May 3, 2012

Babies vs Toddlers: A nursing story.

Nursing at Crater Lake, Aug 2011
I've been very blessed that both of my children have taken right away to nursing.  It went easily for us both each time and our nursing days were marked with comfort, love, relaxation, and often giggles.

As my nursing days with child #2 come to a close, I find myself reflecting on the past months.  And it comes to me...nursing a baby is a lot different from nursing a toddler.

Colby will be two in June.  I've always said I wouldn't breastfeed past the age of 2, yet here we are, coming up quickly on the deadline and I find myself reluctant to end the relationship.  I think we all know that neither Colby nor I are quite ready to be finished.  I nursed my daughter to 19 months, when we weaned by mutual agreement.  Weaning was easy and timely.  But Colby...he's the son of my heart.  The baby we tried for for 3 years.  The baby I bonded with instantly.  The toddler who is constantly on the move and can't slow down for hugs and kisses, except when he stops to nurse.

For me, nursing a baby means that I get to sit in my favorite chair and read a book for half an hour.  I get to sit and relax with this tiny being that will surely fall asleep before she is finished.  It means long periods of eye contact with a little person who thinks I'm the most important person on earth.  Love shines through their eyes and there's no where else I want to be.  Perhaps more importantly, nursing a baby also means life-giving nutrients and nature's first antibodies. 

But a toddler...toddler nursing is different.  A toddler nurses because he wants to, not because he needs the nourishment.

When a toddler nurses, it means "I love you."
"I want to spend time with you."
"I want to snuggle."

It means that I get 5 uninterrupted minutes just holding my busy boy.  I can steal kisses and he doesn't twist away to play.  I can snuggle him close and he snuggles in closer.  I am the last person he sees at night and the first person he wants to see in the morning.  We are bonded by nursing, an invisible umbilical cord.

A toddler nurses because he needs comfort, because he got an owie, because someone hurt his feelings.  He nurses because he gets frustrated and can't yet express his emotions.  He nurses when he's bored, or thirsty, or tired.   Nursing a baby is physical.  Nursing a toddler is emotional.

So as our time together draws to a close, I reflect on 2 years of nursing of my boy, and farther back to 19 months of nursing my girl.  Perhaps he is my last baby, or maybe I'll get to do this again.  But for now, I am cherishing each and every moment.  And whenever we wean, whether at 2 years or beyond, I will always hold these memories in my heart.

Luke 2:19  But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 

Read my blog post about the last time I nursed my daughter HERE.


This is a wonderful story! My baby boy is 13 months and I know exactly what you mean: nursing is at three times a day when I get to snuggle this active boy! And when I look down and see him staring at me, my heart just melts. Thank you for sharing - lots of people don't like to talk about nursing past a year.

I am at this moment nursing my soon to be 2 year old son. Your words ring so true to my heart. I knew after we passed our one year mark that I would now follow his lead and wean when he is ready. When I am asked when he will give up his "bup" and I say when he is ready I am met with blank looks of disbelief or lack of understanding. Thanks for writing your thoughts so clearly :)