Breastfeeding until age 3, 4, or 5: more common than you think?

When my daughter was born four and a half years ago, I had no plan for how long I would breastfeed her, I just knew that I would start off breastfeeding and then go with the flow. It so happens that in our case going with the flow meant that one month shy of her fourth birthday she was still nursing (albeit only once a day), and as I would soon discover, we weren’t the only ones on this path.

Photo courtesy Alexander Tundakov
Photo courtesy Alexander Tundakov

I wrote my thoughts about this shortly before her fourth birthday in a post titled On Nursing a Preschooler.

I didn’t set out to nurse a preschooler, but somehow along the way, my sweet little baby grew from an infant to a toddler and eventually blossomed into a preschooler in what now seems like the blink of an eye. I am confident this won’t go on forever and when I look back on this time when she’s 10 or 20 or 30, and I look at the young woman she’s become, I am hopeful that I will feel good about the choices I made and have no regrets.

When I wrote that post I was feeling rather isolated and wondered if there were others who’d chosen (either deliberately or unintentionally) to take the long-term (a preferred alternative term to “extended”) breastfeeding route. I soon got my answer. I received 62 comments on that post. Amazingly none of them were negative and several came from women saying that they too nursed an older child and many thanked me for talking about it openly.

Lisa from The Joy of Six said, “I’m so glad you posted this. I’ve nursed mine until they stopped which has been anywhere from 14 mo to 4. Thanks for letting all those ‘closet nursing’ mommies know they aren’t alone.”

Melissa at Through My Window said: “The whole time I was nursing both of my girls past the age of 4 I always wished that I could talk about it and that more moms were willing to admit that they were nursing for a long time too. My girls only nursed at nap-time and bedtime as they became older which meant only 1-2 times/day. Of course, they are weaned now, but I have no regrets and I would absolutely nurse future children as long.”

Liesl from Come, Mommy, who was tandem nursing both her 4 1/2 year old and baby at the time, said:

Got a 4.5 year-old-nursling over here! Sometimes it is a lot to nurse two, but on the other hand, it’s one of the few times Liam will settle down for a bit. Then after he nurses, he’ll sit around and chat, and that’s when I often find out the things on his mind. And I think it’s eased his transition to brotherhood as well. Nursing a 4 year old is a very different thing than nursing a baby, and it is most definitely not for everyone, but overall I’m glad I stayed with it.

Nina (no blog listed) said:

I think it is important for those who think breast feeding a preschooler is *bad* that in many, many parts of the world this is quite normal. Only with the invasion of TVs and computers (whereby the views of more advanced countries are shown) have many moms stopped breastfeeding after about 1 year, they seem to think that the entire world is like that.

My mother was a midwife before she married my father and she very, very strongly rec. breast feeding until the child was ready to wean on his/her own and this was back in the 50’s!

Heather at A Mama’s Blog shared with me a story from her former employer:

My old boss told me an interesting story a few years ago. He was in his 60’s at the time, and grew up in the country. He said when he went to school at lunch time the “little” boys about ages 6 and 7 would go home to nurse. There wasn’t a lot of food at that time, and the mothers also used it as a form of birth control.

I thought that was pretty interesting that just in the 1940s, nursing a 6 and 7 year old was perfectly acceptable. Too bad we have come so far in the other direction in the last 60 years.

I also took an informal poll (if you will) on Twitter to see if others are nursing or have nursed children ages 3 and up. I was rather surprised by the number of replies I received.

Tomorrow evening, Jan. 2, barring any late-breaking big news stories, ABC’s 20/20 is set to air an episode featuring segments on long-term (extended) breastfeeding, as well as home birth (both with and without midwives), serial surrogates (women that have numerous babies for other women), “fake babies” (life-like dolls), and orgasmic birth. I believe the title for the show is “Extreme Mothering.” You can see a preview of the breastfeeding segment, which included an interview with the mother of a 6-year-old boy who still nurses, as well as an interview with the boy, on ABC News.

Although I put together a decent little list of mothers and children who are long-term breast-feeders (and that’s without searching on the ‘net for other bloggers or celebrities – yes, there are some), there will, undoubtedly, still be those who think it is weird, gross, damaging, or just plain wrong. If you find yourself in that camp, you might want to consider the following.

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics says, “Pediatricians and parents should be aware that exclusive breastfeeding is sufficient to support optimal growth and development for approximately the first 6 months of lifeÒ€‘ and provides continuing protection against diarrhea and respiratory tract infection. Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child.” AAP goes on to say, “There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychologic or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer.” (AAP 2005)
  • The World Health Organization recommends “infants should be exclusively breastfed(1) for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health(2). Thereafter, to meet their evolving nutritional requirements, infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods while breastfeeding continues for up to two years of age or beyond.
  • The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends that breastfeeding continue throughout the first year of life and that “Breastfeeding beyond the first year offers considerable benefits to both mother and child, and should continue as long as mutually desired.” They also note that “If the child is younger than two years of age, the child is at increased risk of illness if weaned.” (AAFP 2001)
  • Former US Surgeon General Antonio Novello, MD has stated that it is a lucky baby who continues to nurse until age two.
  • When to Stop Breastfeeding Your Child: A Case for Extended Nursing includes the many benefits of extended nursing
  • Additionally, there are more position statements from various organizations linked up on KellyMom

But wait, there’s more. According to Summer Minor in her post Is 4 too old to be breastfed?,”Biologically, 4 years is still in the normal range for humans.”

The book Breastfeeding: Biocultural Perspectives contains a wonderful section called “A Time to Wean: The Hominid Blueprint for a Natural Age of Weaning in Modern Human Populations.” by Katherine A. Dettwyler, Ph.D. Dr. Dettwyler is an award winning anthropologist, professor, and breastfed her daughter until she was 4 years old. In the section Dettwyler compares various primates, including humans, to find what the biological norm would be for humans. She found that the natural age for modern humans based on our size, development, and life span is between 2.5 years and 7 years. A child still nursing at 4 years old is normal, natural, and OK.

If you find yourself long-term nursing your child, there’s a good chance that at some point you will run into criticism from others. La Leche League International has some good advice for handling criticism from family, friends or even complete strangers.

If you’re facing criticism, remember that they may simply be uninformed about the benefits of extended breastfeeding or perhaps they feel guilt about their own parenting choices. Consider responding to unwelcome comments by:

  • Ignoring: walking away or changing the subject.
  • Informing: sharing books, articles, or a medical professional’s thoughts on extended nursing.
  • Using Humor: making a joke about the situation or yourself, not the other person.
  • Acknowledging: recognizing the person’s viewpoint and asking further questions without agreeing or disagreeing
  • Empathizing: being empathetic to demonstrate that you understand the other person’s feeling and meaning (Vakiener 1999).

Dr. William Sears has some advice about handling the criticism as well. Here are some things he suggests you keep in mind:

  • Science is on your side.
  • World opinion is on your side.
  • It’s better for your health.
  • It’s better for your toddler’s behavior.
  • Blame it on your doctor.
  • Let your child silence the critics.

For more information about each of these suggestions, visit Ask Dr. Sears: Extended Breastfeeding — Handling the Criticism.

There’s additional information about Handling Criticism about Breastfeeding at KellyMom.

Speaking of KellyMom, which is a wonderful resource for all things breastfeeding, if you are the mother of a long-term nurser and are looking for support, check out their forums. There’s a forum for nursing children ages 3 and up. There are also forums for the toddler years – ages 12-24 months and ages 24-36 months.

While I decided to focus primarily on older children in this post, many women on Twitter chimed in that they are nursing their kids to age two as well, including: Reiza at Stepping Off the Spaceship, Summer at Wired for Noise, Mom Most Traveled, Annie at PhD in Parenting, Sherri at Recovering Sociopath, and Sara (who was breast-fed herself until age 4 1/2) at Custom-Made Milk, among others.

While I’m sure some of my relatives thought my daughter would nurse “forever,” I can assure you she did not. Her last nursing was on Oct. 3, 2008, at age 4 years, 3 months and 11 days. It was mostly child-led, although I did nudge her a bit at the end. I felt that she was ready, but needed a little extra push (and I knew I was ready). It was bittersweet, but I think it went quite smoothly. I hope to write about the experience one day soon before I forget it. It is yet to be seen what my son will decide to do. As for now, he’s still going strong nursing at 25 months.

It is my hope that as a result of segments like the one on 20/20 and the fact that more women are feeling comfortable speaking out about long-term nursing (as evidenced by all of the comments and Tweets I received), that others will not feel like they need to be “closet nursers” nor feel pressured by family, friends or society in general to wean before they feel it is right for them and their child. Let’s trust our judgment to do what’s right for our child and trust the judgment of other moms to do what’s right for their child too.

Cross-posted on BlogHer. I’d love it if you’d share your comments there too! πŸ™‚

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0 Replies to “Breastfeeding until age 3, 4, or 5: more common than you think?”

  1. Here in Canada, it is “normal” for a lot of women to breastfeed for a year (or close to it) because we have one year maternity leave. But so many moms do not realize that you can continue nursing when you go back to work without having to pump during the day. I think if we could increase awareness about the option of partial weaning, then we would be able to increase the toddler and possibly preschooler nursing rate in Canada and allow child/mom pairs to nurse until they are ready to stop, rather than until an artificial deadline.

  2. I don’t have a twitter account, so I wouldn’t have seen your research.

    In my AP-mamas group there are many ladies who nurse past 3. One is nursing her two children who are 5 & 6.

    My first child self-weaned at 15 months. My second weaned at about 33 months (when I was pg again and sick and couldn’t keep doing it ). My third child just turned 2 last month and is nursing. I don’t have a set time in mind when she must wean. I’m cool with letting her decide when she’s done.

  3. Nice to see this post – thanks! I’ve gone a long time feeling alone in my child-led weaning journey. I’m currently nursing my 7.5 yo, 4 yo, and 3 mo children, and I work full time out of the home. Like Annie said, it certainly can be done, with some creativity and flexibility. I won’t be able to catch the 20/20 segment, but I hope that the older nursling is not portrayed as too “freaky.”

  4. My son self-weaned at a year, but that was fine with me. Time for him to drink from a cup. Developmentally, he was more than ready for that.

    I say to each his own. My only concern would be on oral development. Long use of nipples whether it’s bottle, pacifier, or breast can result in problems with dentition and speech. I can spot a binky user from a mile away with their heart shaped mouths.

    As long as it’s child centered, I guess to each their own. There is a pleasureable aspect to nursing, nothing like the let down and serotonin rush that mom’s experience. I’ve seen mothers want to continue nursing beyond what their children wish. And then it passes the point where it’s child directed and turns into something else altogether.

    There seems to be such defensiveness about this issue and I think that stems from insecure mothers. You want to breastfeed until the child is in college, go for it. You don’t need to carry a sign, protest, or try to make a cause out of it. As your children get older, these issues will seem very trivial compared to peer problems, teasing, self-esteem issues, etc. Best to stop the defensiveness and just do what you feel is best for your child. In the end, this will result in a confident child (and parent) better equipped to deal with life’s real challenging issues.

  5. My mom nursed me until I was 2, my middle brother until he was 3, and my youngest brother until he was almost 5 (we’re 27, 24 and 19 now). I know she endured a lot of criticism back then from family members and friends but she knew that what she was doing was right for us. And we’re all happy, healthy and well-adjusted (if I do say so myself). So that’s all the anecdotal evidence I’ll need for when I have children.

  6. Awesome post, I stumbled it. πŸ™‚ Nursing older kids is such a non-issue, it seems odd that so many have problems with it. We’re in such a rush to hurry our kids up, make them independent, move them on before they are ready that seeing a mom actually listening to her child’s needs seems out of place.

    Thanks for linking to my Helium article!

  7. Thanks for posting this. I wish I could be more open on my blog, my 4.5 year old weaned around the time your Ava did and while we celebrated a bit at home, I didn’t make a big deal on the blog because I was worried about negative comments and just wasn’t up for it. My 21 month old is still nursing and I’m sure he will be for awhile. I never set out to breastfeed a 4 year old, but I just knew she would outgrow the need when ready. She is now a happy and confident 4.5 year old who can function quite well without her mother around. I wouldn’t change a thing about our nursing relationship.

  8. I’m more of a lurker usually, but I have to say… Interesting post.

    I breast fed Smidgeon until she was 3. It was a mutual decision on both or parts. She still needed the comfort, and I want a child who’s not afraid to face the world.

    She was born needy. I don’t know why, but for the first year of her life she freaked out if I left her for more than two hours. I carried her in a snuggly, not a carrier-car-seat and then transferred her to a backpack. When she was two she still didn’t want me to leave her, and we were a little worried about attachment issues. Loving Mama is great, but kids need to leave Mama too.
    GreenPa and I agreed that we’d breast feed until 2, because it was healthier for the baby, but she was still so needy that we continued nursing until she weaned herself.
    I believe the long term nursing paid off this year though. Smidgeon is still very Mama oriented, but now she’s totally cool with me leaving.
    When we enrolled her in pre-school this fall, I was worried about leaving her and her throwing a fit. I shouldn’t have wasted the time and grey hair. She ran off into the room. Introduced herself to every kid there and played with the toys. When I picked her up, she just looked at me and said. “There you are Mama. I knew you’d come.”

    Just like that.

    Giving a child the support they need in early life sets them up to be secure later. I really believe that Smidgeon will be a stronger person because we loved her enough to say “Blah” to the people who looked at us like we were crazy to nurse a toddler.
    She knows that Mama will always come.

  9. That’s a nice post! I had hard times nursing my first, and ‘only’ nursed/bottlefed for 7 months until I was pregnant with number 2, who nursed until he was 2.5. DD is 15 months old, and still going strong- I work outside the home, but she nurses on demand when I’m with her.

  10. πŸ™‚ Thanks for the mention! Great article.

    I hope that 20/20 does a decent job of covering breastfeeding. Unfortunately, the other subject matter in their episode, and the name of the episode makes me doubt it. Most shows that mention full term breastfeeding go out of their way to sensationalize it.

    IMO, “extreme” mothering is mothering that risks the life of the child. If mom breastfeeds while skydiving… That would be “Extreme”. Or if mom likes tandem nursing tiger cubs… πŸ™‚

  11. This is an amazing post, it is so complete in it’s information!

    I breastfed my first until just past her third birthday. I was also nursing her younger sister at the time, and she is now 2 1/4 and we are still very much nursing.

    Honestly, I don’t enjoy it. I don’t hate it, either (well, I hate when my toddler whiiiiines for it!) but it’s just what we do. It’s what I do to give my girls the best start in this world.

    I also didn’t think much about it before my girls were born. I just knew I would nurse them and then as they grew I let them lead the way and as long as we’re both cool with it, the relationship continues.

  12. I’m glad you posted on this! THANK YOU!! I’m gonna have my husband read it when he gets off work.

    As I told you on Twitter, this is a topic that’s very interesting to me. Our youngest is almost 3 months old and we’re currently breastfeeding her … I plan to exclusively do so for at least 6 months.

    Our oldest was nursed for a week … I didn’t have any support and didn’t know what I was doing and was in a lot of pain, so I started pumping. Again, no help or support, and my milk supply dried up after two weeks. So she went on formula.

    I’m wanting to do child-led weaning … right now, hubby would prefer her to be weaned at a year … but I’m sure if I showed him all the research out there (especially with us wanting to be more and more ‘natural living’), he’d pretty much agree with my feelings on this.

    Again, though, thank you for taking the time to write all this out!

  13. Oh … and unfortunately, it looks like I’ll miss the show. My sister-in-law and her family surprised us all with a visit late last night. They’ll be here until tomorrow then go on back down to Massachusetts. THey’ll have the downstairs TV … plus I am POSITIVE my mother-in-law won’t want to see it. She’s gonna be a critic in our breastfeeding routines … but we’re doing what WE feel is right. πŸ™‚

  14. I just crossed in to the over two category. πŸ™‚ I’m fortunate that in the city I live in there is a LLL for mothers of nursing toddlers! While the regular meetings are helpful, that is my favorite, because while our group is relatively small, it is easy to lean on one another and feel less isolated.

    Nursing actually decreases oral development problems and encourages well-formed jaws and healthy teeth and due to the lack of tongue thrust that many bottle fed babies experience, breastfed babies have better oral development with fewer delays.

  15. Thank you for your post, its a beautiful post with great information. Just, what happens if you HAVE to stop? Is there anything a mother can do? There’s BPA in cans, baby bottles, everything. What’s safe? What are the safer alternatives?

  16. I won’t lie. I never breastfed my babies. I tried with my son. Anyhow, I admire and respect the women that do and think that Laura is correct…this post is great!

  17. I also nurse until at least two. My first was 2.5 years when he weaned himself and I currently have a 21 month old who shows no signs of weaning! You can follow me at @jet_set on twitter.

    My mother nursed us until we were toddlers, and my youngest sister until she was 3. We have a family history of long term nursing.

  18. Brandy, I think once your baby turns 1 and your husband sees how much nursing helps comfort her, he’ll change his mind. A 1-year-old is still very much a baby in a lot of ways.
    And tell your MIL to MYOB. Or have your husband do it.

  19. My first self weaned at 14 months and it broke my heart. I was so eager to keep breastfeeding her! I still breastfeed our son but find it extremely painful now that I am pregnant again, so we have cut it down to once a day (he is 20m). I am not sure how much longer he will nurse, I guess I always knew till he was two then we would see … never considered tandem nursing but I might have to πŸ™‚

  20. Love the post–thank you!!!

    We have a story in my family of my husband’s now-deceased grandfather, known as Preacher. Preacher nursed until he was seven, when his mother finally made him stop. Then, he took up smoking since he missed it so much and smoked all his life.

    I didn’t get to nurse my first for more than a few months. With my second we’re on ten months so far and don’t plan on stopping until Riley’s ready, whenever that may be.

    Keep up the good work–it’s wonderful knowing that there are informed, like-minded mothers out there.

    Thank you!

    Jodie B
    livingwithriley@wordpress.com

  21. Oh, and lilbet, you’re actually incorrect: Long term nursing from a breast is NOT the same as a bottle, pacifier, etc.

    The breast promotes proper oral development in a way that pacifiers, etc., just don’t.

    You can’t spot a long term nursed baby just by the shape of their mouths (although the half-moon cheek is a dead giveaway.)

    You can read more studies at kellymom.com
    (Including this one: “There is another compelling benefit to exclusive breastfeeding: positive effects on the development of an infant’s oral cavity, including improved shaping of the hard palate resulting in proper alignment of teeth and fewer problems with malocclusions. The purpose of this commentary is to stimulate further research as well as to propose the importance of breastfeeding to developing and maintaining the physiologic integrity of the oral cavity.”)

  22. Extended breastfeeding has actually shown to open the upper palate and help for better jaw formation.

    I won’t watch the 20/20 special because I’ll be afraid of throwing something at the television. My daughter is 2.5, still going strong, and I’m training as a leader for the LLL – thank you so much for helping to promoted extended breastfeeding!

  23. Thanks for posting this! My 17 month old almost still exclusively nurses. She is offered solids 4+ times/day, but is more interested in my milk. I was wondering if you could make a separate post asking bf’ing moms how long their babies preferred the boob to food? Curious as my ped. dr. is worried about her weight gain now and wants to put her on pediasure/cow’s milk…isn’t that just “formula” for older babies? I’d love to see more bf’ing posts from you. I started following your blog after the Motrin crap. Hey, have you seen those ads for the high fructose corn syrup? They are horrible. What do you think?

  24. Yes, strwberryjoy, Pediasure is just formula for older babies. Make sure that your doctor is using the new charts for babies that are on the breastfed scale, not the formula baby scale. Pediasure is not going to be as good as your milk, you can read more about delayed solids here.

  25. strwberryjoy,

    Smidgeon breast fed for 80% of her nourishment until she was 15 mo. She liked the tastes and textures of food, but it seemed more like fun and play for her.
    We have a forward thinking dr., who used modern growth charts and he watched the children’s overall health. He said since Smidgeon was happy it didn’t matter that she was tall and skinny, that’s just how she’s made. Babies really shouldn’t be rolly-polly balls of fat like the cupids of the ’50’s.
    You just have to grit your teeth and stand firm.
    Find a good dr., who’s willing to be more progressive about child nourishment.

  26. Elita … I’m sure he’ll change his mind after he reads up on it a bit. Don’t worry, hubby will tell MIL to MYOB if she says anything about us breastfeeding exclusively for the first 6 months at least (she once tried to put egg in our oldest daughter’s mouth when she was only 3 months old! And she’s known for pressuring to do things “her way”) … she’s starting to get it that while we do love her, we’re doing things our way.

  27. Bluin is still nursing at 4.75. He nurses mainly before he sleeps at night. It keeps us very closely connected which we both love. πŸ™‚

    Ann

  28. strwberryjoy, I also have an older baby (nearly 1 year old) who is nearly exclusively breastfed – she is also tall and thin, just like me. She has just, in the last couple of days, started eating more than a couple of spoonfuls of food once a day… our doctor says breastmilk fulfills all her nutritional needs, and not to worry about the solids. I am sure that also applies to your baby! Keep offering her healthy foods and she’ll eat it when she is ready.

  29. I nursed my son until he was almost 14 months old. I didn’t think of it as extended but my family did pressure me and ask when I was going to stop. I watched the 20/20 special and I have to admit that nursing at 6 or 8 seems very odd to me. I can’t see that as a personal choice for me but it is a personal decision that people decide to make. Who am I to judge?

  30. Great post, I hope you didn’t think i was judging, because I am not. I really believe everyone has to make the choices that work for them. having spent alot of time in Africa and Europe i know how popular breast feeding older children is here. For me, none of us children were breastfed, I didn’t even think i would do it, it didn’t seem like something i wanted to do, but I am so thankful of the experience. thanks for sharing, I definately learned something

  31. Great article. I nursed two of my children until they were around three. They gradually decided they needed to nurse only at naptime and bedtime. I know people thought it was strange, but it was perfectly natural for us and I know made them feel very secure. They were both very independent little boys as they went out into the world for preschool, etc. because they had that strong bond.

  32. You can add me to the group too. Both of my kids nursed until they were 3 1/2 years old. That included over 2 years of tandem nursing.

  33. My daughter is 17 months and still going strong. She definitely nurses far more than she eats. I would say at least 80-90% of her nutrition is coming from breast milk. But she’s growing like a weed and extremely healthy, so I’m not concerned. In fact, I’m glad for it. My husband’s mom had to go on medication when he was a newborn and was told by his doctors that she couldn’t breastfeed. He’s the only one of his siblings who gets constant ear infections and has a lot of tooth problems as well.

    We offer her a variety of healthy foods every day and if she eats anything great, but if not, I know she’s getting what she needs from nursing so there are no worries about trying to get her to eat more or anything. We were actually featured in an article on delayed solids in the paper which I’ve posted on my blog, though I was misrepresented a bit as 10 1/2 months was really when she started eating anything at all, not when she was eating a lot.

    Anyway, this is a great post and it’s nice to know there are so many long-term nursing mamas out there! We plan on nursing until she’s done. My husband and our families are all very supportive too.

  34. My daughter will be three in a few days, and is still a devoted nursling. I returned to work full time when she was 3 months — I believe our nursing relatinship helps keeps us connected. Although there are days I wish she was weaned (I struggle more with sore nipples, bad latch now than during her first two years), I am comitted to continuing as long as she needs it. We hope to get pregnant again soon, so (if I’m lucky) I expect I’ll be nursing two before long!

    Thanks for the AWESOME post!

  35. My daughter self weaned at 22 months when I became pregnant with her brother. He is 4 months and I have no plan for when to wean him. I started to get questioned about stopping my daughter as soon as she turned one, my mother who didn’t breastfeed was one of the most persistent. Luckily she is allergic to dairy and I was able to use that as a reason to continue that was widely accepted. My husband was, and continues to be, extremely supportive and that was wonderful.

  36. I’m the Carrielee mentioned above – and thanks for the link Amy.

    Just a random (but maybe not really) fact.

    I once dated a guy who was breastfed until age 5. He was hands down, the best kisser I had ever known – before or since. Wonder if there’s a connection?

    πŸ˜‰

  37. I didn’t read all the way through the posts before posting before.

    My daughter exclusively breast fed, she wouldn’t even take breast milk from a bottle. Her weight dropped to between 5-10% at nine months and has remianed no hirer than 10%. She is now three.

    At a year old she weighed 18lbs. My mom checked my records and I wasn’t breastfed and was 19lbs. at a year. My son who is exclusively breastfed is almost 17 lbs. at four months.

  38. I have five kids and nursed all but one to at least 4 (the exception self-weaned at 2.5 because I was pregnant with #3)–the last nursed past 5. Because my oldest is 19, I really had no role models for extended and tandem nursing. It just felt right to me and helped me parent my brood more gracefully. That 19 year old is living in another state, confident, independent, productive. She calls frequently, but no nipple stretches from East to West coasts!

    My stepdaughter came home from kindergarten to nurse–her mom is from Ecuador where they saw such habits as signs of poverty and of being “Indian” (a big insult), but she was in the U.S. by then. So sad that we have exported our ideas of “progress” and wealth to other countries, displacing healthy indigenous practices. Living in Miami, I hear this story over and over.

    Thanks for the really thorough, lucid post!

  39. I am nursing my 9 months old and 2 yrs 9 months old sons. I think my family has simply stopped asking when the older will wean. Maybe they think he has, maybe it’s just easier for them not to ask/know. I love the posts and the blogs. I only caught the very beginning of the 20/20 on birth, but was thrilled to see support for natural birth (though the reporting was a tad negative, I felt like at least they were getting some good information out there on the possibilities of non-hospitalized child birth). Thanks!

  40. i’m still nursing my daughter at 3 yrs. 3 months. she doesn’t want to stop. ok, cool.

    when i tell people, they often look at me in horror, exclaim that they couldn’t do it, or simply ask me how long i’ll let her continue.

    good thing i don’t care what they think.

  41. Azucar,
    I said I can spot a BINKY user from a mile away. Reread my post.

    I have many advanced degrees including my lactation consultant certification. I think I know the research.

    To each his own is what I say. The problem doesn’t lie in the breastfeeding, but in people feeling like they can tell people how to parent–whatever the issue is. Or from people being so defensive about their parenting decisions that it clouds their ability to communicate well with others.

    hmmmm.

  42. I’m still nursing my newly-turned 2 year old, and I’m exhausted between nursing her and my 3 month old. My 2 year old actually wants to kick her little brother off to nurse. She demands it. She nurses more now that he nurses than she did while pregnant and before. I’m sticking with it,despite my whining and complaining, as if I’m the 2 year old, but I’m really getting beat up for it. This post helped me immensely. I guess I just need a little reinforcement from others who do the same is all.

  43. Believe it or not I work not only in healthcare but in a NICU and while I see breastfeeding encouraged (especially initially for the colostrum), I have had my share of funny looks and criticism when I share the fact that I am still breastfeeding my own 2 1/2 year old daughter. I try to encourage mothers by sharing with them my story of pumping for 2 weeks waiting for my milk to come in while my husband used a supplemental nursing system to feed our daughter (something they don’t usually offer at my current hospital). I also tell them how I nursed (pumping and dumping till I was off medication) through my gastric bypass surgery and with the help of a little Reglan and a lot of determination, never lost my milk. I am very proud of the fact that I fought so hard to do something that has benefited my daughter. Laying down to nurse her before her naps and bedtime is a special bonding experience that I will miss when she weans.

  44. You make a good point there, Anna. One thing that has to be considered in long-term nursing is the long-term dedication to an improved diet that the nursing mom has to commit to. No caffeine, no medications, reduced consumption of toxic food additives, chemicals and hormones. That’s a long time to be so strict with one’s diet, but well worth it, and kudos to anyone who can handle it.

  45. Kudos! I love this post. My daughter is almost 2 and is still nursing. I just know that I want to nurse her until she’s ready, just like my mom did with me. I have received some criticism, but not from people who count. My husband is supportive and wonderful, and everyone else can just deal πŸ™‚

  46. Excellent post! I am still breastfeeding my 3.5 year old son, and I too never dreamed I would go this long. I always thought 1-2 years – but before I knew it he was 3.5! Breastfeeding changed my life! I left my corporate job and started my own business to help other new moms breastfeed their babies.

  47. Thank you for this post. My four year old is still nursing, and there a lot of times that I feel pressure to stop, not because of what anyone says, but because it is out of the norm (or at least I thought so!). Oddly, the biggest negative reactions that I’ve received have been from medical “professionals.”

  48. Thanks for the great post. I’m still nursing a 3 yr old and 6 yr old. I tried forcing the older child to stop when he was 2, but it was so traumatic for both of us that I gave up and decided to let him wean when he was ready.

    I’m happy and my kids are happy. The only stress factor is the feeling that I’m the only one living my life like this. It’s such a relief to know that there are other moms out there doing the same thing.

  49. I was so glad to read this today. Just yesterday I was thinking I needed to start weaning my son who will be two in a few days. I’m not sure why I felt that way now, he shows no signs of wanting to quit and it calms him down when he’s had a hard day. It’s also a huge benefit when he’s sick and doesn’t feel like eating solid food or just has a day when he doesn’t eat much.
    He’s my fourth child and many people were horrified that I nursed my other three as long as I did. ( 15,18,and 20 months) Now besides my husband and kids, i think everyone in my family just assumes he’s stopped nursing. When he was only 14 months my sister asked in a shocked voice, when I started nursing him in front of everyone, “You’re not still breastfeeding that little boy are you?” Silly question since i clearly was. She actually sent her kids out of the room so they wouldn’t see. After reading all of these wonderful posts, I realized that I was only thinking about weaning because of other people’s reactions and that is a very bad reason to do it. I guess we’ll wean when he is no longer interested. Thanks everyone!!

  50. There are stories of my great grandmother putting a fox tail down the front of her dress trying to wean six year old female twins. She was also known to have smeared them with coal to tell them the breasts were sick. haaa

    I have a thirty three year old son that breast fed until two and one half. He has perfect teeth, never an ear infection and great health. A high IQ and a great sense of self. I breast fed and was told I should go to the bathroom to do it. I never did, I did it everywhere it was necessary to take care of my child and I recommend it most highly to anyone that wants an above average healthy secure child. It’s the best thing a mother can do for her baby and young child.

    bk

  51. I have three girls who all did “extended” nursing. I tandem nursed the first two who were 21 months apart. I also have a 6 six year old who weaned when when she was five. I decided to wean the two who were 21 months apart together when younger one was 3 years old. In retrospect, this was a mistake to make that decision for my (at the time) three year old. I wish I would have given her the same opportunity to continue nursing as long as my other two girls. I don’t think this is extreme parenting; it was just nursing upon the needs of each child. They each chose to nurse for five years. It’s really more about Mommy and comfort for the child than about the milk.

  52. Oh boy, sorry for coming to this discussion late, but here are my two cents:

    1st of all, I think that if these comments and your twitter poll are any indication, “extended” breastfeeding is much more common than the media would like us to believe.

    2nd, just to throw this out there, I myself was nursed until I was 3 1/2 years old, and I must say I am doing fine! For my Mom who was working full time as a lawyer from the time I was 6 weeks old on, breastfeeding me when she got home from work was our special time each day. It gave us a chance to bond & connect one-on-one.

    Bravo to you, Amy, for bringing up this important issue!

  53. Not to rain on anyone’s parade, but in developing countries children are weaned (as there’s usually another child on the way), and you do see alot of kids that are as young as 3 or 4 helping out with work or on the farm. As for Europe, the rate of breastfeeding is high (~99%) but most are weaned off by a year (mat. leave and well, teeth). In nature animals are weaned when they get teeth.
    My mom breastfed both her kids, but stopped when we got teeth. We are intelligent and independent (not living at home as adults). So I think breastfeeding is excellent, but seeing 3 or 4 year olds asking for the boob is just weird – i remember kids in ECS doing that, and well, they were the weird kids. I think extended breastfeeding is a control issue with the mother. Remember, people used to only like to about 35 or 40, and were having kids at 13 or 14, so extended breastfeeding during hunter gatherer or early agriculture would have been quite rare.
    Usng general cases of “Well in other cultures” without actually looking into it is bunk science. Quick googling shows that in Europe extended breastfeeding is quite uncommon.

  54. I breastfed both our girls until they were four (and a little after for our youngest.) I also tandem nursed them for about 2 years – that was a little tough at times! Overall, I never thought I would’ve nursed them this long, but I had great support from my husband and my lactation consultant. The literature I read (Dr. Sears, When Weaning Happens) was also invaluable to reinforcing my decision to do what was best for our family. I know that it’s not the right thing for everyone, but I feel so blessed that I was able to nurse our girls for as long as we did! It was a gradual weaning that involved little to no heartache (except for bittersweet feelings for me, knowing that I’ll never nurse again.)

  55. Kelsey, you really might want to read some book like “Breastfeeding:Biocultural Perspectives” mentioned above, or Meredith Small’s “Our Babies, Ourselves”, before deciding that extended nursing is a ‘control issue’. I admire a lot about ‘European’ parenting, but just because most of them wean at a year doesn’t mean that’s what nature intended, or what’s best for the child biologically. There have been lots of fads and misinformation that have changed what’s considered ‘normal’ in parenting, and I’m sure the Europeans have been just as susceptible. (If I remember correctly, discouraging cosleeping – a topic for another blog – started in Great Britain?).
    And Lilbet, yes, your claim was that you can spot a Binky mouth, but you also claimed that OR a “breast can result in problems with dentition and speech”. The research I’ve read states otherwise. Also, I don’t know how you can be a certified Lactation Consultant, read the posts from women who have been criticized for nursing their ‘older’ children, and still tell us all we’re being defensive and don’t need to take a stand. I don’t need everyone to parent the way I do, but they don’t need to keep telling me that what I’m doing is weird. I’ve read many stories of women that weren’t sure if they were doing the right thing and caved in to the influence of family members or even doctors, and later regretted it. I think we need to all speak up about it so that those that are looking for support and not finding it in real life can find it here.
    I nursed my first for 4.5 years and my second for 3.5 (2 tandem). I second-guessed myself a lot (yes, I AM insecure) and received a lot of criticism. It was the online communities and activists that helped me listen to my gut and pointed me in the direction of good research. So thank you all!

  56. I found this page by googling how to fix my almost 4yo’s bad latch! He nurses alongside baby sis, and my oldest nursed until 5.

  57. Your ability to choose comments, and the fact that none of them are negative, tells me that this will not be published, but at least you will read it.

    (1) Analogizing humans to other primates is ridiculous. Chimpanzees never learn to talk at all; is it okay for a human child to reach his or her seventeenth birthday without speaking?

    (2) The vast, vast majority of women wean their children at or before the first year of life. You are arguing from the extreme dangling edge of the bell curve here.

    (3) Socialization of late-nursing children has never been scientifically studied in this country. Consider that by the age of four, a child has the ability to record lasting memories and discuss his or her experiences with friends to at least some degree. Your child’s friends, with statistically normal parenting, will not be nursing at age 4 or 4.5 or 5 years old. They’ll be getting ready to play t-ball. Do you want your kid questioning his relationship to mommy?

    (4) Who is this really about? Every animal mother forces its offspring to wean; farmers watch cows do it with their calves every spring. A baby is just that: a baby. You don’t let a baby make its own financial decisions, do you? You potty train your child well before 4.5, don’t you? Is this really about the child, or is it about you? Doesn’t “that connection” you feel with your child make you happy? It does; that’s because of chemicals released in your brain meant to improve the nursing instinct. But at some point this must stop.

    (5) 90% of your peers would tell you to stop. 90% of your peers sincerely believe that you are hurting your child. You don’t get a chance to do this again. It is possible to scar a child for life at that age. This self-justification should not stand unopposed. Your readers deserve to hear that they are not normal. In fact, they are statistically abnormal, and so are you.

  58. Great post!! I have discovered through my blog and boutique that there are many more long-term breastfeeders out there as well. My son is 3.5 and still nursing. We have gone well beyond any of my original expectations for nursing as well. We are down to nursing just a few times per week now. I am working on gentle weaning with him and it is going well.

  59. This was sooo refreshing to read with all the comments I get on breastfeeding a toddler (mainly negative) – the breastfeeding Moms and scientific proof of what GOOD breastfeeding means for our children is proof of its positive influence upon society’s future as well. Being there for comfort and nurturing these little creatures into a world full of many entities of the unknown. Mothering is not just having a child it is being there! My son is also 3.5 and we are breastfeeding and I believe it is a natural process. Our western culture has no time for breastfeeding it has a ‘time frame’ and then the breastfeeding has to stop as if we are programmed beings – which I believe is not Human.

  60. I nursed my oldest until he was going on 6- tandem nursing with my middle for 2.5 years. Tandem nursing was not my cup of tea, but it did ease the transition into big brotherhood, and it made for some lovely quiet moments too.

  61. I was having the conversation with my mom in law, who surprisingly has quite strong opinions on certain aspects of child rearing. she assumed I’d stop breastfeeding at 4 months, when I go back to work. Horrified, I said definitely not, and that I’d b/f until at least 1 year, and probably longer (I’m still researching). She was saying it’s weird to see kids at 3 being b/f’d, and I said that in many cultures, kids are b/fd till up to 7 years old. She actually came out and said it was “sick”. I don’t agree, and while I will probably wean before 7, I quite resent someone other than my child telling me when I should stop. How do I handle my MIL’s opinion on the matter? She’s not normally an intrusive person, so her vociferousness on this topic was quite unexpected.

  62. LOL – Just read Bob’s post now. He comments on how you shouldn’t analogize wrt animals, and then does exactly that. Bob is a man and therefore has only an observer’s point of view. Further, being statistically abnormal is not an insult. Mensans are statistically abnormal too. So what if you are on the end of a bell curve? LOL. Whatever.

  63. how about thinking about your children’s teeth !!! I work in a Pediatric Dentists office and see the daily effects of children who breast feed for too long. They have cavities galore!!! Not only do I find moral problems, but are usually more than 10 cavities by age 4. On average, a cavity filling for a baby tooth will cost you $265 – $360, so think about the pain you will create while they have fillings done (they scream for hours in the office and hate the dentist in the future). Just a thought for you “Earth Mothers”

  64. This has given me a lot of perspective. DD weaned herself at 10 months, and she’s the only baby in my family since I’ve become an adult. I recently found out a friend of mine is nursing her 6 year old and I was completely freaked out when her son came up and pulled her boob out stroking it lovingly and kissing it. She of course told me that he still nursed and was in the process of weaning, and I didn’t get it at all. My DD is 26 months and jumped from nursing to a straw cup at under a year and then to a regular cup at 18 months.

    I tried not to be judgmental and think of what I witnessed as repulsive, and this blog entry has helped subside those feelings I felt.

    I think that most negative reactions come from personal experience. I knew of some women who nursed their toddlers, and I was perfectly indifferent to that idea until DD weaned herself at 10 months. I think that people have a tendency to base what they view as “normal” off of their own experiences.

    Anyway, thanks for the informative insight. It’s helped me feel less judgmental over my friend.

  65. I am still breastfeeding my 3 year old daughter and was doing some research and came across your blog. There isn’t a whole lot of research on the benefits of breastfeeding past age 2. I strongly believe that my breastmilk is helping her build immunity to certain things. This gives me a piece of mind with the swine flu going around!

  66. Thought I’d chime in about the women who commented about the amound of cavities she has seen. My daughter has been to the dentist 3 times and she has never had any cavities. She is almost 3 1/2 and still nurses, so that is not true for all!

  67. Hi, I just found this page after googling extended breastfeeding. My 13 month old daughter loves to breastfeed and finds it a real comfort in a sometimes scary world. I have found it very interesting how peoples opinions of me feeding have changed from “Well done, good for you” in the early days, to “Oh, your still feeding, when will you stop!” at 9 months ish, to “Your be feeding her when she’s at school!” at 12 months.I find it very sad that society forces children to grow up so fast, my daughter is still a baby and in my opinion needs my milk, the most natural thing in the world. I hate comments such as earth mother or hippy, it is natural to feed our young we are mammals after all, does it matter how long we feed them for? Even though there is a massive push for breastfeeding going on here in Britain, I still feel like i’m some sort of radical which is crazy!

  68. So happy to see all of you wonderful, devoted Mothers out there. My daughter is 2 1/2 and still nursing. My son who is now 13 yrs. was also 2 1/2 when he weaned himself I also have two older daughters 15 yrs and 17 yrs both were almost 2 when they weaned themselves. I wouldn’t trade those days for anything they are babies for such a short time I don’t know why anyone would rush them to grow up!

  69. Unbelievable. You really have convinced yourselves. Disgusting. Anything older than 12-14 months is child abuse. We don’t live in a 3rd world country and you children can gain the nutrition needed in food and milk. Shocking you feel okay with this.

  70. Not to mention, you are only doing this for yourselves. If you feel so strongly about breast milk (which is weird), then put it in a sippy cup or the case of a 4 year old – a CUP. You are hanging on to a period which doesn’t last….let them grow up. Let them be a NORMAL toddler and not get a sip from the boob at school. Again, gross and disturbing.

  71. Debbie, how `disgusting` that you can utter bad words so easily about a wonderful thing (not only a nutrition and natural immunization, but also more than anything, a very strong and unique connection between child and mother).

    I have 2.5 yo son, and he is still nursing once in a day, and at night before the bed, not for food (he is a good eater, not picky at all, very healthy boy), just for his emotional frustration (as you know how they can be frustrated sometimes) and his way of expressing his love etc.

    There is `feed` word in `breastfeeding`, yes, but it does not mean that our TODDLERS depends on the milk comes from breast, they get their nutrition from other food too…PLUS, they get their emotional nutrition from the beautiful connection.

    I am happy that my son does not depend on a binky or sucking his thumb!!! Look around you, you will amaze how many toddlers are have binky on their mouth…poor kids…

    Hands off our nursing kids!!! it is not disgusting, it is not gross!

  72. I am so glad to read these posts. I was a closet nurser with my son- now almost 9 yrs old. He nursed until his fifth birthday. When my daughter was born last year he was so happy she would get to nurse too. Yes, he remembers nursing and it brings back fond loving feelings for him.
    That brings me to a thought I’ve often pondered that hasn’t been discussed here yet- My son has a respect for breasts as a loving entity not merely sexual objects. I wonder if this will also foster respect for women’ s breasts and all as he grows older. Its not a big secret to him what breasts look and feel like. and instead of fostering a glamorized Farah Faucet pin up girl attitude toward breasts his first association was in loving family environment.
    I’m not sure if I’m saying this all right. I guess my point is how our children grow to think of women with love and respect and for my girl I hope she will find that in herself also.
    I was nursed untill the age if 3. I remember the feeling of my mom nursing me and remember how I thought she had the prettiest “ninnies”. I wanted to have pretty ninnies too when I grew up.
    I’m curious to hear others ideas on this theme.

  73. It is really reassuring to find this site and information. I am very fortunate to have a supportive partner who actually introduced me to the idea of extended breastfeeding our son who is now two and a half.
    There are times when I feel truly exhausted – from the night feeds especially – and from criticism mixed with my own low self esteem.
    Again my thanks for this site.
    Kirsten

  74. Debbies comments that: “We don’t live in a 3rd world country and you children can gain the nutrition needed in food and milk..”
    The milk you are referring to here I suppose is cows milk – which incendentally is for calfs – just as a human mothers milk is for her child…
    Mothers milk not cows milk has the optimimum in nutrition for a (human) mothers child!
    I am rather saddened by Debbies comments. What on earth would lead someone to have the vehemence and such misguided notions that she has. I truly hope that if you take the time to research you will see the facts for yourself.
    go to :
    http://www.kellymom.com/bf/bfextended/ebf-benefits.html#links
    or
    http://www.parenting.com/article/Baby/Feeding/Ask-Dr-Sears-Extended-Breastfeeding—-Handling-the-Criticism
    or
    http://www.llli.org/NB/NBSepOct07p206.html
    or

  75. I’m still nursing my son he is almost 3…It’s for comfort sometimes and sometimes as nourishment…it’s my favorite time of the day…I get grounded and it’s a miracle everyday.

  76. I’m currently nursing my daughter who just turned 3 and a half. We’ve had a great relationship as far as balance, She started dropping day nursings when she stopped napping during the day (at 3), and now does it once before bedtime and once in the morning. Occasionally she’ll ask late afternoon if she’s sleepy. She has completely healthy teeth, no speech problems, and is the healthiest child I’ve ever come across. This isn’t something I even knew was an option when I started breastfeeding, and I’m so glad that I dropped in one day to a LLL meeting. I’m just finishing up training now to be a leader myself, and I’m looking forward to pass on the value of what I’ve come to learn!

  77. I’m so glad I found your sight and have read many comments. I wasn’t quite sure if I was the only one out there still breast feeding my 2 yr. old daughter. She is my 3rd and last baby and I’ve always enjoyed breast feeding. My only concern is when I want to take a little vacation with a friend. I haven’t had any time to myself for 3 years now and feel I need it. I always fear that if I went away for 3 days I wouldn’t have any milk when I came back.

  78. Fantastic information. My daughter is about to turn 5. I have slowly stopped producing milk, but she still nurses at night. She’s nursed almost every night of her life to go to sleep. We have an agreement, in the absence of milk, to see if she can find another way she likes to fall asleep after her 5th birthday (back rub/pat, extra books beyond our usual 2-3, singing, something). It has seemed like the most normal thing in the world to nurse her well beyond infancy.

  79. My daughter nursed until 2.5 yo. I never brushed her teeth before she slept (she’d fall asleep nursing), which the dentist blamed for her 7 (!) cavities found at her first check-up.

    Has anyone else found this to be the case?

  80. Great post! When I owned a paint-your-own pottery studio and brought my nursing babies to work with me I found that a lot of mothers became comfortable telling me that they were nursing toddlers and preschoolers. Sometimes their children would see me nursing a baby and ask their mothers to nurse too. I might never have known that there were so many long term nursing moms around otherwise.

    I recently represented Attachment Parenting on the Discovery Health Channel show Radical Parenting (which will re-air on March 23rd at 8pm and 11pm ET). I talk about extended nursing, including how other mothers became comfortable letting me know they were nursing an older child when they found out I was too. Here is the link to the promo for Baby Week where I talk about extended breastfeeding (Radical Parenting is the 3rd show):

    http://health.discovery.com/videos/health-promos-baby-week-march-2010.html

    Thanks again for this post! I think the information is really important to share to work towards normalizing long term breastfeeding.

  81. How wonderful that you are all following your instincts with this! I don’t have kids yet, but hope to breastfeed them as long as they would like to, when I do.. My mother breastfed me for a year and says I was so distraught when she stopped; I even remember feeling sad about this as a very young child! These days, the more I read about the benefits of breast milk, the more convinced I am that it can only be good for the baby, and that there are clear benefits to longer term breastfeeding. So, kudos to all of you!

  82. Thanks for this and to everyone for being so honest. Friends of mine have feed their children for 3 to 5 years and playfully alongside younger siblings a bit after. My own daughter feed in an evening and weekend mornings up to perhaps 6 and weekend mornings and odd evenings well beyond that. It really hard to remember, it has always been so much part of our relationship that neither of us really thinks about it.
    Even at eight she’ll still nurse if she’s ill or needs to unwind. Neither of us consciously decided to carry on this long it just happened and one day we’ll find we’ve stopped just like one day you realise your singing pop songs, not nursery rhymes.

  83. Great post. I have two wonderful girls who are now 12 and 7. I nursed during my pregnancy and then tandem nursed for 2 years; sometimes tandem nursing was overwhelming, but I am so glad I committed to it – even though my girls are 4.5 years apart they are extremely close emotionally.
    I just want to encourage moms who are extended nursing not to be afraid of what society says or fear your child’s emotional needs that are met by nursing. My oldest weaned at 6.5 years (which was gently led by me because I was starting to get negative feelings) and with my youngest I did completely child-led weaning and she decided she was done just a week or so shy of her 7th birthday. If anyone had told me when my children were born that I would have nursed that long, I would have thought they were nuts. But you grow as a person and mother. My daughters are exceptionally loving and affectionate people and nursing them that long was the greatest gift to our whole family.

  84. re: Stephanie’s March comment and dental caries– I happen to be a La Leche League Leader. Breastfeeding does not cause dental caries. That being said, it is important before nursing to sleep at nap time and at nighttime to wipe or brush your baby’s/toddler’s teeth clean before the last nursing; you want to get off all the bacteria/food stuffs before sleeping because the acidity/saliva level is different in the mouth at night so there is less protection from harmful bacteria. Just make sure those cute little teeth are clean before nursing your little one off to slumberland!

  85. Thanks for these comments. I currently nurse my son who is 3.5 years old. I know it is the right thing for us and our family but I fear the thoughts of others. I pay attention to oral health by ensuring I brush his teeth for a second time (nursing after the bedtime routine and then a quick second brush after the nursing). I feel like I am living with a secret but also feel like I am doing the right thing. My goal has always been for him to self-wean. For my daugther, who is now 5, I was only able to nurse her for 15 months as was having challenges conceiving and wanted to stop to help, which it did. However I regret not being able to nurse longer. Thanks for the conversation

  86. Absolutely magnificent post! I am an Aussie Naturopath and still feeding my son 4.7 months later and going strong. I know one day he will want to give up and I am ready for that, but until then, I have the healthiest, happiest, most secure little boy. He still feeds twice a night and on the very rare occaisions he gets ill, he’ll feed up to 6 times in a day. I’m happy to continue going as long as Jamie does.
    Well done to all you magnificent mothers out there who are proud of extended breastfeeding

  87. I’m so glad I found this website. My daughter is less than two months to her 3rd year old birthday, and she still wishes to breastfeed from me. I’m perfectly O.K. and happy to keep on the special bond and support as long as my daughter needs, but my husband keep on giving me weird looks and comments that make me feel like I need to be a “closet breastfeeder” from my own husband. It just gives us another issue to be on each other’s back. I’m so relieve now that I find out it is pretty normal.
    I just do not know what to do with my husband about this issue, except that it is very mutual between me and my daughter; for I assume my husband did not have this from his mother.
    Thank-you for a great site.

  88. to all the people who “my 2-8 year old breast feeds and has no cavities” type people. do you let your kids have any kind of candy or soda? or are they feed on a “pure” diet of nothing artificial and sugary, and the only sweet things are fruits?

    or are you saying ” a kid can drink soda and breastmilk and never get cavities because of the milk”

    how is their oral hygiene on top of that?

    or, a human only needs breastmilk, and your 3 year old dosen’t need to brush and floss at all?

  89. Dear Kuu,
    My almost 3 yrs. old daughter still wishes to breastfeed me whenever she can, including over night. Besides breastmilk, my daughter does eat rice with some meat and vegetables for dinner. She eats pancake in the morning. She only likes snickerdoodle cookies, icecream, gogurt, and chips around her meals. I ONLY give her an m&m once in a while. She gets no other candies, no sodas. She only like v-fusion light peach/mango juice. She drinks some milk, and water. I brush her teeth twice a day. I let her brush herself while I brush mine, then I brush her teeth myself some afterwards for a short while. So far I do not see any cavities, but her ped. recommended a dental check at 3 yrs. of age. I think me brushing her teeth for a while helps clean her teeth better than just a few seconds scrubs. Still, I cannot floss her teeth yet. Looking forward to take her to her first dental check up.
    Hope it helped you.

  90. Hi,
    Thanks for the great post. I breastfeed an 18 month old and have already received numerous critical questions and disparaging comments. I hope extended breastfeeding continues to become mainstream in the US and is not seen as an extreme mothering technique. My little girl Clara has been off the charts healthy and I have no doubts that breastfeeding and fresh foods has contributed to this blessing.

  91. When I considered that it’s also a birth control it makes sense. Emotionally a man and wife are one person, ideally, and seeing the reason his wife isn’t fertile has meaning to a thinking man.

    I like it! Let child and mother nurse as long as it’s wanted.

    I wouldn’t be surprised when data comes out, in 20 years, that children nursed beyond 1 year were more likely to thrive socially and economically

  92. I am so thankful i found this website. My son is 3 years old and he still breast feeds. He primarily just wants it when he is tired. He is a picky eater and when he wants breast milk i give it to him. I am so tired of family members and close friends telling me i need to stop breast feeding. My doctor says as long I am producing milk and he still wants it, its very healthy for him.
    He is very intelligent and I hope its from all the time i spent breast feeding.
    Thanks again for posting all these comments.

  93. Hi!! I am on the hunt for knowledge. I never set out to be an extended breast feeder, but my little angel is 2 now and loves her “nursey boobie”, and to be honest, I love giving it to her. I had intended to stop at age 2, and have attempted to ween her twice, when I just kinda feel upon all this great and empowering information. Now that I have made the decision to continue on strong, and aim for another year of nursing, I have one major problem. My milk is nearly gone, and I feel like most of the time I am just a binki, which causes lots of nipple soreness. I was hoping that you ladies might have some reccomendations for getting my supply flowing again, or if it is even possible at this point, i have heard that once the majority of the ducts have shut down it is hard/not possible to get good production again, short of giving birth. I am hoping this is not the case…anything would help.

  94. to the few negative commenters:

    hahahaha, my only child (9yo) that has had a cavity was my formula fed one! too funny! He had one before his 2nd birthday! He’s also the only one that had a maldeveloped upper palate. Even I know that heredity and diet (junk!) have more to do with cavities. My two middle children (age 7 and 4) who nursed until their fourth birthday have had no cavities, have perfect oral development, and have absolutely no problems socially relating with their peers. I’m still nursing my last baby. She’s almost two years old. It’s not like they nurse all day long like a newborn. Children who are nursing well into their second year are slowing down gradually, weaning themselves. Sometimes they nurse four times in a 24 hour period, sometimes two times. When they are sick or going through an insecure time, they nurse more, but it’s not like they don’t play t-ball, make crafts, and learn to read! There is more to their lives than just nursing. By the time my toddlers have turned into nursing preschoolers, they were only nursing before bedtime and for the occasional hurt or stress. What’s the difference between that and having a binky? Well, the teeth aren’t getting all jacked up for one, and they are actually getting some immunological benefits since their immune system is not considered mature (scientifically) until they are 5yo. I don’t care who thinks it’s weird. I *know* I only have a chance to do it once and that I have to make those years count for that child, and *that’s* why I choose to still let them nurse. By the time they are 2 years old, I don’t even feel the let-down, so the idea that I would do it for myself is completely ridiculus.

  95. I’m so glad I came across this site for more reasons than one! My mother nursed me and my brother until we were around 5 yrs old, and incidentally I’m expecting my first who I hope to breastfeed as long as he wants – I know I will need the support as we transition.

    Like the rest of you, my mom made a good decision IMO – she found weaning me around 14 months was difficult (on both of us with her oversupply & my crying) so she fed me at the breast until I was ready to let go on my own. The arrival of a baby brother at age 3 was made easier due to tandem nursing – she breastfed us together for 2 years. For those of you who brought up criticism – my mom did get that (even I remember this), but she was skilled at covering up when we were young, and taught us to be discreet not demanding in public as we got older. Outside of that, she said she just had to develop a thick skin because she was doing what felt right to her, what was good for us, and wasn’t going to let the opinions of some judgmental people change that.

    I weaned myself naturally around age 5 as did my brother. We’re both very healthy, have had NO cavities and have done very well at school. There were a handful of occasions we both turned to her breast for comfort after weaning (on really bad days), but it tapered off by age 6 or 7 or so. Like a few of you said, I have some memories of those times, of thinking how her ‘milkies’ were the most comforting place in the world to fall asleep suckling, and how wonderful her breast milk tasted. We have a really strong bond to this day, and I’m grateful for her maternal instincts that allowed me to experience that. The closer I get to my due date, the more excited I’m getting, to think of the memories and bond I’ll get to make with my little son someday very soon! πŸ™‚

  96. Wonderful post I just now found (again?). I’m still nursing L to sleep and sometimes when we snuggle on the sofa, and he is 4 years and 10 months old.

    We are not hurting anyone and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Our kids are little for such a short time…

  97. I am so happy I’ve come across this site and so very grateful to Crunchy Domestic Goddess for starting the topic, as well as, everyone who posted their comments. I still breastfeed my son who is 19 months and down there, deep in my heart, I know how heartbreaking it would be for him if I stopped… Now that I know there are more women who nurse their children for more than just a year I will be more confident in doing what feels right to me. Thanks to you I shall find more courage to fight or ignore the criticism – I live in Poland where nursing a child for more than a year is considered really strange and bit abnormal. Some people even say that a mother does it for herself only and that long-term breastfeeding is a sign of a mother’s psychological instability… THANK YOU!

  98. I was born in the late 70s in Norway and the breast-feeding trend hadn’t quite caught on yet, but I was lucky enough to have a grandmother who nursed all her three children through a time when formula was the norm. So my mother nursed me until I was two. Not sure if that means 24 months or rather just shy of my 3rd birthday, but I can remember it. She had to go on a vacation to get the weaning done after I started unbuttoning her blouse on public transportation. I figure I could have gained a few IQ points had I not been so pushy in public….
    My younger brother weaned himself at only 9 months old, and it broke my mother’s heart a little.
    When my son was born I had to fight for my right to nurse in the hospital (in Texas), there was no lactation help as I had my son on a holiday, and the nurse insisted my son needed a bottle because my milk hadn’t come in yet. I refused, put up a good fight, called in a pediatrician to give her a talking to, and tried to explain to the nurse that the milk doesn’t come in as the afterbirth comes out, yet babies live and thrive.
    I always figured my son would wean when ready, and he is not at 2yrs, 7mos. He recently started daycare, so on weekdays he only nurses when he comes home, at bedtime and during the night, which I know is not the best for his teeth, but keeping us both up all night every night would probably be worse in many ways.
    I am a single mom now, cosleeping with my son, spending all my time with him outside of work. I am a little worried about him never wanting to wean on his own since it’s just the two of us, and we may get too co-dependent. Any thoughts?

  99. Sigrid, he is only 2 and 7 month. I’m still nursing L to sleep for a few minutes – and he just turned 5.

    You are not bothering or hurting anyone with nursing him. I am always so glad for all the health benefits L still gets – I don’t worry about colds or flu even though they are going around kindergarten right now. And don’t discount the many health benefits for yourself!

    http://dagmarbleasdale.com/2011/07/why-im-proudly-nursing-a-preschooler/

    He’s going to wean – and be able to remember that special time. What’s bad about that? πŸ™‚ Just let nature take its course and wean when he and you are ready, or let him self-wean. It’s going to happen.

  100. I stumbled across your site because I’m just winding down my nursing career. My youngest (of four) “baby” is now 3 years and 1 month, and tonight was the first night that she didn’t ask to nurse before bed. It truly is very bittersweet. I’m about ready, but I will horribly miss our connection. I feel like everything changes after a baby stops nursing, and nursing has definitely been my favorite part of motherhood. There is just nothing else like it. I don’t dare talk about my “extended breastfeeding” habits with my friends, and my family thinks I’m a little over-the-top about it, but I wouldn’t change it, either. Our time together has been so precious, and it truly has helped my daughter with illness-she’s only had a couple of colds. My first baby, whom I only nursed for 8 months (due to low supply), had millions of ear infections and various other ailments. It IS good to hear from other women who have blessed their babies in this way. I truly hope that our country will embrace nursing. Our babies deserve it.

  101. Am still nursing my 26 month old son 2-3x a day. He’s always been thin though (as we speak he’s just 11kg+) which made me doubt my breastfeeding for a long time. After around 18 months, I’m fully convinced it is the best way to go. He’s a relatively healthy child ( I count total flus/ stomach flus incidents in his lifetime as about 6). He’s VERY attached to me, and somehow I could still sleep train him since 6 months even though he breastfed often in the day at that time. I’m proud of this, and I know someday when he’s all grown, this will be a fond memory of mine. My husband used to find it uncomfortable when my son was still nursing at 18 months, but now he’s ok with it and can see how my son is comforted in a way no one can comfort him.

  102. So, glad to have found this site. My little guy just turned 4 and still loves to nurse. Most of the time, I do not have a problem with it. He usually nurses in the morning and at night. However, the issue that is causing me a great deal of distress is his father. We are divorced and he says that our son’s continued need for nursing is keeping him from bonding and being able to have overnight visits with him. He has been speaking with his attorney about this and even admitted that his attorney said there are no laws that can prevent a mom from nursing her child for as long as she wishes. However, I know my ex well enough that he will pursue this issue on the grounds that nursing is somehow psychologically damaging our son. Our little boy is very happy, intelligent, and healthy. I’ve tried to disallow him from nursing but he cries and cries so, I give in. I am sufferening anxiety over this because I feel this is just plain wrong on my ex’s part and just another way of trying to cause further hurt. Our son spends time with him father and if they have any bonding issues it is not due to the nursing as my ex would suggest. One last note…my ex has been jealous of our son and the nursing since he was an infant and kept insisting that I discontinue nursing since he was 6 months or younger.

  103. One other note….my ex believes the nursing and co-sleeping have caused the demise of our marriage as well. However, the relationship was toxic way before my son came into this world.

  104. When a mother “gives in” to their child because of their continued crying about wanting breast milk. That’s when only the mother benefits. She doesn’t want to put up with the crying. I noticed there are no negative feedback on this forum. It’s a board about opinions towards breast feeding. It’s so funny that you delete them. Is it because you don’t want people feeling bad about extended breast feeding? If people are feeling bad, it’s probably because deep down they know there is no real reason they should still be doing it other than upsetting the child. Children are resilient. At age 3-5, you are able to start reasoning with them and explain to them the reason for stopping. It’s called consistency.

  105. I am in the process of weaning my child and it is going well. I know about consistency when it comes to parenting children as I have two grown children so, this isn’t my first time around the block. I never nursed my oldest, nursed my middle child for only 6 weeks and my youngest is the only one I chose to nursing almost exclusively. I’ve made a few errors along the way, in regards to not realizing I needed to teach my nursing infant to fall asleep on his own because I never had this issue with my other children. I disagree that a mom who chooses to nurse beyond a year is somehow doing something wrong. If you do your research, you would find that the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization both promote nursing until 2 or 3 and beyond this as long as both child and mom are comfortable with it.WIC also promotes long term nursing as well. I came to this website looking for support and encouragement during the weaning process.

  106. To Taylor – OF COURSE there is no negative feedabck on this forum! We are pro-breastfeeding because this is the only natural way and has nothing to do with reasoning with a child and nothing to do with giving in to their whims! I bet you have had to give in hundreds of times in completely different areas of life… My 2-year-old breastfed child is very well-behaved and I do not give in whenever he wants anything… I let him have a cuddle and be breastfed not because he wants it but because he needs it…

  107. “She doesn’t want to put up with the crying” – what is wrong with that? Mums do not want their children to cry – it is only natural…

  108. Thank you Ursula! You are very right…I do not want to leave my child crying in distress…There is a big difference between a child crying to get “their own way” as it seems is being implied in the other post and a child crying out of distress and in need of comfort. When my young child was an infant I did not leave him cry for long periods of time…this is how one builds trust with their child. I know how to discipline my child when he is in fact crying to get his own way and I know when my child is simply crying due to feeling a need for comfort…so completely different.

  109. Ursula. I have to correct you, by telling you that I’ve never gave in, in any areas in my life. I am still here in life, living very happy and comfortable. I have a wonderful relationship with both my children. I breast fed both my girls. My oldest until the age of 14 months, my youngest until the age 10 months. When the time came my girls learned to drink from a cup, I weaned them. It didn’t take over night, it definitely was a process. It’s all a matter of outlook. And just because mine happens to differ from yours, does not give you the right to poke insults at me. What does he “need” at 4-5 years old suckling on a breast in the evening? Please explain. Not trying to be rude, would like to be informed. What benefit does a child get when the mother barely has any milk to feed? Is this moment strictly for “bonding”? Isn’t it possible to bond in other ways? It’s all a matter of opinion I suppose. But like I said, difference of opinion shouldn’t have to come down to immature behavior. I don’t think you would appreciate me saying something to you about what I really think about breast feeding until 4 or 5….and just for the record, I’m an early childhood educator, ive taken child development. I do understand the importance of children’s needs… Taylor.

  110. My little one only nurses for a few minutes in the evening as it helps to lull him to sleep. We have many other ways of bonding each day that do not include the nursing; however, he asks to nurse when he is tired. It is a comfort, like a favorite blanket or stuffed animal. He never had a comfort item when he was an infant, as the nursing was his comfort. Nursing is not just about giving a child nutrition but it is also about comfort. When he was younger, he became very sick for a few days and wouldn’t take any fluids or food;however, he would nurse and this helped both of us through a tough time. The nurses whom I spoke to during this time were greatly encouraging me to keep up the nursing. They had only good things to say about it. It is sad that something so beautiful between mother and child can be made into something ugly by those who oppose it. While everyone has a right to their opinions no one should come to this site and put others down with their opinions. Also, if at any point my little one would have chosen to wean prior to this I would have been all for it. It is absurd to think that I am somehow forcing the nursing on my child, as he is the one who requests it, not I. I do not offer if he does not ask and many times he asks and I try to divert his attention to something else that we can do together, like extra playtime. I see nothing wrong with nursing my little one to sleep. This is something that has always brought him comfort. It is bothersome to say the least that anyone could think there was something wrong about this. However, everyone is entitled to their opinion and this is mine.

  111. Thank you Michelle! It looks like there is nothing else to be said to Taylor but just because Taylor thinks I insulted her I feel obliged to write something. I reread my post and found nothing insulting in it… not even a word! If you, Taylor, still think you have been insulted, please accept apologies and please believe me that it wasn’t my intention. You found something between the lines that only you know – but it wasn’t really there… Have you ever thought how I felt when you wrote your original post suggesting that me and other women here are inconsistent and we breastfeed only because we want peace and quiet? Don’t you personally think it is not very nice to write such things to women who do not go out there to convince everyone they are right but simply support each other and share experience? Did you know that reading the comments of all the women here was illuminating to me as I hadn’t known about tandem breastfeeding before? There is no site like this in my country and I was very grateful to the author of this one because I learnt a lot and finally found someone who feels like me… When I first read all these comments I cried as if I found a good friend who understands me… I do something which has always been very natural and still is to mammals in this world and please, if you disagree, do not criticize us and do not jump to conclusions because it hurts…

  112. It’s a shame that Taylor has misunderstood that the purpose of this thread is to promote and discuss extended breastfeeding…and therefore, this is not the venue to oppose it. I’m still nursing my girl once a day, btw. She still won’t give up the night time nursing (which lasts all of two minutes). And I’m not going to make her.

  113. Thank you so much Ursula and Amy L. It is good to support one another instead of knocking one another down. Amy, my little guy has been great with giving up all of the day time nursing but still asks for it right before bedtime and also if he lays down for a nap in the afternoon, which he doesn’t do much anymore. I cannot see turning the night time nursing into a major issue when it does not need to be. He nurses for only a few minutes as well and falls peacefully asleep. He doesn’t have a problem with it and neither do I. The problems that have come about are only due to others. I was told there was nothing wrong with continued nursing as long as my little one and I were comfortable with it. I suppose there will always be some individuals who are vehemently opposed to extended nursing and feel a strong need to share that with others.

  114. One last thing for now…Ursula I agree there were insults being thrown about when comments were made about inconsistency and also implications that were being made that I was doing something wrong but not wanting to leave my child crying in distress. I cannot speak for any other mother, but I never wish to leave my child crying in distress. I feel there is a big difference between a temper tantrum and a child crying out of distress and in need of comfort or support. I came to this site in hopes of finding some support and I am happy that I found many good posts to read and a few individuals like you and Amy who have not hesitated to offer your support to me…..Thank you so much!

  115. Just wanted to send a quick update: I’m still nursing L, who is now 5 years and 4 months old. He nurses to sleep for a few minutes and sometimes nurses on the couch, while we watch a kids show together.

    These special moments get less and less and I treasure them. I have never been able to find research that says it’s detrimental to an older child to nurse for a few minutes a day, and L is such a sweet and independent child. So since I don’t mind him still nursing, that’s what we’ll do for a bit longer.

    We are doing this in the comfort of our own home, so I don’t see how anyone needs to say anything negative about it. There are much more important things to get upset about than a mom nursing her child.

    For all the extended breastfeeding mama’s out there, thumbs up! πŸ™‚

  116. Ladies, I think youve misunderstood me. I am not opposed to breast feeding. I think it’s one of the most beautiful things in the world! Like I said, I breast fed both my children. I asked a few questions, yet no one answered them…as for you Ursula. Please don’t feel obliged to apologize to me. You wrote in your last message to me,”I bet you have had to give up hundreds of times in completely different areas in your life”. You were implying that I was the one who had to “give in” on my life. That WAS an insult. But if you feel that there was nothing wrong with your statement, then please don’t insult me again by making a false apology. It was never my intent to insult anyone. I simply wanted to gain more knowledge. If some women in general, think its ok to breast feed till later in a child’s life, why is it so hush hush? What is the benefit to it, if a mother no longer has milk? I just don’t really understand that’s all…I totally understand wanting to comfort your child. I love my daughters very much. But couldn’t you still have bond and the need to comfort your child in other ways? I by no means ever wanted my opinion to cause a “b” match. I do apologize to everyone…

  117. Thanks so much for this lovely post. I am still nursing my 3.2 year old twin girls, at bedtime for sure, but other times throughout the day, too, when I am home (I work outside the home during the week). They still ask for it, I am COMPLETELY sold on (and in awe of) the benefits, and I treasure these sweet moments that I know will not last forever…(even when some days it feels as if they might…LOL). I didn’t have a “plan” when we began, either, but now I most definitely plan to let them decide when they are done. I do sometimes find myself feeling like I avoid mentioning it to others, so this was a welcome post for me to read today. Thank you – and thank you to all the commenters, as well.

  118. I am nursing my 5 year old. It seems very strange even to me. She is in 1st grade. The only other person I know who nursed this long is my aunt. Her son was 7 and in 1st grade. My goal was to nurse 3 months. One month turned into the next. At some point my newbie was an alert toddler who turned into my a spunky preschooler and now she is a 1st grader. I am not sure how to go about weaning but I am sure as my milk does decrease she will be less and less interested.

  119. I’ve been happily nursing my 3-year old son but recently noticed a possible reason to stop: He’s begun to masturbate while nursing. Obviously a non-issue right now (he’s 3, for goodness sake, and pleasure is pleasure — I asked him about it and he replied that it “feels nice”), but as he gets closer to that age when memories form I think it’s best he not have this one in the vault.

    Anyone else experienced this? Am I overthinking? I can just feel Freud over my shoulder. πŸ™‚

  120. I have a son just turned 2 everyone is on my case to stop breastfeeding,, say I’m doing more harm than good,, my husband is rejecting me over this,, saying I’m being a bad parent this is hurtfull to me.. I feel totally different about this of course,,

  121. I nursed my first son to 4 1/2 years old and now my second is 4 1/4 and still nursing. I’ve been starting to feel like an oddity and have no one to talk to about this. This post has been helpful, since I see there are others out there also swimming against the stream.

  122. Thanks for this! I found the post and most comments quite encouraging. My daughter is about to turn two, and I was really beginning to feel like I needed to begin the weaning process. When I try to nurse her less frequently, though, she gets clingier and sadder, and most of the comments here bolster my resolve: for now, nursing is better for my daughter, so we’ll continue this part of our relationship.

    I do have a question, since not many moms I know have chosen to continue breastfeeding this long: we co-sleep, and she still wakes up numerous times during the night. Suggestions? Could it be, in part, the coming of her two-year-old molars? (I’m not looking to stop co-sleeping quite yet – she prefers to go to sleep in our bed – but am open to the idea that moving her to her own space might help.)

    I guess I feel like crunchydomesticgoddess addresses Taylor’s concerns about extended breastfeeding in her blog entry, but beyond that, I think that the reason so many moms continue to nurse their children longer than most mothers, whether covertly or overtly, is because there’s such a long history of comfort in it. The mother’s breast is where a child once had most of her needs met and found comfort from sadness and found the happiness of a full belly; it was, for many, the first symbol of love. That strong association means that even for a toddler, a quick nursing session can soften the ills of the day. Sure, I tend to use chocolate, but for my two-year-old, I think a little mama milk is a much better answer! Kudos to those who go beyond a year (but no knocks to those for whom that isn’t the right path!).

  123. Sarah: Very well said. As for night weaning, has she always fed at night, or is this new? You may be able to simply say “milk in the morning” and put her off. I’ve had to do that with my 3-year-old son. He would be angry for a minute but before long he’d be back asleep, and he’s gotten out of the habit. Frankly, I couldn’t take it any more. Mommy needs sleep, too!

  124. I want to quickly respond to Taylor’s question, “What is the benefit to it, if a mother no longer has milk?.”

    The system is beautifully simple. Your breasts replace the milk that is removed. So we can make milk for as long as our children want it. When our children want more, they nurse more frequently and stimulate more production. It works the same with a 3 or 4 year old as it does with a newborn. Over time as our children wean, they nurse less and less frequently, so our breasts have less to replace.

    What I don’t know is what the minimum is. I’ve heard of women going on trips for many days but still producing milk when they return. I’m curious about that.

  125. My sweet girl finally stopped nursing, at 3 years and 3 months. I have to say, both of us miss it, but nursing has been replaced by “just” snuggling, chatting, and hanging out. I don’t regret a single day of nursing. Not one. Love to all of you!

  126. I nursed my son till he was 2 years old this norm is widely accepted in my home country (Philippines) and now that I am pregnant with baby #2 I’m looking forward to breastfeed her till she’s ready to move on.

    It makes me sad though to hear some parents claiming that you should only breastfeed till the baby is 6 months since after that they are no longer getting the nutrition required.

  127. I do not know why it was stated that children get “funny” shaped mouths from all nipples be it breast or bottle. In fact children who breast feed develop strong cheek and jaw muscles which keeps them looking youthful well into middle age and beyond!!

  128. Thank you again for the read, it’s good to hear after all the negatives we hear.

    Just putting my own experience in – my son lost interest in breastfeeding at about 14 months, my daughter still woke for a night feed on occaision till she was a little over 4.

    In response to the question of how long it takes for you to not have milk anymore – I found after my son weaned that I still had some supply right up until my daughter was born 3 years later. It wasn’t a lot or enough to cause discomfort, nor was it enough to actually feed a child but I wondered if it would come back if stimulated by feeding. I honestly didn’t realise it was still there until about a year later. I’ve always been amazed at the mother’s body and her ability to produce food as needed, whether it be a few weeks or a few years – truly incredible design!

  129. I nursed my 1st through a pregnancy with my 2nd& he self weaned almost immediately upon delivery proclaiming he did not like the new milk & asking me sadly several time to turn my momma faucets off. πŸ™ He was about 3 1/2 the last attempt he made to nurse, but he hadn’t *really* nursed the previous 6 months…just brief attempts. I am still nursing #2 at 2 1/2 yrs & the now 5 yr old often come s& cuddles us during nursing & it very much still feels like his way of “nursing” still.

    I have a small online network of support sisters – but IRL I know NO ONE that has nursed nearly this long. I never would have imagined *I* would be “that mom” lol. Imagine, before pregnancy, I had never even considered nursing. Just goes to show no one is a lost cause – keep educating mommas – that is what woke me up. I am thankful for the info & support of online lactivists & their education of me. It is why I nursed & then when I nursed for so long too.

    Now I try to go out there & share what I know & offer support & encouragement to other moms. I am not a closet nurser. I am loud & proud. πŸ™‚

  130. I have a 22month old who is full time nursing every couple hours. I just dont know if this is common. I believe in the natural weaning process, I admit I thought it would have happend already. I guess I just need some support to follow my instincts. My family and some friends are constantley like so when are you giong to stop nursing, or your still nursing. I wonder if I should cancel the family trip camping because is all my family giong to harass me for nursing my 2 year old.It feels right to still be nursing yet I wonder is what I am diong wrong I mean I know its not wrong it is just that I feel like I have to hide my nusing

  131. Clea, I hope you’ll read this comment. It’s totally normal that your son still nurses that much. Some kids are more into solid food at this point, and others aren’t. Your child is “demanding” that much, and so he really wants and needs it. That should come first, not what others are saying. You are doing exactly the right thing.

    Tell them that the World Health organization now recommends AT LEAST 2 years of nursing as the optimal standard, and you are doing the best for your child, and that comes first. Just because they didn’t nurse or didn’t nurse this long doesn’t makes your choice wrong.

    He is getting amazing health benefits from breast milk, plus you get amazing benefits for yourself as well! Why cut that short if you both want to continue?

    http://kellymom.com/ages/older-infant/ebf-benefits/

    http://dagmarbleasdale.com/2009/08/how-to-deal-with-criticism-about-breastfeeding/

    All my best, Dagmar

  132. Attention Breastfeeding Parents!

    A NY Television Production Company is casting siblings who are parents who have differences and are willing to chat about them. They must currently be living in a 60 mile radius of New York City. For example, one episode we’re trying to focus on a homeschooling parent versus their sibling who enrolls their kids in public or private schools. This is paid and will be a TON of fun.

    Contact mykidscasting@gmail.com for more info!

  133. hi nice to meet u my name is Stein Sorina Adryana my age is 39 years i have a girl 12 months am married i live in Romania
    I have a one year old girl she sleeps with us in bed and is breastfed but eats baby food and or adults

  134. I was never breast fed. Not once. I was adopted at 3 days old and thus was bottle fed only for as long as was absolutely necessary. My immune system was terrible. I never felt connected to anyone. Truthfully even as a kid I had issues with bonding with my family. I think part of the issue was that I was never breast fed. I was just handed a bottle or a pacifier which was taken away by the time I was 10 months. I wont do that to my kids. They can nurse until THEY are ready to stop… but if they drive themselves over for a snack I think maybe then I will have to say no πŸ˜‰ (lol)

  135. My daughter is 3.5 and I’m waiting on her to self wean. Sometimes I don’t want to nurse and she’s OK with. Sometimes she’s not and I give in. I worry it’s making me age or harming me because my diet is bad and I don’t drink milk. But it gives her good health and it soothes her. It was a little awkward a few months ago, she was hospitalized and I slept next to her and nursed her. Nurses and staff would be in and out so much, I was embarrassed and worried they thought it was wierd. I shouldn’t though. It comforted her during a traumatic experience. Plus she’s very healthy, healthy weight, normal height, very smart, maybe even advanced in some respects. Could be genetics or could could be nursery.

  136. Thank you for sharing this! My son is almost 4 and I have been struggling with his lack of desire to wean. I will not pressure him any further to quit after reading this most enlightening report. I know how calming it is for him. He nurses most every night and most mornings. I have been trying to reason with him about ending the “boobie” but he insists that he loves my milk and he needs it. He literally cries for it and I feel so bad for him I just can’t withhold it. It is something I keep private, as I don’t need the funny looks and rude remarks I’m sure would come my way.

  137. Wow! i’m surprised because me too i was 4 years old my mom still nursing me.. i’d tried to keep this brcause sounds embarrasing!! lol but now i’m happy to share it.

  138. My child is 3 and a 1/2. I still breastfeed him pretty often. I’m 23 and have got so much criticism, and that was a year ago! when people would find out through conversation that I was breast feeding him at 2 and a half they would make very rude and uncomfortable remarks. Some would even demand that I stop. I knew the science and the health benefits behind it. So people could not persuade me to stop. I never even planned on breastfeeding him since society has sexualized breasts so much I felt uncomfortable with the idea of breastfeeding. Which is such a sad thing, because if I felt that way just imagine how many other young women feel the same way! I did a lot of research and aimed for 2-3 years breastfeeding. I strongly believe we will make it to 4 or even 5. Which is ok by me, but sometimes I have my days where I would like my breasts to be left alone. It’s definitely something I am very proud and feel empowered by as a woman and mother. To know my child has the very best I can give him. His muscles, eyes, brain, every part of him is still growing and breast milk still provides amazing pure nutrients for him to grow on. I just wish there was not this stigmatism towards breastfeeding toddlers, and breastfeeding in general.

  139. I realize this is a really old post, but I just wanted to say thanks πŸ™‚ My 25 month old is still happily breastfeeding 3 times a day, and 1-3 times through the night. It’s been a bit difficult because I’m pregnant and my breasts have been very very sensitive, plus I’ve gotten a lot of pressure to wean due to the pregnancy and having a new baby. But in my heart I can tell weaning my daughter would do so much damage, she’s so attached to her “mamamilk” and I truly feel it will help her bond with her baby brother. I can easily see her nursing until 4 years, at least when she needs comfort, and it’s so nice to know I’m not alone in taking the “long way”. I’m excited to tandem nurse, any day now! It may not be easy but it’ll be worth it! She’s extremely healthy and intelligent, I think the benefits are pretty obvious, so I’m happy to go as long as she wants, and as long as my new baby wants.

  140. I am so happy to have come across your blog and the many awesome moms who are posting about long-term nursing. My daughter just turned 5 and is still nursing for comfort, especially at bedtime. I always knew that I would breastfeed and thought it would easily go on until she turned two but then 2 turned into 3, then 4 then (oh my goodness) 5! And all the while I have encountered my share of support from my husband and my mom, but also my share of disapproval from those who simply didn’t understand the benefits of breastfeeding after X amount of time. Or even the fact that I know so many other wonderful moms who stopped nursing earlier than I but I felt like I had to lie about my own situation to not seem weird. Honestly, it’s easy to start doubting yourself! I have periodically searched online for any brave soul out there who might share with the world a situation resembling my own so that I could reaffirm the choice I have made. It’s sad to have self-doubt when your heart (and science and a grater part of the world) tells you that you are doing the right thing for your child and your family. Thank you to everyone who has shared their stories and for the references and resources listed. I hope more and more moms out there who nurse beyond 1 or 2 years know they are NOT alone πŸ™‚

  141. I am a 50 year old woman. I have two daughters… on is now 27, and my younger daughter is 17. I breastfed my 27 year old until she was 2, and only stopped because I was shamed into it. My 17 year old daughter nursed until she as 3 1/2. She was ready to be done. The truth is, my younger daughter only really nursed, after the age of 2, when she was upset, or tired. I have absolutely no regrets, except stopping the first time because of small minded people.

  142. My boyfriend’s daughter is almost 3 and her mom still nurses her with no plans to stop. (She also co-sleeps with her.) They have joint custody of the little girl, and she stays with him half the time. He often has a lot of trouble putting her to sleep and getting her to stay asleep, and i think it’s because he can’t burse her. She requests it and he tells her he can’t. This is really not good for anyone involved. Just saying.

  143. A similar thing hpeepnad when my now-seven-year-old was nursing. She gained no weight between her 2 and 4 month checkups. The pediatrician put her on supplemental formula. Her weight went up some, but she has remained skinny on the charts ever since…and she’s the best eater of my three children.I’ve successfully nursed her two sisters since then (actually, I’m still nursing the younger sister…but I try not to be a snob too…), and if I could go back I would have dug in and worked better on my milk supply and worried a lot less. I figure if she’s low on the weight charts…she’s just blessed!Hang in there!

  144. I nursed my son till he self weaned at 5 years and 9 months. My daughter is currently nursing at 5 years and 4 months. With all the stress, problems, sickness and GMO food in this world it’s the least I can do to give my kids the best start at a healthy life. They are very smart, healthy and extremely talented athletes. There are new studies coming out everyday about the lifetime benefits from being breastfed as long as possible. You will never regret nursing your child as long as they want and you can never replace the benefits if it with anything else. You have one shot to get it right in those critical first years, it shapes their brain development forever! πŸ˜‰

  145. The data cited is ridiculous. To the folks who think their kids are smarter/better/healthier/stronger bc of breast milk: ha! But I guess you folks would have to believe in science to begin with. So feed your child: just stop suggesting that you do it better than everyone else. This is absurd.

  146. My daughter is 5.4 yrs and happily nursing during the nights…I have ppl shaming me for this…but I m happy …its a different bond i feel..I m so happy I have found so many like-minded mothers like me…

  147. Could someone link a blog of one of these ladies who did need to give a gentle nudge to help their older child be done nursing? When bringing up the idea of saying goodbye to “milkies” my just turned 5 year old bursts into tears because she “loves them so much and wants to drink milkies until she’s all growned up!” She’s gone days at time without though and only nurses for a few seconds before bed when she does nurse…but still I’m ready…

  148. M – What about throwing a weaning party? I know of friends who did this with their kiddos back in the day. Make it into a big thing about how big she’s grown and how she doesn’t need to nurse anymore, etc., have cake, decorations, etc. Make it into a celebration of her nursing time, but also make it clear that there will be no more nursing after the party. There may still be some tears afterward when she wants to nurse, but my guess is you can find a new way to bond with her (cuddles while reading a book or something) and replace the nursing time with that. I’m guessing if you do a search for weaning party, you can find more ideas. Best wishes, mama. <3
    Amy (crunchy domestic goddess)

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