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Why Do You Breastfeed Beyond Infancy?

post #1 of 41
Thread Starter 


In a super popular post on All Things Mothering, Sarah Clark shares 100 Awesome Things About Breastfeeding You Won't Find in Studies


It got me thinking. We need a list like this for breastfeeding beyond infancy! 


So all you mamas who are breastfeeding in toddlerhood and beyond -- what are the biggest reasons you nurse?


For me it is

1. improved health

2. maintaining a sense of security and closeness

3. respect for my child's needs

post #2 of 41

Because it is the very best way to nurture a child physically, emotionally, and intellectually. It is a primal attachment that reconnects children with their mothers in a way that disregards the confines of the busy, convoluted, highly-scheduled lives we choose. Because it is a simple, effective, and powerful choice that reminds us of the redundancy of gadgets, props, and toys designed to occupy and stimulate our children, and returns us to a very basic and natural state of peace, harmony, and responsibility.  

post #3 of 41

My old one is 2 years old and my last one 6,5 months.

They are both breastfed.

Why did I not stop with my toddler?


1. soften the birth of the new baby

2. create, keep and strenghten the bond btw the toddler and the baby

3. keep an exclusive time btw mom and toddler

4. let him decide the weaning time

5. respect his needs

post #4 of 41

My son will be 4 in a couple weeks and he just doesn't want to stop. He's an only child, so I have the ability to allow him to continue because it makes him feel safe and content. We nurse always at home and mostly at bedtime only. I know he's not getting any dietary benefits at this late stage, but its all purely emotional for him and I both. Its a bonding time.


I have started making suggestions that he is getting big enough that they won't work much longer, but I'm not pushing it as I know he will grow out of it soon enough and someday I will look back on it and think how fleeting it all was anyway. I certainly never expected this to go so long! I was just hoping I could do it at least 18-24 months! He is very active and constantly running around, bouncing everywhere and I really do enjoy the quiet time I can just calm him down and talk to him without distractions. I wouldn't trade it for anything! (Even though I'm sure there are plenty of critics - my own mom didn't think I should go past 6 months, but then again she never breastfed any of her own kids!)

post #5 of 41

1. Ease tantrums

2. Calm hurts

3. Make new places less scary

4. Easy nap, anywhere

5. Easy bed time, especially when they're too old for a nap

6. Connect with growing little ones who are too busy to cuddle any other time

7. An excuse to sit and read a good book

8. Extend a phone call for a few minutes

9. Health benefits for child

10. Health benefits for mom


There are just so many!  I'm a mom of boys and the only time they sat still was while nursing.  I cherish those times to hold them, touch their faces, admire their long lashes, giggle with them when they make eye contact.  Just so special.

post #6 of 41
Health! I believe every child has the right to a minimum 2 years of being breast fed. I admit that I stopped feeding my son after this for purely selfish reasons. Breast fed children are so much healthier and have less problems.. They seem a LOT brighter than other kids too. I don't understand why people put so much emphasis on things you can buy like vaccines, toys, education for their children's well-being, yet fail to provide to very basic "God-given" perfect food which is free! And then there's all the other benefits of breast feeding that are numerous. But health is the primary reason for me. Do people really think it is ok to feed a baby formula? A completely fake and processed substance full of crap? Made with tap water and microwaved in plastic? No wonder modern day kids are sicker than ever.
post #7 of 41

We do child-led weaning in our house. My daughter was done between age six and seven. My son is almost seven now and he only nurses at night and not every night, so we are getting there. He still has not lost one tooth yet, though -- I keep expecting him to lose the ability to latch, but not yet. I'm confident it will be soon, though.

Both of my children have serious autoimmune issues. My daughter has a very severe autoimmune disease and was and is intolerant to almost all food. My son was diagnosed as being at risk for PDD-NOS  (a type of autism) at 18 months and has a lot of allergies. It was obvious that longterm nursing was in both of their best interests. Breastfeeding has improved their health immeasurably. Many children with my daughter's illness can eat no food and she is doing relatively well and doesn't have to be fed via g-tube. My son is recovering from autism and breastmilk has been a huge part of his recovery. He appears neurotypical to most people and is actually pretty healthy. Breastfeeding was very important to him because his sensory issues were so severe he rejected all solids until past his second birthday.

It has not always been easy but now at the end I can know that I gave it my all.

post #8 of 41
I'm still going with my 21 month old mostly because he's not ready to quit. Not even close. It calms him, comforts him, and makes his days better. I'm thinking of weaning, but he's gotta be more willing first. Plus, it fills the gaps of his picky toddler eating. I never imagined we'd be doing this still, but I can't imagine all these months without it now.
post #9 of 41

The reason we've continued is simply that we felt our son wasn't ready to give up nursing yet--he wasn't done with that part of his babyhood. I've seen a host of benefits, both physical and emotional, which continued well beyond the one or even two-year mark. In hindsight (my son is now four and a half, and almost entirely weaned, I confess much later than I had at first thought this would happen), perhaps the best argument I can see for extended nursing (at least for us) was to see how easily and naturally he moved on to other forms of physical and emotional nourishment once he was ready to move on. It has been beautiful to see :-)

post #10 of 41

I planned on breastfeeding past infancy because of the extended health (immune, nutrition, long-term) benefits.  I ended up following through with breastfeeding for none of those reasons and did it because my daughter loved it.  It calmed her when she needed it, soothed boo-boos, put her to sleep, and provided us both with amazing bonding time.  It was convenient when traveling by air to help her little ears and when there were no snacks available.  It was also selfish on my part.  I loved breastfeeding and since we only have/want one child, it was an extension of that precious time that I knew I would only get one chance at.

post #11 of 41

I am one of those that go into parenthood not having any real expectations other than the cuddles of a sweet small human being. And sleepless nights and poopy bottoms.


I just knew that I wanted to breastfeed, give it all I can to make it work. Never thought I'd go past infancy but did, because neither she nor I thought it was time to stop.


But just lately, I've been feeling like I cannot do this anymore. She's 2y 3 mo. She'll be 2y 6 mo I am sure at least, by the time she's weaned from all feeds but one. She doesn't want to end it though and I am very sad about trying to force her. I think I'll hang onto the morning one and leave that to the last. It makes for a better day for her. She can fall asleep on her own now, but not always, in some weeks, not at all. But it's all a part of growing up. I know that I'll be sad once it's done but we want to plan for #2 and it is said that if one has had an m/c, that is one of the contraindications to nursing through a pregnancy. An m/c can still happen but I will never be able to stop wondering if nursing had anything to do with it if I were still nursing full time. I may keep only the early morning feed because she likes waking up to it. Sort of a greeting.


So why did I continue well into toddler-hood? It just made sense to.

post #12 of 41

I nursed both my sons until their 3rd birthdays, or as my mother-in-law said, "till their feet drug the ground."  They are now 33 and 29 years old, and I can honestly say that long-term nursing is one of the best choices I ever made.  It created a strong bond and contributed positively to their emotional development.   

post #13 of 41

Because I love him.

post #14 of 41

Because I'm lazy. Very lazy. Type-A lazy. All I need to do to nurse my DD is hold her. She's 14 months and can whip out my breast with ease and manuever it on her own. She can even find it in the dark if she wants to nurse in the middle of the night (we bed-share). No fuss, no cleaning up, no mixing, no expense. 


And, of course, the whole warmth, love, and health thing. smile.gif

post #15 of 41

"Can we nurse Mama?  I love nursing!!!"  That's it... I wanted to extend nursing because of all of the logic-based reasons.  But when my 2 1/2yo jumps out of the sandbox, runs into the house, and exclaims that he loves nursing I don't even think about those.  He knows what he wants/needs "right now" and I love that I can still give that to him!

post #16 of 41

I nursed my firstborn, a boy, until he was 16 months old. He lost interest at that point, perhaps because my milk either dried up or didn't taste the same, as I was about five months pregnant with baby #2, a girl.


I introduced solid food to her when she was about eight months old, and she gobbled up anything I gave her. I weaned her a few days before her first birthday, because I wanted to go on a women's retreat and not take her along. I still feel bad about weaning her before she was probably ready. By that point, though, she really was eating as much solid food as most 2- or 3-year olds, so I knew she would get adequate calories without my milk. However, she is the child that I have had the most difficult time understanding and bonding with. I love her dearly, but I just don't always "get" her or know how to get through to her. If I could do things over again, I would have nursed her much longer.


My 3rd child, a girl, turned 2 last month and still very much enjoys nursing. Sometimes I wonder if she's really getting anything out any more, since my breasts don't feel much different after nursing than before, and I don't usually feel the let-down of milk. But when she pulls away, she often has a trickle of white milk running down her cheek, so apparently, she's still getting something. She is a very sweet, compassionate, and thoughtful little girl, and I think that those qualities are at least partially attributable to the nurturing and tender care she receives multiple times a day through nursing. I love how enthusiastic she is about "mama mulk." It's pretty adorable when she hands me the Boppy pillow and says, "Mama mulk, now peeez. Boppy pillow!" How could I resist that? I'm not really in any hurry to wean her, although I do look forward to being able to wear normal clothes and bras again. Also, I'm pretty sure that at least part of the reason I haven't been able to lose the baby weight after being pregnant with her is that she is still nursing frequently, and for whatever reason, my body thinks it needs to hold onto excess pounds to make milk. I love snuggling with her, and breastfeeding is the only time she'll hold still (well, not really hold still, but at least she's pressed up next to me!). Sometimes if I'm nursing her while using my laptop or reading a book, she'll reach up a hand, turn my face toward her, pop off long enough to say "yook!" [look], and resume nursing. So I know it's not just that she likes the taste of milk. She wants connection with me. That's pretty special. That's why I'm still nursing her. 

post #17 of 41

Why not!

post #18 of 41

Because she asks!


All those studies on superior IQ, and immune system etc. etc. sound great, but what science proves today will disprove tomorrow!


I take my cues from my toddler to continue nursing.

post #19 of 41
As with PP - when I got pregnant, I knew I wanted to breastfeed for all the right reasons. The health beenfits, immune, nutrition/real food, IQ, yada yada. Now, with my DS 13 months old, we're still nursing because I can't imagine cutting him off from something that means so much to us both. We're TTC #2 and I know it will be harder while nursing, but for me, I'm not willing to sacrifice one moment with my current child in the hopes of a future child that may or may not ever happen. So we'll continue to nurse until he wants to stop/doesn't need it any more. If that means we wait to have #2, that's fine - and if it means we tandem nurse, even better!
Edited by LivingSky - 8/10/12 at 2:17pm
post #20 of 41
Originally Posted by hasya View Post
I know that I'll be sad once it's done but we want to plan for #2 and it is said that if one has had an m/c, that is one of the contraindications to nursing through a pregnancy. An m/c can still happen but I will never be able to stop wondering if nursing had anything to do with it if I were still nursing full time.


I fully support you weaning if that's what you're feeling like you need to do for all of the other reasons you mentioned.  But I just wanted to pass on that I had three certified midwives tell me that nursing isn't contraindicated during pregnancy (and I have had a miscarriage).  They said the nursing had nothing to do with the miscarriage, and didn't discourage me from nursing through my next pregnancy after the miscarriage either (which was a successful pregnancy bringing me my second daughter).  They said if it is a healthy baby, it will be fine even if you're nursing.  Just more food for thought.  Ultimately, I guess if you'd never stop wondering if nursing had something to do with it, then maybe weaning is the best option, but for me, I would have been SO sad if I had weaned and then miscarried.  It would have been a double loss for me.

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