Nursing a toddler: an update

“I’m glad we’re not done breastfeeding. Even past my one-year goal, I don’t feel the need to “have my body back” yet. It helps that our nursing sessions have gotten shorter, easier and less frequent than, say, this time last year. Yes, it’s bonding time for the two of us, but it’s also become a seamless part of our daily lives. It’s special and also routine. It’s a nice way for both of us to ease into our morning and ease into our evening. I can’t say I’m ready to give that up yet.”


That was me, six months ago. Breastfeeding a toddler, not feeling any desire to “have my body back,” not “ready to give that up yet.” Fast forward these six months, and I’m singing a different tune. We are still breastfeeding, but we have started to wean. I am ready.

I’m not sure when it happened, but I remember it feeling like a switch had flipped in my head. Oh my god, I’m so ready for this to be over. Part of me felt guilt for having that thought—breastfeeding is so good for a child at any age, even when it’s not his primary source of food. Shouldn’t I want to provide that for Lenny as long as it takes? Shouldn’t I wait until he self-weans? I think this guilt is what has kept me going for so long, at least most recently. But I came across a post that described breastfeeding as a relationship, and how, in order for the relationship to work, both partners had to be willing participants. That was all the permission I needed. I was a partner in this relationship, too, and I needed to take my own emotions into consideration. It wouldn’t do either of us any good if I came to hate every minute of every nursing session, or resented the time spent nursing. That was not how I wanted our breastfeeding relationship to end.

We’ve started the weaning process. We are down to twice a day, most days. I try to remain flexible on this weaning journey and take it day by day. If Lenny wants to nurse more on some days and I don’t mind, then I allow it. In most cases, I try to distract him away from wanting to nurse, or I try to pack our weekends full of activities away from the house where he won’t ask to nurse. Even though I would be okay if we stopped breastfeeding tomorrow, I’m willing to make this a gradual, healthy process for the both of us.

Maybe I would be a little upset if it were to all end tomorrow. Maybe gradual weaning is best for both of us, physically and emotionally. I will miss the way he looks up at me in the mornings, after he’s woken up just a little bit more and mumbles “Hi, Momma,” with a big smile on his face. I will miss how he’ll sometimes give me a kiss when he switches sides when we’re sitting together in the dark at bedtime. We’ll find new ways to snuggle and new ways to connect. Once our breastfeeding journey is over, Lenny will probably never remember that it happened; I hope I never forget.

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