Are You Breastfeeding Your Toddler?

I had every intention of weaning my child at one year.  Breastfeeding while working had been burdensome and I dreamed of the days that my body would be fully mine again.  Then my son became very sick and had to be hospitalized for days.  The only thing I could do for him was offer the breast, and it was a huge comfort as he underwent endless tests.  After that I realized that I could feed him just in the morning and before bed, and wouldn’t need to pump ever again.  Since my supply fit perfectly with whatever demand we worked out, it wasn’t such a burden.  I ended up breastfeeding him until he was two.  I’m glad I did it as long as I did, and was also at peace with my decision to stop.

Are you trying to make up your mind about how long to breastfeed?  Are you glad you weaned when you did or wished you would have continued?  Are you successfully breastfeeding your toddler?  Please share your wisdom with our other readers who may be pregnant or in the early stages of motherhood!  (and please be gentle–there can be a lot of judgement either way on this one.)

Comments

  1. My youngest is 2.5 and we were breastfeeding up until a few weeks ago. I am pregnant with my 3rd, and it just sort of happened. He had only been nursing before bed, and in the morning for a long time. I think the milk dwindled even more with the pregnancy. He’s okay with it, and so am I. In a few short months I’ll be back to nursing a newborn.

  2. michelle says:

    I weaned my first child at 10 months (shortly after I discovered I was pregnant again), and my second at 12 months. I was happy with both of them – my children didn’t show any signs of being disturbed by it, and never “went after” my breast as though they were still wanting to nurse. My 3rd baby is now 4 months old. I’m not working/pumping anymore, but I still think we will wean somewhere around a year, give or take. I like to let the babies lead, but given that my 4 month old is already 20 pounds – I’ll probably be having a hard time nursing him any longer!

  3. My daughter is 11 months now and I am just starting to think about all this! I really love breastfeeding, but now that she is exhibiting some toddler behaviors (slipping down to the nipple, slapping me in the face, biting) breastfeeding isn’t so sweet anymore. I will definitely stick it out for a couple of more months, but am not sure after that. I AM looking forward to ditching the pump once she starts on cow’s milk. I would love to hear more advice on how and when to wean from other moms! How will I know when she wants to be weaned? What cues should I look for?

  4. Kristin says:

    I’m pumping at work as I write this! My daughter is only 8 weeks old, so this is a long ways off for me, but I’m definitely interested in hearing people’s stories. THanks in advance for sharing!

  5. i hoped to bf a year and thought we’d play it by ear after that. we ended up going 22 months–until i was 7 months pregnant with my next. it was just a natural, gradual end, and i was glad to have 2 months before the next baby came, so my first didn’t feel replaced.

    i was working, and my husband started putting my daughter to bed a few nights a week, which made it easier.

    weaning is a mixed bag–i felt sad and yet relieved. gradual worked really well–i never had any engorgement or anything, and it was drama-free for my little one:)

    i’m bfing my eight month old now–so except those 2 months, i’ve been pregnant or bfing for a looooong time, but i love it:)

  6. Whitney says:

    This post made me laugh :). I so thought that we would stop breastfeeding when she turned one. When I found out that I was pregnant with our second child when she was 11 months old, I had read that your milk changes and that many children stop nursing because the taste is different. I kept waiting, and waiting, trying to prepare myself for the day that she would stop. Well, she’s now 16.5 months old and we’re still nursing before naps and before bed. While I’m not sure I can handle tandem nursing, she doesn’t seem to want to stop. It will be interesting to see what happens between now and October 5th when her baby brother is due.

  7. Like Suzannah, my plan was to breastfeed for a year and “play it by ear” after that. My supply seriously dwindled around 10 months so I stopped pumping and supplemented with organic formula until my son was old enough for cow’s milk. I kept thinking weaning would just sort of happen eventually but my son was pretty addicted to the breast even after it was clear he couldn’t be getting more than an ounce a day from me, but it was a comfort thing for him when I got home from work and at bedtime. The only way I was able to wean him–at 3 and a half!–was by going away for 4 days (by this time, I was ready to be done with it; weaning wasn’t the purpose of the trip but a side benefit). I warned him beforehand that the mom-milk was going away too, and when I came back, he only tried a couple of times and seemed to accept that the mom-milk was gone.

    I found “Mothering Your Nursing Toddler” to be a helpful, reassuring book once I realized I would be nursing past the age of 2.

  8. I love breastfeeding! … My baby is 3 months, and breastfeeding is one of my favorite moments of the day … Before becoming a mother, even while pregnant, breastfeeding scared me a little, maybe by fear of failure, do not know … but now I just want to breastfeed my son as long as possible … for me, breastfeeding is equal to love, because it is the best and most beautiful things we can do for our children … I am very proud to have surpassed all my fears and anxieties … I recommend 100% … Just the other day made a post about my experience with breastfeeding in my blog … is in Portuguese, but can use google translate …(Sorry for my English)

  9. I was able to nurse my first baby for about 20 months.I planned to go the extra four but it just kind of worked out to be 20. It was annoying, but also fun when he’d do acrobatics and other toddler behaviors while nursing. It was a wonderful relationship and I loved it, but felt satisfied when it was done.
    When my second child was 9 months I started losing my supply despite hospital grade pumps and herbs. She was completely weaned by 1 year. It was a relief to be done, but I was also sad it was over.
    My 2 month old is a champion nurser so I’m curious to see how long this time will go.

  10. When asked when I would wean my son I have always answered that we would think about it sometime between 2 and 3 and, most likely be weaned by three. He is 20 months now. He nursed the whole way through my 2nd pregnancy and we are now a tandem nursing team with my 3 month old daughter. I just read “Mothering Your Nursing Toddler” and it helped me to realize that I have never been comfortable with the idea of weaning. It doesn’t make sense to me to pick an arbitrary age/date and say that is when they don’t need to nurse anymore. Now I feel confident to answer questions about when I’ll stop nursing with “When he is ready, he will stop.” If you are a nursing mother I highly recommend this book. You can borrow it from your local LLL or even the library. It’s not pushy and gives you concrete and not so concrete reasons to consider nursing longer then the US average. :)

  11. I didn’t know that you could only nurse mornings and evenings, and that my breasts would be fine with it. My son didn’t want to nurse during the day, so I assumed that he was done with me, so I weaned him, or he weaned himself, at 11 months old, a few years ago. Now I know better by talking with others that I can nurse my daughter 2 to 3 times a day and my body will be fine with it! She will be a year old this coming Tuesday!

  12. All three of mine weaned themselves completely at about the same time, just a few months after they turned one. I always said with my first that I would nurse until a year, and then see. I actually had different feelings about each one. With my first I was kind of ready, and with my second I really wasn’t, but my third was a mix of both. Funny…

  13. I breastfed mine kiddos until they were 16 and 20 months respectively. My second would have probably kept going a bit longer but it was time for mommy to get back on the pill lol! My first naturally weaned himself at 16 months. He just got too busy to stop for mom but my daugther was more attached. At 20 months though she was only nursing intermittantly during the day and she didn’t really seem bothered when we weaned. It worked really well for us to play it by ear and let things happen pretty naturally for the most part.

  14. I breastfed my first until 20 months, when I was 6 months pregnant with my second child. I only weaned him completely because I was pregnant. We had been dropping one feeding at a time since I had found out I was pregnant because I didn’t want to tandem nurse. I think it is much easier to wean a toddler because they are easily distracted. No problems physically for me, no trauma for him because it was gradual. I would never do cold turkey!

    My second child is a much better solid food eater than my first but she also loves to nurse. I think she will drink lots of milk as soon as we let her (she is 11 months now) so I’ll be interested to see how that affects weaning (my first wouldn’t drink milk until weeks after I weaned him). I Think I would be OK with nursing once or twice a day until 3, so I really will only purposefully wean earlier if I get pregnant again. I will say that it was difficult to nurse during morning sickness/pregnancy exhaustion, and so it was kind of a relief to wean, but sad all the same. I remember the day I realized I hadn’t nursed for a week (sometimes we skipped a day here and there when we were down to one feeding), and I felt very sad. But I knew I would be nursing another baby soon and that made it easier.

    Also, all that crazy biting behavior etc. I found actually got better after one year because they had more comprehension. My 11-month-old goes through bouts of biting me when she’s teething now, but I imagine she will do it less as she gets older. My first child bit me lots in the first year and then less thereafter, even though he was still teething and biting other things.

  15. We are almost at a year and have no plans to stop any time soon. If we can make it through the flu season to 18 months I will be happy.

  16. I am still nursing my 21 month old and he is not showing any signs of weaning anytime soon! I only intended on nursing until he was one, but since I am no longer working, I decided to let him wean himself… While I miss having some freedom, (occasional cocktails) I enjoy it so much more than I ever thought I would. I get so much flack for extending it this long, but they are my breasts! Why does anybody else care what I do with my child?

    He does not bite me, he does crazy acrobatics and tries new positions to nurse! He gets such a kick out of his being able to nurse so may different ways now! It is so cute to see him so happy! He has always loved to nurse and I am so glad that I stuck with it even though it was a rough ride.

    I will be sad the day that he no longer wants to nurse, I will miss it so much…….

  17. I am still nursing my 22 month old baby. Really, I think they are ‘babies’ even while they are in the toddler stage. They need all the cuddling, holding and attention of younger babies, and nursing is a natural part of that. Nursing calms my baby’s fussy toddler moods and hurts better than anything else. She is instantly comforted, even right after something painful like getting her shots! I strongly believe that babies will wean themselves when they are developmentally ready, and that includes their emotional readiness.

    I was curious to know what the medical guidelines from the authorities say about how lung to nurse. The American Pediatric Association recommends nursing for at least the first year of life, but doesn’t recommend an endpoint after that. It says nursing can continue after the first year as long as mom and baby mutually want it. The language is interesting and carefully worded. It’s tailored for us moms in America who don’t nurse as long as moms worldwide. (The average age for weaning worldwide is still 4!) The APA tries to encourage us to get at least a whole year of nursing under our belts. There is just so much research to support extended nursing and its numerous benefits for babies, but the APA is aware of the challenges in our culture and resistance to extended nursing for toddlers. A more impartial medical authority is the World Health Organization. WHO does not take into account cultural preferences or customs in issuing its guidelines. It just looks at the research and recommends what’s best for our health. It currently recommends breastfeeding until the 3rd birthday! There is overwhelming research showing that breastfeeding has all kinds of benefits for toddlers. It’s not just emotional benefits, but the benefits to immunity continue into toddlerhood.

    Anyway, nursing my toddler is sometimes a challenge, especially when I see raised eyebrows when I nurse her discreetly in public. She is well covered and content while nursing in a restaurant, and while I did not feel this public scrutiny during her first year, I can sense it now. Still, I plan to try to nurse her as long as she wants; hopefully we’ll make it to the third birthday!

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