This article is from the Breastfeeding
Past the First Year FAQ, by Kim Smith
1. I feel it is very worthwhile, it makes the passage from babyhood to
childhood much easier....the children just carried on nursing, and I let
them....I was so glad I did. I feel we had a calmer, more relaxed life
because of it.
2. Norma Jane Bumgarner's book _Mothering Your Nursing Toddler_ is a very
good reference for mothers who want to let their toddlers keep nursing.
3. If you really want to stick with breastfeeding, go for it. Contact La
Leche League if you feel you need support for your decision. My son weaned
himself well over a year ago, and I still sometimes miss breastfeeding him.
But, he's still a major cuddle bunny, so we snuggle a lot and the emotional
bond that we forged while nursing remains as strong as ever.
4. If you're concerned about nursing in public - I impressed upon my little
guys that nursing is something we do at home, and I was lucky in that they
believed me. I have had friends whose children practically tore off their
blouses in the grocery store, but I think you can nip that in the bud if
you make a habit of only nursing an older child at home, and explaining to
her/him that nursing is private. Your child will probably ask loudly about
nursing in front of a bunch of strangers at some point, but of course s/he is
going to ask about sex, poops, and lots of other embarassing things, too, so
go with the flow!
5. I enjoy breastfeeding my daughter. The sessions have gotten shorter;
sometimes she just does it for two minutes then off she plays... Things to
watch out for:
- don't make a habit of nursing her to sleep. Causes wrong sleep
- don't substitute nursing for comforting and personal attention; my
daughter gets hugs and personal attention.
- don't nurse before feeding solids/drinks. Sometimes they ask when
they are thirsty or hungry...
6. It's very satisfying to nurse an older child. I really like the mornings,
when he awakens next to me (we have a family bed), and he tells me with a
sleepy voice that he wants to nurse. It's so cute. And it is very easy when
he is very difficult, I can always plug in a breast and he will be quiet for
some time. It also helps us to manage this kind of difficult times, since he
is always very contented after a nursing session.
7. Does any La Leche League group in your area have toddler meetings? I have
found the support helpful to my sanity.
10. The one thing you didn't ask about that we have run into is other peoples
attitudes about how long you "should" be nursing. World-wide the mean age for
termination of nursing is like 4.5 yrs. That's much longer than what we see
here in the USA, so there's lots of pressure to quit early, but we believe
that Kayli should nurse until it just stops more or less by itself. The
worst people have been our parents, mothers in particular. They thought we
should have stopped as soon as she was eating solids. We've done a lot of
reading and believe that we are doing the right thing, and have slowly
discovered a handfull of people who share our beliefs. You gotta tuff it
12. Elizabeth is my first and really enjoys nursing. And I must say I do
too! It is relaxing and makes her so cuddly and happy and relaxed.
Especially now that she's running everywhere and getting into so much
mischief, and with trying to start disciplining her and doing timeouts I
find that nursing and cuddling lets us both unwind and reestablish the
parent-child bond. And when my husband is in town we make it part of her
bedtime ritual (I know this is a no-no but it's so nice) He reads us a
story while I nurse Elizabeth to sleep and the three of us feel so close.
My friend with the three children nursed the first until she got
pregnant with the second (15 months), then the flavor of her milk changed
(?) and the first weaned himself right away. The second was never much
into nursing and weaned at 9 months. The third weaned at 4 years old.
15. I *loved* nursing and miss it very much.
18. Probably the most commonly mentioned advice from mothers of nursing
toddlers is to develop a family word for nursing. It's a lot easier to
have a discussion in front of disapproving relatives or out in public
about "nunu" or "nummies" than about nursing or breasts. (BTW, if
anyone does give you flack about it, I like to point out that the World
Health Organization recommends that all children be nursed until they're
two years old because the immunities continue to be effective until
19. I find that most of the time I am trying to keep Kenneth nursing past
when he is ready to give up a feeding. The hard part seems to be trying to
wean mom from the baby for us :).
22. My children loved nursing so much that I never believe people's claims
that their babies were 'self-weaning'. Long-term nursing is the best for
moms and kids!
23. I was lucky enough to be informed and confident about my nursing abilities
because of the influence of some relatives (my grandmothers were both helpful,
believe it or not - they both said if they hadn't nursed, their babies would
have starved in rural Georgia in those days). I struggled but stood up for my
rights to continue nursing after I returned to work (when Trevor was 10 weeks
old - sob!). There was a daycare center on site so I was able to nurse at
lunch time and then I pumped once in the morning and once in the afternoon. I
also had to educate the caregivers, who really were the easiest to convince
now that I think about it. They really seemed to have the baby's interest at
heart. They did question me a couple of times about whether the milk was fresh
(even though I dated it) because it would separate when it was thawed. I had
to explain that it wasn't homogenized like the cow's milk we buy at the local
grocery store! After a while, they would actually send other nursing mothers
at the center to consult with me. I got a huge kick out of encouraging other
moms, even though some of them gave up too easily and saddened me. We joked
that we had our own revolving La Leche League chapter and that I was the only
constant! Sometimes I wonder if the good-natured (?) ribbing I got from some
of those weaning moms wasn't inspired by envy and longing... I admit that by
the time I quit pumping, when Trevor was a year old and filled up on lots of
other good food, it was a relief not to have to fill my briefcase every night
with my pump, bottles, towel, etc. I always got a little chuckle thinking
about what some of the other managers might think if they knew what was in
that official looking briefcase!
Well, I really meant to just send you a short note telling you how wonderful
it was to read about so many others who have and continue to share the
experience of nursing a child past babyhood. It affirmed my choices and gave
me some reassurance when I didn't even really know I needed it! I'm glad to
know others share my belief that no one knows when it's the right time to wean
better than my child and me!
One other thing - I was surprised to see how many moms had gotten
grief from their pediatricians! I must say that my pediatrician and my
gynecologist (both men) have been nothing but supportive. However, to
my surprise, my general practitioner, who was a nursing mom herself,
literally chided me at my last checkup, telling me that I needed to
think about "letting go" of my son - as if one ever really lets go of
one's children anyway. She said that nursing at this point really
didn't do either of us any good (how would she know unless she had
done it this long herself?). But don't worry - I did what any
self-respecting committed nursing mom would have done... I IGNORED
26. The most helpful thing for me has been the support of La Leche League. I
go monthly to our meetings and am friends with several members. I really
like their supportive and accepting philosophy.
It has also helped me see mothering in a new light; I've learned attachment
parenting and try to practice it.
It didn't really fit the survey format so here is a contribution from
Abby <email@example.com>: I'm a happily breast-feeding mother of a
three year old boy. I thought that I might be able to give a little
encouragement to single mothers out there. I'm a 20 year-old single
mother who is going to college full time, working part time and
managing a household. In all the chaos I still find the time to
nurse my son and I think that it's really important for both of us.
When I get home from work at 8 pm, I'm tired and stressed and I need
help winding down. In addition, Alex is tired, wants attention from
me, and genuinely needs attention from me. Although Alex only nurses
at night before bed (not to go to sleep), I think it's just as
important as it was when he nursed five times a day. It brings the
two of us together and gives us both what we need at the end of a
busy day. Because of my stress, I lost sight of the importance of
his night- time nursing - until I read everyone's responses in
netnews. It reminded me of the special bond that we have and also
that I'm doing something right. Thank you - I needed that.