Not too long ago I wrote about all the reasons why I’m a big fan of breastfeeding, in spite of the really, really hard stretches we’ve gone through to get to the pleasant parts. But the other day, when I was breastfeeding my toddler as we waited for Eric in the grocery store parking lot, I had to laugh. Kiwi kept standing up on my lap, turning her head to look out the window, and practically tap dancing all over me—staying latched all the while.
Breastfeeding a 14-month-old, I thought, is not like breastfeeding a baby.
But we’re still going strong. I’m not sure how long I’ll continue to breastfeed—until it stops working for us, I suppose—but I’m enjoying it while I still have this special time with Kiwi.
In the spirit of celebrating what we have, then, here are 10 reasons why I love breastfeeding my toddler.
Why I love breastfeeding my toddler
- It’s easy. Gone are the days of getting set up, strapping on a nursing pillow and preparing myself to nurse a baby for the next 45 minutes. These days, I just whip out a boob and Kiwi does her thang for a few minutes. And done!
- It’s not messy. No matter how many wet wipes I bring, it’s never enough when I feed my toddler solids on the go: She always manages to smash string cheese in her hair. But breastmilk isn’t dirty, and any drips she gets on her face are totally good for glowing skin.
- I always have it. I do my darnedest to pack PBJs and little cups of blueberries when we jet out the door, but sometimes I forget. You know what I never forget? My boobs.
- She’s less distracted. I don’t know what happened, but around the time Kiwi turned a year, she stopped needing to be nursed in a silent, secluded room. Now Peeper can be a part of our nursing sessions: Big Sister climbs up in the chair, strokes Kiwi’s hair and tells her stories about Cinderella—all while I’m breastfeeding my toddler.
- I don’t worry about solids (as much). So Kiwi doesn’t really eat. She gagged and puked just about everything, even purees, until recently. So knowing that she was getting a ton of nutrition from breast milk eased a lot of my anxiety around the table.
- It’s a built-in break. My toddler is always on the move, but we both get a little respite when she needs to nurse.
- She asks for it. My toddler can sign “milk”—and does so. Frequently. I sometimes lose my mind when she makes that squeezing motion with her hand every 15 minutes, but at least she’s communicating. It helps take the guesswork out of why she’s crying.
- I’m experienced. Having done this for more than two years (total between both girls, not consecutive), I’ve been around the breastfeeding block a few times. So when something goes wrong—a clogged duct, say—I know what to do. I don’t have to panic over some problem that cropped up: I just deal with it because I’ve already gone through it plenty of times before.
- She makes me laugh. Now that she’s older, Kiwi plays while she breastfeeds. She’ll snuggle a lovey (OMG heart explosions!) and even cover her face with my shirt, playing peekaboo. Breastfeeding is much more than a transfer of nutrition: It is an extension of our loving—and goofy—relationship.
- She’s my last. Eric and I are done having kids, which means that Kiwi will be the last baby I breastfeed. The knowledge that I won’t get another chance to bond with a baby this way makes my time with Kiwi even more special.
Breastfeeding my toddler isn’t entirely fun—sometimes I just want to wean her on the spot—but I will continue to enjoy the special time it affords us until that day we stop.