Nursing (a toddler) in public, again

15 February 2011 at 8:03 pm 6 comments

I’m in a sort of mental crisis about nursing my two-and-a-half-year-old nursling in public. I’ve never shied away from nursing in public, though I hear of other moms who say things like “milkies only come out at home,” or “nursies just for in the bedroom,” etc., once their kids are eighteen months, two years old, or otherwise identifiable as actual toddlers/small children, rather than babies. That always felt really artificial to me and sort of dishonest–I mean, I would never tell me son that “hugs and kisses are only for at home,” obviously, because hugs, kisses, and yes, nursing are all ways that I comfort him, whether we’re at home or out.

If he asks to nurse when we’re out somewhere, I can occasionally distract him for a little while, but usually not, and I’m really conflicted about whether or not I even want to distract him, frankly. I like our nursing relationship. I like making nursing in public more visible. But I’m starting to feel a little paranoid about how people look at us when my long-legged boy is nursing on buses, subways, airplanes, and in restaurants, malls, and church.

What bugs me the most is how much of a minority I am. I know there are three-year-olds, four-year-olds, even five-year-olds who nurse–do they all just do it secretly in the bedroom? Where are these toddler and preschooler nurslings? Come out, come out, wherever you are!

–Christina

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Johanna S  |  15 February 2011 at 8:47 pm

    Right there with you. My daughter is 41 months (almost 3.5, in other words). She does not ask to nurse often when we are out, but if she does, I usually say yes. Why not? What’s the big deal? The big deal is that people have differing opinions and some of them act as if nursing a preschooler is taboo, unnecessary, even worse, not a good thing. Yes, that is what my mother-in-law said to me last week – that nursing is about nourishment and she thinks my daughter is nursing “for other reasons (insert negative tone here).” Usually it makes me angry. Sometimes, on those emotional days, it makes me want to cry. You go mama. Do what you need to do, whatever your family needs.

    Reply
    • 2. Christina Michaud  |  16 February 2011 at 2:53 pm

      Thanks, Joanna! Good to hear from another mom in a similar position!

      Reply
  • 3. Christine  |  16 February 2011 at 10:44 am

    I read a great post the other day that helped cement my feelings about not feeling shame about breastfeeding period – it’s actually from Sept. ’09 but I hadn’t seen it before.

    It was a good reminder that breastfeeding “norms” are culturally derived and not based on normal human biology. In fact, because of how pervasive the societal standards can be–especially here in the U.S.–we know remarkably little about how infant human beings are naturally meant to be fed. But most studies indicate nursing would typically last much, much longer than is typical in the U.S.

    http://www.lactivistleanings.com/education/is-breastfeeding-advocacy-anti-feminist-an-essay-by-katherine-a-dettwyler/

    Reply
    • 4. Christina Michaud  |  16 February 2011 at 3:00 pm

      ooh, what a great article! Thank you so much for the link!

      Reply
  • 5. cnatrainingassistant  |  1 March 2011 at 12:58 am

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    http://www.certifiednursingassistantcna.com/

    Reply
  • […] about how my private experience of breastfeeding has changed over the years and how my level of self-awareness in public has as […]

    Reply

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