Why Your Toddler Is Breastfeeding So Often – And What To Do

Why Your Toddler Is Breastfeeding So Often – And What To Do

If you’re breastfeeding a toddler, it could be that you don’t enjoy breastfeeding all the time.

For example, there might be times when you feel your toddler wants to feed constantly.

Especially during these times, you yearn for your own space, and you might think it’s time to wean.

You might have thought that once your nurseling became a toddler, cluster feeding periods would be a thing of the past. So, when your toddler wants to breastfeed all the time, you might not understand why it is happening.

And, although you might not want to wean your toddler, you might also be wishing he didn’t want to breastfeed quite so often.

The first thing to know is that it’s normal for toddlers to have times when they want to breastfeed often.

And there is nothing you have to do, unless you want to.

Why Is My Toddler Breastfeeding So Often?

So, why do toddlers have times when they want to feed so frequently?

Breastfeeding Assists With Emotional Regulation

A child learns to regulate his emotions through his experience of having a caregiver (e.g. his mother) help him through the process.

When a mother responds to her child’s early signs of distress repetitively, sensitively, and in a timely manner, her child gradually learns to regulate his own emotions and reactions.

Breastfeeding is about so much more than nutrition. It also provides a child with security, comfort, and warmth.

Many mothers who breastfeed their toddlers find that breastfeeding can help calm and comfort a toddler who is experiencing emotional upheaval.

Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that mothers who breastfeed their toddlers in response to their expressed desires, or a perceived need, indicate their toddlers seldom cry.

So, when your toddler wants to breastfeed often, it’s likely to be during times when he’s experiencing strong emotions. For example, he might be going through a developmental milestone, or there might be an impending illness. It could be during some significant change occurring in his life – the birth of a sibling, moving house, or starting childcare.

If you’re finding these times of intense breastfeeding frequency difficult, here are 4 tips that might help:

#1: Use Fun As A Distraction

Filling your day with lots of fun activities and outings can keep your toddler too distracted and busy to think about breastfeeding. During those times when your toddler wants to breastfeed often, an activity-packed day will provide a greater balance, and generally make these times easier to cope with.

#2: Take Time Out

Consider leaving your toddler with someone else who he feels comfortable with. This can help you to feel reenergised and more positive during the times he’s with you, and wanting to breastfeed often.

During these breaks, be sure to indulge yourself. Do something you really like doing – getting a massage, going shopping, watching a movie, exercising, or going out for a coffee, cake and chat with a friend.

#3: Surround Yourself With Like-Minded Mothers

Often, facing something on your own can seem a lot harder than when you face it with others. Being involved in groups of people with similar parenting ideas to yours can help immensely.

It could be a Facebook group, for example, or a breastfeeding group (eg Australian Breastfeeding Association or La Leche League).

#4: Remember “This Too Shall Pass”

Above all, knowing that the times your toddler wants to breastfeed so often will soon pass can help you cope better. Say to yourself repetitively: “This too shall pass, this too shall pass”.

Breastfeeding a toddler can be both a challenging experience and an amazing achievement. As always, it’s important to do what you feel is best for you and your family.

Recommended Reading: How To Teach Emotional Regulation To Your Child.

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Renee Kam IBCLC CONTRIBUTOR

Renee Kam is mother to Jessica and Lara, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), a physiotherapist, author of 'The Newborn Baby Manual' and an Australian Breastfeeding Association Counsellor. In her spare time, Renee enjoys spending time with family and friends, horse riding, running and reading.


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