The Nursing Gymnastics
Breastfeeding is a common practice, and it’s becoming more widespread and socially acceptable to nurse in public (THANK GOODNESS). Still, if you’re nursing a toddler, you’re bound to encounter “the look” more often — you know, that scathingly bitchy-looking glance cast upon you by strangers? Now that your little one is old enough that breastfeeding is not the sole source of nutrition, and you don’t necessarily have to drop everything and nurse, it’s time to teach some nursing manners. You know, so you can avoid having your shirt yanked down for an ill-timed pit stop in the middle of Target.
Luckily, your toddler is getting old enough to listen to reason. At least sometimes. You can set boundaries and stick to them. Negotiate with your little one, letting her know that there are specific places and times to nurse (before naps and at bedtime, for example). Then provide gentle reminders if she asks at other times: “Nursing is only for sleepy time, remember?” Cuddle or offer another distraction, like a book or a drink. Eventually she will learn to nurse within the limits, and stop asking (or at least not so insistently) when you’re somewhere else.
Toddlers never stop moving. At this point, you may marvel at the “nursing gymnastics” (and the depressing elasticity of your boobs) that go on as your toddler writhes, reaches, and looks around during a session. If it becomes too much, remove your little one from your lap entirely, gently but firmly explaining that nursing is time to hold still. If you’re consistent, he’ll realize that squirming around — or any other crap like hair-pulling or kicking or biting — will cut the session short. (So will screaming, “MY BOOBS ARE NOT MADE OF SILLY PUTTY!” Not that we speak from personal experience or anything.)
Scary Mommy Tip: Sometimes toddlers can seem boob-obsessed, like every time you sit down is an open invitation for them to latch on and help themselves — no matter how over it you are. It’s okay to say no, even if it leads to tears! Just acknowledge that you understand why he’s upset, then meet his needs in other ways, like with a sweet snuggle.