An issue that you don't often hear about is a lazy latch in toddlers. Babies really don't know what they are doing, and while a lazy latch is possible, it is most likely that there are other issues at hand that need to be addressed in order to ensure a proper latch. But what happens when you have been doing something over and over for a year or two or three? You begin to ease up on your form, worry less about how you are doing and inevitably, develop some lazy habits towards this activity (driving is a great example). Toddlers are exactly the same. By the time they reach 2 years of age, they are professional breastfeeders. And they know it. So maybe on this feed, I won't open my mouth as wide and see if I can get as much milk. Oh, hey, look at that, I can stand here, barely open my mouth, and tuck my bottom lip in WHILE still getting milk! Why bother opening wide, or latching deeply, or flanging my lips, or approaching the boobie from a usual position?
|Asleep with a not so fabulous latch|
Some quick tips to help alleviate that lazy latch:
1) Say AHHH! Toddlers understand much more than little babies, so when you ask this of them, they can oblige you. The wider and more open their mouth, the more nipple and aerola that enters their mouth, the less pain for you.
2) Check for flanged lips. Lennon has always struggled with flanging her lips, which means turning them out so the soft inner lip tissue is what is rubbing against your breast. This can be a cause of great discomfort, so check your little one's lips: are they turned out? If not, retry your latch and see if it helps. Or try a new position. All people's mouths are unique in shape and one angle may be more conducive to your child's nursing needs than another. You can also lightly pull up from the corners of their lips, forcing the lip to flange out.
|Lips tucked in like this are not ideal for comfort. Sometimes, it doesn't hurt, but if it is causing pain, work on flanging those lips!|
3) Re Latch. Often, we get lazy ourselves about nursing our toddlers. They should know by now to open their mouths wide. I shouldn't have to re latch her four times before it is comfortable. Which of course is just silly because as they grow and learn so do we. It is all a process and as many say: two steps forward and one step backwards. So start at the base, ensure you are getting a good latch every single nursing session and eventually, they start remembering what proper nursing feels like.
|A happy mama and a well latched, fully flanged toddler means future breastfeeding success|
I hope this helps any mamas who are struggling through a lazy latched toddler. You are not alone! Keep nursing your toddler and smile, it won't last forever.
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