< Back to Resources

How To Nurse A Teenager



13-08-03 nursing2

My favorite part of nursing is looking into these big, blue, beautiful eyes!


I’m just kidding.  But the title got you, right?

So I’d like to discuss nursing a toddler.  I make fun of moms who nurse toddlers.  I think they are funny, and I mock them relentlessly.  I feel I have the liberty of doing so because I also nurse a toddler.  And a toddler who seems like a teenager at times- at least in her attitude and linguistic abilities.

So how do you know when you’ve been breastfeeding too long?  I’ve compiled this handy dandy list.

1- You get strange looks when nursing in public (this is only the beginning).

2- You can discuss her latch style… WITH her.  And she responds to your request to get a better latch.

3- She comes off, points to the side she was on and says “dats all gone mama. More nuna one” and launches for the other side

4- She comes off to tell you about something she’s been thinking about.  In great detail.

5- She thinks blowing snot bubbles while nursing is hilarious.

6- She can nurse standing up while mama is sitting at the sewing machine (or at the desk, or anywhere else).

7- She wants to nurse upside down in bed.

8- You have to take breaks so she can go potty because she has potty trained.

9- Her choice of lunch menu items is “Cwackers and mommy milkies, pease”

10- She says “tank you, mama” when she’s done and jumps off your lap to go play.

11- She unlatches to break out in song.

I hope it’s clear that my tone thus far has been in jest.  But now to get serious for a minute.  I don’t have any tips or “tricks” to use when breastfeeding a toddler because I don’t believe a toddler should be “tricked” into nursing.  I’ve seen some moms who stress about when their older baby weans and try to prolong it. And before nursing a toddler (my other 3 children self weaned at 11, 12, and 10 months respectively), I thought moms who nursed toddlers did so because they had attachment disorders of some kind.  Very judgmental, I know.  I’m probably not alone in judging so harshly.  I know that I am probably being judged now.  But what I’ve learned is that it is of the utmost importance that  babies’ cues are heard.  I encourage moms to nurse as long as their baby wants to and as long as it’s feasible for mom to continue to do so.  The World Health Organization actually recommends breastfeeding till age 2, so me nursing my 2 year old shouldn’t seem so strange.

I do, however, give one bit of caution.  Breastfeeding should NEVER be used as a tool for manipulation.  If your child uses nursing to control you, then it’s an unhealthy situation.   Then the issue of attachment or trauma should be addressed.  But if the nursing is healthy and both mom and toddler are happy with the arrangement, I’d say carry on!  And if you’re one to witness a toddler breastfeeding his/her mama in public, give the mom a smile and perhaps tickle her sweet nursling’s toes as you pass by.

*Thank you, Wendy, for taking these beautiful nursing pictures for me.  I have wanted to capture those eyes on film!

nursing a toddler