Q&A: Toddler losing his latch?

Heather writes:

"I don’t think you’ve addressed this before, and I’m having a hard time finding any info elsewhere. I have to attend a conference this summer and will be gone for 6 days. My son, at that time, will be 18 months old. I don’t intend to wean before that time, and I don’t intend to take him with me. I was wondering how long it takes for a kid to "forget" how to nurse or how to get a proper latch. I intend to pump during that time to keep up my supply, but wonder if he may wean himself in 6 days (which I am sort of ambivalent about, but would probably be sadder than happier). I was also wondering if there are some "data points" on the lengths of time women have been gone from their babies at different ages and what the effect was on nursing."

I’m not sure if there is much info about toddlers losing their latches out there. I know when I weaned my first son (at 2 1/2 years+), after about a week my mom (the former La Leche League leader) said to me casually, "Oh, and you know at this age they just forget how to nurse if they haven’t done it in a few days."

Um, OK.

So I thought that might happen when I was away from my younger son for two nights when I went back to work when he was 22 months, but it didn’t–he just ramped the nursing waaaay up. (Seriously. He was down to once a day for maybe 5 minutes, and I thought we were almost through, but then I went away all day M-F and he picked up the nursing to 3-4 times a day for longer sessions. I thought he was literally never going to stop nursing, and I would have to eat my own words about "you won’t have to FedEx your kid bags of breastmilk at college." But then miraculously he just forgot to nurse for a few days in a row while we were at my mom’s a few months ago, and that was that.)

So I definitely think there’s an age at which they forget how to latch if they don’t do it for a few days. But I don’t know what that age is. In my experience, it’s somewhere between 22 and 34 months.

Anyone else have data points about toddlers losing their latch?

And does anyone want to share experience about being away from a baby or toddler and how it affected nursing? None of my work trips affected my son’s nursing, but he was between 22 and 30 months when I went away, and the trips were all 2-3 nights long.

I suspect that it’s as much about your child’s personality as anything else, but would love to hear others’ opinions on that, too.

0 thoughts on “Q&A: Toddler losing his latch?”

  1. My son was 36 months exactly when I went away for 4 days – and when I returned he tried to nurse, but couldn’t remember how. It’s OK, it was the right time for us both.

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