Breastfeeding Boundaries: How To Say No To Your Toddler

Sarah Ong Blog Comments

Let’s face it, breastfeeding can be the most wonderful thing you’ve ever done for your baby. It’s such a great way to meet your baby’s needs for closeness, hunger and comfort during upsetting times.

But what happens when your baby is now a toddler who pinches, twists, squeezes your other nipple or wants to stand up while breastfeeding?

You feel soo annoyed and feel like breastfeeding is the worst thing you’ve ever done in your entire life.

It’s still important as ever to respond lovingly and promptly to your toddler’s needs but now it’s also time to introduce a new kind of compassionate lesson: loving limits.

How does it look like when you want to say no to your toddler who asks to breastfeed for the 10th time in 2 hours?

  1. “Hands off, I don’t like that sweetie” – when he grapples at your other breast.
  2. “I won’t let you, that hurts” – when he pinches your other nipple and you gently move his hand away.
  3. He starts to show his displeasure, fusses, screams or cries.
  4. Not it’s the time to actively listen to his outburst. Maintain calmness and become an empathic listener.
  5. Tell him, “I’m right here, sweetie. I’m listening.”
  6. If breastfeeding has become an addiction like a comfort mechanism, those pent up feelings where he didn’t get to release are coming up in a big big way when you hold loving limits.
  7. Be prepared for a long, hard crying for many sessions or days. It’s important that you hold the emotional safety by holding him (if he lets you) or just simply by paying attention lovingly until he’s finished crying.
  8. If there’s no emotional safety provided (ignoring his crying for example) he might just start a new comfort mechanism such as thumb sucking or nail biting.

Or, if your toddler asks to breastfeed and you’re just not in the mood to give, you could say, “Yes, after I’m finished with what I’m doing.” “Yes, before you take your nap later.” or “Yes, before we go out to the park.”

Try to say yes only when you’re truly ready. Or else, it’s going to feel like you “have to” give your body space. That’s when you start to feel resentment.

Then repeat point 3-8 above.

Providing a safe, compassionate outlet for your toddlers big emotions, and providing comfort and security, teaches him the skills to manage and handle those big emotions as he grows.

And remember to take some time for yourself, too.

Make sure your own cup is filled and seek encouragement from people who will support your decision to do this.

You’re doing such an amazing and awesome thing to breastfeed your child past one year.


In the monthly live webinar in my online membership Easy Peasy Sleepytime, I’ll be talking about this topic more in depth and my members get to ask me questions on the spot. The replays will be up in the members area for future easy access.

If you’d like to be a part of this monthly webinars, join us in the Easy Peasy Sleepytime community.