Breastfeeding Older Children

Extended Nursing

Should breastfeeding continue over the age of two?

breastfeeding older children

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them as sexual objects, instead of what they really are: They are natural, beautiful parts of a woman’s body that were originally made to nourish and feed a child.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.

breastfed older child

The Benefits of Breastfeeding Older Children

  • Breastfeeding is convenient: You do not need to wean your baby before he/she is ready to wean. 
  • Breastfeeding is calming: Have you ever heard of the terrible twos? Well, they are terrible. And in my case, they lasted a whole year! When you breastfeed a toddler, you can calm him/her 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 he/she is ill), at least he/she 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 less 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?

Breastmilk Composition

Breastfeeding, nutrition after six months

  • 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 protection factors, that protect against allergies and other illnesses. 
  • The 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 him/her from wanting to breastfeed and undress you in public! Hee hee. 
  • You might have to handle criticism from family, friends and even strangers. The best thing to do is to associate with other moms, who are “like-minded" and who are also breastfeeding older children.

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 friends, family, or even your own pediatrician 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 parents' home and my daughter wants to nurse he is always saying things to discourage me or'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

by: Anonymous

"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."

Past 5 Years Old Is Too Long

by Emma

"I have an 11-year-old, a six-year-old and a 19-month-old. I am breastfeeding my 19 months old but not my older children.

I understand the mothers saying that the nutrition from breast milk helps their kids stay healthy when they are older, but I don't think it is psychologically healthy for kids to breastfeed when they are in middle school or high school.

When my older children have been sick with the flu or a virus I have put some milk in a cup and mixed it with some regular milk, so they don't know it is breast milk to help them, and I think it really did help them get over their illness quickly, but I would never actually breastfeed them.

I think the mothers who do this to older children need to pump the milk and give it to them in a cup and stop breastfeeding teenagers.

It seems like the moms who do this just don't want their babies to grow up but they are already way past being babies and need to learn how to get comfort and relaxation in healthy ways for a teen and older child.

I think it can cause mental damage to continue when they are nine years old and older. I hope you moms consider stopping for the good of your children. They need to learn how to eat healthy foods for themselves and comfort themselves by these ages.

Good luck to you all and I am praying for you and your kiddos that you make the right choice for them, not yourselves."

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