Why I love breastfeeding a two-year-old who can speak.
October 05, 2011

*** I feel like I should include a disclaimer that I don’t think that mothers who do not breastfeed for as long as I do or at all love their children any less than a mother who does.  I tell Charlotte that she is a loving mother because I think focusing on specific traits informs her about the values our family prizes.

About six months ago, my daughter began ‘nursing’ dolls and toys.  She holds a doll up to her nipple, pats its back, kisses its head.  “SWITCH SIDES, BABY!” she announces, then holds the doll to her other nipple.

Sometimes she shoves the dolls up her shirt so that she can nurse them while continuing about her daily play, the way that I sometimes breastfeed her in a carrier while continuing to wash the dishes or walk the dogs.  About once a week, I sneak in during her nap and pluck a doll out from under her shirt.

Even two-year-old mommas deserve a break, I whisper to her as I kiss her cheeks before stealing out of the room again.

Her favorite doll to breastfeed is a little pink stuffed mouse named Rudy.  She cradles Rudy, rocks Rudy back and forth, says HUSH HUSH HUSH because that’s what the mommas say when I sing “The Wheels on the Bus.”  Then she lifts her shirt and places Rudy to her nipple and asks IS TASTY? and announces RUDY LIKING IT!  RUDY LIKING CHARLOTTE’S MILK!

You’re such a loving momma, I tell her.  YES, she says satisfied.  LOVE MOMMA YOU.

—-

Last week we met up with a friend of ours who recently had twins.  Sarah?, my friend asked, Can you take this one while I take that one?  So we sat on the edge of a creek as our toddlers frolicked in the mud and we nursed her babies.  BABIES SO HAPPY, Charlotte said, GETTING MILK.  FILLING BELLIES.  That’s right, my friend said.

Then Charlotte paused and frowned.  OH NO!, she exclaimed, BABY STEALING CHARLOTTE’S MILK.  Oh darling, I said, there’s plenty of milk to share.  I’ll give you some milk in a few minutes okay?  She thought about it for a moment.  YES, she said, PLENTY TO SHARE.

A couple days later, I took Charlotte to the feed shop to pick up grit for the chickens and before we left I took her to see the live animals in the side room.  One of the female mice had just given birth and there were eight or nine tiny fleshy balls suckling while she rolled to the side and rested.  SO MANY BABIES!  OH NO!  NOT ENOUGH MILK!, she cried panicked.

The shopkeeper reached in and grabbed another mouse and showed Charlotte its belly.  There’s plenty of milk, he said.  Mice have more nipples than people do, so they can feed more babies.  Just like cats and dogs.  PLENTY OF MILK, she repeated.  PLENTY TO SHARE.

Then she looked at the mouse and reached out to stroke its fur with one finger.  SUCH LOVE MOMMA YOU, she said.  FEEDING SO MANY BABIES.  You are such a loving momma, feeding so many babies.

—-

Yesterday, she asked me to play puzzles with her and after a few minutes she crawled into my lap and flopped over and asked for MILK PLEASE?  I carried her to the couch.  A few minutes later, she unlatched and shot upward.  DONE!, she said.  Done?, I asked.  SAVE MILK FOR THE LITTLE BABIES SO TINY, she said.  Oh sweetheart, I said, Momma doesn’t run out of milk.  You can drink milk until your belly is full and I’ll still have plenty of milk to share with the little babies.

She thought about it for a second and dove back in.  When she was finished, she unlatched and pulled my shirt up over my breast and patted it.  ALL DONE, she said.  THANKS, she said.  You’re welcome, I responded.

She patted my breast again and looked at me.  LOVE MOMMA YOU, she said.  You’re a loving momma.

And would you believe it, my heart swelled and popped right there.


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  1. By Sarah on October 05, 2011

    love it!! I never nursed my kids past 8-9 months because I had them all so close together, but stuff like this makes me wish I had nursed the youngest longer.

  2. By Megan Stilley on October 05, 2011

    She is going to be such a caring person and great mom because of you.

  3. By on October 05, 2011

    Ah, love this!  But hoping you can answer some questions.  It seems that like Charlotte, I too am worried about supply!  How do you manage to have enough milk to nurse her and a baby?!  I am nursing my 14 month old, but feel as though I have just enough. He only nurses around 3-4 times a day now, and will drink cows milk from a sippee at other times. Do you exclusively breastfeed (i.e. no cows milk)?  Does she still nurse at night?  As my supply dwindles it feels as though we’re coming to a natural end of breastfeeding, but when I read a post like this it sure makes me want to keep going!  Keep up the great work.  You have such a sweet little girl!

  4. By Catherine on October 05, 2011

    Aww, I love this!  My DD is 28 months and only nurses around once a day now, just before bed, but she loves to talk about “boo”, and tell me how she “needs” it and how it’s yummy and makes her feel safe.  I mean, how could I ever stop that?!  LOL I only breastfed my DS for 15 months, so he wasn’t really vocal about nursing, but hearing DD talk about how it’s special to her is really wonderful.  :)  She also gives her babies her “boo”, too.  I love that.

  5. By Sarah Christensen on October 05, 2011

    Jessica - I only see my friend once or twice a week and her twins are only six weeks old.  She’s only asked me to nurse one or the other a handful of times, and they’re so little they don’t need much.  She does the vast majority of the work, I’m basically the “I have my hands full, do you mind topping the kid off?“ person lol.

    Charlotte does not nurse at night.  She nurses around 5am in the morning - a good long nursing - and then everything else varies.  Most days she nurses one other time in the afternoon or early evening, but if she’s sick or right before a growth spurt she’ll nurse every couple hours.  The more frequently she nurses, the greater my milk supply.  I also have no problem expressing for a pump or by hand and have found that I’m able to increase my supply that way too, but I think it’s much easier for me than for many women simply because of how much time I spent pumping early on.

    Charlotte does have other dairy products a couple times a week.  That could be cow milk, kefir, a yogurt, cheese, goat milk, etc.  She only started drinking cow milk in the last two months or so and seems to like it.  Yesterday I warmed it up and mixed in some cinnamon and honey and told her it was hot cocoa =)  But anyway, she doesn’t have much of it.

  6. By on October 05, 2011

    I thought I heard once that a mother’s milk changes as her baby grows.  If that’s true, is your milk as nourishing for a tiny baby as it is for Charlotte?  I’ve always been curious about this, especially when I hear about moms nursing more than one child at once.

  7. By Karen on October 05, 2011

    This post made my heart swell as well. My nursling is 19 months old today, and I so am looking forward to hearing his thoughts about nursing expressed in words! Thanks for sharing Charlotte’s comments with the rest of us.

  8. By Sarah on October 05, 2011

    Thank you so much, Sarah. This just upped my courage to tell my family to go suck it - they’ve been pestering me to quit nursing since my son turned one last week.

  9. By ajira on October 05, 2011

    Yes. Yes! LOVE MAMA YOU. Wonderful.

  10. By on October 06, 2011

    Sarah - I admittedly have never had this problem.  Nobody has ever pressured me to quit nursing - except a few voices commenting on my blog.  My friends and family have always been very supportive and we’ve been lucky that in breastfeeding a two-year-old I haven’t come close to the upper limit for what my community finds acceptable.  I just want to wish you luck with finding the support you might want or need to continue breastfeeding and with finding a way to ignore the pressure to quit.  There will be time enough to wean when you and your son are ready, be that tomorrow or years from now.  I hope it all works out for you!

    Alisa - My understanding is that as Charlotte has aged, my milk has changed too.  Milk also changes throughout the time of day (more nucleotides after dark to encourage sleep, for example) and throughout the year (higher fat content in winter).  From what I’ve read, it seems clear to me that my milk is ideal for Charlotte at whatever stage of development she’s at - just as my friend’s milk is ideal for her infants and her three-year-old, who is also still nursing.

    I admittedly do not know much more about milk composition than that, but I do know that milk from a mother with an older child can sustain an infant and that most medical organizations consider the milk from a healthy mother preferable to formula, regardless of the age of the child that the mother lactates for.  They seem to predominantly differ on whether the milk should be pasteurized or not.  In our particular case, the infants seem to take my milk just fine.  I let down almost immediately, so they sometimes sputter, but they’ve never seemed to have any problems digesting it.  I can’t really comment beyond that because I’m not honestly certain how my milk differs from her milk.  Since I’m just a fill-in, I’m not sure my friend really considers it an issue.

  11. By Sarah@Crazy Love Gamble-Style on October 06, 2011

    I love hearing the things Charlotte says!  She is just so darling.  Ava (my 3 year old) took up to nursing her dolls all the time when I had Norah, it is so cute.

  12. By on October 06, 2011

    oh, that was just awesome. I stopped nursing my 19 month old when I was pregnant with our twins. I was so sick and barely keeping enough in to keep the twins in utero healthy, so I think my milk changed and my big boy didn’t like it any more. He wasn’t old enough to talk much about it, but the last time he nursed he did say “all done” and nodded his head. ugh, gets me every time I think about it! but anyway, what I really wanted to say is this: I WISH I had a friend that could help nurse my twins every once in a while. What a wonderful thing!!

  13. By Sarah Christensen on October 06, 2011

    Rachel - I have a second friend who has three-month-old twins and her toddler quit nursing when she was pregnant too.  He quit early on, before the sickness hit or they found out there were two little bubs in there, but I think it was easier on her in the long run.  She was so sick and so tired the whole way through =(  You people who gestate multiples are miracle-workers.  Also, watching both of them breastfeed twins, I’m pretty sure there’s miracle-working involved there too.  It makes me exhausted just watching it.  I don’t mind giving a little milk if it means she gets a ten-minute break!

  14. By Jennifer on October 06, 2011

    Whst a beautiful post! Your daughter is so sweet, and is going to be such a great Mom one day! My daughter is 4 months old and ebf, I plan on going till 2 years old or longer if my daughter wants! I cant wait to teach her all about breastfeeding!

  15. By Jordan Marie Schilleci on October 06, 2011

    Hi love!
    I love when you tell stories with dialogue!  They are my favorite!
    What a sweet sweet story.  Thanks so much!
    You are doing such a great job raising her!

    <3xojo

  16. By tara pollard pakosta on October 07, 2011

    so much fun!
    I miss it so much!
    my daughter was just turning 3 literally days away when we stopped. I still miss it and she’s 10!
    tara

  17. By on October 07, 2011

    It’s such a wonderful thing isn’t it, when they can articulate so well.  My darling Nina who turned two last week, loves for me to tandem feed with her ‘friends”, her teddy bears and dolls.

    She changes her voice to a cute little whisper, as if it’s them asking, and says

    “Can I have some boobie milk too please” (and the “friends” always say thank you when they are finished too !!!)


    Love reading about your developing relationship with your daughter - its beautiful !!

  18. By on October 13, 2011

    What a sweet post. I keep coming back to read it again and again.


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