Thursday, October 27, 2011

Coming Out of the Tandem Nursing/Toddler Nursing Closet

So, last year my grandparents came into town over Thanksgiving to meet their new great granddaughter Chicklett. They knew I had breastfed big brother Chicken Little, but as far as I knew they assumed I was no longer nursing him at that point. They stayed in our home for 10 days and I basically hid the fact that I was still nursing this 2-year old boy. I hid, not out of shame, but simple because I didn't feel like having to explain myself to family from that generation. It'd be one thing if they weren't staying in my house... but since they were... I really didn't want to make anything awkward between us for their stay. I only get to see them once a year and I'd like the visit to be pleasant. They are pretty liberal folks... but I know nursing a toddler could be over the limit. Or they could be fine with it... I really have no idea. For all I know she breastfed my dad until he was eight years old... I really have no idea! 

So... here we are... three weeks away from them coming for another long visit. Now I'm nursing a 3-year old boy and a 1-year old girl. Chicken Little is a lot more obvious about his nursing requests by voicing "Boobies please!" loudly and proudly. I know I was skirting around the issue last year and I'm sure the few times that my son mentioned boobie time confused them. So, enough is enough... I should probably just come clean. I think I'd like to do it in email form with some links to resources... but which ones? What are some of the best, clear, concise, informative online resources for information on extended/full term nursing and tandem nursing? Help me form this out because I'm a big wuss about it since I don't like confrontation or debating. 

Here's what I have so far....

We're very exciting to have you staying at our home again this year! I wanted to get something off my mind before you arrived just so you aren't surprised by it. We are practicing what is known as "child led weaning" in this house, which means that the children can breastfeed until they are ready to stop. It is a pretty normal occurrence in my bubble of a community. I know things were much different back when you were having babies, and the fact that you breastfed at all might have been taboo depending on who you were around. 

I know my mom breastfed me until 11 months and that my husband was breastfed until he was almost 3 years old. Long term nursing is just kind of normal for us, and the boy is much more vocal about it this year than he was last year... so I figured I'd better explain the situation before you got here just to give you some good information to digest. 

So, yes, I am breastfeeding both a 1 year old and a 3 year old at the same time. I will never run out of milk as the body works on a supply and demand situation so the kids combined tell my body how much milk to make. 

American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that "Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child... Increased duration of breastfeeding confers significant health and developmental benefits for the child and the mother... There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychologic or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer."

This is a great article that outlines the natural age for humans to self wean as biologically compared to other primate species;

[here's where I need y'all help the most!! Help me fill in the gaps... and I don't want this to be too long winded... no need to overload them... just a highlight of the biggest and most important things] 


  1. I think it sounds great just as it is, honestly. And I applaud you for it. I would still be hiding probably.

  2. I don't have advice as I haven't been in this situation (yet) but I thank you for bringing up the topic and I'm looking forward to the comments.

  3. "...So I thank you in advance for your support of our decision! I know that you love and support us no matter what, but I didn't want any surprises when you arrived. We are so looking forward to seeing you.


    Mother Hen"

  4. Something like . . .
    I love you, and I hope this does not change your decision to visit us and in getting to know your great-grand children.
    Then something about arrival or accomodiations
    We look forward to picking you up at the airport on xyz day/ time
    Your room will be ready for you on day xyz. Same room as last year, and we even got new pillows.

  5. "I know things were much different back when you were having babies, and the fact that you breastfed at all might have been taboo depending on who you were around."

    I would be a bit more general here, this can be taken very personally. Perhaps something like:

    "Historically, or even currently in some communities, breastfeeding at all might be seen as taboo or unusual"

    The other thing I would do is put some really good, carefully chosen books in your bathroom and on the coffee table during their stay =)

  6. Will you give us an update on how things went?

  7. So far so good! I will blog about it when they leave though. :)

  8. Why feed the idea that there's anything strange about it by treating it as if it's strange? Nurse like it's any other day of the year and when they see how comfortable and loving your relationship is, they'll feel comfortable too. And if they have questions, you've already got the answers ready.

    Would you prep them in advance about how you practice healthy eating and send nutritional resource to support your decision? Would you send an email to let them know you practice gentle discipline and state your case? Of course not! Nursing is just as normal, just as much your-decision-not-theirs, and it should be treated as the everyday, no-big-deal event that it is.

    I'm afraid defending your choice before anyone is even questioning it sets the stage for the wrong kind of interaction. Let them SEE it before they form opinions about it. Things look very different on paper and when you're not face to face with a person.

    Personally I think it might actually be more uncomfortable to get an email that assumes their awareness and position on the issue and brings up questions they might not even have. Maybe Grandpa isn't interested in whether you run out of milk ;)

    Ultimately they're your grandparents and you have a better read on them than I or anyone else. But in the average situation, I'd go with the take-it-as-it-comes strategy :)