Tandem Nursing – Reasons for Not Weaning the Toddler

Although there was a lot of protest when I said I was going to tandem breastfeed my two boys, it was pretty much accepted and I went on to nurse Gavin even after Gareth was born.  However, with Gavin’s declining behaviour in recent times, the discussion for me to wean Gavin has been revisited.

Here are some of the arguments why I should have weaned him:

  • If I had weaned him, he wouldn’t be so “sticky” to me right now
  • If I had weaned him, he wouldn’t be behaving so badly right now

Here are my thoughts on the matter:

Who’s to say that had I weaned him he wouldn’t be “sticky” to me right now?  And who’s to say that weaning him would have had any effect on his current behaviour.  For all we know, he could be even worse than he is right now.  And if I had weaned him, he may have felt even more jealous of his brother’s nursing time.  My friend who did not breastfeed her daughter also found her daughter to become more demanding and more “sticky” after she had her second child.  Her daughter also displayed all the classical signs of sibling rivalry.

The fact is, our toddler’s world has turned upside-down when his baby brother was born.  How can we not expect him to react to it?

Now here are the reasons why I am glad I am still nursing Gavin:

  • At night, when both boys stir in their sleep, all I have to do is nurse them simultaneously and the three of us can all go back to sleep.  If Gavin had been weaned, I really don’t know how I would be able to nurse Gareth, carry Gavin, and sleep all at the same time.  I noticed that in the days prior to the pregnancy, sometimes the only way to get Gavin back to sleep without breastfeeding was to carry him and walk.
  • Breast milk is a laxative and helps Gavin overcome some of the problems with constipation that has been plaguing him.  We spoke to the doctor about Gavin’s constipation and she explained that it was a common problem for many toddlers because they are often too impatient to poop when they are supposed to and that causes the poop to get impacted in the bowels.  Additionally, the longer the poop remains in the bowels, the more water gets reabsorped and the harder the poop becomes.  Hard poop hurts and that causes toddlers to avoid the toilet even more which only serves to compound the problem.  No wonder toddlers are constipated.
  • Breast milk is my ultimate reward that Gavin can never say “no” to.  Okay, so this is probably not the sort of thing I should be doing, but hey, it’s effective.  Whenever Gavin misbehaves, all I have to do is threatened to take away his nursing time and he immediately falls back into line.  No other reward has the same effect as the promise of breastfeeding – not even chocolate, not even ice cream, not even the toy shop, although potentially the bookshop but we aren’t about to reward him with a trip to the bookshop in the middle of the night.  Given how difficult Gavin can be right now, this is probably one of the easiest methods for getting his cooperation.

So please tell me again why I should wean him?

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

3 thoughts on “Tandem Nursing – Reasons for Not Weaning the Toddler

  1. Nah, don’t wean till Gavin is ready and don’t stress about it.

    My kids look forward to having a nursing party at night and giggle when they nurse together. Sometimes in the evening when we are all tired we curl up together and have a cuddle nurse too. I believe it has helped Jack overcome a lot of the sibling rivalry we would have otherwise encountered. Not to say he is never jealous but he has come to see his sister as part of the family and understanding that he was once little and drank a lot too (and is not losing out cos he is still drinking now) helps a ton too.

    Giving up their pacifier/nursing/whatever crutch they are using is a developmental milestone and they’ll reach it when they are ready, just like potty training. Jack just one day decided he was ready to use the loo and he did.

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  2. Yes, it is lovely to see Gavin holding Gareth’s hand. I’m not planning on weaning – my intention was always to let Gavin decide when he’s had enough. It’s also too easy this way for me to give it up right now.

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