Nursing older children is a very touchy subject, even among moms who breastfeed their infants. My son will turn 2 soon and still breastfeeding…because I recently gave up weaning him – unless I come up with a scheme to do it the easier way that doesn’t involve rubbing chili on my nipples (someone actually suggested this barbaric method!).
So my “Operation: weaning”? Benjamin is winning.
You may have heard from your pediatrician that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that mothers nurse their babies for at least the first year of life. However, the UNICEF organization recommends that babies nurse for at least the first 2 years of life and the World Health Organization recommends that mothers nurse their children for at least the first 3 years of life.
Given those information and my son’s reaction towards my attempt to wean him, I have decided to continue to breastfeed him (indefinitely, for now). And I get comments whenever people see my toddler’s feet dangling off the breastfeeding cover (he has grown too big to breastfeed discreetly) when I nurse outside.
In case you’re tempted to speak out to a mom nursing a big baby (toddler!), here are my top things NOT to say:
1. “Why are you still breastfeeding?”
Because I can and he still needs it. He is not ready to be off it. I can’t do tough love. End of story.
2. “But he already has teeth!”
Yes, thank you for the concern but when the biting happens remember that he is biting my nipple not yours, so can you go away now and go back to watching your favorite soap opera.
For the record, he cannot bite and feed at the same time. There are times when he bites and it hurts but it’s not like he’s biting all the frakking time.
3. “When are you going to wean?”
When we’re good and ready, thankyouverymuch. I didn’t have an “end date” when I started nursing my newborn. I don’t think most moms do. I thought he’d self-wean.
4. “Does he ever eat solid food?”
No, he only relies on my milk and would starve himself the whole day waiting for me to come home from work.
Present him with solid food and he will play choo choo train with it and not eat it.
Benjamin has been feeding himself since he learned how to pincer pickup food off his plate at 6 months.
He is a complete foodie and doesn’t rely on breastmilk as his main source of nutrition. It’s only a supplement and mostly, for comfort.
5. “That’s gross.”
Uhm, why? I see breastfeeding, whether an infant or a toddler as the most natural thing a mother can do. All mammals that roam the Earth do it. I don’t see it as gross and if you see it as gross, it’s your problem not mine.
Ah, the tender issue of breastfeeding – it’s a case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. We moms get judged if we formula feed our babies and still we get judged if we breastfeed them until they are big enough to run around and have the power to lift mom’s shirt on their own.
From the Babycenter website,
Nursing beyond the first year (also known as extended breastfeeding) is normal, healthy, and common in many countries. However, some Western societies, with their emphasis on independence and self-sufficiency, take a dim view of the practice. So, depending on where you live, long-term breastfeeding may mean putting up with comments and disapproving stares from friends, family, and strangers.
We all have varying of enthusiasm for extended breastfeeding, but we should agree on one thing: ultimately the only thing that matters is that mother and child are both happy. And if they want to continue, nobody should try to stop them.
Live and let live. My body, my choice. My boob, not yours.
Thank you. I’ll get off my soapbox now.