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Is my 16 month old over feeding?

Hi Adeline,

I nearly gave up breastfeeding a few months ago, as my little 16 month old girl was demanding so much feeding in the mornings and throwing huge tantrums if I didn't just feed and feed her, so I cut down her day time feeds and prepared to wean her.  I love breastfeeding though and soon the morning tantrums stopped and I decided to stick with it.  Especially since Erin has not had any vaccinations, I wanted her to have the best immunity and protection possible.

However, she now feeds loads and loads during the day again  (normally 2 boobs before breakfast) and often another 2 or 3 times in the morning and 2 or 3 times in the afternoon and then at bedtime...and she doesn't seem to be eating as well as she was, which I don't think is a problem for her, but I am feeling quite tired.  Sometimes I do refuse feeds and sometimes I put them off for as long as possible but I normally have lots of whining and constant hands down my top (if she can reach). Laughing

What would you do? Should I just not give in to so many daytime feeds?  If so, any tips on avoiding tantrums?

Many thanks xxx

Oh dear! What a familiar story!
Obviously breastfeeding provides your little one with continued and ongoing health advantages, and the WHO advises that BM should be the primary sorce of her diet for the first year. But at this age, BM is not the only sorce of food she can enjoy, and how otfen you feed her is less a case of making sure her calorific needs are met, and more a case of how the feeding(or refusing feeding) impacts your lives. Toddlers often go through phases of wanting to nurse more if they are under the weather, teething or just needing an extra bit of TLC.

Do you think she is hungry or just loves feeding so much she wants to do it all the time? Would it help if you or someone else gave her expressed milk from a cup? Personaly, I dont think you can ever underestimate the benefit of allowing your child to feel reassured and nurtured by nursing if that is what she really wants. Provided she has lots of other tempting foods available to her, and you feel able to keep obliging her, then why not? I dont think you can 'over feed' in the sense of it doing her any harm.

If however you are feeling emotionally and physically drained, then it might be worth looking at this in terms of behavior management.
Your daughter is not a new born, and is ready to start learning to hear 'wait' or even 'no' from you from time to time. Maybe it would suit you better if she fitted in better with family meal times, which is a good habit to aim for. After all, if you can find away of continuing to feed her without being tempted to throw in the towel, that will benfit you both long term.

Distraction can be a useful tool, or you could try offering her annother tasty snack or drink in place of your milk when she asks. Tanking up during the day can help lessen night feeds. While I was away on a course  for a week recently, my 18month son, who usually feeds very(and I mean very) frequently round the clock, didn't even ask for milk once.
Out of sight, out of mind!

I can't tell you what will work best for you and your daughter, but let me reassure you that you are doing a fantastic thing for your baby in nursing her and she is a lucky little girl. I really hope you feel able to keep up the good work.
Best wishes,
Nature's Mother

Hi Adeline,

Thanks so much for your reassurance.  Looking back it has probably been since I have been really busy that Erin has demanded more BF, so I guess she's feeling a little neglected and just needs extra nurturing and attention, which I certainly won't deprive her of. I don't think she can be hungry as she snacks quite a lot, and she's putting on weight just fine!  I think I will try lots of cuddling without breastfeeding (although that tends to lead to hands groping down my top).  I definitely find that on days that we're doing fun things together she doesn't demand BF as much, so I probably need to slow down on work and just spend some more time playing with her.  My tiredness can hopefully be overcome by Floradix (and sensible bedtimes for me!) and thankfully I'm not feeling totally exhausted.  She's just started wakiing during the night again   Sad  I hope this is just due to molars which are attempting to come through!

Speaking of distraction, I went to Preggies Club last night and left Erin with my sister in law and she went down absolutely no problem..whereas usually she'd feed for a few minutes, fall asleep, but then wake up as soon as I put her in the cot (where she starts off the night) and cry until someone cuddles her to sleep.  Rolling Eyes  

Anyway, thanks again for the advice and reassurance.

Nature's Mother

Hi again,

Just thought I'd report that cutting down on daytime feeding works some days and not so well others.

Erin has also decided that hitting me(normally in the face) when I say no to milk is the way to go...she has also started throwing things when I say no to her for any reason!  Shocked Where do they learn these things???!!! We have just moved house so maybe she is just feeling unsettled, or am I just making excuses for her...  Have you had any experience with this type of behaviour? xxx

This type of behavior is very common in nursing and non nursing children and toddlers are especial renowned for their anti social behavior. I think you would have to go a long way to find a mother who didnt have these issues with their pre schooler.
Looking on the bright side, at least since you are still breastfeeding, you can use nursing as a distraction during difficult times, such as when she has a disagreement with another child, has a forbidden item taken away from her or falls and hurts herself. Without nursing as a tool to help you cope at times like these, 'terrible toddler' behavior can be especially disheartening.
Just think of the familiar scenario of the poor ashamed mother in the super market, tearing her hair out over a distraught, high decibel toddler with flailing limbs, lying on the floor in the confectionery isle or rigid as a board an having to be wrestled into a buggy when leaving the park. We've all been there at sometime or another.
Dont imagine for a minute that serene looking bottle feeding mothers dont have exactly the same issues. In fact, it's much quicker and easier to calm and 're group' with a nursing toddler than a non nurser in almost all situations.
You say she is showing anti social behavior when you tell her 'no' to anything. I'm sure this is a phase which is exasperated by your presently unsettled home circumstances and will pass quickly with distraction and consistent parenting. Rest assured, all toddlers show this kind of attitude at times.
Have you thought of asking the advice of other mums with nursing toddlers? No one can cure these issues for you, but hearing first hand evidence that you are not alone can be beneficial and help you to take it in your stride. Locally, Bosom Buddies Extra, a support group for mothers with older breastfeeding babies and children, is held on the second Wednesday of every month at Redruth children's center GAT, and they have a facebook group.
Also at the same venue, Wishing Well Attachment Parenting Group is held every Monday at 10-11.30am. Many of it's members are breastfeeding beyond the first year, and have experience of toddler behavior from older siblings. Everybody deals with toddler behavior in their own way, but you might get some tips. Or at the very least a cuppa and a good natter.
Hang in there!
Nature's Mother

Oh it is comforting to hear you say that all toddlers show this kind of behaviour.  Some moms I've spoken to say that theirs have never hit them.  She does seem to have got the message for now and thankfully hasn't hit me for a few days now (I did have to put her in her cot a few times, for a minute or so, when she absolutely wouldn't listen)

I enjoyed Wishing Well on Monday. What a lovely and inspiring bunch of ladies you are! I hope to make it to Bosom Buddies soon too.  

big thanks x

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