Adventures in Tandem Nursing

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ADVENTURES IN TANDEM NURSING is the actual title of an actual book. It is published by La Leche League and was loaned to me by my midwife, who suggested I read it after I commented that my 17-month-old has not weaned despite the fact that I am midway through my second pregnancy. In fact, it seems like her demand to nurse is actually increasing.

Most other mothers I know never tandem nursed. The need wasn’t there, due to longer birth spacing or early weaning. Also, most of them, if they nursed at all, didn’t do so past the 6 months to one year period.

At the other extreme, when I think of a mother who tandem nurses, I think of a latched-on three-year-old sharing mommy with a newborn. And to an extent, that stereotype is true.

I do have one friend who has several children, some of whom are close together like mine will be (for me, they will be 22 months apart). However, in most cases, her nursing toddlers tended to self-wean during the next pregnancy due to changes in the taste, consistency and availability of milk that occurs naturally when your lactating body is pregnant again.

Honestly, I never expected to be nursing a toddler. I thought once she hit 12 months, she would naturally start to self-wean due to the ability to drink cow’s milk and water, and eat solid foods all day long. At 17 months, she is a champ at self-feeding, with the new experience of a fork and spoon in addition to finger feeding. But this girl loves to nurse! It’s getting a little creepy that she can now ask for it, as well as respond to “Do you want to nurse?” with “YEAH!” But then, it’s kind of sweet.

Given that we’re apart so often due to work, and she seems to enjoy it and it doesn’t bother me (except at bedtime, but that’s another issue), I decided to stop fighting it. So although I used to try to distract her with a sippy of whole milk or a toy, now when she wants to comfort nurse, I just let it happen unless I really can’t for some reason.

And at this rate, it looks like I may be beginning my own Adventure in Tandem Nursing come May or or June, if this kid doesn’t lose interest by then. Is there anyone out there other than LLL who will be supportive? Or am I setting myself up for some weird looks if the topic comes up in conversation?

3 comments on “Adventures in Tandem Nursing”

  1. Good to know, thanks! For a while it felt like I “should” be trying to wean my toddler, until I realized that it still feels completely natural and isn’t hurting anything. The only issue I have is with getting this kid to sleep without having to nurse her to sleep, and then waking up once more for an overnight nurse. She will sleep for dad or others, if they have the patience to rock her to sleep with music or some other substitute technique. But if she knows I’m around, she more often than not wants me to nurse her. Being pregnant, this is sometimes tiring, so that’s the one thing I would like to adjust if possible.

  2. What a great mama you are! I have three children, my oldest is almost 7 and I’ve been tandem nursing for 4 years now (with some rearranging of toddlers/infants). I am that extreme stereo-type in that my just-turned-four-year-old is still one of my nurslings (at night) but it soothes and calms better than anything else and he loves it so, that I don’t even think of taking it away (though sometimes I do daydream about when he’s going to self-wean).

    I NEVER thought I’d be a tandem-nurser either, but here I am! 😉 I’ll support you! Go, Mama!

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