Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Nursing & Pumping for a Toddler

So I'm sure the title of this post probably seems pretty odd to most of you to STILL be nursing Avery now that she is a toddler (at 17 months) . But for others maybe it seems perfectly normal, in fact not long at all. I can relate to you both because if you would have asked me back when I was pregnant if I would still be nursing Avery as a toddler, I probably would have thought you were crazy. Not that I was against breastfeeding that long or anything, but just that I didn't think Avery would still be interested in nursing. But, boy was I wrong, that girl loves her milk. As for me, I love the quality time I still get to spend with her and knowing that she's getting an extra dose of nutrition every time she nurses.

What it's like to nurse a 17-month-old...

 For those fact-lovers out there, here's some facts I've learned thanks to the website Kelly Mom in an article titled, "Breastfeeding Past Infancy" most of which applies to nursing babies until they are at least 2 years of age...which is my goal as of now, but who knows how long we'll go:

Benefits for toddlers:

  • less illnesses, shorter illness duration if they do occur
  • increased intellectual development (longer breastfed=higher IQ scores)
  • breast milk is a valuable source of nutrition (specially in connection to vitamin A, protein, and fat intake, just to name a few)
  • better protection from diseases
  • supports their social development (bonding with mother especially, as you can imagine)

Benefits for mothers:

  • decrease in breast cancer risk (significant associations have been made between the longer you breastfeed, the lower your chance of getting breast cancer)
  • decrease in ovarian, uterine, and endometrial cancer
  • more protection from osteoporosis
  • increased postpartum weight loss (which I touched on in this post about my "Body After Birth")

Now those benefits are all nice and dandy, but seriously, "doesn't she bite you"? That's the question I get the most when people find out that I am still nursing Avery at 17 months. And to tell you the truth, I don't get bit. Now every once in a while I will get nipped, but it's usually because she's not paying attention, she looks away suddenly, or she's being ornery  If a bite does happen, I address it right then and there so she's aware of what she did and that it "hurt mommy."  But truly, it doesn't happen that often at all.

Now last year around this time I posted ("How I Go Green With My Pumping & Baby Bottle Routine") and what it was like for me to nurse and pump when I had to go back to school at my teaching job, but Avery was only 4 months old at the time.  Fast forward a year later, when I went back to school again this August, and things changed a bit. Even though I was still breastfeeding Avery, the amount I was producing decreased quite a bit (since I'm not her only food source thanks to her gluten-free, vegan diet, which you can usually see in my "What I Ate Wednesday" posts), and so my pumping routine changed a bit too.

Follow along as I share and compare the changes that have taken place from last year to this year with our pumping and breastfeeding routine.

A Day in the Life of Pumping and Nursing for Avery (my not-so-little-anymore 17-month-old)

1. When she wakes up around 7:30 or so, I nurse her before leaving for work for about 10 minutes.

2. When I get to school, I no longer have a morning pumping session. I attempted this when I first went back in August and I got maybe 1 teaspoon full from both sides combined, after 15 minutes or so. On top of that it seemed to decrease my "lunchtime pump" as well, so I dropped that pumping time.

Instead, I wait until around noon and pump then. The result? More work time in the morning, and more milk at lunch. Win-win!

Here's my lovely pumping station
in the bathroom of my preschool

I keep the TV tray in there and just bring my chair, laptop, and usually lunch, in when it's time to pump.

As I mentioned in the post last year, I am a proud owner of a Hygeia pump (EnJoye LBI Breast Pump with Deluxe Tote Set $329) . It's still doing it's thing and I  have been nothing but pleased with it. Read more details and see more pictures of this pump back in this post.

Time to crank this baby up...

I couldn't do it without my Organic PumpEase Nurisng Bra ($42) . This allows me to pump hands-free...did you hear that HANDS-FREE! I think I would probably lose my mind if I had to hold the pump bottles while I pumped. Instead, I eat my lunch, work on my laptop, make phone calls, and write in my planner. Pregnant or nursing mamas, I highly recommend you try this!

Here's what it looks like on and
how it make the pump hands-free....

3. During this lunchtime pump, I usually go for about 20-25 minutes. Back in last year's post I used to set the timer on my watch to see how long I was pumping for, but not anymore. I don't really feel the need to be so watchful of it. I basically go in around the same time every day, and come out at the same time a few minutes before my afternoon group of students is starting to come in. Can you tell I'm much more relaxed about it this year?
In case you don't know, those "cords" are where the suction
comes from. No milk goes in them, the milk just goes
right into the bottle.

My usual set up on the TV tray: my
laptop, lunch (today it was spaghetti
with veggies), water, and my phone.

Curious what's on my laptop? We do yoga in my preschool class and I was making some tweaks to it. ( :

Here's the sign outside of my bathroom
door to give everyone a head's up as
to where I'm at when the door is closed.
Avery is saying, "Hey, that's my milk!"

Here's where you can really start to see the changes from last year to this year...

Here is the milk I pumped from one 25 minute session this year...

 Just like I did last year, I am still utilizing these 8 oz. glass mason jars for my breast milk storage.  Granted last year I used the bigger jars, but this year the 8 oz. ones work perfect.

4. I then transfer the pumped milk into the mason jar and store it in a mini-fridge in my classroom.

I got 12 of these jars for $8 at Wal-Mart.

Today's milk is tomorrow's milk for Avery. If it's a Friday,
I store it in the fridge over the weekend and she gets it on

Staying cool in the fridge.

A little bit of a change compared to last
year's "mega milk"!

Just as I did last year, I'm still keeping my pump parts
(flanges/bottle) in this cute little drawstring bag once I'm
done with them.

What does Avery do while I'm away at work?
Well it was so much easier not to have to search around for the perfect "green" bottle like I did last year when it was time for me to go back to school. All I had to do is get my 4 oz. Evenflo Glass Bottle from our cabinet and we were good to go. Shortly after I posted last year's post I upgraded to the bigger version of these bottles in the 8 oz. glass bottles, since Avery seemed to be drinking more milk. But as she started eating more solid food, she drank less milk, so this fall I brought her back down to the smaller bottle size.

Simple and cheap glass bottles I got
from Wal-Mart ($8 for 3 bottles).

Usually she will have 3 oz. before her morning nap, and 3 oz or whatever else is left before her afternoon nap. If she ever requests for more "milk" we supplement with Rice Dream Rice Milk, and she takes it cold in her bottle. 

Avery's favorite, "non-mommy milk"

Mommy's Home...now what?
Then in the late afternoon, I get home from work and the first thing Avery says to me is "Milk! Milk! Milk!" And usually I will go and nurse her right away. I know better than to make her wait!

Nursing on Avery's favorite couch.

Another change since last year is her position while nursing. As you can imagine, she's gotten bigger and the nice little cradle hold I used to use is not comfortable or feasible for either of us. So, around 12 months, we switched to this front-straddle type position and it works great. I think her favorite thing about this position is that she can switch from one side to the other whenever she wants. Not sure what's so fun about that, but she likes it. So you can see the PG-rated version of this position below, but usually my shirt is up and both sides are open and ready for Little Miss to eat. (Sorry probably TMI, but just wanted you to know one of the quirky things that come along with nursing a 17-month-old).

One of the many things I love about still nursing Avery:
having a few minutes to sit down, catch my breath, and
cuddle with my girl.

"Whoa...where did you come from Dad? No pictures during
nursing time!"

Trying to get this wiggle worm to

stay in one spot...easier said than done!
Our "just-got-home" nursing sessions only  last about 5 minutes, maybe 10 minutes max...in case you were wondering. It's hard to think back to those early weeks when she would nurse for 45 minutes to an hour!

Concentrating hard on getting her milk!

End result: one happy, full, growing girl!

Then she's done with me and off to do fun big girl things like...

Eating frozen strawberries,

and sweeping the porch!

Until, next year, or whenever our nursing journey comes to an end, you know where to find me...washing pump parts.

When else does she nurse?
Avery nurses probably one to two more times before she goes to bed around 8. In case you're wondering, on the weekends and at night, I nurse Avery before she goes down for each nap or bedtime. As of now, she is sleeping through the night, so she usually doesn't nurse again until she wakes up in the morning.  But every once in a while she will wake up in the middle of the night and I love knowing that all I have to do is nurse her for a few minutes, put her back to bed and she's good to go. 

Well that wraps up the pumping and nursing routine I've got with my busy little toddler, and how I've tried to "green" it as much as I can. 

Do you have any experience with extended breastfeeding? How long did you nurse your baby/toddler? What tips/tricks/routines or products helped you with nursing your toddler?
Share below!

**Disclaimer: I purchased all these products with my own money and these are my honest opinions of them.**

Recently this post was linked up to a blog party called, "Tuesday Baby Link Up". This is where other bloggers can gather together and share their baby-related posts, such as: pregnancy & birth, adoption, newborn & baby, or toddler & child. You can find more of the "Tuesday Baby Link Up" over at the blog Satisfaction Through Christ, as well as a number of other blogs that are listed in the link above. So hop on over and check out some other fun baby posts!



  1. Thanks for sharing! I've been wondering how other moms do with pumping for a toddler. Mine is 18 months and my supply a lot lower, which is normal, but it makes me wonder how long I can keep it up (pumping). My husband, son and I are almost vegan. No meat, fish or dairy, but we haven't given up pasture raised eggs yet. :-)

  2. Still nursing my 23 month d twin boys and it's a very similar schedule and experience to yours. Nice to have a fellow kindred spirit out there.


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