What not to say to a mom breastfeeding a toddler

breastfeeding

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.

Dr. Sears has a lot of good things to say about extended breastfeeding as well.

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.

Obviously, I am not always right. extended breasfeeding

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.

Seriously.

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.

Top photo credit

8 thoughts on “What not to say to a mom breastfeeding a toddler

  1. Go for it, is what I say. I hope your little rant made you feel better 😉 I am always amazed to find people so ready to criticize and judge someone else’s personal business. I wish I could help you with some smart little reply to give when people are asking rude questions, but I’m at a loss. Smile very sweetly and say “I’m sorry, I was not aware this was any of your business.” Nah. there’s got to be something better.

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  2. Thank you for bringing light to the sensitive topic. More than you know, there are a lot of mothers out there in the same situation and I hope by reading this, they will remain firm to stick by their decision and remain strong for their child.

    Benjamin will have a good and strong immune system and when the time comes they ask how did you do it? Breastfeeding is the answer.

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  3. I so love love love this post! My own mother had asked me all those except Q#5 countless times as she only fed my siblings and I for 2 months, and that too, mixed with formula. I’ve always told her she’ll wean without much problems when she’s ready. Don’t worry, when he’s some more months older, weaning him would be easier, and he might even do it on his own with a little encouragement from you 😉

    First child of mine was forcibly weaned at 15 months as I got sick and the doctor said that I had no choice over that matter since my medication program was 3 weeks of strong antibiotics. The second child was until 30 months, after 3 attempts 1 month apart each. The 3rd time was a charm, as I fed her more at night, let her get tired from playing the whole day so that when she lies down in bed she’d sleep without fuss. There, no chili method, hahahah! Brought to bed some water in her bottle too just in case she wakes up thirsty. After 3 days she was fine and forgot already the mama mam-mam 😀

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  4. I am with you on this, Grace. I tried weaning (weakly) too, and my two-year old is winning in this house. Isn’t your boy turning two tomorrow? Congratulations!

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  5. Quite honestly, I’d choose to breastfeed my child as long as I could because I’d be afraid of all the processed and artificial foods out on the market these days, especially those found in infant formulas!

    Those are a HECK of a lot worse on your child’s health then your natural breast milk.

    So I say keep on keeping on! Like you said, your choice, nobody elses! And if they judge, then them judge. Only you know what’s best for YOUR child.

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  6. I resorted those nasty ways to weaned my first child off the boobs at the age of one and it was a bad experience both for her and myself.

    So for my second child..i just let nature takes its own course and proudly said yes, he’s still on breastmilk when people asked me. And then he just weaned himself off happily upon reaching his birthday at 3 😉 no struggles or “war”..peaceful affair..

    I guess I would do the same for my third child now…let him decide.. 🙂

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  7. I weaned V before he turned two and it was one of the most heartbreaking experience I had. I even resorted to putting ground black pepper and told him “nanan” is sick.
    Right now with LittleMiss C we will stop when she is ready.

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