Breastfeeding Beyond Two
Should Breastfeeding Continue Over the Age of Two?
Many mothers decide to wean their babies at six months because of preconceived ideas in society about breastfeeding older children.
When some people think of breasts, they think of them as sexual objects instead of what they really are: They are natural, beautiful parts of a woman’s body that were originally made to nourish and feed a child.
The health benefits of breastfeeding continue for as long as you breastfeed, so why not continue?
Your baby is considered a toddler, from 13 months to three years of age. The world-average age of weaning is 4 years.
There is no “perfect” or “right” time to stop breastfeeding your baby or toddler.
The Benefits of Breastfeeding Older Children
- Breastfeeding is convenient: You do not need to wean your baby before they are ready to wean.
- Breastfeeding is calming: Have you ever heard of the terrible twos? Well, they are terrible. And in my case, it lasted a whole year! When you breastfeed a toddler, you can calm them when they start to feel overwhelmed or upset.
- A breastfeeding toddler has immune protection: As long as you are nursing a toddler, you are passing all your immunity towards illness to your child, who will benefit for years to come.
- Nutrition: If your baby does not always eat enough food (especially when are ill), at least they will continue to receive necessary nutrients… and it’s free!
- Breastfed toddlers have been found to have a higher IQ and quicker motor skill development compared to those who were only breastfed for a few months.
- A New Zealand study on breastfeeding older children (older than a year) showed fewer behavioral problems in six to eight-year-olds.
Dr. Bill Sears - The Extended Breastfeeding Debate
How Does Extended Breastfeeding Help Mom?
- Weight loss: Some mothers say that they just could not lose weight while breastfeeding, but then others lose the weight really quickly.
- Prolonged breastfeeding can decrease a mother’s risk of breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancer. It also lowers the risk of Osteoporosis and Rheumatoid arthritis.
If you feel forced to wean, please read the following article first...When should I stop breastfeeding?
- Breast milk produced after six months contains just the right amount of protein, fat and other elements that are appropriate for breastfeeding older children.
- A nursing toddler will receive higher amounts of immune protective factors that protect against allergies and other illnesses.
- Breast milk will continue to contain all immune system factors that help the gut, brain, and other organs mature and develop.
The Challenges of Breastfeeding a Toddler
- You might find it difficult to keep them from wanting to breastfeed and undress you in public!
- You might have to handle criticism from family, friends, and even strangers. The best thing to do is to mingle with other moms who are like-minded.
The transition away from the breast should be a gradual one for your baby and at your baby's own pace. Studies show that the majority of children will wean naturally between the ages of 3 and 4. So why not allow nature to take its course? Don’t feel pressured by others to stop breastfeeding. Do what works best for you and your toddler.
Tired of the Pressure From Family, Especially My Dad, When I Breastfeed My Toddler
by Charlisa Riley (South Carolina)
"I am still breastfeeding my 21 mth old. Every time I'm at my parent's home and my daughter wants to nurse, he is always saying things to discourage me or her...it's becoming annoying, and I feel no one should have a problem with it.
Sometimes I want to yell, "dad, please, it's a natural thing, and she will wean when she's ready!" How do you deal with criticism?"
Re: You're doing great!
By: Katelin Granados
"You are doing something amazing for your child! Do not become discouraged whatsoever! Take advantage of being the only one who can provide breast milk to your daughter. Maybe try to educate your family on the incredible benefits breast milk has. Even the formula cans read, " experts agree breastfeeding is best" Good job, girl!! Keep it up and keep going!"
Re: Still nursing
"Still nursing my almost two years old also. Good job on keeping up with your beliefs. No one can share the bond between you and your baby. Just educate others. You're not alone."