The Benefits of Breastfeeding {a Sick} Toddler

As I mentioned yesterday, we have the flu around the LG household. Lucky us?

Over this week (and past sick-times for that matter) I’ve really learned a great benefit to breastfeeding a toddler: breastfeeding a sick toddler.

No, I’m not saying I enjoy breastfeeding my toddler more when she’s sick. Actually, sometimes when she can’t breathe it’s annoying that she won’t stay latched and if she’s in pain at all, she certainly makes it known to my nipples. Really though, it’s a great benefit to still be breastfeeding. How so? Let’s go over some of the things that suck about having a sick toddler (and a sick mommy for that matter) and how they’re remedied with breastfeeding.

1. Sick kids don’t like to eat. I know of many-a-parent that give their kids pretty much anything they want when they’re sick because at least they’re eating. Actually, my in-laws brought Peanut gummy candy and chocolate cookies the other day probably with that same thing in mind. It’s hard enough to get any toddler to eat, let alone a sick one. This is where the breastfeeding comes in handy. Even when they refuse the yummiest candy in the world, most kids won’t turn down some milk. I was actually reading this funny thing online regarding breastfeeding sick toddlers. The toddler gets sick and they revert back to drinking mostly (if not only) breast milk, so they start having breastfed baby poo again! That actually happened to Peanut once over this ordeal so far and it was nice to not have a stinky diaper! My husband almost thought it was diarrhea though, so make sure not to take them back to the doctor for a new symptom that’s really nothing!

2. Sick kids don’t like to sleep. This one sucks anytime, but I would say especially so if mama is also sick. Last thing you need when you’re feeling awful is to be kept awake by your kid who is also feeling awful. Throughout this illness, it seems like Peanut is constantly on the verge of passing out, but won’t do it. All it takes is to get her to relax just a little bit and she’ll be knocked out. Guess what gets a grouchy kid to relax a bit? Breastfeeding! I swear Peanut falls asleep faster when she’s sick than when she’s well! I even used this just to calm her down for a bit. I was napping on the couch and she wanted me to get up, so I offered her milk and fell back asleep for another 20-ish minutes!

3. Giving sick kids medicine sucks. Medicine is often a necessary evil, but when we can avoid it and still get healthy, it’s definitely for the best. If you’re reading this blog, you probably already know about all of the goodness inside of that awesome breast milk. The important part in this sense is the antibodies. I have yet to have Peanut be sicker than me. Any illness in a small child is definitely cause for alarm, but she never gets super bad. I’m certain that a part of that is that I’m giving her antibodies through my milk that help her to get better faster. I also notice that her stomach and throat never seem to upset her very much, even when mine are killing me. Maybe this is because they’re frequently getting coated with the good stuff? As I said in my post yesterday, when considering whether or not to give Peanut the anti-viral medication, we specifically took breastfeeding into account. Do we really need to give her this medicine when she A. Doesn’t seem that bad, B. Is getting antibodies through my breast milk, and C. could have serious side effects from it? We decided no. Without the breast milk there giving her antibodies for the exact illness she had, we may have chosen differently, regardless of the possible side effects.


There are a lot of reasons that Peanut continues to breastfeed. I know that we’re getting to the edge of a lot of our friends’ comfort zones, but I want you all to know that I don’t plan on stopping any time soon. We will stop when Peanut is ready and not a day before. I will spend all the time up until then cherishing not only the special bond that we have through breastfeeding, but also the physical benefits we continue to get from it every single day (and the convenience of it for that matter). Weaning is not an active process, but something that happens gradually with time.


8 thoughts on “The Benefits of Breastfeeding {a Sick} Toddler

  1. I totally agree with you. I force-weaned my 3yo over the Christmas Holiday because it became a behavior problem, especially where his 9mo sister was concerned. He almost immediately fell ill with a stomach virus, and I almost let him nurse again (only the memories of those vile temper tantrums with my nipple in his mouth are stopping me). I still wish I hadn’t weaned him. 😦

  2. #1a: Nursing when sick helps keep a little one from getting dehydrated, which can be a HUGE issue when they have vomiting and/or diarrhea. Breastmilk, since it is a natural bodily fluid is most likely than anything else to be kept down, and thus is considered in the “clear liquid” catagory for these purposes.

    #2a: Oh my goodness, the difference of just taking the sick kiddo to bed with your sick self and keeping them reasonably content laying beside you nursing, rather than dragging your sick self up walking the floor with them, trying to get them to drink Pedilyte. Like night and day.

    Feel better soon!

    • Good point on 1a! I hadn’t even thought of dehydration because that’s not the kind of sick Peanut is, but it’s very true. This is especially so in very small infants.

  3. I’ve been struggling with a sick toddler, too. I love that Margaret was getting breastmilk when she refused everything else- I was just feeling stretched so much between her and her brother, it was really getting on my nerves! But yay for keeping toddlers alive during illness!

  4. I love the disclaimer at the bottom of the post! Good for you for being so strong & open about breastfeeding past comfort zones – we are going on month 16 for nursing with no end in sight and I also am starting to get to a point where friends/family/co-workers are starting to be uncomfortable. Meh screw em!

  5. Nice article.I am really agree about benefit breastfeeding,even for sick todler.I had ever read a story about Salma Hayek who breastfeeds a hungry african child from mother who was unable to provide milk for her malnourished son. This story really inspire me. She’s different with another actrees. Salma hayek deep concern about important and benefit breastfeeding, so without hesitation, she breastfeeds a stranger baby to help him. It will be motivation story to all.

  6. Great article. I noticed it was written a day after she was born. She is now a thriving 15 month old. It definitely was relieving to see her take my milk when she rejected everything else while sick. She is my only child and i’m enjoying the bond we have on her highway of growing up way too fast.

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