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What are the Best Tips for Breastfeeding Toddlers?

Article Details
  • Written By: Amy Hunter
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 24 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Breastfeeding does not have to end with infancy. Breastfeeding toddlers is a common tradition in many cultures, and the World Health Organization recommends nursing for two or more years. Breastfeeding provides not only nutrition, but comfort, for toddlers. Concerns that breastfeeding toddlers will lead to an overly dependent child who is difficult to wean are largely unwarranted. Children outgrow nursing on their own, and left to their own devices, will gradually nurse less frequently as solid foods are introduced.

Toddlers who are routinely eating table food may still enjoy and benefit from nursing, but do not require nursing on demand. Many moms enjoy the soothing benefits of nursing a toddler at nap time or when he is fussy, and that is fine. To successfully nurse into toddlerhood, it is important to recognize the different needs of an infant and a toddler.

Different challenges are presented when breastfeeding toddlers than are encountered when nursing an infant. A toddler will have the mechanics of nursing down, which, combined with the mother's familiarity with the nursing process, should lead to seamless feedings. The challenges that arise from breastfeeding toddlers have more to do with the increased maturity level of the toddler.

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From the beginning, think carefully about what you call breastfeeding time. While many cute little sayings sound funny at home, with a child that is only learning to speak, these sayings can get embarrassing quickly when shouted at the grocery store. For this reason, one tip for breastfeeding toddlers is either use a made-up word for nursing, or use a straightforward, neutral term, such as nursing or drinking.

Another consideration when breastfeeding toddlers is wardrobe. Gone are the days where any shirt is safe. Zippers, snaps, and buttons become less frustrating as a toddler's fine motor skills develop, and moms may have little warning about this new proficiency before an embarrassing incident sitting in a restaurant or at the grocery store. Thus, more specialized clothing items may be required.

Another fundamental reason that breastfeeding toddlers is challenging is that they have little impulse control, so, as they become verbal and better able to manipulate things with their hands, they can put moms in potentially embarrassing situations. To minimize the risk of this happening, gently teach patience. Put a stop to nursing on demand in most situations. For example, when indicating he would like to nurse, state calmly, "in a few minutes," and then, after a few minutes ask, "are you ready to nurse?" Doing this at home allows the toddler to develop some patience, which will reduce the likelihood of embarrassing incidence in public.

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