Friday, August 7, 2015

Breastfeeding.Babies, Toddlers...........Preschoolers???!!!

I've breastfed babies.  I've breastfed toddlers.  

I've even breastfed....gasp.....preschoolers.  

preview

Sorta like this.  Except not naked in the forest....usually.  And I'm not a satyr. 

It looks more like this.



Except not naked.  However, yes...my toddlers do sport angel wings like that when nursing. 

Anyway.

I draw the line at school-aged children.  I've never breastfed a school-aged child. 

Actually I've never even breastfed a 4-year old (see....I'm not THAT weird)  Not to say anything against people who breastfeed their 4-year olds, I just stop before then****. 

I have breastfed 3-year olds.  In fact, all my children have weaned sometime after their 3rd birthday, but before their 4th. 

Okay, okay, okay...so Elsa won't be 3 for another month.  However, barring anything very unusual happening, I'm sure she'll still be nursing on her 3rd birthday.  She is not going to give it up easily, that one....not at all.

Since it's World Breastfeeding Week and all...I figured I would share why I breastfeed past the age of one or two or three.

1. I'm lazy and it's easier to just keep going. 

My breastfeeding motto has always been to just nurse the baby.   If they are sick or tired or hungry or scared or hurt....just nurse them.  And it still works on toddlers.   Yes...it does.  Nothing stops a tantrum or crying like nursing.   And, it's honestly easier for me to keep nursing, then to say "no" and try to come up with alternatives and ways to distract a toddler and all that.  

In fact, right now, Elsa has a habit of wanting to nurse whenever I sit down.  It was suggested to me that I should just not sit down.  Um....no.  Mama needs her computer time.   So, we'll just keep nursing. 

2.  It's an excuse to sit down.

As I was saying.  Nursing gives me a change to read blogs or Facebook or a good book or watch something.  It's a nice little excuse to relax for just a bit. 

3.  It puts them to sleep.

Yep....part of the reason my kids nurse so long is that nursing is the #1 way they fall asleep as babies and toddlers. It's not the ONLY way...if I'm not around, it's not like they will never sleep. I go places without my kids....I go lots of places....even at night...even at bedtime. They just fall asleep next to daddy...or a sibling.  Any warm body really.   Maybe we should train the cat to do it.  

Don't worry...sometime between age 3-4 they outgrow that and learn to fall asleep on their own.  Really..they do.  Promise. 

4. It comforts them. 

Nothing stops a tantrum or grumpy toddler like nursing.  It's almost magical.   It comforts them when they are hurt or lonely or sick or tired. 

5.  It keeps them healthier.  Especially during stomach flu/bug season.

I don't know about you, but when my kids are sick, they generally don't want to eat or drink anything.  My older kids can be persuaded to sip water or juice to stay hydrated, but there is just no persuading toddlers.  But, even when sick, they still want to nurse.   Even during the worst bouts of rotovirus or the stomach bug, I've never worried about dehydration because they continued to nurse away. Sure, I'm not making much milk, when my kids are 2 or 3, but it's enough to help keep them hydrated.  And breastmilk is usually well tolerated and not as likely to come out again.....if you know what I mean. 

6. Toddlerhood is when it REALLY gets easy.  

When a lot of people think of nursing toddlers or preschoolers, they imagine that it's the same as nursing a baby.  It's not.  It's completely different. Nursing toddlers is great, because I don't have to nurse them on any schedule or any specific time.  Sometimes Elsa asks to nurse every hour or so (when we are home and she is bored) and sometimes she goes hours and hours or even an entire day without nursing. I don't worry about it either way  Sometimes I even tell her "no" if I don't want to nurse right then.  Sometime she even accepts that without whining or crying.  Sometimes.  Even if she goes an entire day without nursing, I don't pump or anything,  Mastitis and clogged ducts and milk supply issues are no longer a concern.  I'm not tied down in any way, shape or form.  If she's with me, she might want to nurse.  If she's not...she's just fine.  I'm not making a ton of milk...just a little bit.  I don't worry about my milk supply, because again...she doesn't NEED to nurse (for nutrition). 

A few weeks ago, I was separated from my toddler for 24 hours.  I didn't pump.  I didn't worry about getting engorged.  I didn't worry about clogged ducts.  I didn't worry about my milk supply. I did sorta hope she would forget about nursing and wean. HA!  That did not happen. 

Breastfeeding is a bit more relaxing and a lot easier when you don't have the pressure of being a significant nutritional source.  Whatever milk she gets is really just a bonus. I don't have to worry about how much there is, it's mostly for comfort.

Bonus:  I've never known a toddler to bite while breastfeeding.  Biting is usually a short-lived problem in babies that can occur right around the time they start to get teeth. 

7.  It keeps them quiet during Mass. 

Yes...I still breastfeed my toddler in Mass.  It's usually good for at least 20 minutes of quiet and calm.  That's 20 minutes I don't have to worry about her behavior or making noise or walking around.  It's one of the easiest ways to keep a toddler quiet in church.  Really...it is. And no one cares.  Or if they do, they shouldn't.  They should just be happy that she is quiet

*****I feel like I should haven't to say this, but I will anyway.  This post is not meant to make anyone feel bad about how long they did or did not breastfeed for.  Whether you didn't breastfeed at all, or breastfeed for 5 days, 5 months or 5 years....it's all cool.  Really.  This is just sharing MY experiences...which are mine and mine alone.  It's not meant to be condemning of anyone else's experiences or choices. 

It's quick takes time!!

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