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How can I set boundaries gently with my breastfed toddler

Breastfeeding is a relationship between the mother and her baby. There are two parties involved and both are important.

WHO recommends that a baby should be breastfed for a minimum of 2 years and beyond. As the baby grows older than that, some mothers may find it difficult to continue to nurse the child due to various reasons listed below and many more.

  1. Pressure to wean from family and friends
  2. Fear of embarrassment in public
  3. Nursing aversions
  4. Belief that baby is too old to breastfeed
  5. Need for some space
  6. exhaustion

It is important to acknowledge the mother’s needs from time to time while not ignoring the child’s needs. In some cases, weaning altogether may be too difficult not just for the child, but even for the mother. That’s when boundary setting can carve a beautiful way out to continue nursing while taking the needs of both mother and baby into account. 

Boundary Setting Techniques:

It is important to understand that this is different from gentle mother-led weaning as here, the focus is not on cutting down the nursing sessions. The focus is on increasing and enhancing the mother’s comfort level. Also, these boundaries are set very gradually over time and with children above the age of 2 years. They can be talked and reasoned about with the child. Some commonly used boundaries are as follows..

  1. No more nursing outdoors. This includes parks, cafes, malls etc.
  2. No more nursing just because of boredom. It can also help the child identify her moods and encourage her to find ways to keep herself engaged in activities.
  3. No more nursing at meal times.
  4. No more nursing while traveling (in the car, aircrafts etc).
  5. Not nursing when the mother is busy with her work.
  6. Nursing only at home.
  7. Nursing only when the child is sleepy.

These are just examples. Boundaries can be introduced to address the individual circumstances and situational demands faced by the mother-child dyad. Thus, a mother can design and set her own boundaries depending on her own needs. More boundaries can be introduced with time.