He asks to nurse but he can't. - Mothering Forums

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Old 01-03-2005, 03:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My son is almost 4. He self weaned by forgetting to ask as frequently over the summer and by October, he only nursed twice the whole month. Since then, he has asked and I've let him latch on, but he doesn't seem to remember how to nurse. Not at all. I even tried to teach him by showing him how to use his tongue against the roof of his mouth.
I'm pregnant and still nursing my 2 1/2 yr old daughter and I'm not actually that interested in putting effort into getting him back on the breast. I do feel a little sad sometimes that he continues to ask even though he can't seem to figure it out.
A week before Christmas, I hand expressed into a cup so I could wash his eye when he got Vicks Vaporub in it and there was some left when I was done. He drank it and asked for more. Sometimes he asks for "nanas" in a cup. He says it's delicious.
I just feel bad that I don't want him to lick and nibble and chew my nipple in an attempt to get milk out every time he asks. But on the other hand, I feel that it's a bit of a rejection to tell him that he can't nurse when he asks. Tonight we were cuddling and he said he was a baby and wanted nanas. I think he's very aware that the baby in my belly is going to be born soon and that it will nurse. He kisses my belly goodnight and talks to the baby sometimes. I guess it will be easier for him to get milk out when the baby is here and my milk supply is much more plentiful. But I really don't want him back on the breast. Am I denying him child led weaning if I discourage him from nursing when the baby gets here and give it to him in a cup? I mean, it's been almost 3 months since he's nursed properly and gotten milk directly from the breast. I let him try about once a week and he just doesn't seem to get it. Any thoughts or support or suggestions?
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Old 01-03-2005, 04:01 AM
 
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I have no personal experience nursing a 4yo, but I'd probably tell him that he's getting too big to nurse (and reasure him that he'll never be too big to snuggle!)

IMO, this is still child-led because he's the one who cut back on nursing enough to forget how to do it.

Ruth, single mommy to Leah, 19, Hannah, 18 (commuting to college), and Jack, 13(homeschooled)
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Old 01-03-2005, 04:04 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Ruthla
I have no personal experience nursing a 4yo, but I'd probably tell him that he's getting too big to nurse (and reasure him that he'll never be too big to snuggle!)

IMO, this is still child-led because he's the one who cut back on nursing enough to forget how to do it.
Thanks for your response I worry about telling him he's too big when he's telling me he's a little baby and pretending to make baby crying sounds and pretending to root at the breast. I just hug him and tell him that there isn't much milk right now. I had a hard enough time hand expressing when I needed it to flush his eye out.
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Old 01-03-2005, 04:10 AM
 
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My 8.5yo still likes to play baby and pretend to nurse. She'll snuggle next to my breast (over my bra, her mouth usually nowhere near my nipple) but she hasn't actually breastfed since she was 14mo. I offered to let her nurse again when Jack was born (Hannah was 5.5 at the time) but she wasn't interested, she just wanted to snuggle and pretend.

You can definitely meet his needs to snuggle and "play baby" without actually nursing him.

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Old 01-03-2005, 04:28 AM
 
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I would not be comfortable telling the child he is too big either.

It sounds like he doesn't know how to nurse anymore so he has weaned himself. With my oldest who self weaned I did let him try even though he didn't know how. I also expressed milk into a cup so he knew that he was getting it like everyone else. This always satisfied him.

For your situation, I don't really know the answer. Just try to do what feels right for you and your son.
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Old 01-03-2005, 05:35 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I have such sensitive nipples that I cringe when he mouths anywhere near them. heh.
I'll make sure to let him have some milk when the baby comes. Maybe that will make him feel satisfied that he's still my baby too
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Old 01-03-2005, 06:13 AM
 
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Maybe you could try to explain that its uncomfortable for him to suckle right now? that they are sore but will get better soon?
I wouldnt feel comfortable saying he's too big, cause they are never to big But since he is old enough that you can reason just a little if you tell him how you feel he might understand. Its worth a shot

(all words from a mom who hasnt been in this situtation yet :LOL )
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Old 01-03-2005, 04:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks SEEPAE
I want to be honest with him but I worry that saying I don't want to him to in some way will make him feel bad. So I'm really just trying to distract him with hugs or silliness. But on the other hand, if he's still asking to nurse is it detrimental to him that I'm not nursing him? He has forgotten how to and I'm not willing to be patient enough to reteach him with my nipples being so sensitive. It also seems a bit overwhelming to nurse three when this baby is born. I'm just hoping he forgets about it.
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Old 01-03-2005, 05:47 PM
 
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But on the other hand, if he's still asking to nurse is it detrimental to him that I'm not nursing him?
That is a really hard one for me to come to terms with.

I will share DD's story of her weaning again.

March 2003 when DD was 50 months she suddenly "couldn't get any." She had slowly tapered off her weaning, once going like a week, generally a couple days but often still nursing nightly. It was very frustrating for her and she just didn't want to nurse. (BTW, I knew there was plenty of milk because DS was only 18 months at the time and I had *ample* in fact I would get slightly engorged when she would miss her nightly nursing). Anyway, I suggested that maybe her body was telling her it was ready to not nurse anymore. Reassured her that I loved her, that she *could* nurse when she wanted to, but to think about what she really wanted. She decided she was done nursing.

I said we should celebrate and she decided just her & I would go to Build-A-Bear (something she had wanted to do for a while) and get matching animals We did, had a great time. I consider her to have weaned that day.

There *was* some anger and frustration on her part though. She wanted to nurse, but she didn't want to. She wanted to nurse, but it didn't bring her the satisfaction she was craving. I think she ended up actually asking like 2 days after she had weaned--- she went to try and then laughed. Until this summer (2004, so 15-18 months later) she would try on occasion. Sometimes a couple minutes, more often less than 15 seconds. It was generally a sad reminder of a loss for her. I continued letting her try on occasion, but in reality, I think she was just having a hard time letting go of something she had outgrown. In some ways I probably should have just said, "You're done nursing" and let that be that (since she did get upset when she re-realized she "couldn't" nurse).

Basically, IME, a child no longer being "able to" nurse can be a real sign that they are in some ways ready to wean, in some ways still desperately clinging to the comfort they have always enjoyed. I have regrets over some actions I took during her long weaning (if I hadn't night weaned, would she have nursed longer?; if I had let her increase her nursing after DS's birth, would she have nursed longer?). Well, I guess my real issue is not if she would have nursed longer, but rather--- if she had nursed longer would her weaning have been fully joyous instead of joy mixed with confusion?

I don't know.

I am uncomfortable telling my children they are too "big" to nurse for so many reasons--- I don't consider size to have anything to do with the need to nurse, or age, but individual tempermant and I want them to learn that (if I said "too big" would they look at their friend who nursed til five, or their currently nursing 4.5 year old friend, or their 2.5 year old friend who is 55 lbs and much larger than my six year old differently? would they pass that "too big" on to their friends and ultimately their own children?). I didn't ever tell DD she was "too big" because she wasn't. But I did tell her I thought that *maybe* her body was telling her it was done with nursing. That it loved it, but didn't need it anymore. To me, it was an important difference, semantical or no.

In summary, I guess I don't have a lot of advice. I did put limits on my DD. I knew for myself, I could *not* go back to her nursing 10-14 times daily after DS was born so I took specific steps to not allow that (thougth she did increase length of nursing, of course--- suddenly overflowing breasts do encourage that). In retrospect (and even at the time) I was aware I could *probably* teach her to nurse better. I could have probably taken a week of baths and calm times with her. Asked DS to show her his latch. Struggled and worked at it. And I do not believe that if nursing is not easy it is not "worth" it. I just really contemplated DDs development, her temperment and I decided that not only was that not worth it, it wasn't necessarily "better" for her. She often holds onto things (experiences, habits, etc...) after she has outgrown them for comfort, but as soon as that is pointed out will often move on (she was very attached to her pacifier as a baby, later she got "addicted" to holding it as she fell asleep--- not even sucking. I put it away one day, she asked for it, I said something like I wasn't sure where it was, she went to sleep without it and didn't ask again. She didn't need it, but she didn't *know* she didn't need it until she proved to herself).

Sorry for the novel. You can never *know* what your children need, but you can do your best at guessing. And honestly, if you are well attached, your guess will probably be about as good as your childs IMO. You just do the best you can and there you are.

Good luck,
Kay

 

 

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Old 01-03-2005, 07:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for your story, Kay
My son dropped night nursing and even the before bed nursing well before he stopped nursing in the day. I guess he preferred to cuddle and read stories since nursing wasn't as satisfying. I guess I'll just muddle through it. I really don't want to make him feel rejected or bad that he can't do it. So I keep letting him feel it's his choice and honoring his requests even though he doesn't seem to remember how. It's just that I feel a little dishonest because there's a little part of me that cringes when he asks to nurse because I have such sensitive nipples and hate it when he mouths them and tries to latch on but doesn't do it right. And since I know that he's not actually going to nurse, I don't mind saying "Sure, honey, go ahead and try it but there's not really any milk right now."
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Old 01-03-2005, 08:53 PM
 
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you can be honest without saying you dont want to and dont want him to, just tell him they are sore and ask him to please be soft on them. Come up with an example, like if he has ever had a owie he remembers, if that owie hurt when something touched it, then say that mommy has an owie on her nanas but they should be better soon. If you put it in his perspective he may understand. But these are just suggestions, Im definitely not in your situation, so choose what sounds best for your family
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Old 01-04-2005, 02:42 PM
 
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Old 01-04-2005, 05:05 PM
 
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I don't know. I think it's safest to avoid the whole "big boy" thing. It's too much pressure for him. A lot of "big kids" *do* still need to nurse, though Kava, in your situation I do think he weaned himself already. They're usually satisfied with just experimenting once they're truly weaned. I'd just keep up with giving it to him in a cup and let him occasionally pretend to nurse. Just offer the cup first. I just think calling him a big boy is unfair and will, if anything, make him want to go back to nursing all the more. Just my 2 cents.
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Old 01-04-2005, 06:01 PM
 
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I want to address just part of this, since I think other posters have had some eloquent things to say about how to get him to understand your reluctance. When my dd was older, she often expresseda great desire to be a baby (years before she weaned). It isn't JUST the nursing; it's the whole feeling of totally being snuggled and taken care of...the world can sometimes look frightening to a little one standing on the cusp of some new phase.
DD predictably either increased her nursing or increased the "I wish I was ____fill in the blank younger age" right before a developmental leap of some sort, or at a time of change.
I think you're safe addressing the FEELING behind his words, as much as his request to nurse. He wants to find his safe base, for whatever reason. You know, "Oh, you remember when you were so little like the new baby will be and how wonderful it was to feel momma's love in her arms. Come, snuggle with me...I'll always need to feel my boy's love. Isn't it nice to be so close? Why don't you get a story and a nice blanket and we'll snuggle for a bit?"
You get the picture.
And it is also ok to commiserate about his inability to trigger a letdown. It is a real source of sadness for him.
Good luck with this transition time. Mary
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