I'm not sure how moms in years past made it through the earliest days of breastfeeding before smartphones and Netflix. Those early nursing sessions take forever, so I got in the habit of watching things (or reading) to keep myself occupied. (Yes, breastfeeding is a time to connect with your baby, but, real talk: there's only so long a grown woman can stare into a baby’s eyes before getting a little bored.) Fortunately, older babies’ are much more efficient at nursing. Unfortunately, if you make any of the mistakes every extended breastfeeding mom will make, they may penalize you for it, and sometimes with a little (or not so little) bite.
Turns out, while a newborn doesn't notice if you zone out with your phone for a little while as they nurse, an older baby does. During one of the last times I ever chatted on Facebook while nursing, my then just barely 1-year-old son decided to get my attention with his four newest teeth. I dropped my phone and hissed half an expletive before realizing what was going on and trying to remember what the La Leche League ladies said to do in this situation. I brought his head close into my chest so he'd release, and then removed him from my breast. An eager nursling, it only took two more biting-equals-banished interactions before he figured out that it wasn't a good idea to bite mama if he still wanted to nurse.
Though nursing a baby past a year is a perfectly wonderful thing to do, it's pretty much inevitable that you'll make some (or all) of the following mistakes if you do. No worries; they're all fairly simple to recover from.
Feeling Embarrassed About “Still” Nursing…
It is biologically normal, and perfectly healthy, to nurse a child into toddlerhood. Just because other people in our society have forgotten that, doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with what you're doing.
...And Feeling Like You Owe Other People An Explanation For It
It's hard if friends, family members, or even professionals like doctors and daycare employees, question why you're nursing beyond babyhood. However, while you might need to explain the value of breastfeeding to someone who has some influence in your life, you don't need to explain yourself to every Judgmental Joe who pops up to shame you at the mall or wherever. Their ignorance is their business, and your breasts are yours.
Waiting Too Long To Go Shopping For New Nursing Bras
Boobs change a lot over the course of a nursing relationship if you go longer than six or so months. Once my son started eating more solids, it took me a longer than I'd have liked to realize that my bras were no longer fitting. (Fortunately, my breasts had gotten to a small enough size that I could shop for nursing bras in normal stores again. Yay!)
Not Realizing When It's Time To Start Offering Food/Water First Before Offering A Breast
When you get into a rhythm, it can be hard to notice when it's time for a little change. After my son turned 1 year old, I started to notice he was nursing way more than I expected him to be at that age. It turned out that he was asking to nurse because it was the only word he knew to get fed, get a drink, or get a cuddle. I started making a habit of hugging him and then offering him other foods and water first before letting him latch, and things quickly made more sense.
Freaking TF Out When Your Little One Bites
According to all the rules, you're not supposed to scream or yell when a child bites, in order to avoid scaring them, or inadvertently encouraging them to do it again to see your reaction.
But sometimes, these little #%€*@!s can really hurt you, and it's impossible to not react accordingly. Don't worry: it's possible to teach a breastfed baby not to bite even if you flip your sh*t and drop a few F-bombs the first time they do it.
Waiting Too Long To Deal With Nursing Aversions
Nursing aversions are real and so frustrating. Whether you're pregnant or not, feeling aggravated, uneasy, pained, and even aggressive when an older baby or toddler breastfeeds is something that happens to a lot of moms (across nearly all mammal species, so it truly is totally natural). It doesn't mean you're a bad mom or not cut out to breastfeed, and it's also totally OK to decide to wean if or when it gets to be too overwhelming.
Tolerating Older Babies’/Toddlers' Bad Breastfeeding Manners For Too Long
Older babies and toddlers are notorious for gymnurstics, being grabby with mom’s breasts, tweaking nipples, and all sorts of other annoying habits. Teaching manners at the breast is just as crucial as teaching manners at the dinner table, especially for mom’s sanity.
Not Asking For Help With Later Nursing Challenges
Though they can (sometimes) be less painful or frustrating than early nursing challenges, issues like nibbling, lazy latches, and more can be a total drag. Getting help is just as important when a baby is 15 months old as it is when they're 15 days old.
Feeling Guilty About Weaning
Some moms are content to let their child self-wean. For many of us, however, breastfeeding needs to end before our kids are on the same page. But while it's only natural to empathize with their distress over weaning, it's important to remember that we're just as much a part of this relationship as they are. The WHO guidelines recommend breastfeeding for two years, “or as long as mutually desired” by mother and baby. If we're no longer into it, it's no longer mutually desired, which means it's time to stop. And that's totally OK.