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The Ins and Outs of Breastfeeding a Toddler

Too Much of a Good Thing?

Rarely, some babies are such avid nursers, even into toddlerhood, that they don't have any room for solids (this can also happen with toddlers who drink too much cow's milk). This can be a difficult situation, as a complete diet for a toddler needs to include solids and not just breast milk or cow's milk. You certainly understand that your child can't continue with such a restricted diet forever, but you also do not want to take away or limit the one source of nutrition that is working.
If you're struggling with this situation and not making any progress, talk with your child's pediatrician about it. Your child may benefit from additional services from a speech therapist, dietician, occupational therapist, or physical therapist, especially if your child may have a condition like sensory processing disorder (SPD).

Saying No Nicely

Once your toddler is old enough to ask to nurse by using words, gestures, or actions, you'll need to learn the delicate art of gently letting your toddler know that now is not a good time for nursing. Many toddlers are very upset by this, especially if they've been accustomed to nursing on demand. Try telling your child "later" instead of "no." Many children are content to wait, but will have a meltdown if given an absolute refusal.
If you know you are in a situation where it is impractical to nurse, avoid holding your child in your usual nursing posture. Your toddler will likely react reflexively to this posture, misinterpreting it to mean that it is time for a nursing session.

Nursing a Toddler in Public

Nursing a newborn in public can occasionally bring a few rude stares or comments, but breastfeeding a toddler in public is sure to do so! For whatever reason, many people are uncomfortable seeing a mother breastfeed a toddler.
While this is not your problem, if you're worried about it, keep in mind that it's rarely necessary to breastfeed a toddler in public. They don't need around-the-clock, frequent feedings like newborns, and they can easily be fed other snacks or beverages. Because it is typical for toddlers to breastfeed only around naps or bedtime, breastfeeding a toddler in public typically never even becomes an issue for most mothers.
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