Continuing Breastfeeding as Baby Starts Talking

Though there are many benefits to extended breastfeeding beyond a year, it often comes with unique challenges! See our tips and guidance for more.

Ideas to Manage Breastfeeding as Baby Starts Talking

Though there are noted extended breastfeeding benefits, continuing to nurse as your baby becomes a toddler often brings its own unique set of challenges. From becoming more easily distracted during nursing sessions, sometimes having trouble keeping still, fidgeting, and finding a comfortable position to loudly demanding to breastfeed or grabbing your chest in public, a few simple rules and boundaries can go a long way as your toddler gets older! 

As your little one becomes more mobile, it's best to begin encouraging good breastfeeding manners early on and remaining consistent with these expectations as he or she becomes older. Some tips to consider include:

  • If your toddler becomes grabby when he or she wants to nurse, redirect their attention by helping them occupy their hands with something else - some moms wear specially-designed breastfeeding necklaces to give their little one something to play with while nursing, and others keep a favorite toy on hand to engage them while breastfeeding.

    When your toddler grabs at your chest, show him or her that they can gently tap your leg or rub your arm to get your attention and let you know they wish to nurse. Though moms can legally breastfeed in any public space in the U.S., you may be in a location where you don't feel comfortable breastfeeding immediately. If this happens, try holding your little one's hand if they grab at your chest and/or distracting them with a song, story, or by pointing out nearby objects until you reach a location where you wish to nurse. 
     
  • To continue breastfeeding as baby starts talking and avoid situations where your little one may loudly ask to nurse in a public setting, it may be beneficial to decide on a "code word" or special phrase as he or she learns to form sentences and becomes more vocal. Framing it as a "secret" word or phrase just between the two of you can even be fun! Be sure to practice with your toddler how to politely ask to breastfeed and what word or phrase to use when in a public space. Depending on the situation and the age of their little one, some moms help their toddler learn by only breastfeeding after they ask politely and/or use the code word or phrase taught. 
     
  • If your little one wishes to nurse but is easily distracted or overly wiggly when breastfeeding in a public place, keep light snacks and a bottle with pumped breast milk on hand. This may temporarily satiate their hunger until you get home or to a location where you can nurse with minimal distractions. If you choose to nurse in public and your toddler isn't behaving, consider ahead of time how you will discourage this - some moms may stop the breastfeed right away and others may give a firm warning first by telling him or her no or to stay still while nursing.

    If your toddler is older and able to go longer stretches without nursing, you may also consider breastfeeding shortly before leaving home and letting him or her know that you'll nurse them again once back at home or in a place where you are able to do so. Having snacks and pre-pumped milk ready for "just in case" situations is also helpful in the event of unforeseen circumstances, such as bad traffic, travel delays, or unexpected additional stops. 

Stick with It - Extended Breastfeeding Benefits are Amazing!

According to KellyMom, during the second year of breastfeeding - when your little one is about 12 - 23 months old - 448 mL of breast milk provides him or her with:

  • 29% of their energy requirements
     
  • 43% of their protein requirements
     
  • 36% of their calcium requirements
     
  • 75% of their vitamin A requirements
     
  • 76% of their folate requirements
     
  • 94% of their vitamin B12 requirements
     
  • 60% of their vitamin C requirements

That is incredible and more than enough reason to continue breastfeeding as baby starts talking, growing, and becoming much more vocal! Though these situations can present challenges, particularly when with your toddler in a public place, nursing your little one is not just normal - it's also one of the most beneficial ways to ensure he or she receives all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients they need for optimal wellness and development. Remember, you and your toddler have come a long way since he or she was a newborn and  you were both learning to breastfeed together. That is something to be very proud of as you navigate this new chapter and all its extended breastfeeding benefits - Medela is here to support your family as you continue to provide your little one with breast milk for as long as you choose.