How long should I plan on nursing? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 03-02-2010, 12:19 AM - Thread Starter
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I know this is probably the hardest question to answer objectively for another person, but I really have no idea how long I should continue nursing??? I have a 3 month old and he is my first baby. I've had a lot of people advise me to stop after one year, but I feel like with all the benefits of breast milk, that I should continue a while after that.

I've also had people say that nursing a toddler is indecent and shouldn't be done in public.

I want to do what is best for my ds and not worry about what others think, but it is hard to know what is right with all the advice to stop nursing after one year. I still have quite a bit of time before I really need to worry about this issue, but I want to start researching now.


Mother to sweet baby Milo born 11/25/09
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#2 of 13 Old 03-02-2010, 12:32 AM
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I WOH so my son started daycare full-time when he was 4 months old. From 4 months until he was about 13 months, I pumped at worked and sent bottles with him to daycare. Whenever we were together, he would nurse. At various times, it was near impossible to get him to focus on nursing when we were out of the house (even though he needed to nurse).

We just celebrated 1 year of weaning - it was sort of child-led/sort of mama-led. I needed to take a very potent herbal remedy and the herbalist wasn't sure how it would affect my milk - quality or quantity. It also coincided with the arrival of a new bed for ds, so we took the opportunity to stop the last nursing session - the one at bedtime. So.... he was a little over 4 yrs old when he finally stopped nursing.

When I was in your spot, I too was wondering how long I'd nurse him. I did have a lot of pressure from my own mother to wean earlier but I read here about women who nursed for much longer. In the end, you can only do what works for you. I can tell you that each stage in the nursing relationship is different, and my favorite was the toddler/preschooler phase. Even now, ds remembers when he used to nurse ("when [he] was only 3") and he speaks fondly of it. If we had weaned prior to that, we wouldn't be sharing those memories...

Jennifer, Naturopath and mom

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#3 of 13 Old 03-02-2010, 12:46 AM
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I'm going to move this out to the general Breastfeeding forum.

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#4 of 13 Old 03-02-2010, 01:09 AM
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Congratulations on your baby, Mama!

I'd say follow your heart and instincts. Breastmilk doesn't 'go bad' at 1 year! Most leading medical associations now recommend nursing until baby is at least 2 years old.

Please come back often for support and encouragement!
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#5 of 13 Old 03-02-2010, 02:19 AM
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I agree to listen to your heart. I still get people albet well meaning that tell me my DD is too old to nurse. But in my heart I know she and I for that matter need it still.

As for nursing a toddler in public once my babies get to about 12 to 18 months they are so busy in there environment they don't usually think to ask to nurse in public so it is a non issue. That said if they asked I would still nurse them out and about. I feel it isn't anyone else's business what I do with my children.

Good luck, keep up the good work and yes come here for support, questions and to find lots of information.

~Katie~ married to J, mom to DD- A 13 yrs ,DS- L 7yrs , and my little nursling DD2- R 5yrs.


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#6 of 13 Old 03-02-2010, 02:25 AM
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Well, when people ask me I simply say, "As long as DD asks for milk and as long as I can safely provide it for her."

Most medical organizations recommend breastfeeding for at LEAST 2 years, but I hope we make it past that mark since there is a rise in antibodies at that point. So I'd like her to nurse through that period and get those antibodies.

I also think about how the first 5 years is a period regarded as an unparalleled, explosive time of brain growth. Human milk is perfectly composed to support brain development. I want her to have a human brain, not a cow brain.

DD is very independent though and has almost cut nursing out of the day completely. She is only nursing to sleep and while lazing around in the morning. So we will see what she wants.

Mama to expecting Babe 2
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#7 of 13 Old 03-02-2010, 02:45 AM
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I agree with PPs, as long as you can! 1 year has NO basis in any type of science, at least 2 years is the current rec, but there is considerable evidence that true CLW typically happens MUCH later, as late as 5 or 6. Pacis & Sippys are breast substitutes, they can inspire children to wean earlier. FWIW I also believe that Formula, if used, should be continued to at least 2. Just because a child can theoretically tolerate cows milk at 1 doesn't mean they can't benefit from the added fats & improved digestiblility of breastmilk or formula.

My DS is still nursing at 3 years 9 months and is literally never sick for more than 6-9 hours, and has never had an ear infection or needed abx. I had tons of ear infections growing up, so it isn't genetics protecting him!
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#8 of 13 Old 03-02-2010, 07:51 AM
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I was absolutely, 100% without-a-doubt committed to providing breastmilk, by whatever means necessary, as the bulk of DD's nutrition until at least age 1.

Between 1 and 2 (she's 13.5mos now), I've planned to be somewhat flexible and follow her lead, while understanding it's unlikely she'll wean herself, and that it doesn't hurt to offer. I am open to breastmilk fading into 2nd place, nutrition-wise, and also to her learning other comfort mechanisms. That said, I am prepared to nurse at least part-time until at least 2.

Beyond 2, I don't yet know. I don't see us doing 100% child-led weaning, but I'd like for it to be at least consensual weaning. I hope to not wean until she's old enough to have a discussion about it.
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#9 of 13 Old 03-02-2010, 08:13 AM
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My DD will turn 2 in 9 days. If you had asked me at 3 months how long I was going to nurse I would have told you a year was the goal and maybe for a while after that. I wouldn't have thought I'd still be happy to be nursing @ 2. But I just can't find a compelling reason to stop. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, ya know?

She obviously still gets comfort from nursing and I love knowing she's still getting anti-bodies. I also worry less about her being a picky eater since I can rely on my milk to fill in the gaps. Also nursing a toddler is very different from nursing a 3 month old.

As for NIP (nursing in public) it dosen't happen very often anymore (toddlers are much too busy to stop and nurse while there are so many interesting things to look at and explore) but on the rare occasion that dd has needed to nip I haven't worried too much. Yes some people are uncomfortable with it, but honestly, I don't care. If dd needs to nip now it's because she's hurt or scared or really upset for some reason. I'm really not focusing on other people in that case

As for other people weighing in on weaning, you can explain your reasons, avoid their questions (hmm, that's interesting. Have you tried this bean dip? I love it), give intentionally vague answers (I don't know exactly when we'll wean. I guess when one of us is tired of nursing), whatever works best for you. But the only people that have to live with your decision are you, your DH, and your babe. So you're the only ones who get a vote.

Kristy, wife to Josh proud mama to Katie: since 3/08 and Emma since 8/12.

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#10 of 13 Old 03-02-2010, 08:57 AM
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Congratulations on your baby and on your decision to breastfeed!

I agree with a lot of what's been said. I think the biggest thing will be listening to yourself and your baby. Setting artificial deadlines does you both a diservice. Good luck and good job mama!

Mom to Iris and Henry
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#11 of 13 Old 03-02-2010, 09:15 AM
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Nurse as long as the two of you want to. The time is going to differ for everyone. For us, 3 1/2 years was good for us. Whatever is right for you, is the right decision. Don't let people guilt you one way or the other and don't guilt yourself.
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#12 of 13 Old 03-02-2010, 10:21 AM
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I really didn't make any specific decisions, but just played it by ear. I didn't nurse in public after DD was about 18 months, but we nursed until she was four. I had a lot of support, especially from DH's side of the family, until she turned three, because MIL nursed DH until he was three. The time leading up to three was weird because MIL kept making comments about weaning soon... I think she thought that because she weaned DH at three that that's what I was supposed to do with DD.

I was pregnant when she turned four and we were just nursing once a day and I just kind of decided "this is it" and we went from there.

Your nursing relationship will change so much over time. Nurse how it makes sense now, and later, adjust your behaviors and expectations. And always have the AAP and WHO guidelines close at hand, along with some "mind your own business" quips, so you can deal with detractors!

Stacey teaching teens to read & write... Daddy plays ska, DD1 (7/05) loves trees & princesses, & DD2 (3/10) loves mommy-milk! Please get your kids tested for lead.
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#13 of 13 Old 03-02-2010, 02:05 PM
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OP, here is a link to a bunch of articles on nursing past the first year from I found them to be really helpful when I was nursing my toddler.

As for your question, you should plan on nursing as long as you (and baby) want to! I nursed my DD until a couple of months past her 2nd birthday. And as everyone else has said, nursing a toddler is totally different than nursing an infant or baby. When we weaned, DD was only nursing once every day or two. She was ready and I was ready. It was a completely painless process.

I'm so glad that I nursed her as long as I did! I plan to nurse my next baby (due in May) at least as long as I nursed her because I see so many benefits from it. My DD hardly ever gets sick, and when she does the illnesses are very short. She is also incredibly smart. She has a huge vocabulary, uses 3-4 syllable words, speaks in full sentences, and is very close to reading! I give a lot of credit for this to nursing her for so long, so that her brain got the proper nutrients to grow and develop (good genetics helps too, I suppose ). As an infant her head growth stayed pretty solidly in the 50th percentile, but during her 2nd year of nursing it jumped into the 75th. My theory is that most kids stop getting breastmilk or formula at that point, so brain growth slows, but my DD kept getting breastmilk which led to her out-pacing her peers in brain growth.

I got some flack from friends and relatives for nursing her for so long. My Mom nursed me, but just for a year. I think it felt a little weird for her to see me nursing beyond that. But I'm glad that I chose to ignore the opinions of others and do what felt right for me and my LO.

Mom to retired nursling Lily (6/22/07) and wife to my wonderful DH since 3/19/05
Baby Aerick is here! Born at 40+6 on 5/16/10
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