My toddler loves babies, like LOVES them. Whenever there is a real baby anywhere in her vicinity, she completely stops what she’s doing, and stares in silent awe, with her mouth agape. She usually follows this up with pointing directly at the baby and saying, “Baby!” Almost always, she follows it up with saying, “Baby, nurse!” whether the baby is actually nursing or not.
A friend of mine came over with her 4-month-old and let Quinn hold the baby on her lap while she was sitting on the bed. After a few minutes, the baby started to fuss and needed to nurse. Quinn got up, walked around to sit in front of the baby, straightened her legs, smoothed out her dress, then held out her arms for the baby and said, “Baby, nurse me.”
It was adorable.
Of course, I had to explain to her that the baby couldn’t nurse her and had to nurse her mama, and that did not go over very well at all. But, I was really happy to see that that was her instinct. She is a really nurturing little girl, and that is the best way she knows to nurture a baby.
Quinn often nurses her baby dolls when she is playing, usually by just holding their heads up to her chest. Sometimes, she gets very serious about it and lifts her shirt up, but holding them there is usually enough. She also nurses just about anything else: Her puppy, her frog that lights up, the people in her books. For awhile, she would open her pajamas each night and put her frog inside and say that he had to nurse.
A lot of times, she’ll ask me to nurse her babies and her toys. I just hold them to my chest and make a noise like they are drinking and enjoying themselves, and she thinks that’s hilarious. For awhile, she’d ask me to nurse her babies each night when we would lie down to bed. First baby, then her.
Sometimes, she asks my husband if he’ll nurse her babies, and he gets a little weirded out by it. He’ll say, “Daddies can’t nurse” or “I don’t have milk.” I told him he should just go with it since she’s just pretending, and he seemed to lighten up about it a bit. One time, he went looking for a bottle to give her, and we had to have a conversation about normalizing breast feeding. He supports breastfeeding, but guess it’s hard to break some ingrained ideas — like that babies get bottles.
Overall, I’m glad to see that she’s come to see breastfeeding as such a normal and healthy part of caring for a baby that it’s her go-to method of interacting with and nurturing her babies — or attempting to do so with real ones. I’d like to see more of that kind of play in other kids. Maybe if we did, more adults would embrace breastfeeding, as well.
What are your thoughts on play nursing?