I nursed my son for three and a half years.
Yes, you read that right. No, I don’t care what you think.
I knew it was going to be a difficult transition. The thing I was not counting on? Him still wanting to be near, touching my boobs all the time. It makes sense to me that he can’t just give them up cold turkey because he found comfort and solace there for a long time. But that doesn’t make it any less annoying. One of the main reasons I weaned him was because I was feeling majorly “touched out.”
I had never expected to nurse a toddler, so I was really nervous about weaning my son because he seemed so attached to nursing. But the weaning process was surprisingly quick, which lead me to believe that he was more ready than I thought. But even though he was able to give up nursing, he clearly wasn’t ready to end his relationship with my breasts.
It’s completely innocent, but like with nursing, sometimes I just don’t want him to touch me. This isn’t an uncommon issue for toddlers who have recently weaned. In fact, Dr. Laura Markham of the site Aha! Parenting addressed this in a letter that appeared in her “Ask the Doctor” column, saying, “It is very common for toddlers to need to touch their mother’s breasts for comfort or to fall asleep for as much as a year after weaning.”
My son would often nurse immediately upon waking, so I’ve noticed he spends the most time cuddling my breasts first thing in the morning. Occasionally, he may snuggle his face into my chest while he’s sleeping (even though I’ve weaned, we still co-sleep), but it doesn’t last long. He just needs to know I’m there, and my breasts are the most comforting part of me to him.
Naturally, sometimes I just don’t want him touching me, and as his mother, I’m allowed to have boundaries. Weaning has been a great way to drive home lessons on body autonomy. If I don’t want to be touched, I say, “You know how sometimes you don’t like it if I touch your body? Well, this is one of the times when I don’t like it if you touch my body.” He understands and respects that, even if it does make him upset.
Wearing a bra also helps. If he can’t see my nipples, he often forgets that my breasts exist and is less likely to get handsy.
In her response to the question about breast touching, Dr. Laura makes another strong point: “We don’t acknowledge it in this culture, but weaning can be traumatic for little ones.” When you put it into this kind of perspective, your kid’s motivation for touching your breasts is even more clear. It’s natural for them to try to cling to some element of the comfort that nursing gave them if it’s still available. Sometimes my son just comes over and lays his head on my chest and says, “I love you, boobies.” It’s almost more of an acknowledgement of gratitude for all the things they offered him for so long.
Now that we don’t nurse, he has become more cuddly, which is awesome. He recently cut his finger and curled up in my lap to watch a movie with me until his finger stopped hurting. Before, that cuddling would have been a nursing session, and I would have felt touched out and unable to just enjoy the quiet moment.
The most important thing to know is that post-weaning boob attachment isn’t forever. Dr. Laura says that it averages about a year, but that doesn’t mean it will happen that way for every child (thank the Lord). It may be a lot during those first few months, as it has been for us, and then it may taper off and happen rarely or occasionally. Just acknowledge your child’s needs and find boundaries that work for you. The boob obsession will pass. Eventually.