Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Joys of Breastfeeding Past Infancy #26

Today I am happy to host a guest post by Whozat. Whozat is the natural birthing, breastfeeding, cosleeping, babywearing, cloth diapering, babyled weaning, babysigning, 40-something, lesbian stay-at-home mom of two year old Peeper, who was conceived via IVF using her partner, Shrike's, egg and donor sperm. She blogs at "Lucy and Ethel Have a Toddler: The Adventures of Shrike and Whozat (and Peeper!)
If you are interested in learning to sign with your baby or toddler, stop by Natural Parents Network for more information on the benefits of signing, then head over to Code Name: Mama to see how other mamas and little ones sign "nurse."
Here is Whozat's breastfeeding guest post:

Carrie, a Natural Parents Network reade,r breastfeeds
her 31 month old son, who signs "milk" while he nurses.
Carrie blogs at
"Peeper," at two years old, recently had a language explosion; until now though, she communicated primarily through signs. I can't imagine how frustrated we would all be if she couldn't communicate with us by signing. Not only can she tell us what she needs and wants, but we also get such insight into what's going on in that little head of hers - what she's noticing as we go through the grocery store (hat! glasses! baby! wheels! dog!) and how she's interpreting things in the world around her.

I was a little disappointed when "milk" (or "goody" as we call it in my family - a term coined by my sister's son, now in his 20s, back when he was a nursing toddler :-) ) wasn't her first sign, but then I realized that she's been able to communicate that to me since she was tiny, she didn't need to sign it!

She did pick it up pretty shortly after that, though, and she usually uses the sign to ask to nurse. She sometimes still tries to just help herself, but I usually ask her to sign "goody please" to reinforce proper "nursing manners" for public. (Please don't lift my shirt in the restaurant, sweetheart!)

Before her recent language explosion, there was a night when I was in the kitchen washing dishes. She came in and said, "Mama!" took my hand, and led me down the hall to the bedroom. As we got there, still walking and pulling me by the hand, she held her other arm straight up and signed "milk," then looked over her shoulder and said, "Mommy?" (my partner, "Shrike") because she wanted her to go lay down with us, too.

Two words and one sign, and she was able to say, "Mama, I'd like you to come to the bedroom with me, because I'm ready to nurse now. Mommy, would you please join us?"

The story would be better if that had turned out to be bedtime, but she nursed for a few minutes, declared "Uppa!" and got out of bed for another half-hour or so. Oh well . . . .

We cosleep, and many times I've seen her sign "milk" while whimpering and rooting for me when she wakes in the middle of the night.

She also signs it while she's nursing. I'm not sure if she's just saying "Hey, look what I've got!" or if she's announcing my letdown as it happens, or maybe complaining about the service "Hey, Mama, turn this thing on!" when it doesn't happen as quickly as she likes.

Recently we were shopping and a child was crying somewhere a few aisles over. Peeper looked concerned and signed "cry" (or "sad" - we use the same sign for both). I told her, "Oh, yes, that baby is crying, but it's okay, his Mama will fix it." Then, just for fun, I asked her, "What do you think she'll do about it? How will she fix him?" Without hesitating, she signed "Goody!" I told her I thought that was an excellent plan!


Breastfeeding past infancy is full of laughter, joys, and heartbreaking tenderness. I am publishing a series of posts dedicated to   the beauty of nursing toddlers in an effort to normalize this healthy and beneficial nursing relationship. But this isn’t just about me – I want to hear YOUR joys. If you are nursing a child who is older than one year, please contact me and  tell me about your favorite moments. I will include them in the series and  credit you, your site, or post it anonymously if you so   desire. (This series was formerly called “The Joys of Breastfeeding a  Toddler.” I changed the name to reflect the fact that we are celebrating  women who breastfeed past infancy, regardless of the age of the  nursling.)


aww youve got a adorable sweetie in your hands ;)

Totally adorable 20 month old recently learned the word 'nurse' but before that she would climb up and pat my breast. We also practice co-sleeping and baby self weaning although I wish now we would have taught her signing as well. She is the 5th (and last!) child so I guess I will have to wait until one of my adult children-ages 26, 22, 20 and 18 years-gives me a grandchild!

DS Alex started using the milk sign to get attention! He knew that I put his feeding as a major priority and so when he wanted me to stop what I was doing, he'd "milk" me.

My son is getting better at booby etiquette - finally! He is 20 months now and loves booby action. I think he is finally getting the idea that my breasts are attached to me and that he can't just dive in! There are challenges to nursing him but I wouldn't swap it and I think it really does make life easier.
I love seeing him sign for milk when he is almost asleep and how peaceful he becomes when he latches on, his relief is palpable like he is thinking 'now I'll be ok'. It is a shame more people don't get to experience the fun of nursing a toddler. Perhaps if people nursed their kids for longer they wouldn't have such a hard time remembering that they really are just babies.

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