Should You Have a Code Name for Breastfeeding Your Toddler?
I was advised to pick a code word my toddler would say when wanting breast milk. Here's why I didn't.
Choosing to breastfeed beyond the first year continues to provide both mom and baby with benefits, but it can also bring unwanted attention. Mothers have varying levels of comfort when it comes to nursing in public, and the thought of strangers hearing your child articulate their need for the breast may make you blush. Before baby starts speaking you’ll need to decide if you want a code word for nursing.
A secret word or phrase for nursing? The thought almost makes me feel like a breastfeeding spy or something. Code name: Milk Mama.
Shortly after having my daughter, I was talking privately with an older family member about how breastfeeding was going. At that time, my goal was to nurse for a year. I didn’t know very much about extended breastfeeding, but I knew one year would be great. She shared that she nursed her children into toddlerhood and suggested creating a nickname for milk time. Something that only my munchkin and I would understand so no one else would know what she was asking for.
I nodded, feeling nervous about needing to hide a nursing toddler.
Now here I am, three years later, still nursing my daughter on occasion and nearing the one year mark with my son. Still no code words.
My daughter started signing “milk” before she could talk. I never hid its meaning from anyone. As she began to talk, she’d ask for milk or “mama milk.” Even now she calls it “mama milk” since she knows it is different than the cow’s milk she also drinks. My son isn’t officially talking yet, but he’s starting to sign for milk.
Since receiving that advice, I’ve read about other moms picking out secret ways to communicate with their breastfeeding toddlers. I understand why some may do so, since extended breastfeeding is not widely accepted in the U.S. It just never felt right with me. Sure, at first I thought it sounded like a good idea. However, I didn’t want others to misinterpret the secret word nor did I want it to confuse my daughter if it had a double meaning. I mean, what if someone else tries to fulfill her request for “snackies?” Then we are back at square one unless I insult them and our refusal of their snacks! (I kid! Sort of…)
Instead we opted to just call it what it is: “mama milk.” In the early toddler days, my daughter still looked very much like a baby, as does my son right now. He is more likely to tug on my shirt or try to snuggle into position than ask for it. I might see a little hand signing as fussing starts. As my daughter neared two-years-old, she began asking for it, but we were rarely in public during those times. Even when she asked in public, I tried not to be embarrassed. Of course, there were times I was afraid someone would say something or I got nervous.
Overall, I try to appear confident and comfortable when nursing, whether I’m tending to a baby or a toddler. For me that includes how my children ask for it. A code word feels like we are ashamed and hiding it. Even if my cheeks get red when my kid screams for mommy milk.
Obviously, my way isn’t for everyone and there are plenty of women who prefer to use code names. In the end, it is up to you and your comfort level.
What do you think? Should moms use code words with their toddlers?
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