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Focus on Fathers

Fathering Your Nursing Toddler

From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 17 No. 3, January-February 2000, p. 25

Some time ago, a doctor told my wife that she should consider putting our toddler in day care, because she and our son appeared to be too close. The doctor felt that our child was too dependent on his mother. However, this is not the case. Granted there are times when the little one wants to be with his mother all of the time, but usually I'm the one chasing him around the house playing with him. He is very independent, even more so than our first child, who was bottlefed.

The health benefits and savings aside, I respect my wife for having the courage and commitment to continue to breastfeed our toddler to give him the best possible advantage of growing up as a healthy, well-adjusted child. Their bond was always close, and since he knows that he can always depend on his mom, my bond with him is even closer. He's developing just fine, and whatever doubts I had about my wife nursing past 24 months go out the window every time I see the smile on my little one's face as he comes running for me, instead of his mom's breast.

My husband, Manny, wrote those beautiful words on Norma Jane Bumgarner's MOTHERING YOUR NURSING TODDLER Internet site about our two-year-old nursing toddler, Nicky. Though he wrote of how courageous I was to nurse our toddler, he should take a lot of the credit for our being a nursing family. He encouraged us from the start.

When Nicky was a week old, Manny, an army aviator, had to go away to the Warrant Officer Training Program. Nicky had been kept in the hospital because of severe jaundice. He was released just an hour before Manny had to report to school.

Manny couldn't receive phone calls or visits for the first few weeks at school. As a classic overachiever, Manny always goes beyond what his work requires but was having trouble staying focused because of his new baby at home. Even so, when I thought about discontinuing breastfeeding, it was he who urged us on. When we visited, it was beautiful to see him with our sons, particularly the baby. He held him so close and examined every inch of him, almost as if he were trying to memorize everything about his new son.

When Manny finished his training program and began flight school, an intense year of school, flying and studying began. He never neglected his family, though. I think it cost him a few points here and there on his grades, but he never regretted the time he spent with our children.

Manny has completed flight school and is now in a challenging position. He is often away flying missions for the Army. I think it helps him to know that the children are safe, and that our youngest adjusts well to the changes the Army brings to his life, all because he is safe and secure at my breast.

Many of the military wives I know breastfeed their toddlers. We value the safety and security that our children receive in our arms and from our breasts while our husbands risk their lives in such dangerous jobs.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss him, but I take great comfort in knowing that Manny feels he can do his job to the best of his ability without too many worries about our home life. Breastfeeding has enhanced this feeling of safety for all of us. Not only has it been a form of wonderful nutrition and bonding, it has become our lifeline and a way to raise our children. Without Manny on my side, there might not have been a nursing toddler in our family.

Reprinted from an issue of Rocking Chair, the Area Leader's Letter for LLL of North Carolina.

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