Advised to stop bfing baby because of toddler's challenging behaviour

(56 Posts)
BabyLove2014 Thu 06-Feb-14 22:51:58

I am devastated. My 2.5 year old bit another boy on the hand at his playgroup today. He was there with my mother and has been told they would rather he didn't return.
Both my mother and mother in law have put it partly down to him not getting enough attention from me.
I agree this may be partly true as I posted not so long back about how I could manage bf my baby with a toddler to entertain.
Thing is: I either give up bfing to see if that helps DS1's challenging behaviour and feel guilty about how this affects my 5 week old baby or I continue bfing and worry about how it is damaging my other son. He has shown nothing but affection towards his little brother so I am not even sure this is the root of the problem. He has been physical in the past when frustrated but never before on this level.
Not only do I not know where to go from here with the bfing but also with DS1 biting - how do I stop this becoming a habit?

jane1995 Sun 09-Feb-14 14:07:27

I disagree I think you should keep breastfeeding as if you bottle feed itll be more stressful for you (making up bottles, sterilizing ect) and will have less time for both kids x

fhdl34 Sat 08-Feb-14 15:04:36

Haven't read the thread through but am in same position of toddler plus newborn. As my friend who bottle fed pointed out, at least I have one hand free to crayon, read, participate in teddybear's picnics, etc as bottle feeding takes 2 hands up. My toddler is also biting a bit, it is hard

Sneezecakesmum Sat 08-Feb-14 10:05:02

My DS had a personality change when dd was born at the same age. It's unlikely to be the bfing more the disruption a new baby causes and taking your attention away.

It's not an either or situation. Of course you should continue bfing but try to make a bit of special time for your DS.

Continue to set boundaries and rewards and try to ignore minor baby behaviour and praise the good.

My DS was eventually found to have ADHD so boundaries are especially important.

pluCaChange Sat 08-Feb-14 09:53:15

Also, if we walked out on every playgroup or friendship in which some argy bargy has occurred, our children would never have a chance to do better.

My DS did shove, so I helicoptered, and he got through it.

GoshAnneGorilla Sat 08-Feb-14 01:55:50

DD1 went through a biting stage when she was two and had no siblings, it's a perfectly normal stage and luckily her nursery were great at firmly but kindly discouraging her from biting.

The playgroup were wrong to agree with your mother that he shouldn't come back, if they said that to the parents of every toddler who hit or bit, they'd surely have an empty playgroup!

hoppingmad Sat 08-Feb-14 01:52:38

Oh dear sad. Yes toddlers bite, I have previously been the mother of the bitten but dc4 is a biter. It's a phase.
My dm & dmil have very selective memories. They seem to see my dc's as so naughty and forget what life was like when theirs were young.
In fact my dsis & I had the police called on us we were fighting so loudly and dh recalls the huge fights between dsil & dmil with culminated in dmil kicking her out at 17!

My own dc's are actually better behaved then myself & dsis were - I'm still looking forward to my rose tinted glasses, I gather they come free with the first dgc!

Spiritedwolf Sat 08-Feb-14 01:35:43

Oh dear, she was embarrassed that he bit another child under her care and made a rash "we won't return" as a way of placating everyone. I can sympathise, but really, how silly. Many toddlers bite, one of the reasons we take them to groups is so that they can be supervised whilst they learn how to play nicely.

He'll soon learn that biting means the end of the game (whether because adults intervene or because other children choose to move away and do something else). Please try not to see this as a huge character problem, lots of toddlers experiment like this. We of course have to try our hardest to prevent other children from being hurt but removing him from the group altogether seems a huge over-reaction.

My DS is 18 months, we haven't had him bite or be bitten (yet! hope we can avoid it) but there's all sorts of things he is having to learn, not to snatch toys etc. He's not a bully in the making, he just doesn't know the rules of playing yet, he sees a toy he wants to play with and goes straight for it. He'll learn, we'll help him to learn, and the other mums at the group I go to are understanding, laugh off my apologies and help him learn by offering him or the other child a different toy that isn't being played with.

It has nothing to do with how your younger child is fed. I can't see why anyone would make that connection. All small babies require lots of attention which a sibling could be put out by. I wonder if your mum just isn't confident about handling the biting situation and found the experience so mortifying that she doesn't want to return. But it doesn't mean you can't ever go back. He's not the first toddler to have ever bit anyone.

How are you feeling? You've got a lot on your plate trying to learn how to mother two young children. I only ask because your worries and guilt about DS becoming a bully and it effecting his life forever, is a type of thinking called "catastrophising" (thinking the worst). I'm sure everyone does it sometimes, but it happens more when we are feeling down. Try to look after yourself, getting as much rest as you can even if you need to rely on others to take over household chores etc.

Do remember to ask your HV or GP for help if you are feeling depressed, they won't judge you and they can help.

Breastfeeding gets easier as your baby gets older. You put in the hours now, and later you get the easiest method of soothing and feeding a baby. You'll be multitasking while feeding before you know it.

Some other ideas for toddler whilst you are feeding - colouring book, sticker books, story books, stick on some music for him to dance to, anything he will be able to occupy himself with for a little while, or something you can do together. And the Cbeebies or a dvd isn't the end of the world.

Its lovely that he is already being a caring big brother, try not to doubt that even if he gets frustrated sometimes.

Take care brew cake thanks

BabyLove2014 Fri 07-Feb-14 20:40:35

That's the thing though zara1984, DS1 is nothing but gentle and protective of 5 week old DS2. I'm so proud of him for that. I think his - quite natural - insecurities are manifesting themselves in other ways x
Your poor MIL though - that must have been awful. Much worse than what I'm going through x

BadPenny Fri 07-Feb-14 20:14:23

Hi OP, just to say, it sounds like you're doing a great job under very trying circumstances. Remember the nuclear family is very recent in human history and most cultures still give plenty of family support in the first few months so please don't be shy about asking for help.

As for the obsession some HVs have about topping up with formula, all I can say is I don't understand it... but if you do have any worries about whether your baby is feeding well or efficiently it may be better to call LLL or the national bf helpline or pop into a bf group for real life help or encouragement - and to quote Dr Jack Newman, just remember:

"Breastfeeding is blamed for everything. True! Family, health professionals, neighbours, friends and taxi drivers will blame breastfeeding if the mother is tired, nervous, weepy, sick, has pain in her knees, has difficulty sleeping, is always sleepy, feels dizzy, is anemic, has a relapse of her arthritis (migraines, or any chronic problem) complains of hair loss, change of vision, ringing in the ears or itchy skin. Breastfeeding will be blamed as the cause of marriage problems and the other children acting up. Breastfeeding is to blame when the mortgage rates go up and the economy is faltering. And whenever there is something that does not fit the "picture book" life, the mother will be advised by everyone that it will be better if she stops breastfeeding."

We just don't live in a particularly baby (or toddler!) friendly society. That will take a bit of time to change.

Zara1984 Fri 07-Feb-14 18:46:59

I'm so sorry to hear about this. I'm sure it's just a phase?

I can't help from personal experience but it sounds similar to what DMIL went through. Her DD was 2.5, DS1 (my DH!) was 15 months when DS2 was born. She had to basicallly have DBIL in the sling all the time (ie bf him in the sling, on demand) so she could attend to the older two and ensure the DD wasn't biting/slapping/hitting DS1.

DMIL also sent her DD to montessori 4 mornings a week in desperation which really seemed to help!

BabyLove2014 Fri 07-Feb-14 18:38:15

PluCaChange - I agree. My DH and I had a good chat today while DS1 was out with grandparents and we are united in our approach of lots of positive reinforcement alongside consistent messages around right and wrong. I will pass these on to DM and MIL.
I wouldn't feel comfortable sending my LO back to this particular playgroup anyway and will be looking for one with a more favourable approach that I can join myself and make a fresh start - once DS2 stops cluster feeding so much : )
Really appreciate everyone's advice and support on here as always - it has got me through a difficult day and I'm feeling more positive that we cab move past this together as a family xx

pluCaChange Fri 07-Feb-14 16:41:14

TBH, your DM's decision to abandon the playgroup, on top of the rather hectoring tone of the playgroup's reaction to biting (after a certain point, nagging can be counterproductive with a toddler. "consistency" means the same boundaries every time, not "consistently" harping on about the same thing for 10 minutes!) are a bit worrying. He needs boundaries, yes, but imposed with a comforting hug afterwards, with reassurance that he can do better. Can your DM/MIL manage this?

BabyLove2014 Fri 07-Feb-14 15:04:57

Stealthpolarbear - this week has been the toughest. Work asked me to go on a team building event as a KIT day and I agonised over it. But as it is next week and I haven't left the baby for 5 mind never mind 9-5, I had to say no. I guess my problem is I am trying to be everything time everyone and worrying too much about what others think. None of the senior female managers have children so I know they won't fully understand my decision. But I was pressuring myself to express enough milk in a week and also get baby used to a bottle so I could leave him. I spoke to a very level headed friend yesterday who put things in perspective. As soon as I said no to work, at least that weight lifted. However, my DH just let me know he is away for two nights next week so am stressing about how I will manage. I know I can ask other family members for help if I need it but hate the feeling of not being able to manage my own family on my own.
A few other unrelated things have gone badly too this week and I do keep getting moments where I think I can't cope.
DS1 has gone out with my MIL to enjoy the first sign of sunshine we've had and meanwhile I have attempted a walk with DS2 twice but he either wants to feed or sleep - on me! This feeling of being surgically attached to the settee is getting me down to be honest - it makes me feel lazy when there is so much to do. Surely at 5 weeks old this Sunday he can't be cluster feeding AGAIN. Think I will see how our 6 week check goes and decide whether it would be best to ff as well as bf and express. X

imip Fri 07-Feb-14 14:58:10

Just adding my voice to the chorus!

I have a 19, 20 and 22 month gap between my 4 children. In the long run, breast feeding will be WAY more easier than bottle feeding. I perfected breastfeeding in a sling eventually, and if you have no shame, you an breastfeed while chasing after a toddler in the park smile

It's just a phase. Some kids are biters, some kids get bitten. I've had both and wouldn't judge anyone too harshly when my child is bitten ( and one of mine was a terrible biter).

Playgroup reacted very badly.

Trust your instincts with the breastfeeding. Your toddler will be challenging, because he is a toddler! I have one of them, and although she is my fourth, she still drives me to tears at times!

It's hard adapting to juggling more than one child, but I've always found after the first three months, it becomes a lot easier. Enjoy your little family, op!

Figis Fri 07-Feb-14 14:53:35

Aah your mum too... They shouldn't have agreed. What a huge fuss over a very ordinary interaction. It's not the bf, my mil only remembers how angelic dh was, how she never had to admonish him. He remembers the shouting, the slipper, the belt! Mums can have very selective memories and be unprepared for our toddlers.

Figis Fri 07-Feb-14 14:50:12

The only unusual and worrying behaviour is from the play group leaders. What horrors!

BabyLove2014 Fri 07-Feb-14 14:47:34

Thank you Anotetofollow - my little boy is doing it when someone stands in his way of something. For instance, he and the little boy at playgroup wanted the same toy. He but my mum on the hand the week before when she tried to take him home for pulling someone's hair. So it isn't as innocent as the other reasons mentioned above about tasting nice etc.
Although he is very talkative and can say most words, he can't put sentences together like that. When I ask why, he doesn't answer.
You have given me hope that things will get better.
I wonder if not being able to express himself is part of the problem and maybe if he was able to say: I would like that toy please then he wouldn't feel frustrated enough to bite.
It is the worst kind of behaviour I think - because it is so animalistic a response. I know it's going to take time and a hell of a lot of patience - plus not letting my own feelings get in the way.
He starts proper nursery in Sept so I have to have it solved by then.

op your lovely little boy is a NORMAL toddler. If (very unlikely) he grows up to be a serial killer then think about where youve gone wrong. This is a phase and chances are he will get througb it as they all do and the loving caring little boy will come to the fore again. And that will be to your credit.
Seriously, stop breastfeeding if YOU want to and if you think it will make life easier. Dont feel under pressure to do it from others. Go and give your lovely little boy a hug and let him help change the baby's nappy.
Do you get the "can't cope" feelings a lot? If so, talk to someone.

jellyandcake Fri 07-Feb-14 14:15:05

I suspected it had come from your mother!

Five weeks is SO early! Of course you haven't got time for housework and are feeding constantly - the baby is building up your supply. It will all get easier in the next few weeks, honestly it will. Your baby won't feed like this forever.

It's a huge overreaction on your mother's part to say she won't take him back because of perfectly normal toddler behaviour. It is NOT caused by you breastfeeding. Lots of toddlers go through this phase. Itisn't your fault or your son's fault. It's normal, it won't last forever. You certainly are not a failure, you are doing brilliantly.

Whether or not to top up with formula is your choice. I f it were me, I would hang on and let your supply build up and your baby's feeding to settle a bit. But make whatever choice is best for you and will make you happiest flowers

BabyLove2014 Fri 07-Feb-14 14:07:16

Spoke to my mother and it seems the playgroup hasn't banned him from going back. They did make a big fuss though saying "Look what he's done. Look what he's done." My mum then said "I think its best if I don't bring him back - and they agreed.
My mum said she doesn't want people speaking badly of him if she went back. This breaks my heart as he is such a lovely little boy underneath all the frustration.
I have been looking online for other groups and activities I may be able to take him to once I get a moment even to get the expressing machine out of the box!
My HV says I can give a little formula once a day and then express tnstaafl feed. Not sure about this but as my Baby constantly feeds all day, not sure when I'm supposed to express?
Do have a sling but haven't used it yet as it's a confidence thing and I worry I'm not using it properly snd am
Barely putting the baby down in order to work it out.
Having a bad week I think - feel like a big fat failure.
No time for anything - including housework.
What I would do for a cleaner ! X

anotetofollowso Fri 07-Feb-14 13:35:49

OP it sounds like breastfeeding is a wonderful achievement for you and of course a source of pleasure to your baby too. Giving it up will only mean that your older DS will feel guilty and perhaps overly powerful. My guess is that it would only make your DS feel worse in the long run, not better. If he is acting up because he is feeling angry/neglected/fearful/anxious then the answer is not to to take something away from yourself and the baby in order to placate him. Rather your challenge now is to help your DS adapt to the new family reality that is, and to help him to see that even if you are (inevitably) preoccupied with a new baby then there is still love for him.

I really feel for you, with your fears about your DS's behavior because I was exactly the same. My own DS WAS aggressive at times as a toddler, including biting, and I was convinced that this meant he would be a nasty bully. How I wish I could have given myself and him the calm, compassionate space we needed. The conviction that it will all come right can be so helpful. Would it help you to know that my own DS has calmed down, and is now becoming a kind, popular boy (still boisterous but I wouldn't have that any other way).

Best of luck. As others have said, your DS really is still so little. Never mind the playgroup organizers, who I really think have acted meanly. Love your little one through all this and it really will all come right, whatever you fear.

Forago Fri 07-Feb-14 13:19:15

Haha that's what mine said too! I wanted to see what he tasted like. Then another one was "because she was going past" (one of the nursery nurses!!). Then the last incident was the same original child (his great friend) and I said come on now why again? And he said "because he tastes like yoghurt and I like yoghurt!"

Not minimising biting, which clearly needs monitored, but it is a pretty normal part of being a toddler and I don't think it means he is feeling neglected or pushed out. He's just an irrational toddler! My 1/3 biter was the youngest so nothing to do with a new baby and as the youngest he has always got a lot of attention. It only lasted a couple of weeks.

And 5 weeks is early days, I'm sure things will settle down soon.

OhCaptainDarling Fri 07-Feb-14 10:06:06

What a load if BS! Can you remember feeling neglected at the age of two because your mother was feeding another sibling? I certainly can't.....

Your DS bite another child because that's sometimes what children do! Your DS1 is old enough to know biting is wrong, just speak to the nursery it's not a big deal unless he's doing it everyday and to the same child.

When my DD bit another child at nursery, I asked her why she said, she wanted to know what he tasted like grin Perfectly innocent and quite funny really.

I have a 2yr and a 3wk old...god it's tough. Don't listen to your mother or MIL.

anklebitersmum Fri 07-Feb-14 09:59:16

Ok. So first job on your list should be to find a nice playgroup/ nursery where they have some idea about children and behaviour. For someone to suggest you stop bf-ing..well the mind boggles at that logic. confused

Second should be to stop flapping about whether everything is down to the toddler feeling pushed out due to new baby.

Honestly, if you look hard enough for an issue there's a good chance you'll find one. I have five children (inc my step-son) and we've never had bad behaviour because of the new baby (and there have been a few new babies). We have had bad behaviour because of the older DC's age though. grin

Toddlers push boundaries. Children starting school push boundaries. Teenagers push boundaries.

So he bit someone. So what? Kids at that age bite, pinch, hit, snatch and generally act like like little barbarians. That's why we parent them so closely whilst we socialise them.

Deal with it like you would any other unacceptable behaviour. What you absolutely must not do is start pandering to DC1 because some loony HV has suggested that any bad behaviour on his part is likely to be down to the new sibling for the next however many weeks.

If you make sure that DC1 has plenty of positive attention, keep his routine as normal as possible and ensure that the important people aren't bee-lining for baby at the expense of DC1 you'll be fine.

3bunnies Fri 07-Feb-14 09:43:38

ds went through a biting and hitting stage we had to be really firm removing him every time/ put into time out. It did pass. He is the youngest of three so no rival baby formula or breast fed. It might be better to see his friends one to one for a few weeks/months but a forever ban is ridiculous.

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