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145. Making Nursing Toddlers More Manageable Though Loving Boundaries And Gentle Weaning With Guest Erin Harris At Nursing Mamas

Weaning a toddler can lead to a major power struggle but it doesn't have to be like that. My guest Erin Harris from Nursing Mamas is sharing how to avoid the struggle by using predictability and phrasing they understand. 

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Read the full transcript here:

Welcome to the breezy babies podcast. This is Episode 145, making nursing toddlers more manageable through loving boundaries and gentle weaning.
Could you use more confidence as a parent? Welcome to the happy place for boobs and babies, you're in good hands. Breezy babies is where we ease your transition into parenthood because it's a bumpy road, am I right? I'm your host Bri the IBCLC. And if you'd like to make life as a parent more breezy, you're in the right place. I'm here to deliver small bite sized tips and tricks so you can crush your parenting and lactation goals. I'm honored to be on this journey with you. Let's go.
Hello, my friends. Welcome back for another episode of The reason babies podcast. I love getting messages from all of you, who found me through this podcast and are loving it. I always I'm not, you know, trying to hide anything. And I'm just saying that running a podcast is a lot of work. But I love it is something I never want to let go because it's such a cool way to connect with people all over the world. And it's something that I own right Instagram could be just taken away tomorrow and YouTube could be gone tomorrow. And I guess my podcast could be the same. But it's just another cool way that I can connect with you. And also just share some free tips and tricks with you here.
And I love it as well. Because honestly sitting down for me and writing out a blog post. I hate it, I never do it.
It's just not my strong point to sit down and write out long paragraphs. Talking like this, for me is so much easier than typing. Or I also prefer like making a video versus sitting down and writing a long caption. So this definitely is one of my favorite ways to connect with you. Today we're talking about making nursing toddlers, more manageable through loving boundaries and gentle weaning. I have a guest for you today. It's not just going to be me talking to you. I know I have a handful of episodes already about weaning about weaning toddlers, or just weaning at any stage. Actually, I have a couple of podcasts about how to stop breastfeeding, even if it's if it's at the beginning of your journey or at the end of your journey once your baby is older.
And I'm not nervous to have another episode on this topic, because it is a commonly asked think all the time people think oh, wow, starting breastfeeding must be so hard. But then they don't anticipate that actually stopping can be just as hard if not harder.
In fact, at this moment, as I'm kind of working on weaning my toddler, I'm thinking wow, yes, stopping is tricky. For us starting was not tricky at all. But stopping is hard. And there's definitely an emotional aspect to it not only for me, right? Sometimes I feel like my personality is not my personality, but my emotions surrounding it are so split. There's some times where I love nursing. I really do. I love that connection. I love that special time that we have together. This is the longest I've nursed any of my kids. And I love that. And then sometimes she gets a little crazy or I'm feeling a little rushed. Or she gets really demanding with wanting milk. And I'm like, Oh yeah, I don't like this so much right now.
And that's totally fine. All those feelings are valid, you know, even though I go back and forth between loving it, and sometimes not loving it. She basically just still loves it. It is still her favorite thing in the entire world to sit down a nurse, she would still nurse all day long if I let her. Now I don't let her because that is not within my goals. And I am part I'm exactly half of the breastfeeding relationship. So that's totally fine to do on your end as well. You get to decide how little you want to breastfeed how much you want to breastfeed, you know, especially once your baby is over a year, there's no rules, you can breastfeed as little or as much as you want. As long as you know, it just it kind of depends on what the two of you want and where you meet in the middle. So my other kids, I breastfed them all to a year, a year on the dot and we just stopped and it just it was honestly really easy. We just stopped and that was that. Now with my fourth baby she is let's see. She's 16 months old now. We have gotten down to nursing just once or twice a day.
He recently got sick, wasn't eating well, so she went back to nursing really often. And we've slowly worked her way down, just barely to once a day. Again, I really like once a day, once a day feels really good for me. Again, she would feed way more often than that, if I let her but that that just feels like a good spot for me, especially because we have a trip coming up where we're going to be leaving her. And I don't like to pump. I don't like it at all. I feel though, if she's just feeding once a day, I feel like the pumping would be manageable, I could just take a hand pump and, and you know, probably even get by and yeah, my supply will probably drop because I won't be very good about pumping because I'm gonna want to enjoy my vacation with my husband and with my friends. And but I know that when I come back, I could just start feeding again and, and pick up and if I wanted to feed more and you know, increase my supply, I totally could do that, because that's how our bodies work. And obviously, I will be really careful on our trip if I am still lactating, which I think I will at this point, we're almost two weeks out.
So I think I still will be lactating for sure.
So I'm going to be really careful about watching for clogged ducts that will not lead to mastitis. Because I know how to do breast massage, I know how to do breast gymnastics, I have all these good things in my back pocket that you can learn how to do to either on my Instagram or by working one on one with me in a consultation. So anyway, all that to say is I'm still navigating this journey, it looks a little bit different from baby to baby and from person to person. But I want to talk today more about the emotional side of things. And my guest today is going to be the perfect one to talk to you about that. But before I turn the time over to her I want to share this Google review with you. Sorry if I've read this before, I mean, I can't keep track of these sorts of things. But this is a five star Google review that was left for us about a month ago. It's from Stephanie packer and she said I had a telehealth visit followed by a home visit. I cannot say enough good things about these women. They know their stuff. And so and are so kind walking you through everything you need to be successful. I wish I would have found them sooner. So appreciate Stephanie leaving that review. Honestly, small businesses thrive on reviews like that they are the lifeblood of our business. So new people who find us who don't know me through something like this podcast, can look at those reviews and say, Oh yes, this is someone I could trust and someone that I would like to work with. So I so appreciate that.
All right. One other small announcement before I turn the time over to Aaron, if you haven't heard our prices for self pay consultations are raising very soon, like soon after this podcast goes live, our prices are increasing on April 10 2023. And
we before before April 10. We have always given an automatic 30% discount to our self pay clients. After April 10. We are raising our self pay prices to match what we are reimbursed through insurance. So if you would like to work with us before that increase happens, go to breezy You can purchase a telehealth or an in home visit if you're local to northern Utah and even if you don't book it right away. If you've purchased it, we will honor that purchase and then you can book when you are ready. Okay, I want to introduce Erin Harris to you. She is my guest today. She's from nursing mama. She did extended nursing with her baby. She did tandem nursing and she just has some different cool experiences to share with us today.
I want to read her bio to you and I think this will be a really good introduction. So Erin is a virtual lactation educator and creator of nursing mamas. She combines her two masters degrees in health and family communication, lactation knowledge and personal nursing experience to focus on the parent toddler nursing relationship. Through online courses and consults she helps extended breastfeeding parents who aren't ready to wean, but are feeling overwhelmed by on demand nursing and are ready to set breastfeeding boundaries so they can keep the bond without the burnout. I love that. She lives in Costa Mesa, California with her husband Scott and children Avery and Luca and is a veteran nursing mom of four and a half years. I know you're gonna love Erin and I am going to turn the time over to her right now.
Hi, Bree, thank you so much for having me on the podcast. I listened to Brees episode about her experiences nursing past one and thought I would share
are some additional information for those of you who may be nursing past one, two and beyond. My name is Aaron Harris and I am a lactation educator, and owner of nursing moments. And my primary focus is helping toddler nursing moms manage extended nursing, because while it can be amazingly beautiful, to continue nursing, there's so many special moments that happen, it can also be overwhelming, and frustrating. And you can feel isolated and stuck and not knowing what to do. Because the older your child gets, the fewer people you know, still nursing. And it just feels like there's no information out there. Or at least that's how I felt my daughter, my firstborn, nursed until she was four and a half. And I tend to nursed with my son. He's a whole other story he weaned at four months. So every child is different. And my experience with her was beautiful, and overwhelming. And it felt like one day when she was two, she just said milk is love. And that was such an aha moment for me because it for these kids. It milk is is something special, I don't want to say that. Kids that don't nurse into toddlerhood, don't feel a connection. But it's it's like we're their blankets. And it's so hard to feel like you're taking away their love or your love from them by weaning. Not only that, when you're burnt out, and you have no other tools or resources, even if you want it to wean, you sometimes feel like you don't know how. So that's where we are and why I'm here today to not just talk about maybe the good things. But when you are struggling, what are some tips that you can do in your extended nursing relationship to make it feel more manageable.
So I'm going to provide three tips. The first one is you may have heard the suggestion, don't offer Don't refuse, as a tip to navigating toddler nursing. The problem with don't offer Don't refuse is it is still a form of on demand nursing, and is pretty much guaranteed to lead to burnout. Because the concept I think is that, you know, your kid will eventually get distracted, or just stop asking. And you keep waiting year after year for them to stop asking. And they don't. And then you become resentful and frustrated, because you don't know how to make it stop. And for years now, you have been their primary source of love and care. And it's exhausting. So tip number two is what to do instead. And instead of don't offer Don't refuse or any other form of on demand to nursing with your toddler, I suggest creating loving boundaries. And specifically for an example here, let's focus in on creating a nursing schedule as a form of a boundary to manage their constant requests for nursing.
This may feel very counterintuitive at first, because you're used to them being in control of the nursing relationship. That's what on demand nursing is. And so taking the lead back can be a little different. A little confusing. But what I really highly suggest is that you take time to think about what do you want your nursing relationship to look like? How many times a day would would be manageable? How what would be a schedule that you could consistently do indefinitely, if that's your goal of child led weaning.
And I'm going to use as an example, the schedule I created when my daughter was three, because that's when my son was born and I was tandem nursing. And she saw him getting it all the time. And so she went back to trying to get it all the time. And it was not manageable. And so we set a schedule
for three times a day. I told her you can get it in the morning after the baby eats, you can have it at naptime and you can have it at bedtime. And I was honestly amazed at how she just said okay, and and how it changed her behavior. And why this is is because kids thrive on predictability and when
We say things to them like, not right now, later, in five minutes, just give me a minute. Those phrases don't mean anything to them. And it can be quite frustrating. So if they don't understand the concept of later, they don't know when later is they're going to keep asking you is it later yet? So instead of saying that, you can tell them and use phrasing that they understand, they understand when wakeup is they understand what breakfast is, they understand when naptime is and that time. So use reference points that are common in their daily life in your normal routine, to let them know when nursing happens.
You can continue this really indefinitely for for me, specifically, what ended up happening is once she dropped the nap, her last nap, that nursing session kind of went with it, she didn't ask for it again. And that kind of was don't offer don't refuse. So I, I didn't suggest it. And she didn't ask for it. So we just went to two days a week for quite a while. And that was very manageable for me. Now, your schedule may look different. The important thing, however many nursing sessions it is for you, I highly suggest you you just make it something that works that you can commit to. And the other thing that will feel different here is instead of waiting for them to ask for it, you need to pay attention to the time and offer. So this means what let's say they're in daycare. And one of the times you say to yourself like okay, this is when we're going to nurse is at pickup, because you always do the pickup. So you at pickup can say okay, it's time for Mama milk. Let's go Do you want any right now? And if they say yes, you have a nursing session, if for some reason they say no, that's totally cool, that will be weird for you. They forget the first time they say no.
But just you know, if they then ask for it later, say oh, it's not time, we can have milk and tell them the next dedicated time.
Now, I can already hear some of you saying like, Okay, that's great. But what happens when they start asking for it between the sessions. So tip number three is how to hold the boundary with some love instead of the power struggles that we typically think about when it comes to boundary setting.
And my tip for you is to start incorporating something called Special Yes, time that that's my phrasing of it just any kind of special time special, insert their name special every time. And this can be five minutes, five to 10 minutes of a timed,
dedicated full attention time. Because the thing is, they do love the milk, but really, they love you, you know you are their comfort. And so so many things throughout the day, any kind of distraction that takes you away from them, is going to cause a feeling of disconnect. And when they asked for milk, they're really asking for your attention. So teaching them that there are other ways to have your attention, besides just nursing is going to be key to help keeping that boundary. So what you can do is if they ask for milk in between nursing sessions, you can say, oh, it's not time yet. But I have five minutes do you want to play some special time. And the thing was special time is they get to be a little bit in control of the time, they get to decide what to do. And if you have a super smart kid, they're going to use special time and say I want to nurse and then you can give in you know, laugh and let it happen. But
usually it's seen of toys or reading books or playing outside. It's usually kind of the things that you say no to that they're going to want to try out. But what will this will teach them as it's going to start to disconnect the milk from you. And it's going to start to teach them that you are still there, even if it's not when they're getting milk, and this bringing weaning into it because for those of you who are sitting here saying this is great, but I'm really, really done and I don't know how to wean. This is still the same process, regulating the situation. And then slowly cutting out the feeds and replacing feeds with special time is going to be much easier on both of you. So I hope this was helpful. Tip number one. Don't offer Don't refuse is still a form of on demand nursing leading to burnout.
With your nursing toddler. Tip number two, transitioning from that on demand type of toddler nursing, to creating loving bath boundaries through a nursing schedule could be what you need to make you love nursing again, right so that you can enjoy those moments with your child. And tip number three, incorporate special time as a strategy to hold the boundary with love. So that you are saying no to the milk, but not to the connection with you.
I hope this was useful. And if you have any questions or would like more information, you can please reach out to me on Instagram at Aaron dot nursing mamas. And I also have a free workshop that runs every six weeks specifically for extended nursing moms, that if you just need that extra help to make nursing a little more manageable in your life. And you can find that at nursing Breastfeeding workshop. Thank you again Bree for having me. I hope this was useful information. Bye.
All right there you have it wasn't that so good. I love so much that Aaron listened to one of my podcast episodes on weaning and thought, oh, I have something so valuable and so useful that I could add to this a new aspect of it that would be so helpful for families all over the world. So I love that she reached out to me and asked to be a guest and of course I said yes 100% If you want to say hi to Erin, she is on Instagram at Erin dot nursing mamas I will link her breastfeeding workshop about extended breastfeeding on in the show notes so you can go and check that out. And again her top three tips were
number one why don't offer Don't refuse is still a form of on demand nursing leading to burnout. Number two transition from demanding on demand toddler nursing to creating loving boundaries through a nursing schedule. And tip number three was all about holding the boundary with love and avoiding the power struggle. Thank you again, Erin, and thank you to you who is listening in to this I so appreciate your time. I will be back next week with a new podcast episode for you. And of course I'm going to leave you with you're strong, you're smart, you're beautiful, you're a good friend to all by.
If you would like more help, check us out at breezy It's the happy place for boobs and babies, where you can take an online workshop on topics from breastfeeding to baby gas. Learn baby massage, get a pumping plan before returning to work and even get one on one lactation help from our ibclcs we meet with families both in home and also all over the world via secure video and guess what? These lactation consultations might even be covered by your insurance. Click the link in the show notes or visit breezy to see if you qualify. Also connect with us at breezy babies on Instagram and YouTube.


Intro to this episode.

How to stop breastfeeding.

The pros and cons in nursing your toddler.

Once a day is good for me.

How do you feel when you’re stuck?

What to do instead of don't offer?

Set a schedule for nursing.

How to hold the boundary with love.

Nursing schedule and boundaries.

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