Reasons to nurse a toddler
1. Toddlers are notoriously fickle about what they will eat in a given day. Three grapes, a dust bunny and a half a crayon are less worrisome when you know they’ve nursed a couple of times (or more).
2. They roll on the ground in public places during flu season. (And transfer some of those germs to your breast, which tells your boobs to boost immune factors. Boobs are amazing. Toddler milk for a child not nursing often may be more immune-factor-dense than even newborn milk.)
3. The big bad world is a scary place. The boob is a great source of comfort and can help ease anxiety and smooth transitions.
4. Kids are hilarious when they talk about nursing. “I luf dat boop! I nursh please, thanks!”
5. Breastmilk absorbs quickly. So even if they’re puking and having diarrhea, breastmilk can help keep them hydrated and out of the hospital. (See #2, insert “norovirus” for flu)
6. More than just comfort, nursing releases endorphins for both mother and child. This is especially important when a child is injured. Boob helps ease the pain and calm the child (and the mom!)
7. Speaking of injuries, toddlers fall. Mouth injuries are not uncommon. Breastfeeding applies a perfect amount of direct pressure for lip and tongue injuries, stops bleeding, eases pain and may take “Oh my god we have to run to the ER” to “Oh, hey, I think he’s going to be all right” in a matter of minutes. It is in fact very difficult to apply direct pressure to a toddler’s lip in any other way.
8. Breastmilk is incredibly soothing for sore throats and can help a child who is refusing all food and drink get to the point of being able to take things by mouth. (I have pumped fresh milk for a friend’s sick, weaned child for this purpose. 3 ounces was enough to get him eating again.)
It is easier to go from some supply (even if small) to a lot of supply for a sick child than it is to go from no supply to any supply at all. It is NOT unusual to not enjoy toddler nursing. Sometimes it makes me want to jump out of my skin. But then something happens and I remember why I keep on keeping on. Because the benefits are worth it, and when we need it, we really, really need it. So I set limits wherever I need to, but I don’t cut him off entirely.