The Joys of Breastfeeding a Toddler #16

July 30th, 2010 by Dionna | 6 Comments
Posted in Breastfeeding/Lactivism, Carnival and Special Series, Compassionate Advocacy, Feed with Love and Respect, Guest Posts, Joys of Breastfeeding Past Infancy, Just for Fun/Miscellaneous, natural parenting

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Today I am happy to host a guest post by Kristen Toutges. Kristen is a 25 year old single mother practicing attachment parenting & delighting in all the maddening joys such a situation creates.  She is an advocate for children, single mothers, peaceful parenting, the earth, & animals.  She is an artist & a student. You can see some of her work & more of her musings at moms-not-bombs.tumblr.com mnartists.org/kristen_toutges.  Her son, 2-year-old Sun Ronin, a.k.a Sunny, is a fan of breastfeeding, muffins, animals, & Nascar.  Here is her breastfeeding guest post:

_____________________ Joys 16

I don’t remember making the decision to breastfeed, and I certainly never made the decision to breastfeed into toddlerhood.

As the waves of motherhood rolled past me in each moment – the first moment of recognizing pregnancy, the many moments of labor, the deep love that formed as I, a new mother, bonded with my new child – I never paused to decide what parenting path I was going to go down; it simply came to me as whatever fit best, which quickly and fiercely turned into whatever was best for my child. I breastfed because my breasts were there and full of milk and there was nothing that could have made me put anything between myself and my new son.

Nursing past infancy was a concept I stumbled upon only when I realized that I was presently nursing a toddler. I had just begun reading about natural parenting choices in the beginning of my pregnancy, but it wasn’t until I had my own experiences that I learned the beautiful, soulful moments that come with breastfeeding, as well as the controversial, negative positions that some people take on the issue.

As a single, low-income mother, there are several reasons to breastfeed past infancy:

  • It’s cheap! Combining cloth diapering with breastfeeding can save thousands of dollars throughout a child’s life.
  • It’s healthy! Breastfeeding into toddlerhood is now recommended by most reputable health organizations for its health benefits for both mother & child.
  • The bond is remarkable! The look in a child’s eyes as he latches on in a moment of discomfort, or just out of simple desire, is an amazing manifestation of pure love.
  • Sleep problems are easily repaired! My son has always been a light sleeper; he is not the child who can be carted around in public, sleeping in his car seat. Throughout his infant months and into his toddler years, he has awoken many times during the night for a sweet nursing session. I can’t even begin to imagine what I would have done if I would have had to make a bottle with each waking, or find another method of soothing him back to sleep.
  • Toddlerhood takes on new meaning! My son turned into the stereotypical two year old overnight. The once curious, smiley, gentle little boy became a wild, energetic, untensil-throwing, independent little man.  It stunned me, but our nursing relationship stayed strong. As his sole caregiver, there is no one I can turn him over to when the day gets long. When we are both on the edge of a meltdown, we stop to calmly nurse, gazing at each other and remembering that we can keep going.

The fidgeting, twiddling, and boisterous gymnastics that often accompany a toddler’s breastfeeding session can be trying, but when a few weeks ago my dear son seemed to be taking a nursing pause, a moment of true panic set in. I was not ready for the end of our nursing relationship. How would I deal with public debacles without the whispered promise of a later nursing rendezvous? How would I comfort my son back to sleep without a quick trip to the breast? How would I stay connected with him when I return to school in the fall and am able to see him, on some chaotic days, for a culmination of only a few hours?

Nursing in the morning before school and the evenings before bed is like a love transfusion; it reunites us and immediately reminds us how deep our bond is. My fears subsided as his nursing appetite resumed its normal pace, but although I know we are adaptable people and will find our way without the breast one day, I consider myself wholly blessed for having been educated about the importance of breastfeeding, as well as having birthed a little man who is completely enamored with nursing. He is now just over two years and it seems that he nurses just slightly less these days than when he was born.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

_____________________

Breastfeeding a toddler (or a preschooler!) is full of laughter, joys, and heartbreaking tenderness. I am publishing a series of posts dedicated to the beauty of nursing toddlers in an effort to normalize this healthy and beneficial nursing relationship. But this isn’t just about me – I want to hear YOUR joys. If you are nursing a toddler (or have in the past), please contact me and tell me about your favorite moments. I will include them in the series and credit you, your site, or post it anonymously if you so desire.

6 Responses to:
"The Joys of Breastfeeding a Toddler #16"

  1. MomAgain@40   karentoittoit

    What a lovely post! By reading this, it makes your own breastfeeding experience with your own baby even more special! Thanks, Kristen!

  2. pshouseblog

    I agree with Momagain! This was so lovely. The picture too seems to encompass so much love.
    Good for you for meeting your lovely little one’s needs in the best way even past infancy.

  3. Lissa Metzler   metzillblog

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts about breastfeeding a toddler. I really liked when you talked about doing “whatever was best for you child.” Good for you!

  4. This post brought a tear to my eye. What a wonderful example of a beautiful breastfeeding relationship!

  5. Thank you all so sincerely for your kind & encouraging words! <3

  6. Shannon

    What a gorgeous reflection on mamahood and nursing. My son is also just over 2 and just this morning I was reminded/remembered in the nick of time how nursing is still our best tool for riding out the rough parts of being 2. Thanks for your lovely words

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