Here are five ways to handle the criticism.
In many parts of the world breastfeeding past infancy is the norm, but unfortunately that's not the case in the U.S. where moms are often judged for breastfeeding their older children.


I chose to allow my children to wean on their own time. My firstborn weaned on his fifth year. My second son, four years old, still nurses.

Related: 10 Breastfeeding Traditions From Around the World

When my first son was almost a year old, a week before Mother's Day, TIME magazine's cover was a photo of Jamie Grumet nursing her three-year-old son. I couldn't have loved that cover more. It depicted my beliefs and philosophies, and I thought it was the coolest thing - to see a mama mothering in the way she believes, breastfeeding her older child (as is the normal course for mammals).

My brother-in-law and his wife shared a link on Facebook of Jamie's Today show interview about the cover, commenting that it was "wrong on so many levels."

I couldn't help but comment, saying that maybe they should reserve their judgement, as that's how I choose to raise my child. It turned into something ugly, and things have never been quite the same between us.

Related: 10 Breastfeeding Traditions From Around the World

Many moms who choose to breastfeed past infancy have a story similar to mine. Here are five ways to handle the criticism:

1. Smile and say, "This is what works for us!"

Shake off the words of others and forget what they think - it just doesn't matter. Your child, your choices! You know what works best for you and your family, and you don't owe an explanation to anyone. But if you want to explain...

2. Educate them.

Many people simply don't know or understand anything about breastfeeding, let alone older nurslings. Share some good information and help them learn! Some fun facts:

3. Tell them about the health benefits.

The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for two years and beyond.

No matter the age, your baby will benefit from the calcium, protein, Vitamin A, and other nutrients in your breast milk. Breast milk also boosts your baby's immune system, and lowers mama's risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

4. Find like-minded breastfeeding mamas.

Remember that your are not alone - there are many moms breastfeeding past infancy. Find your local La Leche League group, and you'll be connected with these moms. Finding local babywearing groups can also be a great place to connect with moms and build a support network.

5. Feel proud and confident.

You're meeting your child's needs (physically and emotionally) in the most natural and complete way. Good for you!

Remember: for as little or as long as you breastfeed, you are giving your child(ren) a priceless gift of physical and mental health, and a connection that builds a lifetime of love, trust and confidence.