This week a long lost friend paid a visit, one whom I hadn’t seen since we picked out nursing bras together two years ago.
I met her son for the first time, a sweet little boy with gorgeously curly hair, bright chubby cheeks, and a complexion the color of coffee milk. He spent the afternoon being a toddler – building blocks and knocking them down, taking Thalia’s little ride-on train for a spin, climbing on the coffee table, hurling golf balls that Nate brilliantly leaves around the living room, and then crawling into my friend’s lap with a simple request:
At which point she hoisted up her shirt and stuck one in his mouth.
“Oh…” I stammered. “Um, wow. I mean…forgive me. I just don’t really know anyone who’s still nursing a two year old.”
“Oh sure,” she replied proudly. “In fact he’s still 95% breast fed!”
I wasn’t sure what the other 5% could have been. Cow’s milk? Formula? Hi-C? And so I asked.
“Food,” she answered matter-of-factly. “Yep. He’s not too interested in food. He’s my little boobie baby. Aren’t you, Sweetie…”
[suck suck suck]
I’m not sure how I responded at this point. For I was entirely freaked out.
When I hear about extended breastfeeding, it sounds reasonable. Beautiful even. But to witness it first hand…
freaked out. Entirely.
Now before you go and flame my comments, calling me Barbara Walters and suggesting I go take a flying leap off a Delta Airline 727 mid-flight, save it. I’m writing a good deal of this post with one hand as I nurse my baby (so please forgive any typos). And to do so, I just survived 10 days of fierce pain, the likes of which would have had even POW survivors pleading for mercy and switching to Enfamil. Think a slow, anesthetic-free nipple piercing performed by a crackhead with a rusty needle and you’ve pretty much got a sense of what I went through in order to give my daughter the first hundred and fifty or so meals of her life.
In other words, I’m all for breastfeeding. Or at least for those who care to do so. And I’m all for not breastfeeding for those who, for whatever reason, can’t. This is not a breast versus formula debate; and may I add that anyone who tries to make it one is an ass. This is just me, trying to figure out why I was so freaked out (entirely) by a two year-old running up to his mom at snack time and ordering a boobie with a side of absolutely nothing.
Thalia, if you’re curious, just had the Pirate’s Booty. She was okay with that.
Maybe my issues stem from the degree to which my friend was dedicated (dedicated? devoted? insane?) to it – 95% breastfed isn’t the same as oh he still nurses to sleep at night while we share a quiet moment. I mean, I watched as that boy flung himself onto her breasts in the broad daylight of my living room. That’s pretty darn committed.
Or maybe it’s just some 21st century American notion that’s inextricably bored into my being, that says that nursing is something we do for babies. You know…because they can’t eat food yet.
In any case, it shouldn’t matter. My friend’s son is healthy, strong and smart. He’s bilingual. He’s musical. He’s athletic. And he’s clearly doted on by both parents. In other words, her choices don’t seem to be hurting him. Isn’t that really what’s important? Yes, says my head. But ew, still says my gut.
I didn’t engage her on the vaccination question, but something tells me we differ there too. Especially when she waved off an aside I made about going the pediatrician’s office.
“Oh no no no,” she said. “Pediatricians…we don’t do that.”
Mea culpa, my old friend. I know we’re different kinds of parents. Really different. So I’m working through this. Because I want that to be okay.
105 thoughts on “Boobie for One, Non-Smoking. Something With a View Perhaps?”
I nursed my son until his second birthday. >>When he was born, I didn’t intend to nurse him past one year, AT ALL. My though was, “Well, it’s great that some women do that extended nursing thing, and I’m sure it’s very healthy for the kids, good for the environment, crunchy and lovey and grand, etcetera, but, it’s just not for me. Cuz I think I’d feel weird.” >>But, when my son didn’t transition well to solid food, lost interest in food almost altogether after a “minor” surgery, and wound up being extremely underweight, I just kept nursing. Every month I would say, I’ll stop next month. But I kept nursing. Because I felt like it was the only thing I could do to help him with his eating problem as I took him to medical specialist after medical specialist, with no success in diagnosing or treating the cause of his food aversion for several months.>>And now I don’t think extended nursing is weird at all. After all, it may well have saved my son from being put on a feeding tube.>>Every thing in the universe is weird, until you get used to it.
I’m with you – my gut says BIG EW. I nursed all three of my kids to between the ages of 7-10 months (with one going to a full 12 months). Who wants to be tied to a baby that long? If your kid won’t eat anything but breast milk, when do you get to go out alone?
5% food—that doesn’t seem like enough food for a growing 2 year old. What about protein, fruits, vegetables and dare I say treats??? >>Plus I would think at 2 he would start to notice that not everyone pulls up a bar stool to the boob bar. His friends may not notice they are too busy with thier happy meals.
Two things:>>1) I would have weirded out myself. When I was home for maturnity leave with my first, I caught the episode on Dr.Phil with the lady who was nursing her 5-year old and her 2-year old on a booby-on-demand basis. Now I don’t care who you are, that has a definite Ew Factor (well, except, I guess, for this woman who thought it was natural, beautiful, healthy, etc.). >>2) I would cry in pain and curl my toes for the first six weeks I nursed my kids (I seemed to be an odd-duck on this one–none of my friends endured so much pain at the onset of breastfeeding). So I’m completely there on the whole sacrifice-your-body-for-your-offspring idea. But as soon as my kids lost interest, I was happy to accomodate them (and get my boobies back). Generally that was around 7-10 months.>>I love your blog, by the way, Mom 101!
I am with you too. I’ve seen it happen with two separate children/mothers–where the child is running around just like any kid, gets hungry and goes to mom and said, “Boobie, Mommie.” My feeling? If you are old enough to verbally demand it, you are old enough to be weaned from it.>>At what point do kids remember things? I’d be mortified to remember asking my mom for–and getting–milk from the tap.
If it’s any consolation, at least you were diplomatic enough, despite the “ew factor,” to roll with it. I would have probably had to leave the room. I’m just squeamish like that when it comes to breastfeeding…especially extended breastfeeding. I’m sure your friend appreciated that. At least I hope she did.>>I think that, regardless of how one feels about breastfeeding or when to wean, people should understand that different people have different comfort levels about seeing someone nurse, and that these comfort levels are not a personal attack on the nurser or the act itself. I see it as akin to different boundaries when it comes to personal space. Some people need their space; others don’t. It doesn’t make one person wrong or right–it just means that we should be sensitive to the boundaries of others–especially when we are guests in their home.
I agree with the verbalizing. That just ups the “ew”-factor right there. >Nursing a 2 year old isn’t bad, but it’s that 95% that gets me. A child that age should certainly be eating lots of other things. (Maybe because they “don’t do pediatricians” she doesn’t know this?) I nursed for 13 months and then 17 months. But for the 17 month old, he was eating food too. Just nursing in the mornings, nights and sometimes around nap time.>>I hear you about the pain. I had it, especially on the one side. And sometimes I’d pinch my husband really hard to try and convey just how much it hurt. I thought it would be gone with the second one, but no! still painful. Should I be worried this time around? Yikes!
I know what you mean. I just weaned my young one at 17 months (his brother was weaned at 15 months), and about two days after he was finally completely weaned, the thought about breastfeeding him seemed.. um.. bizarre. (It’s not nice to say EW about your own baby, right?)
I have a Dutch friend, the mother of seven, who BF each of her kids, and most of the time tandem nursed up to 3 kids, each until they were between 4 and 5 years old and self-weaned. I can remember being in a toy store with her eldest 2 boys, who were about 5 and 3 and the time, and her scooping up the 5 year old and carrying him around the store while he was nursing. The looks, OY the looks! But she was completely oblivious. She was just a mom that believed strongly in extended nursing (and home births in the family wading pool, but that’s another story). >>I was all EWWW, too. But then I extended BFing my twins until they were about 2 because it’s what they wanted. By the time they were 2 I was DONE, but a friend who also has twins EBF until hers were almost 4. I’m sorry, but THAT is EWWWW. Two preschoolers hanging off my boobs. No way. She had to nurse them sitting in a chair with them standing up. It was weird. Really weird.
I don’t like children demanding anything anyway, but this just sounds, uhm… ew!>>Your story reminds me of a British tv show I saw last year, about an adult who still nurses: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8orUaCJ0GY >>It’s only 1,5 minutes, but I remembered it vividly 🙂
If he weren’t bilingual, musical and athletic would you have condemned her?>>Honestly? I don’t see the issue. And I don’t see why it keeps being brought up time and time again. Can’t we please leave extended nursing mothers alone?
I have zero street credentials to comment on this one – other than to say I share your initial reaction. (And I’m wondering who this old friend is.)
Um, yeah. 95% seems like a little too much boobie juice and not enough of the other stuff. That can’t be right. I could never nurse, although I wish I could have, and I totally support it, even up to 2 years for some families that want to do that. But 95%? Yeah, weird.
Sigh.>>This is a tough one.>>It would make me squeamish, too.>>And I’d worry that he might have a hard time transitioning to the textures of solids. That’s because I have a texture-averse kid, and I know firsthand what a struggle it can be.>>But through the squeamishness I’d be berating myself, because I try to be nonjudgmental.>>If it works for them…
ew?>>wish you’d have just thought that, not typed it. 🙁>>ouch, liz.
How could you not know I nursed my 1st til she was almost 3 (yes, it was the ‘cuddle to sleep’ type of nursing, but still. . .3!!!) My last guy was nursed til 2 1/2. . .anytime of the day, indoors and out. >>And we LOVE our pediatrician! : )
OK, these comments are bumming me out (had to comment again). So judgmental! I never felt “tied down” to my kids b/c of nursing===I’m tied down to them b/c I’m their freakin’ mother! And, when they are older, you can still get out for several hours at night without any problems. >>Also, the comment about the trauma (my word) a child would suffer from remembering nursing??? Really?? My neighbor nursed her daughter til she was 4; the daughter is an awesome 16 year old now and told me she just really liked the taste of it. Maybe kids who remember nursing will think of breasts as something other than sex objects and will respect their mothers for letting them continue to do something they loved until they were ready to wean.
Jennifer, Kyran, Christina, et al – I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with it. In fact I’m hard pressed to say that anything is. I’m just trying to soul search a bit and figure out my discomfort in an honest way. Not trying to offend but I can see where feathers get ruffled when we question other people’s choices. If you were an extended bfer, I would hope you’re confident enough with that decision that my opinion doesn’t matter.>>And Jaelithe, hell YEAH I understand what you did. Thanks for lending me that perspective.
I don’t have anything against extended nursing. I nursed my son until 15 months and would have nursed my daughter longer had she not weaned herself. What gets me is that he’s only getting 5% food. What about watermelon, chicken, fried, ice cream, Oreos or a gummy bear? My kids don’t eat a lot of junk, but I think it’s part of life and if they get a little here and there, they won’t purge on it later. >>Growing up, my mom had a candy drawer in the kitchen. My sister and I hardly touched it but my friends attacked it.
When I was 19 I taught English to some kids whose Mom was the co-ordinator or head something or other for La Leche League in Spain. She was still bf-ing the three year old, who participated in the lessons and for whom BAH-BAHs was part of a universal language. At the time, I was pretty weirded out by it, but then again, I was 19.>>Still, now, as a thirty-something (ahem) former milk pump, the idea of *95%* breastfeeding a toddler is somewhat discomfiting. Not the size of the child so much as the extent of the nursing. 95%? Can the child feed himself yet? CHEW? A 95% liquid diet can’t be truly good. Can we imagine a two-year old on a 95% FORMULA diet?>>FWIW, friend, you worried this topic beautifully and sensitively.
I think extended nursing is fine. I don’t have a problem with it at all.>>Personally, I was ready to wean both my kids at 12 and 14 months respectively, and thankfully they were ready then as well. I just wanted my boobs back. >>But a two-year-old getting 95% of his nutrition from breast milk just sounds — wrong. I have a hard time believing that is actually true.
The first time I saw a nursing toddler I almost fainted. Then I went to nurse my own kids forever, not because I planned it but because they just needed it so damned much. My oldest wasn’t interested at all in eating baby food, grown up food or anything, so I kept right on nursing him because I didn’t see how he wasn’t going to starve if we stopped. Then it turns out that babies with food allergies ( which he has many, as does my second child too) are reluctant to eat solid food. It’s a self protective reaction. Maybe her kid has allergies. >>Typically by two they nurse a few times a day, mostly waking up and going to sleep. Or maybe if they get hurt. But you know, as long as mother and child are on the same page, it can’t hurt anyone. I would have liked some of those extra IQ points myself.
I appreciate the openness and honesty in your response and thoughtful post, Liz.>>I have had experience with several families who have extended nursing well into toddler-hood (3yo and 6yo) and I had similar uncomfortable feelings. >>But, I think it’s worth it to say that I am also uncomfortable with my discomfort, if that makes sense. The last thing I would want to do is to judge another person’s choices to parent in a way that he/she sees fit.>>I appreciate that sensitivity in your post and follow-up comment as well.
At least she is getting good use out of those nursing bra you bought together, eh?
Fantastic post. And I love all the open discussion. I’m with you. It kinda weirds me out, but I feel a bit weirded out that I’m weirded out.
New Girl and SM – you nailed it. I’m uncomfortable being uncomfortable. I want to support my friend’s decisions, whatever they may be. >>I guess I’m only okay judging 50-something pregnant women, huh.
I ran into a friend lately who is still nursing her 2 year old and her 4 month old, sometimes tandem. I could understand extended nursing to a certain extent, as I probably will nurse my son past his first birthday. But I’ve seen kids running up to their mothers (and non-mothers!) and trying to lift up their shirts for a gulp. Ew. It should feel natural, but I still feel ew.
I can understand the ew factor of situations like that. Unfortunately, talking about it sooo much in sooo many places just perpetuates the problem that Americans have with breastfeeding in general. Would you be so offended at a 2 year old who still took the bottle? Would it gross you out? Would he be SO old as to generate a huge discussion over how he was manipulating his mother and if he was old enough to ask for the bottle, he’s too old to need it?>>No. That wouldn’t even be a discussion. You might, in passing, wonder when he was going to drop that habit, or the habit of sucking his thumb or pacifier, but you wouldn’t go on about how weird and unnormal it felt.>>I understand. You aren’t used to seeing a 2 year old almost exclusively breastfeeding. But this is pretty standard in a lot of the world, and in most species. >>It’s unfortunate that so many people are so vehement about it being wrong and gross. Because they’re WRONG. And they need to get over it.
Tracey, here’s where I respectfully have to disagree. Your points are excellent. And you are entitled to mention all the reasons that extended nursing is a good thing. But it’s not fair to tell anyone that her feelings are wrong, especially in capital letters. >>It’s not black and white issue where one side is right and one side is wrong. This is about comfort, and I think a lot of us are thoughtfully trying to explore our own conflicted feelings here.
For the record, I am wierded out by that and am not sure why. I do know I can’t imagine a 95% boob diet is healthy or serving his interests? Even if you overlook the nutritional aspect, what about gradually introducing him to textures and flavors?>>It’s my own personal opinion that if you can ask for it, you’re too old to be having it.
5% seems pretty crazy at 2 years old. Doesn’t the kid need more protein than that? And if nothing else, I can’t believe the kid watches other people eat and doesn’t ever want to join in. My two kids both love to join in on pretty much any activity.
I’m just having the greatest time imagining my mother’s reaction. I think her head would literally explode.>>A two year old who drinks almost all of his/her calories (from a breast, bottle or sippy) concerns me. And a two year old who apparently hasn’t seen the doctor for any sort of well-baby checkup concerns me. Plain and simple.
I miss nursing Dawson. He refused my breasts after four months of nursing. I think it had a lot to do with me going back to work and he preferred the bottle instead. >>I sometimes wish I could have nursed him until he was at least a year-and-a-half.>>But I get a little freaked out at first, too — about older toddlers nursing. >>I’m happy and somewhat jealous that other moms have been able to stick to it when I couldn’t.>>It’s just not something you see every day so that might be why it’s strange to us, initially.
The pediatrician comment weirded me out more, actually. It’s not that I didn’t make ANY decisions without consulting our ped, but it was nice to have some guidelines for what is expected.>>My issue with extended breastfeeding deals more with infantilizing toddlers and preschoolers. My nephew wasn’t feeling independent enough to wipe his own butt until he was five. His parents didn’t insist that he feed himself until his sixth birthday. He could do it, as proven by the extended visits at nana’s house where she expects kids to be kids, not babies, but as soon as his parents were around, he was back to “forgetting.”>>Because of that experience, I would only become sanctimommy about other people’s decisions to breastfeed on an extended basis if the kids weren’t meeting the appropriate social milestones. From what I gather, most kids who are self-weaned as toddlers are quite intelligent, independent creatures. There are so many other ways that parents hold their little ones back, and I don’t think breastfeeding is really one of them.>>That all being said, I’m kind of with you on the “ew” factor. I think every mommy is different and every mommy gets to make those decisions for herself and her kids. While *this* mommy loves attachment parenting and all of those joys, my body is still my own, and I don’t even share my bed with my kid. I don’t think it makes me a bad mommy, it just makes me different from those who have made other decisions.
Mom 101- I feel like I am the only one who took something completely different from your post. It sounds to me that you are concerned about your friendship with this woman being strained, due to parenting style differences. Yes, feeling uncomfortable is hard, but so long as your friend doesn’t judge you, and you are clearly trying not to judge her, keep at it. Hopefully you and she can continue on your happy friendship. It can be hard, but it can be over come. >You may also find that her son does eat more than 5% table food. >>Oh, and not for nothing, but about 80% of my youngest diet was formula untils he was 20 months old. Not because it was what she wanted, but what she needed. Long story there, but she’s doing just fine now, and eats us out of house and home. You know making up for lost time.>>Good luck to you and your friend trying to find a middle ground in which to meet, without judgement.
Yeah, yeah…everybody says to follow the baby’s lead…but I tell you that much…I wouldn’t want to have a little man still attached to my bob!>I have a 7 and a half monthis old and by 6 months he was much more inetersted in food then my boob….and I had absolutely no problem with it.>>I don’t know though, because at the end of the day you want the best for your baby and if that means more McMama juice…
mamacheryl – I’m with you entirely. >>and anothermomcreation – YES! In the end, that’s really all it’s about.
I’m with you on the feelings of discomfort and the discomfort over being, uh, uncomfortable. The topic of Parenting Choices I Would Not Personally Choose For Myself, Personally is very often on my mind; I want to be the accepting type of person who realizes all choices are right if they’re right for the family in question, but it takes work, you know?>>That said, the idea of my nearly-2-year-old hitting up my boobs for a midday snack is kind of frightening. I’ve SEEN what he does to his food. Plus, I swear to god he’s got a double row of teeth, like a shark.
I think never taking the kid to the pediatrician is weird and potentially damaging. And a two year old should be getting more food than 5% of his intake. I think that your squeamishness may be more rooted in those two things than the extended nursing. And the two year old might well not be nursing in public if he were getting an appropriate amount of food. I nursed my kid ’til she was nearly three…but it wasn’t providing much at all in the way of food – it was all about comfort.
As someone here said, I think I understand your concern with your friendship due to different parenting choices. I sometimes feel I need to apologize or explain or defend my parenting choices to my friends and I hate that awful feeling. I hate being judged for stopping breastfeeding so early (my own varied and complex reasons); for my 3 year-old using a pacifier and not yet being potty-trained; and for so much more.>>We can’t really stop these battles between moms until we stop judging each other, but then we can’t help our own feelings and thoughts can we?
When my daughter was little, I planned to nurse her until she was three or so. But around 13 months, it really seemed like everyone was ready to quit, so we did. She’s three now, and I can’t imagine nursing her — she’s big, and she’d no doubt be telling me if my milk had an off flavor from all the garlic I ate last night. But, whatever, if it works. I’m sure a lot of people don’t agree with the infrequency of our doctors’ office visits, either. We’ve had lots of well baby visits to make sure they’re fine, but after a while, I think, you know if they’re fine or not — and if they’re not, by all means, pay the doc a visit.
It’s crazy to think that a child who can ask for it is too old to have it: what is crying in a newborn? My son was nine months when he signed ‘milk’ to me. (He weaned himself at 22 months.)>>EBF is not wrong, nor is being wierded out by it. Just don’t judge. We’ve all done things we thought we would never do. The view is a lot different from this side.>>Mom101: thanks for talking about it. Thanks for being freaked. And thanks for not saying anything to your friend. She deserves to make her own decisions.
My son was bottle fed from the beginning, in large part because if the demands of my job at the time. So, I don’t feel qualified to have any opinion about when a woman should stop breast feeding her children. >>I do however want to comment on the “other species” comment above — that other species nurse their offspring for a long time. In fact, there is just as much diversity in the rest of the animal world as there is in the choices made by women reflected in the comments of this post. And just as much diversity even within a mammal species. >>An example from my own personal experience — I breed dogs. Generally speaking, the dam starts to pull away from the pups as soon as they start to get <> teeth. <> In the wild, she’d be weaning them. In the house, she’s telling her owner — start introducing these pups to solid food because I don’t want to be bitten. It can happen as early as 3 weeks with some mothers, while others put up with it until 5-6 weeks. Average, at least in my house, with my Scotties is about 4 weeks. Puppies weaned between 3-6 weeks is somewhere between 4-8 months in human terms. Other mammal species are different, and nurse for a far longer time. >>Bottom line: everyone makes different choices and like Liz was trying to do with her post, we just have to deal with our own discomfort with other people’s choices as best we can, without judging.
I don’t really believe that her son is “95%” breastfed. It is very hard to guage how much solids any baby gets in their mouth and actually swallows. Plus, I think many moms forget how small baby tummies are and how little solids they actually need. Finally, how does she know exactly how much milk her child is actually consuming? I think she was going for the shock value with that statement and, possibly, patting herself on the back a little too enthusiastically.>>I nursed my oldest until she was almost 4, my second until she was 3 and my third is still going strong at 22 months.>>My youngest is not much of a talker and has no verbal way of expressing that he wants to nurse. He pats me on the chest. Ergo, it is ok with all of you that he is still nursing, right?>>🙂>>OK, I know that sounds kind of b****y, but I think it makes about as much sense as claiming, as I hear so often, that they are too old to nurse when they are too old to ask for it. When is a baby not “asking” for it in some way or another? At 6 months they use little grunts, at 12 months the grunts may have become distinct, at 16 months they might say “nah nah” and they may or may not come up with their own word at 18 months. Heck, at 24 months they might be able to say “nurse” (though mine stuck with nah nah.) But, fellow mothers, when, exactly, is nursing this baby inappropriate? Where should I have drawn the line? Grunting was ok? But when I heard my oldest sat that first “nah” I should have ripped her off my chest???>>I understand people being uncomfortable. Heck, at 22 months I’m uncomfortable feeding my baby in front of other people because I’m sensative to the whole debate. But enough with passing judgement or being grossed out about it. I promise, when I look down at him nursing, I see the same sweet face I did 12 months ago. I feel the same surge of love I did 21 months ago. He is still my child and I am his mother, whether he can talk or not.>>To put it bluntly, I am not sexually excited by his nursing and whether people like to admit it or not, that thought is what makes them uncomfortable about extended breastfeeding. Because as someone said above, we don’t really care if a 2 year old uses their binky or bottle to comfort themselves.
I have to agree with you, its a little weird when they can tell you they want the ‘boob’. I say they need to be weaned when they start to tell you they want to nurse.
I’ll just say that a two year old who passes up Pirates Booty for the boob would make me a little uncomfortable too. It’s all about choices and we’re all entitled to make them, but I think it’s great that you didn’t say anything while weirded out. Most people would have. I am a bit weirded out myself, but I’m weirded out by a lot of things people do with their kids. The Pediatrician comment scared me a bit. Either way, I think it’s great that you bring up these topics.
I was convinced that weaning my DD at age 1 was the “right” thing to do, but at the same time I’d been fighting her since 2 months about thumb-sucking (which I’m adamantly opposed to – for MY kids – yours can do what you let them, haha!) – 2 things happened at more or less at the same time. She was pretty much finally giving up the thumb altogether, but when I started trying to wean, back went the thumb, about 15 hours a day. And, I came across several old copies of Mothering Magazine, which strongly advocates baby-lead weaning. It became quickly very clear to me that she just wasn’t ready, and really, neither was I.>>DD ended up gradually giving it up on her own at about age 3; DS also gave it up at age 3. >>All that said, however, my big issue with women breastfeeding in front of others is those who “flaunt” it, rather than being as discreet as possible about what’s happening. Kind of hard to do, I guess, when the kid’s running up to Mom and saying he’s hungry! But, not really – she could still have him on her lap and raise a shirt from the waist and cover them both with a blanket/shawl/towel/something! In my not at all humble opinion.>>Oh, and yeah – 95%?? That’s crazy! Wonder what height/weight percentile he’s in – but, she’ll never know, will she? if she’s not doing well-baby visits. Interesting…
I understand what you mean when you say you are uncomfortable by EBF, and that you’re uncomfortable with BEING uncomfortable. I think I would feel the same way. I also think it’s more of seeing a woman hiking her shirt up infront of me and having a toddler sucking away on her breast that would put me on edge (same feeling I think I would have even if it was an infant and she just ripped off her shirt and shoved the boob in). Discreet, discreet, discreet.>>I’m all for nursing, I wish I had stuck out through the pain to continue feeding my kids (where were these people that had the immense pain when *I* was going through it?!?! Instead of hearing “It shouldn’t hurt!” GRR!!). But, personally, I felt like I wanted my boobs back after one week of hellish bf’ing and I don’t think that *I* would have lasted longer than a few months before I felt like I was going insane. But that’s ME.>>Bf’ing or NOT shouldn’t be a competition. But, our feelings are our own. You can’t tell us to feel a certain way about any issue, as long as we don’t tell you you’re wrong. Mom101 didn’t do that, at all.
As many others here have said, it’s ultimately up to each mom to decide when and how to stop breastfeeding, based on what’s best for the child and for her. >>But I find that “no doctors” comment to be extremely troubling. Unless this family’s excuse is that they simply don’t have health insurance (and even then, there are some free clinic resources available, particularly in NYC I would imagine) I personally find it very hard to justify never taking this child to see a pediatrician.
I too would be weirded out by seeing a toddler nurse. However, I also recognize that this is a culturally influenced reaction. And it’s our culture that’s strange. The average age of weaning world-wide is something like 2 1/2 years. And that’s with easily grossed out Americans bringing down the average. Not only is there nothing wrong with extended breastfeeding, but when you look beyond our own society, it’s completely normal.
Extended nursing doesn’t bother me. I weaned my second just after 1 year, but I can see the appeal in continuing, particularly if the babe still wants to do so. I guess different kids are different, but really both of my kids were more interested in playing and running around than in sitting still to nurse by 1!>>But the 95% thing is worrisome. Unless there’s a medical issue like Jaelithe mentioned, a 2 year old really should be eating food. And not eating much food at that age can cause more problems down the line.
Okay, I’ll admit it. My first reaction was “Ew” or maybe “Huh?” or “wow”. But not because I thought it was disgusting but because I’m just not used to seeing a woman BFing her toddler so comfortably. Obviously it’s my hang-up. And this is coming from a woman whose MIL is a former La Leche League leader from the old days. You can imagine how long my husband was breastfed for.>>The point that troubled me most was the 95% of his nourishment thing. I can’t quite wrap my head around that one.
You know, I don’t think that “ew” reaction has to be rooted in anything deep. It’s just something that <>happens<> when we witness something that is (a) unfamiliar, and (b) intimate. >>It reminds me of the way I felt the first time I attended a church where people clapped their hands during the songs. I had never seen that done and it seemed so profoundly WRONG that I wanted to run out of the building. I talked myself out of it, and after a month or two I was totally used to it. It was an instructive incident – it taught me that my discomfort in response to things that violate my norms doesn’t necessarily mean anything: it doesn’t mean those things are wrong, and it doesn’t mean that I have some kind of deep-seated opposition to them either.
I’m with you. I am all for breastfeeding but now that my son is almost one-I am preparing to wean him. I agree there are reasons why some parents might do it longer but in my opinion, if your kid can ask for it by name-he’s ready to be on a normal diet. You have to watch the video on Extraordinary Breastfeeding. I have it on my blog here: >>< HREF="http://jensenblu.blogspot.com/2007/04/extraordinary-breastfeeding.html" REL="nofollow">Extraordinary Breastfeeding<>>>If the two year old shocked you-this will REALLY shock you. I couldn’t believe it.
Oh Bub and Pie…always with the smart comments. Stop that; you make the rest of us look bad.
This is just such a coincidence because this is what Bossy is always trying to tell her husband: He is just too old for breast feeding!
Liz,>Obviously your topic was a hot button and, as always, handled with insight and hilarity. >>I only breast fed for 3 months (went back to work and couldn’t navigate the pumping/freezing/expressing thing). I do remember once I weaned my son longing desperately for that attachment and intimacy it gave me.>>However, I guess I wonder whether the moms who feel that “it’s what their child wanted” would allow them the same decision-making authority in other areas of their young lives? Do they go to bed when they feel like it? Go out in winter in a t-shirt because they don’t feel like wearing a coat? >>Ladies, my son is now seven and the battles become tougher and tougher. However, it is our job as parents to guide them and decide for them until they are really equipted to do it themselves.>>I truly respect every mom’s right to do what feels right for her, I just caution about letting kids who still can’t control their bowels control their lives.
Just wanted to add a couple of things:>>1.) Let’s all remember that the World Health Organization does recommend breastfeeding until the age of two, and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends nursing for a year or more. And, as other people have mentioned, it is absolutely the norm in many other parts of the world for children to be nursed to age two or older. In some parts of the world, there is no cow’s milk in the traditional diet, so there is no convenient way to get growing toddlers the essential fatty acids they need for brain development and the calcium they need for growing bones besides breastmilk. Here in the U.S. we start replacing breastmilk with cow’s milk at an early age. Drinking the milk of another animal is actually no weirder than extended breastfeeding; we’re just too accustomed to it to notice. Breastfeeding to age two or three is what our species is designed to do and should, theoretically, therefore not cause any developmental issues. >>(However, I believe toddlers SHOULD be getting more than 5% of their caloric intake from solid food unless they have a health issue that prevents them from doing so.)>>2.) My son started talking at nine months, so I have to jump on the bandwagon in criticizing the “If they can ask for it, they’re too old” maxim. Many children are perfectly capable of talking well before they are a year old, and it’s only usually considered “extended” nursing if you do it after a year. >>3.) There is nothing wrong with being freaked out when someone violates a cultural taboo you have been encouraged by pretty much your entire society to be squeamish about for your pretty much your whole life. It’s part of being human. I think the key is just to try and remember that you are freaked out because it is a taboo, and not necessarily because the action you are witnessing is actually “wrong.”
BIG EEW. YOU ARE A GOOD FRIEND FOR NOT OUT RIGHT ASKING TO HER FACE WHAT THE HECK SHE IS DOING NURSING A 2 YEAR OLD. I TYPED WHILE NURSING TOO BUT DON’T MISS THOSE DAYS. WHEN DONE I USED CABBAGE LEAVES TO HELP DRY UP-IT WORKED! GOOD LUCK AND I ENJOY YOUR BLOG
my 2 older kids were quitters – one at 11 months the other at 10.. they left me high and.. well not dry so i’ve never faced the personal decision to extended nurse. My son is a big breast man so i may be musing this very thing over in 1.5 years
Would just like to add that the only reason anyone has a choice not to vaccinate their kid is because a majority of people still do, hence the kid is surrounded by other kids who can’t pass on measles, etc. If we all opted not to ‘do’ doctors, we’d be back in the midst of epidemics. –MB, M.D.
At least in ancient near eastern history, weaning was something generally done between 2-5 years old, or so the experts tell me (I’m not entirely sure how they know). “Extended nursing” used to be just the normal way of doing things. It makes sense, especially in societies where the food supply was not always reliable.>>I think it weirds us out (me too) because our culture stresses independence as maturity, even at an early age. We expect out children to grow up and leave us for “lives of their own,” and there are dozens of ways we acculturate them for this: early weaning, sleeping in their own bed, years of schooling outside the home.>>None of these things are strictly natural, but they help to accomplish a goal: independence from us. Seeing people who have made choices against this unquestioned goal feels disconcerting. It challenges something most of us leave unquestioned.
The nursing doesn’t bother me at all. But the “We don’t do” the pediatrician? WTF?
My kids are 22 months apart – like yours. I nursed my older son until about 17 months or so until I was 4-5 months pg with the 2nd.>>After the 2nd was born and about 3 months old, I started attending LLL. The leader had a little girl the same age as my older son and her little girl still nursed. It just seemed so odd to me that our kids were the same age and my son seemed “too old” for that.>>Fast forward 2 years, and it’s my younger son who is still nursing. He would say “nuss?” starting at about 9 months (the kid was very verbal very young, you’d think he’d be smarter now or something). He didn’t pull up my blouse – I think that is rude and would not allow it, but I usually nursed him when he asked. It just felt right.>>He was always a big eater – even now at almost 7. So while he was nursing 4-5 times a day at 2 years of age, he was eating a lot of solids as well.>>It’s one of those things that most of us think will never be us. I never thought I’d nurse a child for 28 months, but it was just one day after the other and suddenly it had been 28 months.>>He says he remembers nursing and that at times he misses it. I doubt he’s being honest, but I’ll occasionally still hold him in a nursing hold and nuzzle his head and whisper with him – I think that keeps the memory alive for him to a certain extent.>>If I were to get pregnant again (please God, no), I’m sure I’d nurse until around 2 and older or younger depending upon their cues (I do regret that I weaned DS2 before he was ready, but I caved to societal pressure and his teeth really paid for it).
First, sorry to hear about the pain. >>If it is possible to be sensitive to someone else’s choices and still say, “Ewww,” I think you pulled it off.>>I think that it is pretty within the range of normal world-wide. I am also a bit surprised by the 95%, mine has been yanking food out of my hand for a while and she is only 10 mos, but I think nursing a two year old is great.>>Can’t say I am personally going to do that…we’ll cross that bridge when and if we come to it.>>At any rate, I hope you do not get flamed for acknowledging both your intellectual understanding of a situation and your gut reaction.>>That being said, I do wish that those who are outright criticizing mothers who choose extended breastfeeding would do a little research before they rush to judgement.
My daughter nursed late and I gave a ton of thought to this–no one ever had the nerve to say anything to my face but I’m sure we were the topic of many “ew” based conversations.I think at least part of the “ew” factor is that when you see a 2-year-old nurse, you’re just seeing the 2-year-old nurse. It’s hard to see it in the entire context of his infancy and nursing. If you’re around the baby/toddler on a daily basis, I think it seems a little more natural and a little less “ew.” It’s just something a little easier to take for granted when you see it through the whole progression.>>(Pointless, but somewhat amusing aside, my word verification is “EWonit.”)
I totally know what you’re saying! >>And thanks SO much for commenting on my website! I feel like I should apologise for my banner picture, I made it as a joke when I first started writing and now I have no idea how to change it. Anyway, ee, the Sebastian Bach thing was so cool! I was at the Rainbow in LA and he was there, and he was hitting on this girl I had made friends with, and I got to sit at his table and talk with him and his friends for a couple of hours. It was like, the best thing ever. He even told us not to write about him online, because he hates it, to which I totally went silent. Also, I was so drunk I called him up on being rude to some fans who came over, and then I was like, WHAT AM I DOING? TELLING SEBASTIAN WHAT TO DO? But he was really nice about it and explained why they were bugging him and he called me “honey doll” so I was well pleased!>>And I don’t know if I ever even said this in any of my comments, but congratulations on the new babe!>>End of hijacking your comments.
hey! I had a long and deeply intelligent comment in here, but evidently i am not intelligent enough to do the fricking word verification before clicking offsite.>>anyway–what bub said, and what jaelithe said–especially number 3. >>god i live these intelligent women we’ve got around us, y’know?
Here are MY problems with it. >>He said Boobie. He calls nursing boobie. That is ewww-worthy. I have no problem with kids self-weaning when they’re ready, but Boobie.= ick. >>I had a friend whose daughter walked up and demanded Boobie Juice at every turn and it was a big issue when the Waldorf school they chose for their child expected all kids to be weaned for pre-K. It’s not Boobie Juice, it’s milk. And it’s not Boobie!- teach the kid to say he wants to nurse if he’s verbal. >>Second… 95% just seems like too much. After a year of age, kids need to learn how to eat. >>One of my closest friends is a pediatrician and he gave me some of the best advice ever, even though it was tough to follow… he believes that every child should take 1 feeding per day from another person, even if it’s pumped breast milk, in case there is an emergency and you can’t be there… He’s seen too many families where a major catastrophe has occurred and 100% breast-fed, nursed to sleep kids/babies suffer trauma from not having the on demand breasts there. His own wife was in a car accident and broke her leg when their youngest was 3 months old. She was hospitalized for two days and on pain meds so she had to pump and dump. The baby was okay, though because she was used to taking a bottle from someone else… it took one complication out of the mix and she went back to nursing when he mom got back home. >>Boobie. eww.
You know extended breastfeeding is not weird.>And in fact I nursed mine until nearly 4. I believe in the doctor and *most* vaccinations.>Get off your high horse, because you don’t do it does not mean it is wrong, if you don’t like it then leave the room.>Grow up
Cape Buffalo – does your husband come up and say, ‘Hey darling, may I fondle your bodacious mammary glands for a bit?’>>I nursed until last week. Bee is 2. We were both ready to stop, but if she wasn’t we would have kept going. And I’m 4 1/2 months pregnant. Doesn’t make me a saint, just makes me a mom.
“none”: 70 thoughtful commenters of varying opinions and you are the very first with nothing of value to add. I’d say that leaves you in the minority, whatever your views.>>I may delete your comment if only because it paints you as an idiot. >>I’m nice that way.
Did you know that if you throw the US out of the equation, the rest of the world’s average age at weaning is 4 years and 2 months. So extended breastfeeding isn’t wierd, early weaning is. America just has the most overly sexual interpretation of breasts. They’re just a bunch of fat and milk ducts and they’re there to feed kids, not as hood ornaments. Even WHO reccommends nursing at LEAST 2 years. The US is just wierd.
oh and my kids aren’t vaccinated, and have had several of the vaccine preventable illnesses. Give me rubella over a cold any day!
wow! so anything the US doesnt do is ewww… i find that amusing coming from a country that has only been around 200 years, has the highest divorce rates, kids shooting kids, adultery, growing unemployment, parents being put away in old age homes, children in day care… the list is endless. perhaps your country needs a lesson in doing what is natural and doing it happily… eewww indeed!
Hey Liz, >Thanks for the link! >>Thought I’d tell you this little story. About a month before I stopped nursing my 22 month old, I was with my 7 year old reading him a story. I told him I had to go put the baby to bed and he said why can’t dad just do it. And I said, well, I nurse her at bedtime. >>You should have seen his face. I hadn’t nursed her in front of him in 6+ months. His face definitely said “ew.” I wished I never told him!>>It was really funny though. 🙂
I only got about halfway through the comments, and my boobs started to ache. Ugh, the thought of having to nurse a second one…. I remember crying every time the Beaner latched on for about the first six weeks, and then apparently the tits toughened up. My bitchin’ gyno said the same thing happened to her for *all four kids* — one of the many reasons we probably won’t be having a second one.>>Re: extended nursing, I know there are those who support it wholeheartedly and set out to do it — as it sounds like your friend is doing — but I think many who otherwise would have said “ew!” find themselves doing it because it seems right for them and their kids. My sister-in-law was super-judgemental about extended breastfeeders, for example, and then ended up nursing her kid until he was 2.5. My goal was to nurse for 12 months if possible, and then reassess. The Beaner went cold turkey at about 12 months, 5 days on his own, so I never had to agonize over it. At that point I was more than happy to have my boobs back.
some of this post is directed to the commenters, some to mom101.>>seems like i post this link on a regular basis, especially to counterpoint comments like those of the dog breeder:>http://www.kathydettwyler.org/detwean.html>>from Katherine Dettwyler, PhD, Department of Anthropology,>Texas A and M University>>commentary: “A Natural Age of Weaning”>>to sum it up, PRIMATES, especially large ones, like chimps, orangs and gorillas, wean at the equivalent to 5 or 6 in humans, when they reach certain milestones:>>*age of first permanent molar eruption (not baby aka” milk” teeth).>*reach 1/3 of adult weight.>*reach halfway to age of sexual maturity.>*reach age of full immune function (=~6).>*and other such comparisons (see link).>>the US/western view of nursing is a cultural, not biological construct, and flies in the face of what our species was designed for. humans are designed to nurse frequently (ie up to 40x/day), in 1-2 min sessions for a long time. “self weaning” before that is mother led/culturally led weaning. there’s also anthropological evidence (bones) from native american and other tribal sites that indicate humans got most of their nutrition from milk (and i don’t mean bovine) until 21 mos of age (from “our babies, ourselves,” by meredith smalls). what foods would you have the toddler eat that are so nutrient dense? cow milk? cheese? yogurt? pediasure? …see a theme there? >>pediatricians are taught to diagnose disease. if you don’t vaccinate (another big debate), and your child’s healthy, there’s little reason to see one. they aren’t taught parenting in school, they learn about 3 hrs’ lecture about breastfeeding, and they’ll tell you themselves that the well baby visits are scheduled strictly to match the vax schedule. if you don’t vax, they will say to come in 1-2x/year, so that they have a bit of a record, in case your child does get sick or injured.>>i see a lot of comments implying that by “failing” to wean early (and it IS early for our species, if it’s less than 2 years MINIMUM), mothers are doing their kids a disservice, “suffering,” etc. >>did mom101’s friend sound like she was suffering? no, and neither will most of the child led weaner’s you’ll meet (many of whom you may have already met, and just don’t know it, because they are protecting you from your “eeeewwwww” feelings by being “discreet”). and no one can “force” a child to nurse if they’re ready to stop, but you CAN substitute other sources of food and comfort, until the child is not used to the idea of free access to nursing, and so rarely asks (ie just at bedtime), and thus wean a child early with little drama. just don’t call it self-weaning, and try to open your mind to those who choose a different, biologically normal, path.>>sorry this is so long. 😉 resa
I have two boys, 4.5 and 1.5 yr. olds, and they both nurse. My oldest son only nurses in the morning when we wake up, but he was nursing 12 times a day until 3.5 when I was too overwhelmed nursing my 6 mo. old to be able to nurse him as much as he wanted. My 1.5 yr. old nurses on demand, many, many times a day. His diet is probably 50% breastmilk, 50% food– but he eats a LOT more solids than mose nursing toddlers (for breakfast yesterday, he nursed, ate a bowl of cereal and SEVEN pancakes, then nursed again). >>My oldest called nursing “Boob!” when he started talking, but around his second birthday, I taught him to say, “May I please nurse?” instead of screaming “Boob!” My little guy has been saying “nurse!” from the beginning. >>Like others have posted, the WHO recommends 2+ years of breastfeeding, and there have been studies that show psychological benefits to children who nurse. >>I don’t understand the “ew” reaction, but I guess if you aren’t used to something it might freak you out. I have to admit that I am a little grossed out by plastic nipples (bottles, pacifiers), but we’re a plastic-free family and something about them just seems perverse.
Well as I commented on the way out the door last time, because my son needed to go to the doctor, if you want to delete my comments please feel free to do so.>I am in no way offended. When I had my son I thought I would bf for about 6 weeks, it turned out that it was much longer. I find it sad that a woman has a problem with extended breastfeeding as it is the norm around the world. I find it sad as someone who extended breastfed I was shamed almost into thinking it was the wrong way to deal with my child that it was weird. I felt like I had to hide as not to be offensive to people who do not “believe in breastfeeding past 6 or 12 months”
Yup. We have good friends who have a 26 month old who still breastfeeds a few times a day, mostly as a comfort thing. But I have to say the first time I saw her walk up and ask for the boob, it made me feel funny too. And then, like you I felt guilty for feeling funny because in the end, a child that’s breastfed for three or four years and otherwise well cared for isn’t going to suffer any long term damage. And it’s another mother’s decision to make. But I’m with you. If I make it to a year I’ll be lucky.>Oh, and I’m headed to a LLL meeting tomorrow night, so I’m sure I will see quite a few extended breastfeeders. I have to say though, I am relieved at the idea that I’ll be able to feed Myles in public without covering myself and him a la Michael Jackson.
i read this yesterday and ever since then my mind has been exploding with all kinds of different thoughts. >first: there is nothing wrong with being weirded out when you see someone nursing a fairly old child. there is no rule anywhere that you have to be ok with the choices of other people. (and for the record, i’m not ok with a 4 year old nursing. thats just me) you can be respectfull, and if it were me, i would ask how they came to that decision and how they felt about it. just so that i could at least understand. but i still wouldn’t like it.>second: there have been several comments about how other countries don’t wean until 22-24 months or older. and other comments about other animals and how they nurse. ok, we don’t live in those countries and we are not animals. maybe some of those countries do not have the resources we do for other things. but here we have formula, cows(organic and hormone free too) milk, soy milk, rice milk….the list goes on. >third: if the reason that you are nursing for an extended period of time is for comfort, there are so many other options out there. why not just hold your child? a special toy, blanket or pillow? yeah, its not your boob. and i really believe that the other options are, dare i say, better than sucking on their moms boob. >fourth: if the reason that you are extending your breastfeeding is because your child has not yet self weaned, i kind of have a few issues with that. so, he/she is four, and you are giving him/her the control as to when they are done? do you let them choose when they go to bed? what they eat? when you need to leave the house? what they wear no matter what the weather? where you go? seriously, how is a toddler able to make those choices?? they aren’t. they don’t know how to do that yet. to me i see this as a parent just giving them what they want to make the kid happy. would you give them candy everytime they asked for it? of course not. but it is the same thing, but its your milk, your body, and you are allowing a toddler/child make the choice for an adult. an adult that is educated, mature and in all other ways better able to make that decision. >each child is different, and each has its specific situation. there may be a real need to nurse for longer than a year. or even two. but when its just for comfort or when they can actually use words and walk up to their mom and ask for it, i really think that it going a little too far. >i personally nursed my kids until right before they were one. my kids LOVE food. i had no problems weaning them, and they are still great eaters. i’m pretty sure if i had let them continue to nurse they would have. but i made the decision. not my 12 month old baby. >i’m sure there will be others that pick apart what i have said. but i didn’t see anyone else bringing up these points, and i thought that i would throw them out there.
If the kid is old enough to say, “momumy boobie” it’s time to stop. Give the kid some real food, let him experience fresh fruit and veggies… grow alittle independence.. I have nothing else to say other than some people march to the beat of their own drum and you have to do what’s right for you, but I have a feeling that kid’s gonna be breastfeeding in kindergarden and not for his benefit…his mom’s sick benefit…I’m done now and your comment about how you don’t care if people breastfeed or about how if they CAN’T, here’s a eye opener, some people don’t WANT to..Imagine that…what awful mothers….
Anon 10:26: “can’t breastfeed for whatever reason” includes any emotional issue with it, not just physical, as I’ve said in this blog many times. But thanks for opening my eyes, as you put it. You seem quite educated and well-informed on the subject so feel free to lend your expertise any time.
Terina,>>1) I understand people are weirded out and so I, personally, try to keep nursing my toddler a private affair. But I don’t hide the fact that I still nurse him – if this topic comes up (as it did at book club last week), I make a point of claiming my choice, just to make it more common, more acceptable since I would think people see me as a fairly normal, average mother.>>2) Nursing your toddler is not about the nutrition. That is just a bonus.>>3) Wow – your right! a “binky” does sound so much more comforting than the option of “sucking on your mom’s boob”. That is why in my house we use more gentle and loving terms for this beautiful relationship. “Sucking on your mom’s boob” is such a horrible way to describe a nursing relationship – whether the child is 3 months old or 3 years old.>>4) My children did not manipulating me into nursing them longer than I want to. I tandem nursed after having my second child. I did not enjoy that, so I weaned my second daughter before my third was born. She was three, she wanted to continue nursing, but I said no because it wasn’t going to work for *me*. The length of time a mother nurses is as much up to her as it is her child. The child AND the mother must want to continue the relationship. Which leads me to another point – I *like* nursing my toddlers! I love the closeness, the cuddles, the grins, the patting. Of course, these things could happen if we didn’t nurse, but dang it, why can’t they happen while we nurse? Why does it have to be wrong?>>-Sara
sara: thanks for responding!! i actually do prefer to use the word “nursing” instead of breastfeeding just because it sounds better. i think i just had so many thoughts, my fingers got a little crazy. 🙂 >i am glad that in your situation, you were the one calling the shots. i feel like that is a responsible thing to do. i guess i’m selfish about my body. i really don’t understand why the closeness has to come from letting them nurse. i also don’t want my kids to have to depend on me for comfort. i want them to come to me, but at some point, they need to figure things out for themselves. nursing at bedtime is fine and great, but if it keeps the mom at home instead of maybe out with her husband or perhaps taking a few hours to do something for herself, that to me is giving way too much. a mother needs to get away from her kids form time to time to continue to be a good mother. our husbands get weekends and days off from work. being a mom shouldn’t stop us from taking some sanity time. and to be honest, i just don’t see how mothers that have children 3 and 4 years of age (and have more than one child) have the time to sit down and nurse that child. i feel like i am constantly going and going. >so, if there are mothers that are willing to make those kind of sacrifices, that is their choice. i hope it works for them. i just feel that there are so many options out there for us that we should take advantage of them. >yay for moms like you sara. the problem is that there are those that are not, and that is where i stuggle understanding the “why” of the whole thing.
As much as it’s beautiful and natural and all, after the age of three it’s disturbing to witness. >>Like the 4-year old who crawls under his mom’s tankini top for a little poolside suckage after swimming lessons. Or the 3 1/2-year old who asks for his mother’s “milkers” at the dinner table. >>In this country, it’s unusual – and hence, disturbing – to witness the public nursing of preschoolers.
terina,>>because you mentioned my post in your response, and you seem to be somewhat open to discussion, let’s discuss:>>and to give you an idea of who i am, i have 2 girls, 28mos (nursing) and nearly 6 (weaned by me 15mos ago). the 2yo nurses 4-10 times/day. it takes 2-5 min most often, and longer (15min) about 3 times. my older girl nursed ~twice/day when she was 3, and at bedtime only when she was 4. this frequency was determined by both of us together.>>1)i, too, am weirded out” by other people’s choices at times. some of those choices i don’t agree with might be bottle feeding, spanking, expecting very young ones to “comfort themselves” (and ignoring crying to “teach” this) from a desire for the child to “be independant,” feeding fast food/very processed foods. watching TV a lot (subjective of course). so, like you, i am respectful, but i don’t like it, and don’t raise my kids that way.>>2a)we don’t live in “those” countries, but thankfully, in THIS country i can make my childrearing choices to reflect my values, and not to strictly follow someone/everyone else’s perception of what i am “SUPPOSED” to do. and since what we are supposed to do changes with every generation (or faster), it’s not very absolute.>>2b) we ARE animals, we ARE primates. the size of our brains (and hence our language, technology, buildings, etc.) does not mean we are immune to the effects of substandard nutrition, and premature weaning. why do i want to value the milk of a cow, and devalue the milk of MY species? rice and soy milks are heavily processed foods, and do not replace the nutrition of milk. i don’t consider them “resources” that i want to spend money on, when i have something better, and it’s free! and that’s not even covering the immune factors in my milk, or the allergy fighting properties, or the effects on the jaw (less orthodontia needed), or on breast and ovarian cancer risk (lessens per year nursing, not per child) for both me AND my daughter, or diabetes, osteoporosis…>>3) why “just hold my child,” if i feel nursing is better at that time? why insist i replace myself with a toy/etc. to comfort my child? i, too, can choose disrespectful words to argue with, and call the replacements “neglectomatic” (baby swings), “sucking on a hunk of plastic” (pacifier). i may even use some of them at times, but i don’t consider them “better” than i am for my child.>>4) obviously you view nursing as something wrong (like candy? staying up past bedtime?), or wrong after the age YOU are comfortable with nursing until (“a year, or even two”), that a mother must put a stop to. i disagree. i consider it a “good/right” thing. i set the limits i need to, to be in balance with both my and my child’s needs. just as reading “just one more” book may push my limit, sometimes i may not nurse when my child wants. but i give my kids a lot of room (with guidance) to make decisions and choices when i can (clothes, what to eat), so they learn how to be good decision makers. i don’t deny my children a hug or kiss when they ask for it, and i don’t deny them nursing just because someone else thinks i should. >>5) “getting away” from my child: i do this when i need to. i don’t have to wean to do it. i go to work once/week, after ?20mos, i didn’t even need to pump, and i am gone for 15 hours. the next day my child will nurse 4-10 times again. and i’ll read 3-5 books, tickle, wrestle, do diaper/potty duty, get her (and her sister) snacks/meals… sometimes i’ll be busy and delay/deny requests for any of those things (except the potty!), but i don’t see myself being restricted by her need to nurse any more than by ALL her and her sister’s childish needs.>>sorry mom101, another long post! i hope this does give insight into “why” for those curious/interested. to those in this discussion with closed minds, well, we can disagree.>>~resa
Heh heh… I love the comments. I think you’ve just voiced what goes on in many people’s heads. I thought nursing a toddler was just EWWWW– then I had kids and it seems less that way when it’s your life/spawn, I guess. >>All I can say is that unless my left boob made banana yogurt and my right made ice cream, there is no way my little guy would be 95% breastfed at two. He self-weened at 14 months. I probably would have gone longer, but he had different ideas, so I followed his lead. But after that, man was it good to enjoy a margarita again! :>) >>Little P is a big nurser, too, so not entirely sure how long we’ll go this time. It’s hard for me to look at my two year old (who now looks GIANT compared to a two week old) and imagine nursing that long. He’s so hyper, I fear I’d lose a nipple.
resa:>down deep i guess i’m just a moderate type of person. i guess nursing for such an extended period of time just seems excessive. and maybe i’m selfish. i want my body back. they had it for 9 months in the womb, and for a year after. thats a lot of time. and i guess the logistics of nursing that long make it a little overwhelming. how much do you have to eat to keep up with that?? nursing can deplete our resources so i know its important to drink a lot of water and really make sure that you’re replacing everything that they take. >>i never felt i was valuing cows milk more than my milk. i just felt that my milk had done its job, and that it was time to move on. and really, if they are eating 3 good meals a day with snacks, drinking water, there isn’t any need for nursing. they are getting all they need. >>ok, and i will have to disagree on one thing flat out. i do not believe that we are primates. we are human beings. and even though our bodies and our systems may be similar, we have the capability to reason. this is something that i feel much more than it is probably supported by science. but i also think that it is very obvious. >>the decisions we make regarding our children should not be taken lightly, and i think it is great that the mothers that have commented in favor of extended nursing seem to have put a lot of thought into it before they started, and are willing to take the time to do it. i will however stick to what i said at the beginning of this comment. i am all for moderation. too much of anything (chocolate, alcohol, drugs, meat, sports, exercise, video games, work, candy, milk, bread….) no matter how good it is, is never good.
terina:>>excessive: this is very subjective, and based on what you see as “normal,” which is cultural. because of the pressure to wean in the US, people hide their nursing, so it isn’t seen (and when it is seen, it gets blogged about, and ~30 commenters express “eewwww”). so goes the vicious cycle. if you were born 40 years ago, you wouldn’t have seen ANY nursing, and you may have viewed nursing an infant as excessive and “eeewwww.” you might also have started rice cereal and orange juice at 3 weeks, as per your pediatrician’s orders. maybe when your grandchildren are born, toddler/preschooler nursing will be as accepted by “moderates” as infant nursing is today.>>logistics: i don’t feel i eat/drink that much, i just go by thirst/hunger. it’s not like the newborn period.>>getting all they need: again, subjective viewpoint. i like knowing that when my child is exposed to a pathogen (like when she licks a monkey bar!), she has my white blood cells and antibodies right there in her throat and GI tract to help fight any illness. i like knowing i’m helping lessen her allergies, and might avoid asthma. there’s more to it than that, but this post will be long enough without it. here’s LLL’s page on with a lot of info/links if you’re interested:>http://www.llli.org/NB/NBextended.html>and here’s some kellymom pages:>http://www.kellymom.com/bf/bfextended/index.html>http://www.kellymom.com/bf/bfextended/ebf-benefits.html#nutrition>>primates: from wikipedia: “humans are bipedal primates belonging to the mammalian species Homo sapiens (Latin: “wise man” or “knowing man”) in the family Hominidae (the great apes).” your body is a primate body, and your health (and your kids’) depends on treating it the way it was designed to be treated. “reason” can extend to deciding not let cultural pressures deprive my child and myself of our nursing relationship.>>what makes it “too much of a good thing?” this is SO subjective. we all judge each other, and think we have the right balance on things, and that others eat/do “too much” meat, exercise, video games… (?clothes in my closet, ?time online, eek!).>>time: don’t you spend time cuddling your toddler? isn’t it a great use of your time? and when mine gets a big hurt (like falling off a chair), i can calm her in seconds, almost as soon as she latches on, sometimes even during that looonnnng pause after the first scream. if i couldn’t nurse her, she’d cry a lot longer.>>to be clear, i’m NOT arguing that YOU should have nursed longer. you made your choice, based on your life. you nursed a lot longer than most in the US do. what i’m arguing is that MY (and the bloggers friend’s) nursing is NOT excessive.>>~resa
I loved Resa’s comment about how 40 years ago people thought nursing an infant was “Ewwww”. So true! My grandmother thought it was *disgusting* that my mother would even consider nursing me at all in 1970.>>Do you see how your opinion is very, very cultural? My grandmother couldn’t understand why anyone would nurse when scientists had developed formula. But hey! We are making progress – if we keep this up, in another 37 years my daughters may not have to defend their choice to nurse my grandchildren past the age of 12 months…>>Too much of a good thing? Can you give too many kisses? Can you give too many hugs? Can you read too many books? Can you play too many games? Obviously if you are sitting there saying “Yes! Kisses given every 2 minutes 24/7 is too much! Haha, I’m right!”, then I would have to agree but would then ask you to please be reasonable and realistic. We extended breastfeeders (EB) know that is not what we are talking about. We struggle with striking the right balance – I haven’t met any EB mom who lifts her shirt whenever/wherever. Not doubting that there are some out there, but there are always people in the world who take things to the extreme. Just because there are those types (and I would defend their choice too!), though, doesn’t mean that it is wrong for everyone. >>Please don’t worry about my free time. I assure you, I go out as much as any of my friends, none of whom nurse their children very long. At 22 months, my son is able to go to sleep without me and nurses sporadically, based on emotional needs, not hunger. I go to evening book club meetings, “dates” with my husband, happy hours with my friends and would do weekends away – if the money were available :). None of these happen often enough for part of my brain and too often for the other part. But doesn’t every mother struggle with that balance? >>The point though, is that nursing a toddler is not like nursing a baby under the age of 1. He eats solids, he won’t starve if I’m out, but he will miss me – thus I’m always anxious to get home – just like *any* mother.>>Sara
I am the “you” in a 20-year friednship.>>My friend makes nettle tea when she gets congested, I grab the Sudafed.>>We differ on almost everything, but not our friendship. And to us, that’s all that matters.>>I hope it will be the same for you and your friend.>>Carrie
Here, here! to all the great posts on the excessive benefits of nursing–extended included!>>My 31 month old daughter just weaned 2 weeks ago. I’m 7 months preggers and I dried up several months ago. >>She’s been nursing less and less since around 2 (and then I finally became fertile and *could* get pregnant!) and I’ve encouraged this weaning because I don’t think I could handle the demands of tandem nursing a toddler and a newborn. Way to go to the moms that can though!>>I have had my views and my “ew” threshold changed over and over since becoming a mom. Before pregnancy I thought 6 months for nursing was plenty, then a year since the docs said so, and then at a year it just seemed way too soon for my avid nurser–a year is so much younger when your own baby hits that age–and it would have been something she and I would both be sad losing, so I kept it up. It never got to the point where I felt “ew” about it, so we didn’t stop until it became less important to my daughter.>>Even our own AAP states that nursing to 3 and beyond has no negative psychological effects, so that’s never been a concern for me. But I think their advice about nursing as long as both mom and child are happy about the situation is good. I would not continue nursing my children past the point that I wanted to, if I ever felt “ew” when my child asked to nurse, that would be my clue to begin strongly encouraging weaning, or my clue to examine my attitude and figure out what the heck is wrong with me.>>Thanks Mom 101 for bringing up the subject, for being sensitive to your friend, and for examining your own reaction. I hope that your friendship will remain as good as ever. I personally have close, respected, beloved friends whose own parenting choices, including very early weaning, are ones I can condone, but who remain dear friends none the less.>>I hope the discussion and comments will lead others to examine their own biases.
ewwwl.>>I have a 2 year old and just the thought of him on my nip gives me the heebies 🙁
If I am correct, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breast feeding for a year and the World Health Orginization recommends two years. I’m totally comfortable with seeing a toddler breast feeding…but, 95% of the time? Good Lord! I don’t know a single person who has breastfed their child past two. Most parents seem to wean their kids somewhere between one and two, if they have had a successful experience and have been able to breastfeed that long. I think there has to be something said for moderation… extremist parents, who have to take things to extremes; where everything is black or white and it is all or nothing on every hot topic…are surely a class of their own.
I was thinking of this post again yesterday as my 10 month old was totally just goofing off during his afternoon breastfeed.>>It is clear he won’t make it many weeks longer. Mama I’ll have a meatball and a side of papadum thanks!>>So breastfeeding is sort of like sexual orientation that way. You’re born with it.>>ps.. I did < HREF="http://motherwoman.blogspot.com/2007/06/bad-blogger-confessional.html" REL="nofollow">tag you<> last week too. Like you don’t have enough to do.
Unfortunately most moms in the US are led to believe that breastmilk turns into water sometime around their child’s first birthday. This is simply not true and it is in fact quite the opposite. A mother’s body is designed to produce milk that is specifically suited to her child’s needs.>’nuff said>Maria, tandem nursing momma to Em (27 mos and D 7 mos)
i am more freaked out by a 2 1/2 year old with a pacifier, formula in a bottle, or soda.>the ama recommends at least 1 year of breastfeeding + the world health organization recommends at least 2 years. i nursed mod*tot til 2 1/2.>very difficult to stick with it, but i felt she needed it physically + psychologically as a healthy foundation for the next 120+ years.>i had breast feeding classes + did a lot of reading before + after she she was born.
When I was pregnant with Cara, I <>hoped<> to breastfeed her for three months. Once she was three months old, I <>prayed<> to be able to breastfeed her until six months. Now, Caroline is almost eight months and the thought of weaning her scares me to death. <>BUT<>, I’m with you when you say that you were “entirely freaked out” by the sight of a two year old <>asking<> for “boobie”. >Maybe in a year I’ll feel differently, but at this moment I’m with you all the way.>>http://TastesLikeCrazy.blogspot.com
This is such an interesting topic. I still breastfeed my son who is almost three, and am pretty much going with the flow.>There isn’t much research around concerning the health benefits of nursing a toddler or older child, but there is no reason why the nutritional content and protective antibodies would decrease after say 12 months. >The Ew factor, well I do have it myself, but not enough to override the sense that I am contributing to his remarkable good health and overall development.>From my point of view babies and children are instinctive and do what come naturally and what they are designed to do, whereas we are given opinions by our culture. So I’m going to trust my son on this one.>The 95% breastmilk intake does seem high, but he may well be taking in a perfectly balanced diet. It’s not as if we have to eat to keep our teeth from growing, like sheep.>I am quite saddened by the acute lack of support for breastfeeding beyond a few months, which works in favour of the huge conglomerates producing artificial milk for babies.
Dear God. If they can ask for it…too old. I would of freaked out too. Great blog and “Cheers” to another New York mom.
I know this is a really late response, but I nursed my daughter until she was almost three years old. I didn't offer, didn't refuse, and she self-weaned in the end. Well, that's not strictly true; I refused when it was inconvenient, and in the end, it just became a sleep-time thing.
I don't think it's extended breastfeeding until a kid is two years old. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding until age two — it's the gold standard — so how is that extended bf? And until about 100 years ago, it was common for women in North America to feed their children nothing but breastmilk until age one, then start solids. START solids, not wean. In some cultures, it's not abnormal to nurse until age 7.
Breastfeeding is normal; formula feeding is not the norm. Formula feeding is science doing its best to replace the perfect food, but failing, because formula messes with the bacteria in the gut and causes all kinds of problems. Formula feeding is fourth-rate, according to the WHO — the best is breastfeeding, second best is bottle feeding expressed breastmilk, third is wet nursing, fourth is formula. Yup, the WHO says a wet nurse is better than formula.
I think women should make their own choices about feeding their babies and toddlers, but they should be informed choices based on science, not based on a gut reaction to something they aren't used to. And women who struggle to breastfeed should receive the help they need. It's hard for many people — it was hard for me, too. The complications associated with formula feeding should make it worthwhile for health systems to support breastfeeding with education, lactation consultants, etc.
The weird thing, in my books, is that we've moved so far from normal relationships with our bodies that we react to natural, normal feeding of toddlers with a “Ew” instead of a smile.
I'm getting in here extremely late, but since it hasn't been over a month since the last comment was left, I want to put my thoughts in the mix.
1.) Bravo for examining WHY your first reaction was “Eww”. That has been my reaction in the past, as well, to EBF (meaning, in my comment here, past 1.5 or 2 years old).
2.) As I journey farther in breastfeeding my son, who is 5.5 months old, I can see myself more and more nursing longer than I had originally intended. I love cuddling with him as I nurse him. I love that he WANTS this from me right now. (He will literally throw a fit if he wants to nurse at a time when I can't let him right away, like in the car driving down the road.) Seeing how much he seems to enjoy, want, even need this interaction with me, I am now wondering just how long this will last between the two of us.
Please do not mistake me for a self-righteous, know-it-all person, or one who is highly judgmental. I went back to work full time when my son was 2 months old. I have fought a very tough battle to keep my milk supply. I have been through everything from a pump giving out on me, other pumps (supposedly top of the line) not working for me, work load at work not supporting frequent pumping breaks, bosses at work not being supportive of my need for breaks, soreness from nursing, at times even my husband has not been supportive of my nursing our child. I have literally cried before at the thought of losing my milk and not being able to supply my child's needs. We now supplement with formula when I work. I don't like it, but I can't keep up with his demand. I have to work. My husband is out of work, and can't find enough to support our family. It's not my ideal, but it's reality. I would love to be a SAHM, but I can't. Not if I would like to keep a roof over my child's head.
My point is, I was once in the “If they can ask for it they're too old for it” club. Now it's becoming closer to the “I hope my milk doesn't give out before he's ready to give it up” club. Within reason. I could now totally see myself nursing until he is 1.5 or even a little past 2. I still think that, for me personally, if he's tall enough to stand in front of me while I sit and still be able to nurse, then he's too old.
Of course, my changing attitude may be due to my baby blues. I'm already missing that sweet, wonderful newborn we brought home from the hospital, all the while loving how fun he's become, with his babbling and rolling over and trying to sit up and laughing. I miss my little baby. I can't wait for the future with him. I'm at that stage in his first year where I'm realizing that his first year is almost halfway over. Where did the time go? I think I want to slow the growing up down any way I can. Maybe that's what is behind my softening attitude towards nursing after 12 months. Who knows?
Ah, goodness. I got off on a tangent there, didn't I? I apologize for making this so long and drawn out. I feel a little better. Maybe I should post more of these feelings on my blog.
Obviously this post was about how to maintain friendships with people who make different lifestyle choices than you. Stated generally, it seems pretty obvious, but when it comes to the topic of parenting, I think many of us feel a certain type of way about our responsibility to the “youth”, not necessarily our own offspring. Its pretty silly when you think about it.
Anyway, on the topic of extended breastfeeding, my 19 month old is 100% breastfed most days, and he is in the 95th percentile for height and weight at 29 lbs. He has 16 teeth. He doesn't use them to nurse, never a problem. I let him eat whatever he wants but he prefers nursing. A lot of the commenters are obviously very ignorant stating such things as “children need protein, etc…” not realizing that milk is the PERFECT food, an adult could sustain and flourish off of milk alone.
I am interested where the “ew” factor comes in. Do you imagine that the mother is sexually stimulated by the toddler sucking her breast? Or that the toddler finds it provocative? Or that you find it provocative? I don't understand, I would like to hear an informed (on the topic of breastfeeding) person explain this “ew” reaction…
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