Why do parenting decisions have to be so hard? I made the decision to refrain from nursing Little Man before his nap today and now I feel guilty.
As many of you know, I still nurse my two year old. He just turned two a couple of weeks ago. I’ve also said before that I’d prefer not to tandem nurse. However, that thought has absolutely nothing to do with my decision today.
I feel like I’m at a crossroads with LM. I’m at a point where I can’t tell if he’s still nursing because it’s part of the routine I established or because he really wants to. He used to randomly request to nurse, but he doesn’t anymore. It’s solely part of his nap and bedtime routine and we’re at the point now where I think he may be using it as a stalling technique. What I’m struggling with is, does that really matter? Should I really care why he wants to nurse?
Occasionally, when LM doesn’t want to take his nap or go down for the night, he refuses to nurse. I don’t want to force to it, so I usually say, “Ok, if you don’t want to nurse let’s just go right to bed.” That usually results in him latching immediately. That felt like coercion to me though. I felt like, if the choice was between spending and extra 10 minutes rocking and nursing or going straight to bed, of course he’s going to pick the extra time. Plus, usually even after I’ve nursed him, he tries to resist going to bed by charming me with kisses and refusing to lay down when I put him in the crib.
Today, I decided to try a new approach. I asked if he wanted to nurse and he responded with a clear no and shook his head. I then began to stroke his tummy and he laid there peacefully while I did that for 15 minutes. As I expected, when his eyes got heavy and I tried to put him in his crib he started saying, “nurse, nurse?!” and pointing at my chest. I normally would have given in, but I didn’t. I put him in the crib with his water and told him that if he still wanted to nurse when he woke up, we’d nurse then. I know that probably sounds like a hard concept for a toddler to grasp, but he really does seem to understand the idea of getting something “after [XYZ]“. I’ve done it before, it works, and, if it’s something he really wants, he always remembers. So after a little protesting (not much more than usual), he gave me a kiss and said “lubby” (I love you) as I left the room. As soon as I was out of the room, my heart sank a little.
I know this is not a life or death decision and I really do understand that I’m not going to scar him for life by denying his request to nurse. I just can’t help but second guess myself. I worry about my motives. Am I doing this for him or for me? I can’t really answer that. As much as I love nursing most of the time, I do have those days when I can’t wait to stop. I know he doesn’t need to nurse to fall asleep because many people (including a babysitter and his Daddy, Nana, Poppie, & Grandma) have put him down for naps and bedtime with complete success without any milk or anything.
So I don’t know. What do you think?