image

My 3 ½ Year Old Breastfeeds As Much As A Newborn – And That Is Fine By Me

Welcome to the August edition of Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival: Breastfeeding.

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival hosted by The Positive Parenting Connection and Authentic Parenting. As August is Breastfeeding awareness month, our participants are writing about this exact subject! Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

***

My 3 1/2 Year Old Breastfeed As Much As A Newborn: HybridRastaMama.com Follow Me on Pinterest Newborns breastfeed frequently. Most of them can be found contentedly feeding every hour or two during those first few months of life. As babies grow and develop, the frequency of feedings will often taper off and by the time toddlerhood hits, most children are breastfeeding only a handful of times in a 24 hour period.

And then there is Tiny…

Since she was born, Tiny has enjoyed frequent yet efficient feeds. As a newborn, you could find her searching for my breast every 45 minutes to an hour. But she was in and out in under 8 minutes.

During the first year of her life, I was waiting for Tiny to develop the ability to go longer stretches without the need for breastmilk. Especially at night. Oh how I longed to get a little shut eye.

This never happened. It wasn’t until she was around 14 months that I saw a decrease in the number of times per day and night that Tiny would seek out her “mama milkies.” In a 24 hour period, she would breastfeed an average of 8 times. If you do the math, I was basically breastfeeding every two hours ‘round the clock. Sometimes more, rarely less.

Tiny is almost 3 ½ and guess what? She breastfeeds an average of 11 times in a 24 hour period. No, I am not kidding. Here’s what it looks like and please note that all times are approximate:

  • 5:30am – breastfeed and wake up for the day
  • 7:00am – milkie break during breakfast
  • 10:00am – milkie break after playtime at the park (this has a 50/50 chance of happening)
  • 12:00pm – breastfeed and nap
  • 1:15pm – mid-nap milkies (this has a 50/50 chance of happening)
  • 2:30pm – breastfeed and wake up from nap
  • 5:30pm – mid-dinner milkie break
  • 7:30pm – breastfeed and settle into bed for the night
  • 9:45pm – milkie break to get back to sleep
  • 11:30pm – milkie break to get back to sleep
  • 1:15am – milkie break to get back to sleep
  • 3:00am – milkie break to get back to sleep
  • 4:40am – milkie break to get back to sleep

Pretty intense right? Well, Tiny is a pretty intense child.

I have mentioned Tiny’s sleep issues before. She process her day at night and wakes up frequently trying to make sense of it all. When she was younger and non-verbal, I had no clue what was going on for her at night. I knew she was dealing with her emotions, her stresses, and her joys but I wasn’t sure exactly what was going on. Now that Tiny talks up a storm, she is able to articulate things to me at night about what is going on in her little body. The poor girl deals with a lot of heavy stuff at night. That is just who she is and how she operates.

I have had many, many people tell me to night wean Tiny. I won’t do that. I have tried to reduce the number of night time feeds (and yes, she is breastfeeding not just comfort nursing) but this is met with unpleasantries such as throwing up, choking, hyperventilating, and the like. I would much rather roll over, give her a cuddle and a kiss, and meet her needs through milk than be awake for an hour with a hysterical child who will still want milk anyway.

I am quite sure that Tiny will not be a teenager still needed “milkies.” While she will still be dealing with life through a rather intense lens, I will have other ways of supporting her at that time. Right now, Tiny needs me. She needs mama’s milk. I am more than happy to give that to her. After all, this is part of who I need to be as a mother to Tiny. It wouldn’t work for everyone and yes, sometimes I long for sleep. But right now, I am doing what my mama heart knows is right. And guess what – Tiny is better for it.

What challenges do you deal with when it comes to breastfeeding more frequently than you might like? Any gentle tips for managing the high frequency older nursling? 
***

APBC - Positive Parenting Connection and Authentic ParentingVisit The Positive Parenting Connection and Authentic Parenting to find out how you can participate in the next Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

 

Comments

  1. Jennifer, I am so happy to read this! My almost 2 year old daughter breastfeeds constantly. I am totally okay with it but it is nice to read your story…I am not alone ;) Thank you!

  2. Mine is almost 2 and hasn’t tapered much at all either unless we’re having a reay exciting day out… But then he makes it up with twice as many night feeds. Solidarity, sister!

    I’ve had it suggested that intense nursing after the first year can be a sign of some GAPS issues since mommy-milk is the most digestible food for a child with compromised guts. I don’t know if I believe that is true in all cases but my son frequently gets small rashes if he tries new foods so he deinetely has some leaky gut stuff going on.

  3. This is my first time here (although I’ve read guest posts of yours on other blogs). That feeding ‘schedule’ looks like it was written about my daughter! Uncanny actually!

    Although I have to say I am in awe of your (and the previous comments’) serenity about it. I am still struggling to accept it with my 17 month old.

    I love that your daughter can now tell you whats going through her mind with the frequent wakings. DD has had a tough time with sleep since birth and I think she will at least until she can understand the value of resting and recharging (so not expecting that anytime soon really)

  4. Anonymous says:

    It is truly wonderful to see you parenting the way your heart guides you to and providing the necessary closeness and security Tiny needs. My girl is 18 months and still nursing frequently throughout the day (as much as possible since I work full time – I still pump for her) and is now nursing a bit more at night too. Many people have asked me is she is weaning or when I am going to wean her, etc. most often I am proud to say she still nurses so frequently and thank God for co-sleeping so I can be there for her needs at night too and *try* to still get some amount of sleep. It also gives me especially a closeness I crave since I do work so I love the extra cuddles! Kuddos to you and happy breastfeeding!

  5. Good for you for meeting your child’s needs. By meeting her needs now, she will grow up secure in who she is. Wish there were more moms like you.

    Kathi

  6. I can relate, but I have a newborn right now. She’s feeding every two hours and during the two hours she’s awake, a couple of times. It’s intense and the nights are getting to me. I’m already looking forward to the 6 month mark of weaning onto solids and off the breast and onto formula. I can only hope she starts sleeping through the night, then I’ll breastfeed her longer.

  7. @JeninCanada, wean off breast milk onto solids and formula? Why? First of all, babies do not sustain with solids until a year, before that it’s mainly practice. Second of all, formula is not remotely comparable to breast milk. You obviously have breast milk, so why give your baby formula?

  8. Wow!
    I am sure she will be a happy content teenager who will not want her mother’s milk anymore..
    and really good for you for keeping up with this for more than three years!

  9. @Anonymous

    Oh Anonymous, the secretive questioner of the internets; Why? Mostly selfish reasons; I like sleep, and babies on solids and formula (in my experience) sleep longer. As much as I love the deep connection Im’ forging with my new daughter, I don’t want to be the Only One In The Universe Who Can Feed Her. Pumping in the past hasn’t worked out, so I’m not hopeful it will this time around either.
    I’m also taking care of an active 6 year old while I’m on maternity leave this year so I need to be at the top of my game. My son deserves a mom who can play with him and isn’t napping all the time. My husband deserves a full partner, not a walking zombie. I’ll breast feed for as long as I feel comfortable doing so and see what the future brings.

  10. Who really wants the Breast-feeding.
    The Mom or the Child?
    Don’t even tell me that the Dad is OK with this!
    If he is,……where’s he spending his late-nite time??

  11. My daughter was almost 3yo when I weaned her. She cried the first night, but I hugged her and told her she was such a big girl now. The second night was easier, and by the third night, she didn’t bother begging anymore. I was pregnant and needed a break before baby arrived. Had I not been pregnant,we may have gone longer. I see nothing wrong with it. She was only nursing at nap and night time. I don’t think I could have done it every two hours. You are a good mommy for following your heart. Every mom is different. Even the mom who chooses formula at six months is a good mommy for nursing as long as she did. We all know what’s best for our families!

  12. My daughter was almost 3yo when I weaned her. She cried the first night, but I hugged her and told her she was such a big girl now. The second night was easier, and by the third night, she didn’t bother begging anymore. I was pregnant and needed a break before baby arrived. Had I not been pregnant,we may have gone longer. I see nothing wrong with it. She was only nursing at nap and night time. I don’t think I could have done it every two hours. You are a good mommy for following your heart. Every mom is different. Even the mom who chooses formula at six months is a good mommy for nursing as long as she did. We all know what’s best for our families!

  13. My son is still young (8 months) but he wants to nurse about every 2-3 hours all night long. My first son slept through the night at 9 weeks. At first, I was really bent out of shape about the lack of sleep but I have decided to embrace the nighttime nursing. This post also made me feel better because as moms, we just have to do what we think is best, not necessarily what the doctors say we should do (cry it out to sleep through the night). :)

  14. Breast milk is best for your baby, and the benefits of breastfeeding extend well beyond basic nutrition.Rabeprazole SodiumIn addition to containing all the vitamins and nutrients your baby needs in the first six months of life, breast milk is packed with disease-fighting substances that protect your baby from illness.

Speak Your Mind

*

CommentLuv badge