Frequently Asked Questions - Nursing During Toddlerhood and Beyond

Questions about benefits and challenges of nursing a toddler

During the time that your baby is refusing to nurse, you will need to express your milk either by hand or by pumping, in order to maintain your milk production. Do this as frequently as your baby would normally nurse. If your baby has refused several feedings, you can offer your expressed milk in a cup. Avoiding bottles and pacifiers is recommended during this period in the hope that your baby's sucking urges will encourage him to start nursing again.
 
Spending lots of time skin-to-skin with your baby can be very helpful. You can also try:

  • taking a warm bath together
  • making the breast available while baby is sleepy, especially when he is just waking up
  • singing to or rocking your baby while holding him skin-to-skin
  • nursing in a different position or location

Do not try to make your baby breastfeed; rather just hold him (skin-to-skin when possible) and let him take the lead when he is ready to try again.

Very unlikely. Occasionally, a baby who has been nursing well will suddenly refuse the breast for no apparent reason.  This is called a nursing strike.  It is very rare that a baby will wean on his own during his first year, and weaning usually happens gradually. On reviewing the situation, a cause for the nursing strike can sometimes be identified. Common causes include: an earache or stuffy nose, a scary sound that happened while breastfeeding, a different lotion or deodorant, too many bottles or pacifiers or a recent change in routine. Nursing strikes can last from 2-4 days.

Yes. Expressed human milk can be kept in a common refrigerator at the workplace or at a daycare centre. Check that the refrigerator temperature is 4C (39F) or less. Both the US Centers for Disease Control and the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration agree that human milk is not among the body fluids that require special handling or storage in a separate refrigerator.

Legally in Canada you can nurse your baby out in public wherever you and your baby are allowed to be. Most mothers find that with a little practice they can comfortably nurse their babies in many different environments. Planning ahead with your wardrobe and stops can make it easier to relax and nurse your baby when he needs it.

To encourage, promote and provide breastfeeding, chest feeding and human milk feeding support and educational opportunities as an important contribution to the health of children, families and society