I never thought I’d be breastfeeding a two year old. And yet, here we are two years later, and Claire is still nursing. As Lauren says, it just kind of creeps up on you and one day your nursling isn’t a baby anymore. Even though Claire still nurses, our breastfeeding relationship has changed in the past few months, both from limits I’ve started setting and from developments she’s made as she grows up.
Once Claire turned two, I became more self-conscious about nursing in public. I’m still a huge supporter of nursing in public, and I will stand up for anyone who wants to nurse their baby, toddler or preschooler wherever the need arises. But I kind of had imagined that I would wean Claire when she turned two, and when it became obvious that the cost/benefit ratio of that choice was leaning way out of my favour, I compromised by not nursing her at the park, at playgroup or while I’m sitting in the computer chair. She is generally happy with a substitute of a snack, a drink of cow’s milk or doing some activity with me instead, so she has transitioned pretty smoothly to not nursing during the day.
Nursing Down for Naps
When naptime comes, I lie down and nurse Claire in her bed, then sneak away and have some one-on-one time with Bea. Claire still very much needs her nap, and will ask to have “sleepy na-na” after lunch. Bea needs the one-on-one time, and we do most of our “schooly” stuff like handwriting practice and phonics when Claire is asleep. And even though Claire is a generally happy, easygoing kid, I appreciate having only one child to keep tabs on for an hour or two every day. Nursing down for naps still has that sleepy magic, and I’m hesitant to give up our 15 minute nursing to sleep routine and trade it in for a prolonged and frustrating napping without nursing routine. I’m not interested in letting her cry it out, and since she sleeps in a double bed, I’m pretty sure she won’t stay in it for a solo “quiet time”, although that could be a possible option. If we stop nursing, I expect that Claire will give up her nap altogether.
Despite my efforts to night-wean at the start of the year, Claire continues to nurse at night. I’m OK with this now. She comes into out bed at about 1am, nurses back to sleep and then doesn’t nurse again until about 6am. That’s fine with me, and I wake up feeling rested as long as I went to bed early enough myself.
Most parenting decisions come down to evaluating the available choices and comparing the pros and cons of each choice. For me, the pros of nursing my two year old (regular naps and not nursing in public anymore) outweigh the cons (not being able to go away overnight, which is kind of moot anyway since our families don’t live nearby). And I love the fact that she is rarely sick and gets that extra bit of nutrition from the handful of nursing sessions we still have.
Have you nursed a two-year old? What was your experience like?