Challenges with Breastfeeding a Toddler

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I’m currently breastfeeding my third child. I *thought* I was an expert on breastfeeding after my first two kids, but child number 3 has changed all of the rules! My older two kids both weaned themselves around 15 months old. My third is 20 months old and not showing any signs of stopping. She’s also not sleeping through the night and has a very different personality than my other two kids. I’ve found that breastfeeding a toddler is quite different (and more challenging!) than breastfeeding an infant. It’s all new to me at this point.

Here are the things I’ve found to more challenging with breastfeeding my toddler.

Toddlers are very distracted
There is always a lot going on around my house, and it is always more interesting than eating! Nursing sometimes takes a long time or sometimes she finishes quickly and is asking again after a short time.
And, I’m not allowed to be distracted either. My daughter demands more attention and is happy to let me know if I’m not focused on her while she is eating.

Toddlers have a lot of teeth
And they know how to use them! Ouch!

Toddlers can help themselves
I constantly have little fingers trying to pull off my shirt… Or pull on my bra… Or find any possible way to get what they want!

breastfeeding a toddler

Toddlers DO NOT like to be told no or asked to wait
I don’t really like to breastfeed in public, so I sometimes tell my daughter no. That hasn’t been going over well lately. I mostly try to time our nursing sessions around outings at this point, but I sometimes can’t avoid it. She can get really mad if I won’t let her eat immediately! There’s nothing like walking through Legoland to the baby care center with your daughter screaming “boob” all the way there!

There is less support.
Everyone was so supportive when I breastfed my babies. Where has all of that support gone? It’s been replaced by questions like, “Oh, you’re STILL breastfeeding?” or “She hasn’t weaned yet?”. From my experience, our society seems to be less supportive of moms of breastfeeding toddlers.

Are you breastfeeding a toddler? (Or did you?) What was your experience like?

Krystal Miller
Krystal is a mom to three wonderful kids, and she works part-time as a college instructor. Her spare time is filled with writing, gardening and chasing backyard chickens.

19 Responses to “Challenges with Breastfeeding a Toddler

  • Follow from Triberr … I commented there also. But just wanted to show some love here also..
    As a mom of 5 who BF till they were all 15mo- 2y, I totally LOL at “There’s nothing like walking through Legoland to the baby care center with your daughter screaming “boob” all the way there!
    GOLDEN! I had a similar moment at church… Great Post!

  • I’m glad you’re sharing your thoughts on this! At 18 months, my toddler was weaned because I had to go back to work. I was definitely getting some questions about why I was even still breastfeeding at that point!

  • I totally experienced the not as supportive reactions from people when breastfeeding my toddler. It was my oldest, and he didn’t stop until right around age 2. And those teeth….ugh.

  • CourtneyLynne
    10 months ago

    Ahhhhhhh it sounds pretty tricky breast feeding a toddler! Honestly everything to do with toddlers is just tricky lol

  • I think it is amazing that you are doing what is best for each of your little ones. 🙂

  • Omg. I LOVE this post! My son is only 14 months but I highly doubt he will be weaning anytime soon. I already have some of these challenges. And I totally agree about the support. I noticed right around a year people started asking with their judgy faces on. haha.

  • LOL Mom of five here, they all bf until they were 2 or just a bit under 2. I did have a couple of people (family) ask why if they ate a full meal would hey still want to be bf…i said…just cause and I don’t mind. It was natural, but it did get funny when they would leave the table, come over and ask for ‘ninny” lol I think you’re doing a great job! much love to you

  • It’s amazing how each child can be so different. I never thought about the challenges associated with nursing a toddler. Best wishes to you as you navigate this tricky situation.

  • I definitely agree breastfeeding a toddler has a lot less support. My daughter is 3 1/2 and still going. Lol. Mainly in the morning and at night but I noticed that after 1 a lot of the support stopped.

  • My son turned 3 in July and he still breastfeeding, I’m a stay at home mom so it’s hard to wean him and I don’t tell people I still breastfeeding unless somebody ask me because you get judged a lot but I don’t care what people say or think about it. I will wean him when he is ready. Breastfeeding is just temporary, it won’t last forever!

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