Touched Out: Toddler Nursing and the Older Child

[image credit]
[image credit]


I’m embarking on some new career/business pursuits (more on those later), and they are, unsurprisingly, taking a physical and mental toll on me.  While this was to be expected, I am nonetheless evaluating the situation to see if I might be able to take some steps to make my life easier right now.

Last year, I wrote about the potential to wean my younger daughter around the time she was old enough to get the majority of her nutrition from solid foods.  Haha, given my track record with my older kid, I should have known that was not going to happen.  The first “baby” weaned at 22 months … a few days after her younger sister was born.  More to the point, the kid had to wean because tandem nursing just didn’t work out for me, despite my openness to toddler nursing and extended breastfeeding.

This time around, there is no new baby on the way to force my younger daughter off the boob.  So at 20 months old, we are still going strong.  She does what you could call “night nursing,” except that “night” means “from the time she falls asleep with me in the bed to the time we wake up in the morning,” in addition to “when I get home from work, unless she’s distracted, in which case I can usually hide the boobs until she realizes she misses them.”

This is going to be tough, but I realize that when I finally wean my younger kid, life will probably get a lot easier.  I’ll be more well-rested, have more energy and be better positioned to carpe diem and whatnot.

But that’s not the only reason I’m hoping to wean soon.  The other reason is this:  it’s time for Mommy to take back the boobs.  Hers, specifically.  Breasts, actually.  I taught my older daughter, now three and a half years old, that they are called “breasts,” and not “nursies,” because I think she needs to know this.  They are body parts, and they belong to me.

Got that, kid?  They. Belong. To. Me.

I think because my older daughter watches her little sister nurse, especially now that little sister is a toddler and not a baby, she forgets that my breasts are an extension of my body, and that I get to control who has access to them.  I mean, she’s 3, so I get that she may not understand why it’s ok to run up and hug me, but not so much ok to run up and grab, squeeze, and pinch my breasts.  I try not to swat her away like a fly, but I have definitely snapped at her when I was feeling touched out and SO not in the mood for a groping, much less from my preschooler.

I feel badly about this, and I don’t know if the solution is really to wean the baby, erm, toddler.   I want to wean her anyway, for the reasons discussed above, but as far as the respect-my-body thing, maybe there’s a better way to go about it.  Here is what I’m trying to do:

Gentle redirection:  I try not to scold her, or make her feel bad or ashamed for wanting to touch Mommy’s nursies as an expression of closeness to me.  I tell her “no” firmly and explain that my breasts are for nursing only, part of my body, and that I don’t like it when she grabs me without warning.

Teach her about breastfeeding:  My hope is that, by emphasizing to my preschooler that breasts are made to nourish babies and toddlers, I will drive home the point that they are not for unwanted squeezing and pinching.

Find something special for me and my preschooler to do together:  Since she’s no longer breastfeeding herself, and the “nursies” are now off limits to her, I know I should make more of an effort to do a fun activity with her that she can enjoy without her little sister in tow.  Maybe read a big kid book, or do that puzzle that’s too challenging for my toddler but gives my older daughter a chance to show off her rapidly expanding skills.

Any other touched out moms have advice to share on nursing a toddler in front of an older child, and setting boundaries?  I would love to hear from you.

5 thoughts on “Touched Out: Toddler Nursing and the Older Child

  1. I love your plan Mel. Setting boundaries for the “nursies” will help with future boundary setting needs! Going to be a tough road ahead, but everyone will breathe easier when you’re on the other side, I think. Good luck-sincerely, not sarcastically!

  2. Yes! I am nursing my 5 month old (pretty much around the clock every two hours – which I’m fine with because I know he needs it now) My 2.5 year old (who weaned at 20 months) is obsessed with my ‘snuggles’ I love him so much, and I think it’s sweet that he finds comfort in them, but it is exhausting when he has to ‘check in’ (basically running over to touch/pinch each one) with them all day long. It is also sort of embarrassing in public when he’s pulling down my shirt and I try to gently redirect him and he freaks out. Not that I really care what others think, but I do think he needs to learn boundaries. I really don’t want him to feel ashamed of using them for his own non-nursing comfort, but it’s also getting to the point where he needs to understand that they are MINE!! And they are also for breastfeeding not for his personal comfort. (and never mind my poor hubs who never gets to touch them anymore, haha) Not sure what to do about this feeling of being touched out, but it was so nice to read your post!

  3. I’m still nursing my one year old, but only at bedtime and first thing in the morning. My older daughter (3.5) doesn’t seem to care, but I think this is because she never nursed herself (latching issues). She’s interested, and I like to educate her about nursing and such. I’m glad I’m teaching her these things and that she sees this as no big deal. Just this morning we were all cuddled up while I nursed the “baby” – that doesn’t happen often, but it was a beautiful thing. Good luck to you and your girls.

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