10 Moms Share Why They Chose To Breastfeed Their Kids Past The Age Of Two
Extended breastfeeding is the practice of breastfeeding a child past the age of one, and it’s more prevalent than you might think. BuzzFeed Life talked to a small selection of moms about their choice to breastfeed beyond toddlerhood.
1. Extended breastfeeding came under fire last week when mom of two Denise Sumpter went on British television to discuss her decision to breastfeed her 6-year-old daughter until the child self-weans.
2. So what is the deal with extended breastfeeding? BuzzFeed Life talked to moms in the thick of it to find out.
3. Jasmine Banks, mom of three
“I knew from the very beginning that I wanted to breastfeed and that I wanted to wean my children based on their individual queues. We wanted our child to have all the biological benefits of breastfeeding for as long as possible and we wanted to promote secure attachment. I nursed our first child for three years. He slowly became disinterested and soon preferred his snacks over breast milk, though he asked for it in a cup until he was 4. I found out that I was pregnant with our third child when our middle child was 6 months old. I nursed her through pregnancy and then tandem nursed both the middle and last child until the last child weaned. All three of my children weaned on their own by slowly incorporating more activity and food. I breastfed a total of seven years.”
4. DÃ©sirÃ©e Fawn, mom of one
“On the day of Gretchen’s birth, my goal was to breastfeed for six months. At six months it was a year. At a year it was 2 years, and the ball just kept on rolling. My advice to other mothers is this: DO WHAT FEELS RIGHT. Breastfeed until it no longer works for you and your baby. Never let anyone else dictate the rules of your motherhood experience.”
5. Sara Moe, mom of three
“I didn’t really set out to nurse all my children past 2. Obviously I was committed to breastfeeding — you have to be to make it through the first two painful, difficult weeks — but it was nowhere in my plan to continue as long as I did. I figured we’d do our best, see what happened. I guess what happened was partly that I was lazy and nursing was an easy fix in a plentitude of situations. I am also of course aware of the health benefits for both mother and baby — lowered cortisol levels and breast cancer risk for mom, heightened immunity and lowered SIDS risk for the kid, among others — but I can’t say this affected my decision to continue breastfeeding as much as the fact that it was just so easy, effective, and honestly, enjoyable most of the time. Plus I’ll still be able to feed my baby during the zombie apocalypse.”
7. Miranda Wicker, mom of two
“I didn’t plan to be breastfeeding for this long, and to be honest, before I ever breastfed for the first time I thought it was sort of weird when moms breastfed older toddlers. Then my son went on a nursing strike at four and a half months old and a few months later, we switched him to formula. When Emma came along a few years later, my only plan was to take everything as it came and hopefully make it to six months, then six months turned into a year so I could get her through flu season. After a year we were still going strong and she was showing no signs of stopping and before I knew it, we’d passed the two-year milestone.
“A lot of people don’t understand extended breastfeeding. At this point, it’s less about nutrition for her and more about comfort and bonding. My boobs are her security blanket (along with her “baba,” at least three baby dolls, some books, and two or three actual blankets…). Maybe it’s weird to some people, and that’s totally cool. Other people’s habits, like clipping nails in public or heating fish in a shared microwave, are weird to me. She’s healthy, fiercely independent, whip smart, and won’t take my boobs with her to kindergarten. Probably.”
8. Natasha Chiam, mom of two
“To be honest, there is not much that I ‘planned’ with my first kid, outside of the actual getting pregnant part. It was a complicated pregnancy and an early birth at 35 weeks, and he was only three and a half pounds. Breastfeeding was his best chance to grow and get all the immunity he needed from me and I was adamant that breastfeeding was how he was going to get it.
“My son weaned himself right after his third birthday. He was the one who decided that he was a big boy and didn’t need to nurse anymore. It was both a relief, as I was nursing both kids and it was starting to take its toll on me physically, and a bittersweet moment as well.
“My daughter continued to nurse until she was 4 and a half years old and would have likely continued longer if I had let her! I probably let it go on that long because I knew she was my last baby and it is (was) such an integral part of us being and growing together. She still talks about it (and is now 6) and I am glad that it is such a good, loving, beautiful memory for her (and for me).
“Extended nursing was what worked for us. It wasn’t always easy, especially with my little preemie boy, but in the end, the benefits far outweighed anything else.”
9. Natalia Fabia, mom of one
“While I was pregnant it was no doubt in my mind if I was going to breastfeed or not. I had an amazing natural birth at home which was the best experience of my life, the next step was breastfeeding… and I was actually very excited for it. I knew the benefits of breastfeeding were a having happy, healthy baby and the antibodies in my milk were something nothing else could emulate. Plus it is basically FREE FOOD! My mother breastfed me and I have been a huge advocate for it.”
11. Adrienne Jones, mom of four
“I nursed my youngest until right around his third birthday. I planned before he was born to nurse him as long as he wanted in a sort of vague way, with no real idea what that would look like. Then he turned out to be this outrageously high-needs baby (and eventually was diagnosed with multiple disabilities) and I’m so thankful we had BFing as a way to bond because otherwise, being close to him was very, very difficult. I won’t go into all that detail but he screamed for his first few years and rarely slept and it was profoundly challenging, but at least I had that one thing that was working, you know? There was one thing I knew was right and good.”
13. Titania Jordan, mom of one
“I totally did not plan to breastfeed my son for almost three and a half years. I thought he would self-wean way before that. Of course, toward the end, it was very sporadic and perhaps just to fall asleep for a nap or bed, but it was sweet and beautiful and completely unplanned.
“There were countless benefits to breastfeeding, but it certainly wasn’t a breeze. I’m thankful I was able to get through the rocky phase [at the beginning], as I know it is hard for many who try, especially when you have to balance going back to work with pumping.
“I wish I had more confidence to nurse in public in those early months, instead of hiding in my car or a restaurant bathroom when my son would get hungry. I wish I wasn’t ashamed in certain instances of nursing a child past the age of 1, and then 2, and then (eeps!) 3! It seems like so not a big deal now, but back then, I was a strange bird compared to my friends with children the same age.”
14. Jennifer Latch, mom of three
“I have three daughters. My first self-weaned at 1. My second I weaned at nine months due to a number of factors, but have always felt it had been to soon for her and had a negative impact on her.
“For my third baby I just decided to nurse her until she self-weaned. The biggest benefit I had from nursing her past 1 was when she became ill and had several febrile seizures several times throughout her second year. She wouldn’t eat, but she would nurse and I was so happy that I was still able to. Now at 30 months (2.5) we are still nursing before bed and when I pick her up from daycare.
“I’ve started to tell her that nursing may be ending soon but she is pretty insistent it continue at this point. Honestly I would prefer not to nurse anymore, but it’s not such an inconvenience that I feel compelled to take drastic measures to stop.
“I think my cutoff will be 3 though. If we are still nursing at 3… well… I’ll have to update you. I HOPE my cutoff is 3!”