Baby Nursing Too Often

Archived Q&A and Reviews

17 month old back to nursing a lot

June 2003

My baby has been breastfeed only since he was born. By Christmas of last year, he was breastfeeding only to take naps or go to sleep at night (about 3 times a day). By the way, he was a pretty good sleeper, he only woke up once during the night. The two of us took a trip to my country of origin for 6 weeks in February and I breastfed him several times while we were in the plane to make sure his ears wouldn't bother him. While we were in my country, he slept with me a few nights and when we finally got a crib, he was next to my bed and every time he woke up (about twice a night), I ran to get him to make sure he wouldn't wake up other people in the house. Well, now it's been about 2 months, since we got back, and he wants to breastfeed a lot, he constantly asks for it and also he's been waking up several times during the night since we came back. Since he is also getting his molars, I don't want to leave him crying when he wakes up in the middle of the night and feel abandoned or unloved, that's why I come and get him when he wakes up and I bring him to our bed and he sleeps with us for the rest of the time. I am afraid, I've created a bad habit and I don't know how to break it. Please advise. Cecilia

i'm uncertain if your concern is about the increased nursing through the night or having your son in bed with you; however, i went (am going) through a very similar experience with my 16 month old. she had always been a great sleeper through the night in her crib. at 10 months old, my in-laws stayed with us, and whenever she fussed or cried out, i too swept her up and brought her into our bed rather than spend the time coaxing her back to sleep for fear of waking them up. six months later, and our daughter is now a permanent fixture in our bed, but goes to sleep extremely easily and stays asleep. when she has been sick, we too go through an increased nursing stage during the night, but after a few weeks, it tapers back to one or no nursings through the night. when i knew that she was back to her good health again but wanted to nurse through the night out of habit, i began wearing t-shirts (vs. a camisole) and facing away from her to discourage the habit and to make myself less accessible. i'm not sure if this did the trick or if she just broke the habit herself.

my husband and i have also come to fully embrace the family bed and this special extra time we get to enjoy. overall, she seems much more secure at night and doesn't need the night time nursing for security. she just reaches out to see that i'm there, and it appeases her needs. hope some of this is helpful. pamela

First, I remember getting my wisdom teeth, which was very painful. So, I have a lot of sympathy for the kids when they are teething, and also give them Tylenol at bedtime in order for all of us to get a little more sleep. As for creating a bad habit, I think it is a GOOD habit. Your child is at a stage where there are many germs to cope with, developmental changes that can be a lot to deal with, and growing fast. I would expect it to gradually change as the child needs it less, but right now, your child is telling you they need it. You might find a book called ''Mothering Your Nursing Toddler'' helpful. You could find it through La Leche League, or other places. Trudi