Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Should a toddler breastfeed in public?

I love that the caption on this Lesotho postcard is “Mosotho woman weaving a basket.” Now there's a culture where the subject of this blog post would not even be discussed.
I wrote the December before last about "Hiding a nursing toddler," and seeing as it's over a year later, and I still have a nursing toddler, I thought I'd revisit the conversation.

Mikko is now 2.5 years old (31 months), and he was 18 months old when I was musing aloud about whether it was appropriate to continue breastfeeding him while we were out and about.

In case you were wondering, I still am nursing him in public, but I keep thinking about the issue.

I wish it weren't an issue. I wish everyone believed, as I do, in the unquestioned benefits of full-term breastfeeding and accepted child-led weaning (although I have nothing against mutual or mother-led weaning per se, and that's not my argument here). I wish the society in which I lived wasn't so scared of boobies (e.g., nip slip! the horror!), particularly when said breasts are fulfilling their intended purpose.

But it's not that way. Lactivists are fighting for the right to breastfeed a tiny newborn in public, even with a blanket. Am I hurting the fight by nursing a gangling toddler in full view, sans cover-up?

Mikko still nurses a lot. Every time I read a blog post of someone who's nursing a toddler, it's the same story: "We're down to two feedings a day, morning and night," or "only before naptime," etc., and so nursing in public is not even relevant to the discussion. Whereas Mikko still nurses like a wee thing. He picks at solid food (see, it sounds ludicrous even to call it "solid food" in reference to a 2.5-year-old who weighs 36 pounds; I don't call what I eat "solid food," I just call it "food") but will take nummies whenever they're around. I heard once that the technique of "don't offer, don't refuse" is a weaning strategy, but for us, it just seems to be life. I don't need to offer, because he's always doing the asking.

I started counting up the number of times we nursed one day a few months ago, and it was over 15 before I lost track. That's a lot of nursing! So, just as with a newborn, I have these options:

  1. Wean or cut down on nursings.
  2. Stay home.
  3. Nurse my toddler in public.

I would never tell any mother to wean a young infant or keep her baby hungry just so she could go shopping or out to eat. I would never tell her she should just stay home until the baby could take a bottle or had weaned. I would never tell her she had to supplement her baby's breastfeeding with expressed milk or formula, or solids in the case of a slightly older baby.

So why do I feel like what I'm doing is toeing the line of what is acceptable?

If Mikko could choose, he would choose #3, unhesitatingly. He frequently asks to nurse in situations where I'm not comfortable. I wish I were comfortable everywhere, but I'm so aware now that what I'm doing is aberrant for this culture.

For instance, the other day we went to a birthday party for another little boy, and I was sitting on a straight chair next to the child's grandmother, with an uncle standing in front of me. Mikko wanted to nurse. I imagined the gasp of horror from the grandmother, the wide eyes of the uncle as he got a view down my opened shirt. I picked Mikko up and went into the birthday boy's bedroom. Mikko got distracted by the toys there, so that ended the desire.

Mikko doesn't need to nurse all day, in some sense. He could get nutrients from other foods. He could sate his thirst by drinking other beverages. He manages fine without me when I'm not available, as when Sam takes him out for hours at a time to the zoo or on errands. Mikko will ask for nummies when I'm not around, but he doesn't dissolve into tears or faint from hunger without them. I could see some saying that his breastfeeding is more of a habit, a comfort sucking now. It's not that I don't agree, just that I think it's a tricky thing to separate a child's needs from a child's wants. I'm not the one who can prioritize what's important to him. In breastfeeding throughout these past two and a half years, I've always trusted him to know when he needs to nurse and how much. It put me in good stead when he was a newborn, and I don't want to stop now.

But I find myself hesitating when he asks for nummies in public. I weigh the situation. Are we among friends? Are we among friends who would approve? If there are strangers around, is anyone near enough to see what's happening?

I try to breastfeed discreetly, just because I am so aware that what I'm doing is unusual and I don't want to draw negative attention my way — particularly not if that attention lands on my defenseless son's head. But I can't breastfeed as discreetly as I used to, because Mikko won't stand for fabric near his face anymore. If I try to lift up my shirt to feed, he protests. "No. Big nummies," is his demand. He wants the full deal, out of the top of my shirt. I have large breasts, so I cover up the extra skin with my free hand — but not too near his mouth, or he'll push my hand away and a scrabbling battle will ensue. He'll then pop off the nipple to berate me for daring to intrude on his space, and I figure that sort of scene is more likely to attract attention than quiet nursing with a little bit of boobage showing.

Along the same lines, could I refuse his request for nursing in public? Sometimes. Maybe. As with the situation with the toys, sometimes something can distract him. But sometimes not. And then screaming ensues. And I wonder if the screaming, followed by nursing, might not attract more attention than just quietly giving in for a few sips.

Here's my biggest fear about nursing a toddler in public, apart from any negative comments we might receive but have so far been lucky to avoid. (For what it's worth, we haven't garnered any positive ones, either, at least from strangers, but I'm all right with people just ignoring us.) My biggest fear is that I'm setting the breastfeeding-rights movement back. I worry that far from normalizing breastfeeding, my breastfeeding a toddler sends a signal that breastfeeding is only for extremists. It is so bizarre by the current cultural standards that I fear anyone seeing us who's on the fence won't think, for example, "Well, I should at least breastfeed my newborn, then," but something more along the lines of, "Ugh, breastfeeding is so weird and primal and crunchy, and that's never going to be me."

So that's where we stand. I breastfeed my full-fledged toddler in public. Frequently. But with a side dish of waffling.

I don't even want to come to a conclusion here about where I think I should go with this, because I want (I think) to hear your opinions and experiences about nursing a toddler in public. I mean, I love hearing from you all, but I was a little leery to post this. I'm afraid all the comments will function as a sort of poll, and I'll have to abide by the group decision or suffer the emotional consequences. I don't want to be heaped with guilt and shame if we continue to breastfeed in public if, for instance, the informal poll tells me we should stop and I should day-wean him.

But, you know, a blog post's a blog post, and this has been swirling in my head for some time. I am interested in hearing what you have to say. Have at it.


trish said...

I can definitely relate to many of your concerns. I nursed my son until he was 5, and I'm still nursing my 4 year old and my 8 month old (of course!). Happily, once my kids got to be around the age of 3, I really didn't have to nurse them in public a whole lot since they understood it was something I'd rather do at home. Don't get me wrong - I absolutely would have nursed them, at whatever age, if they had the intense need to do it, in public or not. And my kids nursed A LOT! But I did feel a tiny bit uncomfortable doing it in public as they got older than the age of 3 or so. My advice is to not worry about the movement and just concentrate on your baby - what he needs when he needs it. The movement will survive, and so will the people that see you nursing! Good post!

Arwyn said...

I see it the same way I see the level of "discretion" in NIPing: every type of NIP is going to help. Of course, the flip side of that is every type of NIP is going to piss someone off.

But here's how it works: say you nurse with a cover. Great! People learn that you can be especially modest and still meet your baby's needs while out and about, and some women think "well, if she can do that, maybe I don't have to wean in order to have a life!". Say you pull your shirt down and whip 'em out (me!): Great! People learn that breasts aren't actually that big a deal, and some women think "well if she can do that, maybe I'm ok over here with my shirt tucked in." Say you're so good at the lift and tuck that no one actually knows you're nursing: Great! People learn that NIP doesn't necessarily equal NIPPLE, and women learn there are options outside of quitting, hiding, or "flaunting".

Similarly, I think it's helpful to nurse all ages in public as well. It will scandalize some, but I guarantee there are others who will be inspired, who will think "Well I'd never do THAT, but I guess it wouldn't be so bad to keep nursing to 6/12/18/24 months..."

And because all options are vilified as well (for some people, there's simply no such thing as discreet enough or young enough to NIP without them being scandalized), I don't think there's any use in trying to shrink ourselves down enough to avoid small-minded people's censure.

So do what works for you, even if that's nursing a 2.5 year old in public, but not in front of a friend's uncle. It's ok, really.

Michelle said...

I've really never had a problem with this. I've mostly gotten positive comments. Just this weekend I was at a party (full of conservatives my parents' age) with my family, including my children, 4 mos and 2.5 years. I nursed both of them there. People mainly gushed about how cute my kids are. I don't cover while nursing. Breast is usually exposed. I nurse anywhere and in front of anyone. You know, like it's normal or something. One lady mentioned to my MIL that she nursed her youngest to 2.5 years when she saw me nurse my toddler. Here is a recent post of mine http://gabethebabe-stille.blogspot.com/2010/01/i.html

Jenny said...

I did not enjoy breastfeeding my toddler in public (even though we only nursed to 21 months)--but I think it's the right thing to do. I don't think it hurts the public opinion of breastfeeding at all. Ignorant people do that.

I have much less of a problem nursing in front of strangers than I do in front of extended family members and not-so-close friends. I don't breastfeed with the intention of starting a fight or making people uncomfortable; I'm just taking care of my daughter. When there's a possibility of starting a fight with people I know and love, it's personal and constitutes a bit of a risk. I normally didn't end up nursing my first daughter in public that often as a toddler, because we had narrowed it down to just 2-3 feedings a day. However, one time at my in-laws during Christmas some things were said and it really hurt my feelings. As you mentioned, when your child is older you have to worry about his feelings, too.

Therefore, I don't enjoy nursing a toddler in public (although I have done it) but I still think it's important. The more people see it, the more normal it will be, and moms won't be as timid about doing it in public. Besides, our kids are most important and at some point, they are going to want to nurse at an inconvenient time. NIP is a good thing, and I hope you keep doing it :-)

Wendy Maduro said...

I feel you girl. My toddler has weaned, but I feel you. I have a friend who is tandeming, with a 2,5yo. She told me she doesn't nurse in public. I completely understand. I find it such a shame though that moms are made to feel uncomfortable nursing an older child in public, some to the extend that they have to hide it. WHAT IS UP WITH SOCIETY

Anonymous said...

My advice is to, instead of worrying about setting back the NIP movement, consider what you are doing for the Extended Nursing movement.

I nursed my last child for 2½ years. She nursed often, but she would just come suckle for literally like 3 seconds in the end. She just wanted to make sure they were still there.

I wish people were more accepting of extended breastfeeding. My friends, family, and coworkers are supportive of my choice to BF (and pump at work - a topic I've been contemplating for my blog), but I've heard them say, "as long as you aren't one of those weirdos that BFs forever! I always ask, "how long is forever? because I might be one of those people." That usually shuts them up. It is one thing to refer to a group of unknown people as freaks, but to call someone weird to their face? Few have the balls to do that.

Good for you for putting Mikko's needs first! For shame that you thought your readers would be anything but supportive. ;-)

soapsuds said...

I echo so many of your thoughts/feelings on this subject. I do think it's a bit different for me here in Canada though, because a lot more women breastfeed to a year (because we have one year maternity leave) so "extended" nursing is a lot more normal than it is in the US.

I am still nursing my almost 22 month old and when she turned 1, I did start to worry more about what people think, but I have never had anyone even look sideways at me when nursing her in public. It's only recently that I've started to feel uncomfortable/awkward in certain situations and sometimes I'll ask her to wait until we get home (and feel like the worst mother on the planet when I do). Of course, if she really needed to nurse, then I would, but I feel okay putting limits on it at certain times. However, I always berate myself afterwards and wonder who am I doing that for?? Not her! Not myself! For someone else?? Who cares! So maybe I am not as okay with putting limits as I think...

I know my DH's family thinks it's odd that I'm still nursing her, but they wouldn't say a word. My SIL nursed her kids to 1, which I think is awesome, but she has already expressed her feelings on "extended" nursing.

Anyway, I love your post and I think you should nurse your toddler wherever you want! And it definitely helps the cause for people to be exposed to it.

Anonymous said...

I think that any mother should feel free to nurse any child, of any age, anywhere. If it's working for her, that's all that matters.

I also think that any mother has the right to choose not to nurse her child or any age in a given situation. Just as you aren't obligated to cover up or retreat to a private location or use a cover, you aren't obligated to NOT do those things.

My daughter was sort of like Mikko in that she continued to nurse at least 8 times a day as a 2.5 year old. However, unlike Mikko she rarely asked to nurse when we were in public, she was just too distractible. On the rare occasion when she did I usually offered an alternative as a first tack and she usually accepted. If she didn't, I nursed her. That was my comfort level, and my way of assessing how much she really needed to nurse.

I don't think that what you're doing is setting the cause back, I think it's advancing it. However, that doesn't mean you're required to do it. There's no right or wrong, here, only right or wrong for you. And even that is not a permanent thing, and may change as Mikko gets older.

Darcel said...

LOVE that picture of the toddler nursing!

Ava loved to nurse. She had been that way from day one. She was always coming up to me asking for ni-ni's.
She weaned herself at 29 months,and that's only because my milk dried up.

Every now and then she will ask for ni-ni's, and I tell her there is nothing there anymore. At first I would go ahead and nurse her, but she would pull off and say "mommy ni-ni's are empty"

I miss our nursing relationship, but to be honest it was hard after I became pregnant.

I think what your doing is great! We nursed in public many times. I would feel a little uncomfortable at first, but eventually got over it.

It's so taboo here because society is still shoving it down our throats that breast aren't for feeding.
Just think every time you nurse in public, your helping another mama to feel brave enough to do the same, no matter what age her child is.

Those who don't like it, they can look the other way!

molly said...

I can't really offer you any new advice that hasn't already been posted here! I don't think you should worry about the "movement." Look, here, we're all having a conversation about how normal it is to breastfeed in public. That's movement.

And I TOTALLY understand your hesitation to nurse in public. I nurse in public all the time. The other day Eden was throwing a fit in Target (it was late and we probably shouldn't have gone in the first place) and I knew she was exhausted so I flopped down on the floor in the middle of the aisle, whipped out a boob and started to nurse her. My husband (who is VERY supportive) said in a stage whisper "you're right underneath a camera!!!" Hmm. Yeah. Lucky security people, I guess! I truly did not care. But I did cut the session shorter than I would have if I had been on my own with Eden, b/c I could tell it was making my husband uncomfortable.

My other biggest problem with nursing in public is that Eden likes to "twiddle" the other side when she's nursing, and while I have no problem showing boob or even nipple during the nursing process, I have to admit it's a little unnerving to be sitting out in the middle of the mall with a toddler twa-doodle-ing my nipple back and forth, and then poking it in to watch it bounce back, and then pulling it out to watch it bounce in....Does anyone else's baby do that????!!!?? (I have ALWAYS wanted to know!) :)

And I love that photo. His little hands are so cute. So precious. We need more of that here.

Chic Mama said...

Oh wow, tough one. I've always breastfed in public, most time no problems. Occasionally I've felt uncomfortable but then luckily my toddler never asked to feed whilst we were out.
My others all stopped on their own at a year- number five was still feeding until he was 2 and one month. I encouraged the weaning because I knew he would have to stay with his father at some point and I thought that would be kinder to him. It wasn't until four months later though that he's stayed once with him! He still points at his milkies and I feel a bit sad but then I can't imagine him feeding now- he seems too big.
I hope you sort out your dilemma. Can understand it. :0)

global mamas said...

My 17 month old nurses so much and eats very little food too. I can relate to everything you are saying and must admit that sometimes I get caught up with what I should and shouldn't be doing...I was feeling so very frustrated the other day the I had a brief thought of weaning that really suprised me as I have always planned to b-feed her well into toddler hood. I then got this article sent to me and was totally re-inspired..please read it, it is beautiful!


Thomasin said...

Molly, my daughter (15 months) has started "twiddling" when we nurse at home. Still not when we're out and about, but I wouldn't be surprised if she tries it one of these days. Don't know what I'll decide to do about it, honestly.

This post was interesting. I had just posted my own "Nursing a Toddler is Normal" post but I'd never thought to address that nursing and older child could hurt the movement to nurse by seeming too extreme. I guess I've just always thought that seeing nursing in public is good, flat out. Hmmm... You've made me think! But while I'm thinking, I'll be sitting in the coffee shop or in the grocery store or on the park bench, nursing. Because so far, it's still working for us.

Kristine said...

Don't worry about the movement- the movement is made up of people, of which you are one! Do what feels right for you and Mikko. It sounds like you and he are a little out of sync with the NIP, but that's Ok, and I'm sure as with most things child it is a phase that will pass. It sounds like you are at a turning point where you MIGHT decide to place some limits on your NIP- but as you have said, your baby (toddler, whatever) might not be on board. You will figure something out. I think it is wonderful that you are giving Mikko what he wants and needs (like you said, how do WE know where the line between that is). That will benefit him more than making strangers feel comfortable. :)

A lot of people think we should not give our children what they want when they want it, that we should teach them "delayed gratification." I think that is more of a modern construct where we are supposed to do all things perfectly, including parenting. That is not possible, so I"d rather have a happy kid! That's why I nurse my ten month old on demand no matter what other people think about how he should have a more "structured" eating schedule.

As if I am going to spend my limited brain power on structuring someone's breastfeeding. I'd rather be blogging.

Really, it's about other people's expectations. I do not see why breastfeeding is the business of SO many other people! Rrrr!

Jamie said...

The kind of people who are going to be offended would most likely be offended by you nursing no matter how old your child is, so I would try not to worry about it. Though I completely understand the fears of being singled out in public. I think the more people who see that nursing an older baby is normal and that people do it, the better. I don't think you're hurting anybody by doing it whereever you please.

I was actually reading a post about this at another blog yesterday and then talking to my husband about it, because I intend to BF as long as Jude is interested. It seemed like the majority of the comments were, "GROSS, if they can ASK for it, they're too old!" which makes me CRAZY MAD- what do you think a screaming infant is doing?? ASKING FOR IT! Anyway, very timely discussion.

Olivia said...

@Molly, my daughter loves to play with my boobs! She does the nipple thing you discribed, she drums on them to watch them bounce, and just a couple of nights ago I was pulled out of sleep to find her on her belly, propped on her elbows, alternately nursing and tugging at my breast! When she saw I was awake she got a huge grin.

This post is really interesting as my daughter approaches 1 year old (two more months). Right now I nurse anytime anywhere, and I've never gotten a negative comment. But I've been thinking that more people will find NIP and just nursing in general to be less acceptable once she's over a year old.

Since I work full-time and pump, she doesn't actually nurse during the day except for weekends, and I've been planning (hoping?) to "day time" wean her by a year old so I can quit pumping (so much hate for the pump!). But I love nursing, so I don't intend to wean her entirely. Maybe nursing a todder in public won't be an issue for me. Then again, if I end up being unemployed for very long, and I don't have to pump I may nurse her more often. Oh boy, I'm rambling!

I don't think nursing a toddler in public is harmful to the movement. I think it helps normalize NIP and extended breastfeeding.

Anonymous said...

I live in the Bible belt of the South (for another week any way!) Here, breastfeeding is a little strange. Breastfeeding in public is really strange. I honestly think I saw one or two women breastfeed in my life before I got pregnant and started hanging out at La Leche League meetings.

So, if you lived where I lived, you'd be considered strange for nursing in public at all. Which is why I have this opinion: you can't please everyone. I will nurse in public. The only place I am uncomfortable nursing is in my parent's home in public, and that's because we have a rocky relationship & everyone in my family has made the disapproving, "You're not gonna just whip em out?" comment. My daughter is only 7.5 months old, so we will see how I feel when she is a toddler, but hopefully I will feel the same: you can't please everyone.

Bibliomama said...

I agree absolutely that your concern about setting the movement back should be a non-issue. The whole hysteria over women's bodies has a long, rich, really distasteful history, and you're not going to offend anyone that wasn't going to be offended no matter how small your baby is.

Both my kids self-weaned at about a year, and I was devastated at the time. So I have no idea what I would have done in the event that we were still nursing when they were bigger. I do understand your discomfort, but I don't think it's an indication that you should stop. If it works for the two of you, the rest of the world can pretty much take a flying f*** at a rolling doughnut, don't you think? :)

Dionna @ Code Name: Mama said...

I am so pleased that every single comment has been supportive :) I have the same issues, and I am such a loud-mouthed lactivist! But you're right - it's different to nurse a toddler than it is to nurse a newborn. I agree with everyone, though, that said every time you nurse a toddler, you are normalizing full-term breastfeeding. I hope our discomfort benefits the next generation of mamas!

Dionna @ Code Name: Mama

Melodie said...

It sounds to me like Mikko and my second daughter who is 33 months would be great friends and that if you and I were ever to go on an outing together with them we would nurse in solidarity our little nurslings who just aren't anywhere close to considering weaning. Only nursing twice a day, say those other breastfeeding moms? Mine nurses about ten times a day. IF I let her, which sometimes, like these past few days when everyone has been sick, I do. I don't nurse her in public much anymore, if at all. I take into consideration all the same things you mention here, but I do wish it was just the norm and that I didn't have to feel strange about it. And I hate that I even feel strange. I mean I advocate for this! I have a breastfeeding blog! And yet I'm human and I have feelings of inadequacies. It's a hard place to be. I'm right there with you!

Anonymous said...

This is a great post and from a perspective that few write about but I bet many have thought about. I will offer this... I don't think there is an answer to be given. You are finding your answer each and every day. You are meeting your son's needs. When you feel he doesn't "need" to have nummies in public anymore, you will know and make it a gentle transition. So, even with the waffling, keep doing what you are doing... listening to your son and his needs. Whether NIP or not, that is what really matters!! Thanks for sharing! Also, if you would like, I would LOVE to have a pic of you nursing your toddler in the breastfeeding image gallery at thevervepath.com Send me a link or image if you are interested! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I love that Wed pic BTW. The only "public" nursing of my 3yo is in front of family members (in laws included). I only do it on weekends when it's her nap time and she wants a little snuggling.

Otherwise, she really doesn't want it, only after she's been very upset or is tired. It still feels natural and soothing so I do it.

Lauren Wayne said...

Wow! It is so encouraging to hear from all of you and feel so supported. I'm feeling affirmed in my own decisions to nurse a toddler in public, not to cover up but to be rather discreet, and to set limits if I want but not if I don't. I'm glad also that other people have frequently nursing toddlers, that many of you have thought before about this issue as well, and I don't feel so alone now in how conflicted I feel about it all! That's a lot of support, so thank you.

Here are some thoughts, distilled from your comments:

I'm pretty outspoken on my blog (though I'm actually trying to temper this and be more reasonable...), but in real life I'm shy and confrontation-averse. I wish I could be an avenging lactivist with a list of the benefits of full-term breastfeeding ready on my tongue for anyone who dared criticize me, but I think I'm more the skulk away and lick my wounds, then complain online sort. I haven't been tested yet, so we'll see, but I would be very hurt and shaken to be called out for NIP, whether by a stranger or a loved one. Just FYI, in case my online persona seems more outgoing and less tongue-tied to you than my actual self is!

I really like what Arwyn and The Grumbles and bibliomama and others of you have said about how any breastfeeding could inspire and offend, and that I can't really control, so therefore shouldn't be bothered, what other people are thinking. I will work on this perspective.

I also appreciate the advice, here and on Twitter, to seek out mothers who breastfeed toddlers, since I currently know none IRL. What has stopped me is feeling it's one more thing to add, when I already have friends I have trouble fitting in time for. I mean, yes, they don't breastfeed much if at all, but they are still my friends, for other good reasons. But I can see that, if I'm feeling alone in my parenting choices, it makes sense to find some parents I can connect with. So I will consider this further and figure out what action to take. Is going to LLL meetings for the first time weird when you have a toddler? Aren't most people there moms of newborns? Will I be the old, wise one? Oh, noes! :)

I don't think I mentioned this, but my mother's coming to visit today for a week. She didn't say anything last time she was here, just after Mikko turned 2, so let's see if there's any mention at this age. I'm not going to be able to hide it from her, that's for sure, even if I wanted to.

Lauren Wayne said...

Part 2 because I hit the character limit! :)

Molly: Mikko loves to twiddle, but I can't stand it! It sends shivers down me, but not in a good way. So we have little tiffs about that on a regular basis. Maybe that's another blog post right there! It's funny, though, sometimes even when he's not nursing, he'll stick his hand down my shirt just to feel the nummies are still there. Sometimes I feel more awkward about that in public than full-out nursing, because if people don't know that I am nursing him, what must they think! Again, I know, I know, I need to stop worrying about anyone else's hypothetical thoughts...

Global Mamas: I love that article! I actually just put it on a favorites list I hadn't published yet. @karahugstrees reposted it on Twitter, because it's such a beautiful one!

FC Mom: Love "Don't worry about the movement — the movement is made up of people, of which you are one!" And why is breastfeeding other people's business? Rrrr is right.

thevervepath: I've been meaning to send in some images when I first saw your gallery! Thanks for the reminder.

As a P.S., I met a woman on the bus who didn't even see me nursing Mikko but mentioned outright her daughter was still nursing a 2-year-old. So they are out there, and some of them have supportive family members, too. I'm glad to remember that!

Lisa C said...

Wow, so many comments. I stopped reading after about the tenth one, but I really liked Arwyn's comment.

Michael is 18 months and nurses quite frequently some days, and other days he seems to forget about it, which clearly indicates that it's not a habit, but rather he needs it more some days than others.

I'm a bit uncomfortable nursing in public and WAY uncomfortable nursing around family. I don't care what strangers think...well I try not to, anyway. My mom will make negative comments if I nurse at her house, so I have to go to a separate room if I don't want to use a blanket. It sucks.

BUT, I really want to nurse in public. Occasionally Michael gets desperate enough to ask, but he's so distracted and will forget about it until he is strapped into his carseat. I hate nursing in the car! When we're out and about I feel like I'm constantly asking him to wait because he always asks at the worst times!

Anyway, I'm just rambling here. Oh, one more thing. I nursed at my stepsister's house today and she asked how long we were going to nurse, which was cool because it opened up the subject of extended nursing. So I think NIP is a good thing. If nothing else it helps other mothers who want to NIP get the courage to do it themselves.

Bellesmam said...

Hi. I nurse my 26 month old still. I had been trying to wean her, but I wasnt comfortable with it, I like to nurse. it is a bond between us. That said, if I feel uncomfortable when she asks, I do say, not here Boo. but after reading baout this alot lately, I have changed this, and i now nurse her where and when i want and she wants. And I dont try to cover up, because I find that the more I try to hide it, the more obvious it becomes. and it is when I just do it and relax that we attract the least attention. I have been asked ONCE to cover up, we were in Business Class overseas flight and we werent at all obvious, but i think the attendant was uncomfortable. I said, I dont have a light cover and it is too hot to put anything over her head. done. she didnt push it.
what i will say, is that I have some lovely breastfeeding shirts, which allow me to poke out the nipple and her to put her hands in, which cover most of the breast. the hardest part nwo is that she says "other side mama" over and over she switches sides. But I am not ready to wean and neither is she.
thank you for your posts and for all the pro bf comments!

Susana la Banana said...

Hey, wow, way to get some comments going! This is a great topic, because I think it is is *so* hard for many of us to feel comfortable nursing a toddler in public, but I think it should be done if your child needs it, because for me, that's the bottom line. And yes, I know, that whole fine line thing between need and want, but I just mean, you know, if it's what your family situation calls for, if it's what your kid wants and so on then you should try to do like the rest of your parenting and just forget anyone might be watching you. That's what this makes me think of...how do you best handle a tantrum? By pretending that no one's watching you. Good luck and I'm glad to hear so much support for not only your continued public toddler nursings but also the fact that it can be scary for you. Way to hang in there! And a side of waffling made me want to say....mmmmmmmmmm waffles. =) I think I might be hungry.

Anonymous said...

I have to admit, I stare. I try to be discreet about it. I can’t help looking over at a nursing baby, especially a toddler. I don’t know anyone still nursing their toddler. So when I see a mommy doing in public I almost want to go over to her and tell her she is an inspiration. Now how awkward would that be for her=)
I feel encouraged and bold to keep it up myself. So, nurse away. Know that you are an encouragement more than an embarrassment.

Betsy B. Honest said...

Honey, you are NOT setting the breastfeeding movement back.

Christy D said...

Quick comment on LLL meetings: The one I attend definitely has more moms of older babies and toddlers than newborns, so it definitely depends on the meeting. From what I know about LLL in general is that nursing moms of toddlers are welcomed and encouraged

Anonymous said...

NURSE IN PUBLIC. It will not become a problem no longer if everyone with an older child is afraid of nursing in public. Also, the next generation needs to be more exposed to it!

dohiyi mama said...

Nurse in public, mama! My baby girl is only 4 months old, but I intend to nurse her as long as she likes, as my mother did with all her babies. I can't wait to hear the comments from my in-laws... they already think I'm weird for co-sleeping, not letting my 4 month old stare at the TV, and breastfeeding on demand. :)

Molly, my daughter already plays with my boobs. When she finishes eating, she likes to grab the one she's been nursing from and squeeze it, and while she's eating she likes to hold the other nipple in her fist... lol.

Related Posts with Thumbnails