Nursing Manners

Peanut has suddenly had a dramatic change in her nursing manners. She’s always been “bad” when she’s going to sleep. For whatever reason, no matter what I do, I can not get her past twiddling one side while nursing on the other while going to sleep. I tell her no. I threaten “no more milk”. I actually stop giving her milk. None of it has worked and it’s incredibly frustrating, but I deal with it. I just keep telling her no and such until she gets sleepy enough that she doesn’t do it anymore or that I can hold her hand away.

The problem is now in the daytime. I feel like we’ve gotten to the point in our nursing relationship where I don’t have to give her milk every single time she asks for it. I’m not trying to wean or anything, but sometimes it’s just down right inconvenient. For instance, while I’m trying to have a conversation with someone and I know that she’ll just pull off if I let her nurse because she wants to talk too. Or when I’m in the middle of doing something on the computer. Or even just when I needed to delay it tonight until we got everything situated for bed.

Seems reasonable, no? Well, Peanut would say “no”. Actually, she’d probably say “NO!!!!!”

If I tell her no, she has a fit. Most of the time, it’s just a bit of whining which is fine. She does that whenever she doesn’t get her way. Then, if I continue to say no, she’ll start pulling at my shirt. She’ll pinch my breasts like I do to try to decide which side I nursed on last. She’ll even lick either any bare skin she can find (generally my arm or neck) or even my shirt. Not that I think this is her intent, but I find all of these behaviors very disrespectful and outright embarrassing.

What I’ve been doing is setting her on the floor and telling her that she can’t get back up because she’s being mean to Mama. I often explain to her that those behaviors don’t get her milk, asking nicely for milk gets her milk (also often with the stipulation that when Mama says no, you do not get milk). I even sometimes resort to leaving the room because she is so persistent.

Alas, the behavior is not improving. Actually, if anything I would say that it is worsening (she hadn’t done the licking of my shirt thing until today). This isn’t a deal breaker, but I greatly feel the need to make it stop. I know that patience is a big thing to ask of a 21 month old, but she needs to at least learn that when Mama says no, she means NO. Period.

Any suggestions? Has anyone else dealt with these kinds of behavior before? Possibly it’s just a stage?


3 thoughts on “Nursing Manners

  1. We’re struggling with the same thing over here. There are meltdowns if she hears “No” or even “Later.” I’ve heard that some kids are ok with, “Yes, later” but not mine. I’ve had to learn to sit in new places that Margaret doesn’t associate with nursing to keep her from asking all the time. I’ve also found that if I acknowledge her feelings, “You’re sad,” she’ll say, “Yes.” Sometimes I try to have a conversation about her sadness, “Is it big sad or little sad?”

    Unfortunately, I haven’t found anything that works 100% of the time or immediately.

  2. Claire,
    I know how exhausting it gets when you are still nursing so frequently and you don’t have a newborn anymore. Thankfully you don’t have to at night!
    Anyway, a few thoughts… First, since you aren’t trying to wean then maybe if you nurse her more she won’t ask as much and make you feel so needed (does that make sense?). Also, when she twiddling the other side that really can help you to let down quicker and she probably knows that, try breast compressions to get the milk flowing faster in the beginning. If you want to distract and don’t want to nurse, don’t sit in your usual place (try standing) or pull out a game/toy for her to play with instead. If there’s a certain time of day that’s worse, go outside or have a playmate over to distract. Offer lots of snacks or keep something out she can go to if she’s hungry.
    Just some things that came into my head.
    You might want to read, How Weaning Happens or Nursing Your Toddler 🙂

  3. I have found that variations on “yes, later” do work for asher sometimes. plus i will ask him if he’s thirsty or hungry and offer him something else. that also helps. we also do a countdown where he has to “blastoff” when I say so. sometimes he still freaks out but these all help.

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