I remember when my son was the tiniest, sweetest little newborn. He would nestle into my chest, all curled up, as he nursed. He was completely serene. Twenty-two months later, my son now flips, flops, rolls over, and manages miraculous feats of acrobatics while he’s nursing, much to the dismay of my poor, innocent nipples. Do you nurse an active toddler too? How has your nursing relationship changed as he/she has grown?
My son is anything but shy when it comes to nursing and my breasts. I realized as he got older, that setting some breastfeeding expectations or etiquette might be a good idea. Instead of just pulling down my shirt, why not ask nicely? We have done baby signs since my son was around nine months old and his signing vocabulary is quite extensive. So I started there. I asked him to sign please anytime he wanted to nurse. He picked it up very quickly and loved to ask mommy nicely for milk. He would just grin ear-to-ear as he signed please. Now he has mastered the sign for milk too and does the cutest happy dance after he signs it and I recognize what he is asking for.
I also wanted to see if I could limit the nipple stretching and pulling as much as possible, so I learned to limit distractions. Toys are (usually) out of reach, screens are off, and we have a recliner that is our nursing chair. This definitely made a difference. I also explained to him that we had to be gentle while we were nursing. While he does still roll over and play with my hair or face, the worst of the acrobatics have almost all but disappeared.
As my pediatrician calls it, drive through snacking at the breast, was not one of my favorite developments either. The quick suckle, off to play, back to suckle, and lather, rinse, and repeat. Sitting down, breasts out for endless amounts of time, just wasn’t conducive to getting anything done. Again limiting distractions was key here as well. But, providing him my full attention while he is nursing made a big difference too. Talking to him, playing with his hair and hands and anything else I can tickle, eye contact, all keep him in the moment and concentrating on nursing and not his airplanes or trains that are waiting in the sidelines. Along with this, no cell phone while nursing. This is time to connect and concentrate on one another, everything else can wait.
As he has grown though, I’ve have seen such an awareness, appreciation, and empathy begin to develop in him for our breastfeeding journey, along with the acrobatics. He recently has started loving his ‘Teddy’ and loves to hold him and include him in all of his adventures, including nursing. My son always lets Teddy nurse first. He puts Teddy’s snout up to my breast and just smiles the biggest smile. He loves nursing and loves mommy’s milk, and he loves to share it now too, with Teddy, with his sheep, with his horsies, the sharing is endless. There is nothing sweeter! It makes my heart swell that he has grown to love and value nursing so much.
Even though our breastfeeding relationship continues to grow and change as he does the same, every minute is another minute to cherish and connect. I loved nursing him as a newborn and I love nursing him as a toddler, and I will forever be grateful that our breastfeeding journey has been as faceted as it is. And I look forward to what is yet to come, acrobatics and all! 😉
How has your nursling developed over the course of your nursing relationship?
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