Sister Says I Use Breastfeeding Too Much To Comfort My 18 Month Old - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 16 Old 01-16-2012, 08:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My sister is an outstanding mama to 5 kids and practiced extended breastfeeding with all of them. They were weaned on average at 20 months or so. 

 

I have an 18 month old son who loves to nurse. I will not be weaning him, he'll stop when he wants to stop. Nursing has been a huge blessing as he had a gut imbalance and really didn't start eating solids until he was closer to a year, but even then he was very picky. He's started consistently eating solids at every meal for about a month now. But, he asks to nurse a lot, usually for comfort or boredom. Sometimes he'll go a couple if hours without nursing, but he usually asks about every 45 minutes, sometimes more often. 

 

She just came for a visit and brought her 4 year old and 9 month old and my son was asking to nurse a lot, because having so many people in the house was out of his element. 

 

My sister pointed out that by offering him the breast so often or allowing him to nurse so often may be depriving him of learning how to cope with stress in other ways ( a hug, a toy, etc ) and that the breast was the easiest solution, but not always the right one. I'm curious on everyone's thought on this? She said when her kids were his age, they could nurse every two hours, but of they wanted to nurse more often, she would try and offer a toy or affection instead.

 

We also came back from a very stressful out of state visit where he didn't see my husband for 2 weeks and he started playing with the other breast ( nipple ) while nursing, and it clearly seems to be a comfort thing. I haven't stopped but, but my sister said she would never allow her children to do that. Also curious on everyone's thoughts about this too. 

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#2 of 16 Old 01-16-2012, 09:06 PM
 
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I was reminded of an article I read on breastfeeding in Mongolia, where not only is nursing the answer to every child's problem but that they do it for a really long time. (Here's a reprint of the article: http://www.drmomma.org/2009/07/breastfeeding-in-land-of-genghis-khan.html)

They have children who grow up well-adjusted and able to solve problems. I think your son will be fine even if you let him nurse on demand until he self-weans, but I also think it was fine for your sister to set limits. Two different approaches make sense for different people. Regarding the twiddling, there have been lots of threads on this topic. I personally hated it when my son tweaked my nipples so I held his hand when he did it. If you don't mind, it's fine. 

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#3 of 16 Old 01-17-2012, 05:19 PM
 
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You have very nice things to say about your sister. It sounds like she was trying to make a helpful insight as an experienced sister. I think it is possible to breastfeed a toddler too much when there could be more appropriate ways of relating to your child. The thing I picked up on was that your child breastfeeds  because he is bored.

 

When you are caring for one child you can be bored and it can be easy to fall into a pattern of breastfeeding because it is easier than doing anything else. It is easy to justify your lack of learning how to do other things because you can justify it by being rightous about breastfeeding. Even if a toddler has had health issues related to solids he needs to eat so he doesn't have eating problems with textures and so he likes a variety of healthy foods. At this point eating need to come before breastfeeding not after. It's easy to calm a child by breastfeeding. A child also needs to learn to be tough and not always run to the breast. Toddlers don't have to use toys as comfort objects.

 

 

 

 


: Grandmother , 3 Adult Sons

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#4 of 16 Old 01-17-2012, 09:05 PM
 
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I think Erin77 is right on; the evidence generally shows that children who have ready access to comfort nursing grow to be functional and well-adjusted. Frequent nursing is normal for toddlers. I think placing reasonable limits like nursing manners or teaching your son not to twiddle if it bothers you is fine, but as long as you and your son are comfortable with your nursing relationship I don't see any reason to try to limit or space nursing sessions. It might be true that your son hasn't learned to handle stress by turning to comfort objects or toys, as you mention, but that might be because he is attached to a person (you!) rather than any sort of thing.  That doesn't sound like a problem to me. :-)

 

Frequent nursing may actually be of particular benefit to your son given his previous gut and food issues. Maybe he still has need for extra help healing his gut, or for added immune support, or even for continued gentle introduction, through mama's milk, to a range of flavors. I don't know much about your situation, so it's just a thought...

 

I think it sounds like you are doing a great job!

 

 

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#5 of 16 Old 01-18-2012, 10:45 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Midwesterner04 View Post

I think Erin77 is right on; the evidence generally shows that children who have ready access to comfort nursing grow to be functional and well-adjusted. Frequent nursing is normal for toddlers. I think placing reasonable limits like nursing manners or teaching your son not to twiddle if it bothers you is fine, but as long as you and your son are comfortable with your nursing relationship I don't see any reason to try to limit or space nursing sessions. It might be true that your son hasn't learned to handle stress by turning to comfort objects or toys, as you mention, but that might be because he is attached to a person (you!) rather than any sort of thing.  That doesn't sound like a problem to me. :-)

 

Frequent nursing may actually be of particular benefit to your son given his previous gut and food issues. Maybe he still has need for extra help healing his gut, or for added immune support, or even for continued gentle introduction, through mama's milk, to a range of flavors. I don't know much about your situation, so it's just a thought...

 

I think it sounds like you are doing a great job!

 

 



I agree with all of this.

 

Sometimes it helps to know you are not alone. My little one is 20 months old and very much a nursling. He nurses when he's thirsty, hungry, shy, hurt, happy and sad. Nursing is as natural for him as getting a hug. Actually, it is getting a hug as well as nursing! My little one is normal, and it sounds like your little one is too!

 

 

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#6 of 16 Old 01-19-2012, 05:15 AM - Thread Starter
 
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foreverinbluejeans: My sister really is a wonderful mother and she was the major source of support initially for breastfeeding and cloth diapering. Of course, I didn't realize what a bonding experience it would be, so now I'm hooked. 

 

I do want to clarify that he's now eating solids and food does come before breastfeeding. I re-read my post and I do understand why it may have seemed that you might think he breastfed more than ate. He definitely eats and I'm so happy about that! It was a struggle, but he's got a big appetite now. He's on a food schedule ( breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack ) and the breastfeeding I'm speaking comes in between all that. I did up his food portions and it hasn't decreased how much he breastfeeds. 

 

Thank you every one for your thoughtful and insightful advice. My sister's children ( except one ) are spaced very close together (14,8,6,4 and 9 months ) so it may also be that she  didn't really have the time to nurse on demand when she had toddlers. Her house is a very busy one. :)

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#7 of 16 Old 01-19-2012, 06:16 AM
 
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My ds is 19 months old and generally he can have Milkies whenever we are together. As I'm in school full time, I don't get to see him as much as I'd like, so i don't really limit his access to breastmilk. But I hate twiddling. He tried to tweak my nipples and I stopped that. Then he moved on to jamming his fingers in my belly button. No way kid! wink1.gif but it is the thing we do, he wants to connect with me, then he can have some milkies. No problem.
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#8 of 16 Old 01-19-2012, 03:48 PM
 
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The nipple tweaking annoys me, too. But I let DD, 18 mo, nurse whenever she wants. Well, sometimes I feel peer pressure and I put her off :/  We may not see it, but they are in fact practicing ways of handling the stresses of life constantly. I believe that giving them that security gives them the strength to develop their independence more naturally. You're doing great, mama!

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#9 of 16 Old 01-19-2012, 04:27 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by choochootwo View Post
She said when her kids were his age, they could nurse every two hours, but of they wanted to nurse more often, she would try and offer a toy or affection instead.

 

We also came back from a very stressful out of state visit where he didn't see my husband for 2 weeks and he started playing with the other breast ( nipple ) while nursing, and it clearly seems to be a comfort thing. I haven't stopped but, but my sister said she would never allow her children to do that. Also curious on everyone's thoughts about this too. 



That's a weaning technique.  Which is fine if that's what you're trying to do, but otherwise I don't see a problem nursing when they ask for it.

 

I cannot STAND twiddling and never let my kids do it.  My middle son would twiddle a mole on my chin instead, and that still drove me batty.  If it doesn't bother you, I don't see a problem there though.

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#10 of 16 Old 01-20-2012, 06:29 PM
 
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As pp replied, 'delaying' is indeed a weaning technique. Also for what it is worth, World Health Organization reccomends children 0-23 months be fed on demand.

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#11 of 16 Old 01-21-2012, 04:24 AM
 
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I agree with your sister but I think it's fine not to.  Everyone does these things a little differently.  No right or wrong.


DS (6.06), DD (10.08), DD (05.11).

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#12 of 16 Old 01-21-2012, 06:04 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by prothyraia View Post

That's a weaning technique.  

 

Perhaps, but that doesn't mean implementing some limits or not offering every time the child might need some comfort means a child will stop nursing anytime soon.  I mean children are weaning from the time they start solid food, yet many continue to nurse for years.  I only say this because I don't think mothers who want or need to set limits or who go with a more mother-led approach, especially past infancy, should fear it will result in weaning or should made to feel less than (not saying you were trying to do this prothyraia smile.gif, but I've seen the words "weaning technique" used like that in the past so it struck a nerve).

 

Anyway, my oldest child continued nursing till she was 3 and my son is still going at nearly 3 1/2, but there's no way I could have done that if they were nursing every 45 minutes or more. I would have gone mad.  So in my case, taking more of a "don't offer, don't refuse" approach let me nurse them longer.  And it just always felt more natural to me to find other ways of dealing with boo-boos and boredom.  In the end, I think either approach is fine and whatever keeps mom happy is usually the best way.  

 


Quote:

Originally Posted by Asiago View Post
Also for what it is worth, World Health Organization reccomends children 0-23 months be fed on demand.

Do you have a link?  I couldn't find anything about them recommending it be "on demand" till 23 months.  Either way though, WHO recommendations are not necessarily based on the standard of living in the developed world.  If a mother has access to a sufficient amount of nutritious food for her children, then setting some limits on nursing in the second year is not going to cause any physical harm.  

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#13 of 16 Old 01-24-2012, 01:19 PM
 
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AbbyGrant below are the links regarding the 'on demand' info. I really don't know the benefits and risks to doing it otherwise, I am just relaying the information. It is very difficult, especially in western society to feed on demand, but for a mom who is able and willing to do so, these sources are her support.

 

 

Quote:

MAINTENANCE OF BREASTFEEDING

A. Guideline: Continue frequent, on-demand breastfeeding until 2 years of age or beyond. 

http://www.who.int/nutrition/publications/guiding_principles_compfeeding_breastfed.pdf

 

This one is a slide presentation but the info is about 2/3 through the presentation:

 

http://ocw.jhsph.edu/courses/InternationalNutrition/PDFs/Lecture6.pdf

 

The US Agency for International Development also makes the same statement.

 

 

Quote:

Optimal Complementary Feeding for Children 6 to 24 Months

Introduction

Starting at 6 months of age, infants need solid or semi-solid food in addition to breast milk to satisfy their nutritional requirements.  They are developmentally ready to consume and properly digest solid and semi-solid foods and caregivers should begin complementary feeding, that is, offering children foods while continuing frequent, on-demand breastfeeding until the baby is at least 24 months old.  

 

United States Agency for International Development

Bureau for Global Health

Office of Health, Disease, and Nutrition USAID/GH/HIDN

 

 

 

 

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#14 of 16 Old 01-24-2012, 01:39 PM
 
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Nipple twiddling is strictly forbidden in this house....lol. That would irritate me beyond belief.  As for frequently nursing your toddler, I think it's a matter of personal preference and whatever you choose is fine though I'd want to have options for soothing that didn't involve the breast as well. 

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#15 of 16 Old 01-24-2012, 03:02 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asiago View Post

 

AbbyGrant below are the links regarding the 'on demand' info. I really don't know the benefits and risks to doing it otherwise, I am just relaying the information. It is very difficult, especially in western society to feed on demand, but for a mom who is able and willing to do so, these sources are her support.

 

 

http://www.who.int/nutrition/publications/guiding_principles_compfeeding_breastfed.pdf

 

This one is a slide presentation but the info is about 2/3 through the presentation:

 

http://ocw.jhsph.edu/courses/InternationalNutrition/PDFs/Lecture6.pdf

 

The US Agency for International Development also makes the same statement.

 


Thanks for those links.  Very interesting, especially the Johns Hopkins slide presentation.  But they both affirm to me what I mentioned earlier about the recommendation having more to do with lack of enough nutritious foods in many parts of the world and little to do with mothers in more economically developed countries. 

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#16 of 16 Old 01-24-2012, 10:41 PM
 
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I think that "extra" nursing when lots of people come over sounds entirely normal.  As is nursing for comfort, sleep, etc   Not to mention hunger :lol

BF while bored is the only thing that would make me want to take notice and make sure we had more interesting things going on.  Also little finger foods like rice cakes or chopped fruits to carry around while outside.  Just to make sure there are more options available, alog with bf which is always available.

 

Mine nursed frequently well into age 2 and beyond so it is hard for me to wrap my head around what would be "too much" for an 18month old. 

Re: nipple twiddling, I did not like it and therefore discouraged it most of the time, but I knew moms who were not bothered by it and I don't think it made any difference to them.  dd ended up putting her fingers in my mouth most of the time.


no longer  or  or ... dd is going on 12 (!) how was I to know there was a homeschool going on?
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