of you... bathroom breaks or not anything goes!


How would I handle it?

I would look at those things individually and tried to address them individually


  1. The obvious need for more supply.. this is tricky -  it is in my opinion impossible to negotiate with a little one who did nurse for four years to ask to cut on the nursing, very unlikely she will ever comply. This is not the age of reasoning and a child is by default at this age - self centered and self-serving. I dont' think that there is need or reasont o be angry about that, it is just how they were designed for survival as a spece.. us humans.. get as much as you can whenever you want kind of deal :)
  2. Do not take it personally.. just try ot view it as a problem/solution kind of deal. So.. the facts: she has a need for more nursing.. Possible solution: feed her as much as you only possibly can before she starts nursing.. on a full tummy she won't be able nor want so much breast milk. If you are at home when she gets home from the preschool then she naturally just wants to. .. pardonne moi english.. for the lack of better expression and due to fun and accurracy of this one I just have to say it .. she just wants to as quickly as possibly to "jump your nammies" :) to get some "good stuff"  So.. I would feed, feed feed as mucha as possible, without her nursing first. I would promiss to nurse right after "you eat your lunch.. or snack or whatever" then we will nurse. I would also finish the meal or if she is not up to the whole meal.. I would finihs it with something sweet... and don't get me wrong here is my take on it..:
  3. With time I figured that my daughter would nurse not only because she was used to and she liked to and she wanted to.. but there was also somethigna bout "getting something sweet", I know that many parents are against sweet snacks but!.. take this, their brains grow like crazy! especially during the growth phase.. so? you ask? so .. she might simpl need something sweet as do your readings.. brain uses lots of sugars.. so she mgiht need sugar because she was stressed, had a long day, learned a lot.. sugar is what brain needs.. sugar is what your breast milk has! do and try to give her a small sweet stuff right after you get to see her next time, when you knwo she would try to go for nursing.. give her piece of candy, cookie, chocolate, whatever for teh sake of an experiment! and see if she will still be so fast to  nurse! i honestly would like to see it.. even if she will it  might throw t hings off for her..
  4. so we covered the need, the want and now the time for the habit! I do believe that there is some good deal of them being used to it, and some of it is based on finding you as a comfort tool. Your nummies are the IT for her. The comfort. Do you know something funny? It took me years to realize that my daughter was as much about the nursing as about the closness to my breast? So.. when I realized that I went on with the following trick:

        I went two layered on this: layer one - I promissed that she can cuddle with me with her head leaning on my breast whenever she wants as this will be our mama baby comfort time but we don't necessarely need to nurse. She realized that she could actually get mama without nursing as whatever you think, she just did not know. how could she know? we did not discuss it and it is not obvious to them jsut is not. they do not realize many things untill told. so I realized that she just did not know that she can have me without me actually having to nurse her. I realized that a child could not get my closness when I was doing something unless she asked to nurse.. so once I realized that Itold her in very clear plain worlds "sweetie, we are changing rules now, I know that sometimes you jsut want to cuddle with mama on the breast not exactly to nurse, so when you feel like it just as mama for cuddle do not ask to nurse because mama does not always has so much milk in the breast but mama will always love to cuddle you whenever you need it"

tha would include bathroom times too :) that was always open ticket to just come and cuddle..

still to me it was a winner over nursing her till I dropped.


I had times when I felt my breast were so painful and long that I coudl tie a ribbon with them.. ON THE BACK of my body hahaha.. so yes, I did try to put my mind into it..


another imprtant thing:


TRYING To get their emphaty  - this takes time and smarts and they not always can work on this as it gets just tough for them to grasp soemteimes but.. I would tell her that I have only little milk inside and she has to decide when she wants most to nurse, if it is bed time then we have to save that mamam milk for bed time, so now we can do only a minute or so but the rest has to be saved.

I exlained her that when baby is born mama has lots of milk then less and less so I told her we have to be careful how and when we are using it. I said that we can nurse now and then during the day but only a two or three or few sips and the rest stays for the bed time...

It sort of works! she realized she has to manage it. and she got pretty good with it.

my body could rest so much more.


I told her, lets eat, and have a snack and even drink some milk and then I will nurse you a minute for comfort if you wish but of course I can cuddle you plenty, read a book or just cuddle cuddle..


When you have worked out all the elements individually, then you try to put it all together do not do the opposite, do not throw at her all the tricks I showed you at once as you will have one frustrated child... you need some gradual adjustement and it will all be fine but don't do it all at once, and explain yoru husband what you inted so he will be supportive of you and her as guys sometimes want it all done at once.. this usually is a traumatic for a kid and you and it is a setback at best so here are all the things again:

  • do not get upset on her that she wants to nurse constantly, embrace it
  • explain her about milk and your body that there is simply less.
  • establish when she needs more nursing and tell her new rules, she can have one good nursing a day and only few short snacks a day and you will tell her when she has to get off teh breast or your milk will go away - yeah, do lie:)
  • do feed her snack or meal or best your husband if he can to feed her before she sees you, and before she wants to nurse
  • after feeding a snack or meal I strongly suggest sweet stuff to end it , a candy a chocolate a cookie, to raise her sugar level that might turn her off to nursing altoghether, do not worry, little sweets won't get into habit but think about your sanity...
  • do offer her and explain strongly that she has open ticket to cuddle on your breast as they are what she really is after, not so much you but closness to them,, they are her comfort object, tell her that  you are always there for her with them and they love her even if they don't nurse her :) yeah that is confusing but they think in very different way then us
  • establish one long nursing time and keep your promise. do not cheat, they need to know that once a day they can get you till they drop and they don't abuse it if all else worked.. and
  • ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS try to nurse after feeding her food if only humanly possible
  • also.. and lastly what I did not say before.. do try and offer her cow's milk if you are not against dairy and there is no issue, as one cup of milk might do just the same to her and with your cuddling she might be sattissfied..
  • lastly, do have something sweet to drink and when she asks for  nursing offer her that sweet drink instead.. and tell that your body is busy making milk for the evenning so we better wait and not use it now ;)


Let me know if you need more tricks or have any questions. I am telling you 6.5 years was a looooooooooong time ;) I think i pretty much saw it all and did it all..


I was able to really eliminate that constant nursing that was driving me nuts but worse.. I was in pain and I had no idea what to do.. I just looked at it from different perspective and found ways, instead of being hopless.. it worked.. my husband wanted me to just quit cold turkey and I could not bring myself or her to do it. she was very angry if she did not get to nurse and she was upset and frankly I realized it is not fair to her because whatever was put upon her gradully should be gradually taken away .. it was Me who should know what I was doing so I could not punish her now for my actions and letting us go that far into it.


I wish you all the best and do not hesitate

to sen dme a private message if you need anything.

I do check them occassinally


best regards and tons and tons of hugs,

you have a smart kid, they are all smart those  nurslings,

and smart she is as she does not want to quit good think,,..

so you just have to be just a smart about it and I knwo you can!


get your hubby on board just to be patient and not to interfear..

that will do.

you will get her to one nursing a day.. a night actually and then

from there it is easy..

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#3 of 6 Old 09-19-2012, 09:16 AM
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oh.. and also,, maybe you can somehow work the routine that

will have your cuddly time right after you see her..

I mean, instead of nursing , the cuddle.. s oshe willl k now

that when she comes from school she will have you.

the nursing.. another story.. see what I wrote before

but she might need that little sweet snack while

you cuddle her for a very long time to reconnect.

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#4 of 6 Old 10-14-2012, 11:41 PM
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What a wonderful post, I'm so glad to have found it!  My LO is nearing 5 with no sign of interest in weaning.  For the time being I'm ok with it (even kind of scientifically interested, like, "left to his own preferences, WILL child actually ever choose to wean?" lol).  I'm glad to find your wise words...

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#5 of 6 Old 11-15-2012, 08:24 PM
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Yes thank you for that post! My 4 and a half year old is still a big nurser and I've been feeling a little overextended lately. It's hard to find people who have really older kids nursing! I echo what MamaPrincess said about birthdays. There are huge things going on developmentally around that time. My dd is lovely and awesome but extremely hard the months around her birthday. We've been slowly fazing out nursing during the day. The biggest challenge for us is that she sleeps mostly in our bed and wants to nurse in the middle of the night, or super early in the morning. Talking about how she can hold my breast but not nurse has helped, but not totally. I was starting to feel like I was unconsciously not allowing her to ween, because I thought maybe I didn't want to ween (I weened at 4 1/2- 5yrs). Honestly now though, I'm feeling it's really just what she needs. It's really hard when you have an angry crying child who just wants to nurse and you really don't want to!! Sometimes you just have to let them get all that emotion out, (as long as you're there supporting them) because it's hard growing up! That's easy to write and think in my logical mind but in the midst of the anger aimed at you for not nursing it's hard and weird. I really try to remember that this time is going to be over soon and it'll never happen again (unless I have another baby).

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#6 of 6 Old 02-05-2013, 08:00 AM
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So glad to find this post.  I know it is older, but I have a 4yo ds nursing & it is so hard to find others with older nurslings!  He was down to *maybe* 1x a day before his lil sister was born last June.  He picked up big time when my milk came in again.  His sister is now 7mo & he still nurses often.  I find myself feeling ready for him to at least get back to just before bedtime, or just in the morning.  I am tired!  Lol.  I find myself fighting my feelings of readiness & meeting his needs.  We have had a lot of big things going on in our family the last year, and I know they all play a part in his need to nurse more.  I am really just trying to ride it out---I don't have any answers, but am glad to find community:)

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