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C. After the first year, did you nurse on demand, whenever the child requested, or only when you wanted to?


This article is from the Breastfeeding Past the First Year FAQ, by Kim Smith with numerous contributions by others.

C. After the first year, did you nurse on demand, whenever the child requested, or only when you wanted to?

1. A combination really....if I wasn't keen, I used to distract, or leave
the room and go where I felt comfortable to nurse. Many of my friends also
nursed toddlers, so it was easy. I belonged to La Leche League, and it was
a wonderful support...lots of like-minded women who felt as I did ...
invaluable :-)

2. It worked for us to have a few rules about when Morganne could nurse. She
was easily distracted when other people were around and I got tired of being
exposed, so we didn't nurse in public. I'd either take her somewhere private
or ask her to wait until we were in the car, etc. I also would finish
whatever I was doing before nursing. Morganne understood that we would get to
it. I'm already starting to do the same things with Matisse.
It's really helpful to have a code word for nursing. Ours was "snuggle"
which Morganne shortened to "nuggle". "Mama, I want to nuggle."

5. Only on demand and even then, sometimes I manage to postpone it or
distract her. I try to keep it to 2-3 feedings a day. When I want her to
nurse, she usually doesn't want to and tells me!! She is also very
particular about which side she starts nursing....

6. Somewhere in between. When he requested I sometimes gave in and sometimes
not. And now we haven't settled yet into a new satisfying breastfeeding
routine, but I do refuse a lot of nursing demands the last days.

7. After the first year, I would delay if nursing was inconvenient. I made
a rule, no nursing in stores. I encouraged the use of a code word for
both, for situations when postponement is either not reasonable or just not
working. (It also makes discussion of postponement less embarrassing.)
Morgan's codeword is "doof", Dylan's (so far) is "Mommmma". Dylan has a
habit of lifting my shirt also, I am working on that. It helps some to wear
my shirt tucked in when "Mommmmma" is not available. He seems to be
catching on.

9. It was very important to me to make a rule of no nursing in public, so
if it was necessary, very rarely, I might go into someone's bedroom with
him while visiting, but otherwise only at home. He had lost the knack of
discreet nursing, and I couldn't stand to have him exposing me to strangers
or even friends. It was much harder to nurse in public than when he was
younger, but he had less need for a nursing, and adapted to this rule
The first year was a significant cut-off for me. I think it is
ESSENTIAL to not allow the sort of clothes-tugging you describe, as otherwise
the annoyance and inconvenience are enough to make you want to wean. You have
rights, too, after all, and being embarrassed is not something you should
just ignore, as you may grow resentful. Resentment should not be dismissed
casually, because it is important in your subconscious even if you don't
allow it to come to the surface. Be sure to ask yourself what *you* want.
This may be to nurse until he's three or four--which is fine if that's what
*you* want, but not if you're just being a doormat to him. It is not good for
a child to learn to ignore the feelings of those closest to him, and being a
doormat is a bad thing to do for your child. You may need to teach him to
tell you that he wants to nurse in a less embarrassing way.
I made a rule between four and 10 months of age to never nurse him at
night unless he was sick, because he has started sleeping through the night
at three months on his own, obviously did not need a nighttime nursing, and
was likely to wake up for it just because it's fun. His daddy had to comfort
him during the night in those months, and brought him to me to nurse only if
he really needed it, which was rare. I always had a rule, for the sake of my
nipples, of not nursing him if I'd nursed him less than two hours previously,
which forced us to find other ways to comfort him. This was extremely helpful
in the long run. Often nursing is not really what the baby needs, but since
it's his favorite thing, he'll accept it anyway instead of whatever it is he
needs. Longer periods between nursing meant he tanked up better when he did
nurse, so it was longer to the next feeding, which got us onto a pretty
regular schedule early on, with plenty of exceptions to the schedule when

10. As for nursing on demand, we've come to a place where there are some
restictions on when and where, yes. She may only nurse in bed (like early
morning time) or when mom is sitting on the couch. (Kayli has oftened used
that as a bargaining point if we're somewhere else, saying that "this is a
couch- Let me nurse". During the regular typical day, she nurses only in the
morning and evening time, at bed time. If we're home for naptime (like
weekends, she gets to nurse then, too. There are times when she wants to
that are denied, but she handles it pretty well--tears, of course, but also

12. I nurse on demand, unless it's inconvenient. It actually helped that
Elizabeth learned to say 'boob' (our mistake), luckily she uses
"mumma-mmumma" and gentle tugs at clothing in public. It helped because I
know what she wants. If we're shopping I can usually tell her, "We're
going to buy the groceries and go to the car and then we'll have (I whisper
in her ear) *boob*". Or as happened last night at the home of some friends
when she crawled in my lap and said "boob-boob" I said, would you like a
cup of milk and a cuddle, and I cuddled her and gave her a sipper-cup with
milk and she was fine. When I put her off like this though I try to talk
her through it and then I make sure to be available if she wants to nurse
the *minute* we get home.

13. We nursed on "demand" - sort of. My son developed a fairly regular
schedule. The only demand-time was when my son woke at night - my husband
and I tried ferberizing him (which worked!), but I would nurse him at night
when he was ill. But then (I can't remember exactly when), there was a
stretch when he was sick, then well for a short time, then sick again, so I
nursed him at night for a while, which led to us starting a family bed (you
see, I got so sleepy nursing him in the middle of the night, I would just
leave him in our bed). My husband got tired of picking our son out of his
crib, that he suggested that we just *start* him out there! Ferberizing a
baby sleeping in your *own* bed is impossible (to my mind), so that's when I
started offering him water, first. Now, if he wakes at night, I offer him
water, first, then let him nurse. Sometimes, he'll go back to sleep right
after drinking the water, sometimes, he wants *me* (and no water) and
sometimes a combination. Now that he's turning 2, we're going to get him a
"big boy" bed; we'll see how that goes. During the day (when he's not in
daycare), if he asks, I tell him that he has to wait (until the next
"regular" time). He accepts this, sometimes right away, sometimes after a
little while.

15. We adjusted the nursing schedule to the times the child normally wanted
to nurse. This was sort of a cross between demand and scheduling. The
schedule did help things, I think.

16. I nursed him when he asked, with some exceptions (I would put him off
if it was inconvenient, more often as he got older.)

18. Our nursing has had to be fairly scheduled because I work outside the
home full-time - at the same time, because I'm away from home so much, I
haven't worried about nursing becoming overwhelming. I watched a neighbor
and her three y.o. constantly struggle about nursing and I worried that that
would happen if I nursed my toddler, but my work schedule makes that
unlikely. Around when my daughter turned two, I began to think about weaning
completely, and soon after we dropped the bedtime nursing and went to nursing
just once a day, in the early morning. Instead of trying to drop that final
nursing, though, I've begun to offer to nurse in the "witching hour," late in
the day, before dinner, if she seems to really be having a hard time keeping
it together. It's one of those things that makes me wonder who it is who
really wants to keep nursing! At the same time, it does seem to me that she
really appreciates this nursing when she's having a tough day, so I continue
to offer sometimes, and sometimes she asks.
One thing that has really worked for me has been to develop a regular
*place* for nursing - lying down on my bed. I like this for a few reasons -
first, because it means that nursing in public just doesn't come up (and I'd
prefer not to nurse my toddler in public). It's also helped to set up a
pattern where we *decide* to nurse - she asks or I ask, the other agrees, and
then we head to our bedroom. She doesn't start tugging at my shirt when
we're sitting on the couch or wherever, and I really appreciate that. Plus,
I get to lie down when we nurse - always a nice break! It's interesting to
me that the couple of times that I've broken this pattern, she's immediately
associated that place with nursing and has asked to nurse the next time we
were in that place - two examples are in the bathtub and on an airplane. It
wasn't a big deal to turn her down at later times, but it made me realize how
much having *one* nursing place has helped nursing stay nursing and not an
all-purpose activity to start when bored or shy or hurt. Hmmm - I say that,
but immediately realize that she does nurse when she's bored or shy or hurt.
I guess what I mean is that having to go to the bedroom means that she tends
to use nursing as a back-up solution, not as her first choice, and I think
that's appropriate for toddlers.

19. Pretty much we continued with our schedule, but sometimes he will request
nursing by pulling up my shirt and tugging at my bra. If it is convenient
(we are home, not in the store), then I will let him nurse. He usually only
wants to know he can, then he goes on about playing.

20. Now that Nolan's more communicative, he walks up to me, starts this
nervous whine, and pulls at my shirt (sometimes managing to lift it up) to
let me know what he wants, NOW. I can see that in public, this behavior
might be embarrassing, especially for those who aren't fond of being exposed!
Sometimes he justs wants a nip, and then he's on his way; other times, he
goes strong for 10 minutes. He's been eating solid foods since 4 months, and
he pretty much feeds himself by now, eating a wide variety of foods with his
hands. He drinks juice and water, and occasionally a bottle of formula,
in between nursing sessions.

21. Well, I limited nursing in public. I got stared at disapprovingly a
couple of times around the time Emily was a year, and I frankly got
self-conscious. Emily almost always accepted that we would nurse "when we
got home" just fine. After about 16 mo, she rarely asked in public unless
she was really tired. Then, after she went to twice per day, she rarely
asked at other times, unless she was sick. When Emily was sick it always
made me REALLY glad I was still nursing, since it was often the only food
she'd take, and it was very comforting to her.

22. After the first year I nursed on demand if the time was good for me. It
depended on the circumstances.

24. I haven't stopped yet, except for a strange thing that happened.
We slept with him from the day he was born until he was about 10
months old. Suddendly he became very active and would crawl away
from me while I tried to nurse him to sleep. He would literally
climb the walls in our bedroom, fall asleep on his feet and collapse
into bed. It was taking me 2 hours of fighting with him to get him
to sleep. My husband who was home with him during the day was having
to hold him down while he screamed to try and get him to sleep. I
had long since torn down the crib because we loved sleeping with him.
Anyway we resurrected the crib, read a terrible book about "Letting
them cry it out", and threw him in the crib and closed the door. He
fell asleep in 3 seconds. The problem was I inadvertetly almost
weaned him right then at 10 months!! We were used to alot of night
nursing, as I said earlier, I worked during the day, and that was
what kept my milk supply up. Also we were very used to nursing
laying down. Now I nursed him in the rocking chair in his room-- the
chair I hadn't sat in ONCE until that time! He refused to nurse on
my right breast, again I fought him and wrested with him, but he
would have nothing of that side. Finally I gave up and just nursed
him on my left side. Now I am lopsided!

25. We nurse whenever she wants to. I don't have a schedule, nor do I
usually offer.

26. Usually when he requests, but I do delay it if we're in a public
place, by distracting him with food.


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previous page: B. After the first year, how frequently did you nurse? Were you on a regular schedule, or not?
page up: Breastfeeding Past the First Year FAQ
next page: D. When did you stop, and why? Was it your initiative, or the child's? If the child inititiated cutting back, how did this happen? If you initiated weaning, how did you satisfy the child's emotional needs?