The other night Clover held Adele (her doll) and Little Mouse in each arm as she was lying down to go to sleep. She told me that one was her toddler and the other was her baby. “They have [my] dede like mama”. Dede in Tagalog is to breastfeed or breasts. It’s what we she when Iris is feeding. Today she held buttons (a bear), lifted up her dress and started feeding him (from her belly button). It was very sweet.
Every now and again Clover feeds the baby animals. Sometimes from their mothers or other animal mothers but lately it’s been a shoelace.
It hasn’t happened much lately but tonight as I fed Iris as we are dinner Clover asked for dede (breastmilk in Tagalog). I asked her how she wanted it and she said “like Iris”. I said okay and she was about to take off her bib and come to me then got distracted.
I’m part of what I call the Milky Mama Facebook group and it is such a beautiful community and braintrust. On January 4 I asked what others had done when an older child is suddenly interested in feeding. The responses blew me away and I was so touched and honoured to be heard. I spoke to a lovely lady via PM and it was nice to be reassured that what I was doing was OK. It sat so right with me but I realised I wanted to share the story and know what others have done. Because someone’s bound to have experienced it all before.
This is what I wrote…
Has anyone experienced their weaned toddler/child wanting to try breastmilk when a new baby comes along?
The other day our 2yo bumped her head and normally is so not fussed with stumbles, but she was particularly tired, so when I sat by her, she climbed into my lap and looked at my boobs. She goes “I drink milk mama dede?” (dede is breast in Tagalog). I smiled I said “If you like”. Then she got distracted and ran off. She weaned herself off at 13 months but has a 2 month old sister and every now and again, when the baby is upset she goes “baby drink milk mama dede!”
Yesterday, she wasn’t upset, nor was her sister, she was playing with the her Farm animals and kept riding it so I asked her if she wanted to see where baby cows get their milk from. I showed her how the calf was fed by the cow. She took them off me and fed the calf, then she looks at me and goes “I drink milk mama dede?” I said “how do you do that?” she unclipped my maternity bra and grinned. I was contemplating letting her go on the breast but wasn’t sure if that would confuse things or something. So I asked if she wanted to drink from a cup. She said yes so I expressed into a shot glass (on of the first glasses she drank from ironically) and showed her where the milk came from.
She drank it, made a face, I asked how it tasted and she said “nummy!” (yummy) She asked for it again today, but I know that it’s not producing the milk for her. I’ve always liked the idea of tandem breastfeeding, but it’s been more than a year since she was breastfed. I have a feeling it’s a phase and she’s genuinely interested, so I don’t discourage the idea but I don’t encourage it either.
What have other people done?
Clover hasn’t gone back to breastfeeding, she still makes sucking sounds when she’s tired and falls asleep that it makes me wonder if I unintentionally helped her wean herself off at 13 months.
Sometimes she asks to have a feed, often out of the blue (for me), sometimes because I’m feeding Iris and most of the time she gets distracted and forgets. Occasionally though she gets few droplets that she or I hand express. A couple of times he wanted expressed milk to rub on Iris’ scratches. I think to her it’s enough, if one day she wants to give latching a go, I’ll be here. The milk I’m producing is currently designed for Iris, but if Clover did want it, it will change to suit what she needs.
I’m not sure if she will want to go back to breastmilk and that’s okay, it’s her choice. I know that she knows it’s there if she wants it. Normalising breastfeeding from infancy is so important to me, to us as a family and for our babies it is simply the norm.