Traveling with Toddlers
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 18 No. 3, May-June 2001, p. 115
During Labor Day weekend in 1999, my husband, toddler son, and I traveled to the Chicago area to attend the wedding of my husband's brother. Recently I have begun reflecting on this trip and have compared it to a trip I took four years ago with our older son. This trip was to attend a wedding reception for my sister in Mexico.
During both trips, my sons were toddlers, between the ages of one and two. When I took my oldest son to Mexico, I was not nursing him. I had weaned him to cow's milk in a bottle shortly after his first birthday. On the advice of a relative I had started using goat's milk because she felt my, son's persistent cough might indicate an allergy to dairy products. She told me that goat's milk was less allergenic. Most of my son's caloric intake came from milk and the trip was about 24 hours by car. So I brought 2 quarts of milk and packed some bottles and a cooler. My son would go through several bottles a day so I worried about running out of the milk. I ended up buying some cans of premixed artificial baby milk for convenience.
As we approached the border between the US and Mexico, my little son Hilton (now 7 years old) became very ill and vomited repeatedly. When we arrived at our destination I was at a loss with what to do. He was hungry and wanted milk, the food he was so used to, but my relatives were telling me that babies should not drink milk when their stomachs are upset. All I had to give him at the time was water. When I took him to the only doctor in the small town in Mexico, the doctor diagnosed him with a gastrointestinal illness and prescribed an antibiotic as well as some electrolytic fluid. On the way home it was very hard to get my son to take this fluid. He simply would not drink it. Thankfully, he recovered, but it was sad to see him so sick and for me to feel so helpless.
When I traveled with my second son to a wedding, he was still nursing. I had been attending La Leche League meetings for a few years since my first son's weaning and had learned of the benefits of extended nursing. just like the trip four years ago, my toddler was not eating a lot of solids. But this time, he was drinking my milk, not that of another mammal. It was nice not to have to pack bottles and worry about running out. It was nice to save money. Cans of premixed artificial baby milk are very expensive.
Recently, it occurred to me that maybe the reason my oldest son became sick was because I had weaned him. Maybe if he had still been nursing, the immune properties he received from my milk would have protected him. But even if he had still gotten sick, I would have been able to continue giving him my milk, the food he would have been used to. Human milk is considered a clear fluid, is easy to digest, and in fact, is good to give babies when their stomachs are upset, unlike cow or goat's milk. Human milk is good for compromised immune systems. I would have been able to nourish and comfort him in the way he was used to if I had still been nursing him.
My younger son is two and still nursing. It is so wonderful to be able to just wear him in a sling, nurse him even more frequently, and know that my milk will help his body overcome the illness and comfort him at the same time. I look back at my oldest toddlerhood and wish I had not weaned him when he one. I wish I had waited until most of his caloric intake came from solids and his sucking needs had lessened. Nursing a toddler makes travel much easier, lessens illness, and makes overcoming illnesses much easier. Now that I have been there in both camps (having a non-nursing toddler and a nursing toddler), nursing a toddler is the way to go for me!
No other organization has helped me so much to enjoy motherhood. The things I learned from being involved in La Leche League are not just the practical things about nursing a baby, but nurturing a healthy family, up to adulthood and beyond. I don't want to ever be without my NEW BEGINNINGS, the many books in the LLL Group Library, and all my wonderful friends far and wide I have met through LLL. Thanks again La Leche League. You have my continuing support!