"Closet Nursers" & Weaning Parties


The following is from The Boston Globe:

On a recent Saturday evening, Ruth Tincoff and Bruce Inglehart of Wellesley had a party for Gwen, their not-quite-5-year-old daughter. They served six squealing girls squiggly pasta with red sauce and Gwen’s favorite dessert — vanilla cake with raspberry – and – lemon frosting. While the adults munched on veggies and dip, the girls played dress-up.

Gwen’s birthday is coming up in April, but this wasn’t an early celebration. This was Gwen’s weaning party.

“Just before I cut the cake, I said, ‘We are here to celebrate Gwen’s important decision.’ Everybody already knew what it was, so that was pretty much it,” Tincoff says matter-of-factly.

Few children have weaning parties, let alone at such an advanced age. Even though there is wide acceptance nowadays of nutritional and immunological benefits of breast-feeding for infants, Americans, by and large, look askance at mothers who nurse toddlers, preschoolers, or even kindergartners. Anecdotal evidence suggests there are more of them than ever, however, and they aren’t just earth-mother types in Birkenstocks who homeschool their children. Tincoff, for instance, works full time as a visiting assistant professor at Wellesley College. She also had not expected to be nursing Gwen until she was nearly 5.

“Gwen wasn’t a big fan of eating,” she says. At first, she stayed with it to give Gwen the nutrition she needed. Then it became part of their relationship and a way to comfort her daughter. “It helped Gwen to manage her emotions. If she was cranky or had a tantrum, nursing helped restore her,” Tincoff says.

Figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and from Abbott Labs’ Ross Mothers Survey show a steady increase in the number of women who initiate breast-feeding, from 57 percent in 1994 to 72 percent in 2005. Less well-known is the gradual increase in the age at which breast-feeding stops. In 1997, 26 percent of mothers were still nursing their babies at six months; in 2005, 39 percent were. In 1997, 14.5 percent of mothers were still breast-feeding at 12 months; by 2005, the number had climbed to 20 percent.

No one keeps count beyond 18 months, not even La Leche League International, a lactation support system. Katherine Dettwyler , the nation’s leading breast-feeding researcher, says women who continue to nurse typically keep quiet about it, sometimes even to family members, because the culture is so biased against it.

“People say, ‘Oh, he’s going to think he’s having sex with his mother!’ ” she says. “Well, no. Only if you socialize him to think that way. This is a biological process. Human beings are wired to naturally wean sometime after 2 1/2.”

“Nursing an older child is no longer uncommon, but women know people today tend to be judgmental and feel free to share their opinions,” says Heather Bingham of Arlington, a La Leche leader for nine years. Gail Levy, an international board-certified lactation consultant with the Center for Early Relationship Support at Jewish Family and Children’s Services, says she sees more women weaning after 12 months.

“We call these women ‘closet nursers,’ ” says Dr. Ruth Lawrence , a pediatrician who specializes in infant nutrition at the University of Rochester. Lawrence, who chairs the American Academy of Pediatrics’ section on breast-feeding, helped write the academy’s 2005 position statement that reaffirms breast-feeding for at least a year and “beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child.” The World Health Organization’s recommendation, adopted in 1979, is for a minimum of two years.

Tincoff says she knows at least 10 women who are nursing preschoolers; all the girls at Gwen’s party had recently weaned or are still nursing. Amanda Lappen of Jamaica Plain, who nurses her 19-month-old twins, says she knows 20 women who nurse children older than hers. Wendy Bosland of North Attleborough, whose third child, Henry, stopped breast-feeding this winter at 5 1/2, says she sees many more women now who nurse long term than 11 years ago when she nursed her first child.

Public health campaigns account for the increase in women who breast-feed, says Lawrence. Those who stay with it, particularly beyond 18 months, tend to be highly educated. “This is not a cult,” she says. “It’s about education and learning that the benefits persist.” Research shows that breast-feeding provides continued protection against infection and allergies.

There is also the matter of the mother-child relationship. For a working mother who is separated from her child all day, nursing in the morning and at night is a loving way to reconnect, says Naomi Bar-Yam of the Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition.

Bar-Yam points out that breast-feeding a 3-year-old is very different from breast-feeding a 3-month-old. Nursing lasts only a few minutes instead of 20 or 30, and typically happens once or twice a day, not six or more times. An advantage of nursing an older child is the ability to communicate. Mara Rest of Wayland, who weaned her 5-year-old last August and still nurses her 2 1/2-year-old, likes that she can tell her son, “This isn’t a good time. How about when we get home?”

The ability to set boundaries on nursing is one characteristic of a healthy nursing relationship, says Dr. Jane Morton, a pediatrician who is a clinical professor at Stanford Medical School as well as a member of the AAP breast-feeding section.

“There are no medical or psychological reasons not to nurse long term,” she says. “It’s frowned on in the US because the breast has become so highly sexualized.” She says it’s a myth to think that a child who nurses long term will not develop autonomy.

There is not unanimous agreement on this. Some professionals support the notion that breast-feeding beyond a certain point can create an unhealthy dependency on the mother. But Texas psychologist Linda Sonna of the American Psychological Association says there is growing recognition that it’s best to let the child determine when she’s ready to wean. Many children “may not be ready until 5, 6, or even later,” says Sonna, who has written many parenting books including “The Everything Toddler Book.”

“There’s no reason to think it is abnormal or pathological or sick,” says Nancy Holtzman , board-certified lactation consultant at Isis Maternity parenting programs in Arlington, Brookline, and Needham.

Norma Jane Bumgarner, author of “Mothering your Nursing Toddler,” says women who experience hostility often are those who invite criticism. “Especially with older children, a person has to think about what she wants to deal with,” she says.

Rest says she was very private about nursing because she sensed that even her husband, Dan Balter, was a little squeamish. If that’s true, Balter says, he’s over it now. Last week, when they were at a computer store, Rest disappeared to a corner to discreetly nurse 2 1/2-year-old Joachim. Balter didn’t think twice about dragging the salesman over so they could ask her opinion. “He didn’t bat an eyelash, and neither did I,” Balter says.

When long-term nursers wean, they usually do so gradually.

Last fall, Tincoff’s bedtime nursing disappeared because she was teaching at night, so Gwen and her father created a new bedtime ritual of bath and book. Months later, when days might go by without the morning nursing, Tincoff asked Gwen, “Do you want to be done with mama-milk? I’m OK with that if you are.” She was.

NOTE: I understand that the beautiful pic of Lucy Lawless breastfeeding her baby has no relation to “extended breastfeeding” but I just loved the image (and it was created to promote breastfeeding) and I didn’t think that it was a great idea to put up an image of a mother breastfeeding a five-year-old!

I am extremely supportive of breastfeeding, but am not that familiar with the extended breastfeeding that this article speaks of. I have no judgement on it, but do not know many women who have breastfed preschool-aged children. I admit that I can’t help but suspect that this practice is more “mother-led” than “child-led.”



  1. Libraesque says

    “Breastfed children do tend to score higher on intelligence tests, but they also tend to come from more advantaged backgrounds.”

    The researchers analysed data from more than 5,000 children and 3,000 mothers in the US.

    They found that mothers who breastfed tended to be more intelligent, and when this fact was taken into account, most of the relationship between breastfeeding and the child’s intelligence DISAPPEARED

    The rest was accounted for by other aspects of the family background.

  2. cw says

    #104, I think most people do agree that breast milk is great. The issue is how they get it. Like I said before, once the child is old enough to drink from a cup ( and 4, 5, and 6 years olds are definately old enough ) and you want to continue with breast milk….serve it in a cup.

  3. Karen says

    Yoo hoo, formula is inadequate nutritionally. They just added the DHA and ARA not 5 yrs ago. What about all the billions who didn’t get ARA and DHA until then? What else is missing that hasn’t been discovered yet? The quality of the nutrients also doesn’t compare.

    I know of three children who were nursing during my son’s kindergarten year and all three were different from each other and all three successful. My son was the most outgoing and still is with a ton of friends, but I think that is more because he is a youngest child and his natural personality.

    Bottom line, minimum breastfeeding ecologically and evolutionarily is 2 yrs. My (four) kids are all super smart, making straight A’s with the oldest in high school AP courses now, socially normal, in sports and music as well. You can make your own choices, fine, but I’ll take those extra 9+ IQ points and improved social skills.

    Those of us who choose to continue nursing feel that it is a good parenting decision from the standpoint of mental and physical health. You all don’t have to like it, but it is a valid choice that has existed since the beginning of mammals.

  4. Brianna says

    to nurse a child until she is 5 is just plain nasty. The mother has issues, or else she is just plain too lazy if she allows a child to continue to nurse this long I do not care how much she feels the need to justify her (the mothers) actions. I am all for nursing, but 5 years old? Come ON!

  5. Jessie says

    #104, I can’t agree with you more.

    It’s ridiculous that so many women here are ignorant and uneducated…breastfeeding has PROVEN research that shows its benefits.

    No, I don’t think I will breastfeed until my son is 5, even though it’s probably best for him…my goal is 2 yrs (he’s 1.5yrs), and then I’ll see.

    We all try to do what’s best for our children, but we don’t always choose the best….my son gets an occasional cookie. Is it good for him? No, it’s not ideal…vegetables are proven as more nutritious food, but hey, I can’t always give him veggies. More power to you if you can ALWAYS give your kid veggies at every meal.

    Likewise, more power to you if you do breastfeed your child as long as they want. I don’t know if I can, but the benefits are noted and I’m impressed at your sacrifice. Good for you!

  6. Kat says

    ” I’ve known people whose kids have permanent disbility from lacking nutrients found in baby formula! ”

    #100-this is complete BS! If the child had any problems, it certainly was not from lack of formula. There have been millions of healthy children who breast-fed exclusively, then followed a vegan diet, and are PERFECTLY healthy! I just can’t even begin to tell you how messed up this comment is! These children you speak of must not have been getting proper nutrition through food, and that is the parent’s fault, not from not getting formula!!!

  7. manon says

    Some people seem to be unaware of what it means when research studies come up with results. It means that some fairly smart people tried their best to answer a question, such as, “Is there a measurable difference in intelligence (health, growth, bone density, jaw and mouth development, take your pick) between children who were breastfed and those who were not?” Researchers don’t just look around their neighborhood and rely on what one friend or another says. They look at hundreds or thousands of kids and try to eliminate differences that might skew the outcome.

    Just because you “don’t believe” that breastfeeding has measurable positive effects on children’s development does not mean it doesn’t. There are THOUSANDS of research studies on outcomes of breastfeeding and they all point toward the same thing: It does make a difference. There is a reason all the health-related organizations heartily endorse breastfeeding: they’ve looked at the research. There is a lot of it & it is solid.

    Anecdotes are not data. What happened to you/your sibling/your friend/your child can’t be extended to the whole population. Breastfeeding or not breastfeeding does not guarantee any certain result in your child. Breastfeeding simply means that a child has their best shot at reaching their potential. Yes, some formula fed children turn out great and some breastfed kids not so great. That’s how it works when there is so much variability in humankind. But ON AVERAGE breastfed kids tend to do better than non-breastfed.

    As for social adjustment, the longer-term breastfed children I know are MORE socially skilled, confident, independent, and well-liked than their non-breastfed peers. Their teachers generally can’t say enough good things about them. But don’t take my word for it — there has been research on this. Children who were breastfed were rated higher by their teachers in elementary and middle school for demeanor and social adjustment than those who weren’t breastfed. Another study showed that breastfed children were more likely to be upwardly socially mobile.

    Again, breastfeeding is not a magic wand that turns every child golden, but it definitely skews the odds toward optimal development. And you know what? I’ll take those odds.

  8. Libraesque says

    Yes, breasts are made for feeding, up to a point. It’s like with everything else when a child is getting older, why would you want it to do something like that, that’s associated with infancy. Why do you think there are whole episodes of nanny 911 dedicated to getting kids off bottles????
    I really don’t think there are any valid studies done that indicate these children are in any way more “intelligent” either. And I have to agree 150% with the teacher , who spoke of the social problems.

  9. Aisha says

    Obviously, there’s a huge range of normal when it comes to the time to wean. There are babies who quit spontaneously before a year, and, as in the topic of discussion, 5 year old and 6 year old nursers. I had a friend who nursed until he was five, and told me that it tasted like honey. Intrigued, I asked my mother if I could taste her milk (she was nursing my brother then). She allowed me, and satisfied that it did not taste like honey to me, I decided the babies could have it. All my friends who remember nursing (usually those who nursed till 3 or later) have pleasant memories, and seem to feel unconflicted about being a late weaner. My daughter stopped just before she turned two, largely because I needed to cut down on nursing, thanks to the thrush infection from hell, but otherwise we might have nursed longer. She is a happy, healthy child.
    Breasts are made for feeding. Our culture has such bizarre notions about their sexuality, which is only furthered by the idea that a child should not be seen feeding. The eye is drawn to watch because it is so perfect and beautiful, not because of the boob. Think of the image of madonna and child. Every child weans eventually, and the right time should be decided between mother and child.

  10. Laura says

    I bf 1 until 14 months and 2 until age 2, when I HAD to cut him off! No regrets whatsoever! I’ve known people whose kids have permanent disbility from lacking nutrients found in baby formula!

  11. Lisa says

    Great parenting

    dealing with a school aged or soon to be school aged childs tantrums, emotions and ability to control themself by having them breastfeed-absurd. How about teaching and modeling self-control and discipline and to top that off rewarding this spoiled child with a party….laughable, shameful and revolting

  12. hp says

    Everyone please read #77! She is a teacher and makes tons of sense!

    Or, she’s reading her own personal bias into children’s behavior.

    A lot of extended bf kids are also the children of SAHMs. My mom has taught preschool and kindergarten, and she says that while extended bf and SAHMs are generally correlated, the stay-at-home issue is a far greater source of adjustment problems than the breastfeeding. She’s not anti-SAHMs (was one herself for a while) but believes that the SAHMs really need to focus on finding social interaction for their children before preschool.

    I think that #77 would be surprised at the number of children in her kindergarten who were still breastfeeding or recently weaned–since my mom was known to be pro-breastfeeding, there was a lot of honesty with her about such matters. And this was back in the late 1980s/early 1990s!

  13. Libraesque says

    “it’s about trust and communication”
    uh, yea, no. How is a 5 year old sucking on your tit improving communication, that’s ABSURD. And the kid is going to tell YOU when it doesn’t want to breast feed? Are you KIDDING????
    I see a 10 year old kid hanging off your tit with diapers on in your future “yogamomma”

  14. hp says

    A child that age does not have or should not have a “fundamental” need to suck. I hope that everyone on here will consider the social risks to bf after age two.

    Let’s try this again . . .

    Hm. Someone needs to tell a couple of the three year olds (almost four!) around my neighborhood that.

    Apparently, there’s this thing where the “paci fairy” takes away pacifiers around the 3rd birthday. So, last year, all these kids “gave up” their pacis.

    Every single one of those kids is still demonstrating a fundamental need to suck–despite all efforts to the contrary. Thumbs have come into vogue, toys, shirt collars. One of them stole my infant’s paci and hid it in his room to use when nobody was looking. There is anti-suck warfare going on in several homes.

  15. hp says

    Hm. Someone needs to tell a couple of the three year olds (almost four!) around my neighborhood that.

    Apparently, there’s this thing where the “paci fairy” takes away pacifiers around the 3rd birthday. So, last year, all these kids “gave up” their pacis.

    Every single one of those kids is still demonstrating a fundamental need to suck–despite all efforts to the contrary. Thumbs have come into vogue, toys, shirt collars. One of them stole my infant’s paci and hid it in his room to use when nobody was looking. There is anti-suck warfare going on in several homes.

  16. oriana says

    Personally I think blue is totally cute on little girls and boys both and I saw a little boy the other day in a pink shirt and he looked adorable! My husband doesn’t object to wearing pink either, or yellow, or pastel blue and lavender, looks nice on him too, thank you!

    And maybe I did take the Troll comment the wrong way!

    No, it doesn’t affect me when these mothers make the wrong decisions to nurse children, not BABIES, until they are five and over, it just makes me astonished and amazed when I hear about it, I think it is definately bad judement on their parts and absolutely ridiculous!

  17. EveLina says

    I truely think that it’s the mother’s bussiness by choice on when they decide to “Stop” breastfeeding their child. I still choose to breastfeed my 15 month old, and probably will continue so for a couple more months(not up to 5 yrs) NO-WAY! LoL. I think, in my oppinion that it’s perfectly normal to breastfeed up until 18 months, after that it might be too much, but I am not here to judge. I could care less on how other parents “do-it”…. (raising-up their children )It’s not my child their “doing-it-to”. Just worry about your children, family, and not others. : ) Who cares! Right?

  18. Aleisha says

    An internet troll is not a derogatory comment, it refers to someone who “trolls” the boards on the internet.

    Glad to see you took my opinion to heart so much so that you had to comment twice!

    Anyhow I fail to see why people are so bothered by this subject. Seriously, how does it affect you if a mother chooses to bf past a certain age?

    Would you get this upset if a mother wanted to dress her little girl in blue or her boy in pink?

    People need to learn to butt out of other people’s business.

  19. oriana says

    Aleisha, Who are YOU to call someone uneducated internet trolls! You don’t know anything about me! I have a degree in Psychology for your information! And NO, just because I have strong opinions and I don’t agree with breastfeeding till kids are of school age is ridiculous is no reason for you to be so nasty and resort to name calling. Never the less, your opinon of me doesn’t mean anything, so go ahead, call me whatever names you want too, you appear ignorant to me anyway, I stated in one of my first post on this subject that I thought it was a good experience in a lot of ways for children to breastfeed, if you had read that far back, instead of attacking me with your negative comments!

    I do think breast milk is good for the babies, BABIES, not toddlers and small kids, I don’t think they look at the breast as sexual and I never said that, I do think that mothers should make beneficial decisions, not the child, you don’t have to agree with me or even like me, but don’t be trying to put me down when you don’t know shit about me!

  20. oriana says

    To #52, #64, #67, #70, #74, and especially #77, I enjoyed reading your posts and ALL of you make sense to me and you seem very intelligent! I agree with you #77 all the way!

  21. oriana says

    #66, Aleisha, I don’t think I said the word, disgusting, I did say pathetic and ridiculous, and it is, to see a five year old sucking a bottle or breast feeding! And it is!

    FYI, I had two sons, I breast fed till they were 18 mos., the first one and to 16 months the second one, when they started walking, not just wobbling, but walking, then I quit breastfeeding and they were just fine using their cups and eating their food! Thank you! I would have until the age of two and then I would have stopped, I think that is the proper age, to see kids four and five, it would make me turn my head, and older than that, 8 years old! I would be in shock if I saw a kid that old!

    I guess in your house your kids make all the decisions and are in charge, poor You! Do you think children should still be in diapers at five and 8 years old also? Do they still sleep with you at 8 years old? Do you have any common sense, apparently not!

    I agree with a lot of the ladies on here, NO, I don’t have to make long statements for I would just be repeating what a lot of them have already said and they make very logical and competent opinions and sound correct to me.

    So don’t worry about me, look to yourself and use some common sense!

  22. N says

    #84 me too!! …… Also, from what I read the daughter didnt want her mom just her num nums…. I think thats what she called them. There has to be something …… Im going to shut up!

  23. Essie says

    I remember an interview I saw with Lindsay Wagner (“Bionic Woman”) several years ago on a daytime show. I don’t remember what show or what she said other than she told the audience that she breast fed both her boys until they were EIGHT YEARS OLD!!! The host said something like “I guess when they want to eat they just climb up and get it” and the audience laugh.

    All my life I remember seeing women in the rural south (where my family is from) breastfeeding their children well past the age of two/three but I had never heard of breastfeeding an eight-year old.

    I don’t have an opinion. Just wanted to tell that story.

  24. Who knows says

    When you bf a 5 year old, do you hold them, do they stand up, or do you have to lay down?

    Just wondering…

  25. Lisa says


    instead of calming your spoiled tantrum throwing child with your breast- how about lovingly introducing rules, time outs …. boy some women are creating little tiny selfish children

  26. traveller says

    Truthfully, I’ve not ever seen a real need for breastfeeding. Sure, it can be a bonding experience and give nutritional value, but a child can get that same nutritional value from a number of other sources. As for the immuno benefits, I think the whole thing is a farce. My niece did not breastfeed at all. She’s in elementary school now and is as healthy as an ox. She’s athletic, smarter than a whip, gets straight As, and reads 3 grade levels above her own. She and her mother share a great relationship and she wants to participate in all the activities that my sister did as a kid. She wants to be just like her mom. She has not suffered in the least for not being breastfed.

    On the other hand, I was breastfed the first year of my life. I am constantly ill. I have horrible allergies that result in a sinus or throat infection at least every other month. At those times, my immune system is weakened and I usually end up with something else in addition (such as the flu or strep throat). So, breastfeeding apparently did nothing to strengthen my immune system or prevent allergies. I believe that health-wise it simply boils down to the fact that some people are more prone than others to illness. It doesn’t have anything to do with being breastfed.

    I think bonding has more to do with personality and interest than performing any act. I’ve never had that strong a relationship with my mother, even as a child despite the fact that I was breastfed. We’ve just always seemed to clash. I’ve always been closer to my dad. Probably because we share similar personalities and interests. We’re both athletic and have an aptitude for math and science.

    I have adopted siblings as well as biological ones. Of course, my adopted siblings were not breastfed. And one of them shared a much closer relationship with my mom as a child than I did.

    To me, breatfeeding is a choice the mother makes, but doesn’t really affect the child one way or another.

  27. Amy says

    Oh and by the way Jenrose, when your daughter had a temper tantrum when she was 5 1/2 did you say to her, “when are you gonna stop that.. when youre six?” or did you do like most parents and say “stop that youre too old for that behavior?” Im astounded by the parents that let the kids make such monumental decisions!!! The way I was raised, the grownups make the rules not 5 yr olds

  28. Amy says

    Ok Obviously cows milk is made for calves but, like other animal products, it is beneficial to humans too. The calcium is great for kids, who need a ton for their growing bones. Breast milk doesnt have the same amounts of calcium. Also it extremely important that children learn to self soothe. Unfortunately with my first daughter I hated the idea of self soothing and jumped at her every beck and call. Now shes very clingy and shy and scared to try to do anything by herself. I didnt jump as quickly with my second daughter and shes very independent and loves interacting with other people. If you give them the breast everytime they are upset #1 they will never learn to cope with problems themselves and #2 they will see food as a means of soothing which many nutritionists say to obesity.

  29. eminencegrise says

    Six months was long enough! Once they started to get teeth, I wanted my nipple back. And a bit of my life, too.

    My grandmother was a Mayan Indian who nursed each child till they were 2. Then she weaned them off. Nothing ‘child-led’ about it. More like, that’s it, and a brute display of force if they tried to latch on.

    All six led healthy, successful lives.

  30. cw says

    #77, well said! I agree, a child of that age should not have a need to suck. I had wondered about the possible teasing a child would take from classmates from still being fed like a baby. I would imagine that would be something that would stick with the child and could be very damaging emotionally.

  31. 1stimemomma says

    I must say that this topic has really hit home. As a Kindergarten teacher I must say that in my last 5 years I’ve only seen 4 children whom were still bf. (that I knew of that is). I can say with 100% honesty that those children had the hardest time adjusting, making friends, and just generally being independent. They didn’t act as mature as the other children, they were very hard to comfort in something went wrong, and weren’t as social. One of the mothers came at noon to bf her child which caused the child to be ridiculed by the other children. As a teacher and a mom I do not recommend bf past age two. On another note, one of the ladies on here said that her child “NEEDED” to be bf to help her with her need to suck… A child that age does not have or should not have a “fundamental” need to suck. I hope that everyone on here will consider the social risks to bf after age two.

  32. AEM says

    Jenrose – your daughter at 2 understood this? she understood what “respect mommy” means? I don’t mean this in any negative way as my son is only 7 months! and the “terrible two’s” are waiting for me! :)…just wondering if she fully understood your message to her at such a young age

  33. Jenrose says

    I see a couple of different themes here. There’s people who do extended breastfeed or who accept that it is normal and natural even if they don’t do it, and there are people who are “squicked out” by it.

    Well, here’s the thing. JUST because it bothers you, doesn’t make it a problem in my family. Just because you can’t imagine nursing your child several times a day until they are two or three, and then once a day until they are four or so, and then maybe occasionally after that… doesn’t mean that a magic “too old” light went off over *my* child’s head when she hit whatever arbitrary age you think is “icky”. She was the same person I nursed, and didn’t change so abruptly that one day it was “okay” and the next day it wasn’t.

    I have had nurses (who should know better) tell me that milk “lost its nutrition” when the baby hit six months old. What nonsense! I’ve had people tell me that having a child nurse must mean that I’m dependent, or that my child is overly clingy, or that there’s something wrong with us. Those who know me, who know my parenting, who know my children know that I am a very good parent, that I am not a pushover, that I am adept at setting boundaries.

    In fact, if I had not been able to set clear boundaries about nursing with my child, I would have ended up weaning very much sooner. I explained to her at age two that nursing was something we both had to be okay with, and that if I said to stop, she had to stop, and that if she treated me nicely, I would let her pick when to wean, but that if she didn’t respect me, I’d pick when we’d wean.

  34. cw says

    #69, I did not literally mean that I think there will be middle aged people being pushed around in strollers. It was just some exaggerated sarcasm to express my point of view. Which was not that the child would not be able to do these things, but just choose not to do them even though they know how. There have been numerous posts on here about 4, 5 or 6 year olds (that I’m sure know how to drink from a cup) that ask to be bf. And you’re right, children will reach milestones when they are ready. But that doesn’t mean we can’t help guide them in the right direction. Pediatricians usually do have an age range of when children should probably reach certain milestones. Our pediatrician likes to see kids switched over to cups by 15 months. As far as what you put in the cup…breast or cows milk…is up to you. My daughter was completely switched over to cups by her first birthday. There was no balking or dragging of the feet. Not even any screaming or tantrums. It was just simply offering her a cup more and more and she was fine with it. As far as only bf babies being easier to potty train…I know some babies that were not bf and they had no problem with potty training. Each child is different and I’m sure there are many factors other than just simply being bf that could determine when or how a child is potty trained. And here is something to wrap your mind around…we are all different people with different opinions. I really doubt that anyone will be swayed from their opinions, which is fine. The world would be a pretty boring place if we were all clones of each other. This site is just a place for entertainment and to post your thoughts and opinions. It should all be taken with a grain of salt.

  35. Jane says

    Oooops. I was responding to this statement by Chris:

    Children do not see breasts in a sexual light (unless they are taught to by pervs)

  36. Jane says

    I disagree with this. If you’re talking about babies and toddlers, then of course not. But at about the age of 4 to 5 you can see kids developing little crushes. And little boys definitely react suggestively to seeing scantily clad women in magazines and on television. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. There’s nothing wrong with this of course. It’s natural. But understandably it makes some people uncomfortable to think of children as sexual beings. So they just ignore the obvious signs. Of course this doesn’t give perverted adults license to act on this sexualization. But it’s not good to ignore it either and parents should act accordingly.

  37. star says

    I think that anyone who breastfeeds children older than 1 1/2 year old needs to see someone for it. This is just way to scary to think that people would do this. Don’t you think it will scar them for life. the funny thing is one day the child will be sucking and end up coughing up powder milk.

  38. says

    Carrie, I’m glad to read that someone’s mind has been opened by this conversation. So, why do you think breastfeed must become sexual? Children do not see breasts in a sexual light (unless they are taught to by pervs) and as a mother, I don’t find anything remotely sexual about breastfeeding. I know my husband finds it mildly erotic to see me nursing, but he also knows and fully respects that my breasts are off-limits while I’m breastfeeding, at least for now. Perhaps when our son is nursing less I will feel differently. My husband is also mature enough to recognize that this is a short phase in our life and that children change everything, including a couple’s sex life (and that’s true whether you’re nursing or not). I wish more men were as respectful and mature in their outlook as he is. The world would be a better place.

    It is unfortunate that breastfeeding can be such a challenge for so many women in our culture. We offer so little support and there are so many, like some of the posters here, who are ignorant about the many benefits of breastfeeding and because they can’t get over their own breast fetish, assume that everyone sees breasts as sexual. Since I began nursing (when my daughter arrived almost four years ago), I have learned to see my breasts in a whole different way. They’re still beautiful to me, but in a maternal, nourishing way. I see them as something that I should take good care of because they take care of my child, not because they titillate my husband. I feel like I have a healthier emotional attitude toward my body than I ever had before I became a mother. The fact that my body provided the sole nourishment for two babies has a lot to do with that–it’s quite empowering.

  39. says

    cw writes in #64, “What if these ‘child leaders’ decide they don’t want to use a potty or walk on their own either? Perhaps we should continue changing their diapers and pushing them in strollers until they reach middle age? I agree children should be encouraged to make decisions, but there are some decisions that should be made by the parent.”

    Since when, cw, has a child walked or not walked because of anything a parent did or didn’t do? Here’s the thing that some posters here can’t seem to get their minds around, but I’ll try my hand at explaining it once again: Allowing children to reach milestones on their own terms does not equal encouraging them to stay dependent or immature. As other posters here have said already, breastfed babies actually exhibit fewer potty training issues. I know many who simply decided on their own that they were ready to stop using diapers, at two, two-and-a-half, or three (all considered well within the range of “normal” by pediatricians today) and went on to have very few accidents. The family didn’t experience all the potty training angst that so many others report. My own daughter did this; she came to me one day, a little before her third birthday, and told me she’d used the potty. That was it. From then on, she used the potty.

    Children naturally want to mature and do things for themselves. Just because you believe children will only learn and become independent if they are forced to doesn’t mean you are right.

    Those of us who parent gently and respectfully know from direct personal experience that no child will refuse to walk, learn to use a cup, feed herself, use the potty, etc., if she is simply allowed to do these things on her own timetable. In fact, it seems to me that those who try to force things on children are the ones whose children drag their feet, balk, and otherwise refuse to do what’s expected.

  40. Carrie says

    Wow, you extended BFers have really given me something to think about.

    Manon, I am so glad that your kids are so advanced. As I was reading it, I naturally assumed I didn’t do the best thing for my 3 boys by weaning them at 7 or 8 months. They are always sick! My second had his first ear infection at 2 weeks and I WAS nursing. I would have liked to go longer but I just couldn’t. It got to hard on me emotionally. Heck, I was aready on Zoloft! I would think you guess would understand that since you say that it is a personal decision.

    And I understand what you are saying about it not being sexual. Y’all (extended BFers) have some great points. But what about your husbands? I mean, it is sexual in a way, right? For me, the breasts are off limits while I am nursing. No questions. But for 5 years? How does it not become sexual? Can you help me understand?

    Please know that I am being serious. i am not being rude or judgemental in any way. I have really learned a lot from y’all and you have opened my eyes to another point of view. I just want to understand it a little more.

  41. Karen says

    Well, someone said something about “not being a doctor” so I felt I should add to the discussion. I am almost a doctor (raised kiddos first then went back to med school).

    Human milk supplies signficant immunologic, nutritional, emotional and growth factor benefits for the entire time a child consumes it. This creates what is called “dose response” which means that the more they get, the greater the effect. For breastfeeding, that means improved health, better brain development and better quality fuel to grow a healthy body.

    The child’s immune system does not produce adequate IgA for 2-4 years and does not have a fully functional immune system until around age 6. This is why humans were designed to consume human milk for a minimum of 2.5 yrs. (this is why kids get sick all the time, though much less if still getting mom’s milk)

    It may seem foreign to Americans, but we are the minority on this issue. The rest of the world nurses for many years, as the average age for weaning worldwide is over 4 yrs. This is in countries with far better physical and mental health and longevity (like Japan, China and India).

    Nursing for more than 2 yrs is not only normal but it is optimal — which is why the World Health Organization recommends it.

    Oh, the comment about animals weaning their young is well-taken. Resarch on our nearest relatives–chimps and apes is part of the how we learned that homo sapiens are designed to be carried and breastfed at least 2.5 yrs–based on brain development and attainment of mature abilities and immune function.

  42. Aleisha says

    Oriana, do you have nothing better to do than to talk about something you quite obviously know nothing about?

    Most of the anti-extended bf posters have something intelligent to say, even if I don’t agree with them, they are stating their opinions in intelligent ways. You however are just attacking randomly.

    I can tell that you do not have children, or if you do that they were not bf at all.

    I am a mother of a 10 month old boy who is currently bf’ing. I admit that there are days where I wish he’d wean himself, but I also remember how hard it was to get into a regular rhythm in the beginning.

    How long a mother bf’s her child is her business and hers alone. If you happen to think it’s disgusting then I feel sorry for you. If a mother is bf’ing in public and you don’t want to see it, then guess what? YOU DON”T HAVE TO LOOK.

    People are all up in each others’ business and telling everyone what to do and why we are all wrong. It’s so sad. Do what you want. If you can’t bf, then don’t. If you can and want to wean at 11 months, 18 months or even 5 years, then do it. The opinions of others don’t matter.

    Especially the opinions of uneducated internet board trolls.

  43. oriana says

    I also think that a child sucking on a bottle at five years old is ridiculous also! Mothers, do you know what common sense is? Again, who is the parent and who is the child in your home?

  44. cw says

    #44 & #45, I am in fact a mother. My daughter is 20 months old and I could not imagine her reverting back to infancy. She is her own little independent person now and not a baby anymore. What if these ‘child leaders’ decide they don’t want to use a potty or walk on their own either? Perhaps we should continue changing their diapers and pushing them in strollers until they reach middle age? I agree children should be encouraged to make decisions, but there are some decisions that should be made by the parent. Even animals know there is a time to wean their babies!

  45. manon says

    #37 asks if a 3.5 year old who is still nursing is also still in diapers. Did you know that breastfed children are less likely to have a problem with bedwetting in later childhood? (They don’t have to still be breastfeeding . . . just have been breastfed . . . the longer the better.)

    I have three children. My older two nursed just past their third birthdays, and weaned with a little encouragement from me. The youngest is 2.5 and still nursing several times a day. They all stopped using diapers *totally on their own initiative* at 26, 26, and 21 months respectively. We have had very few potty accidents — I have never purchased a single pullup. I don’t know for sure that breastfeeding had anything to do with our ridiculously easy potty training, but it happened three times in a row with three very different kids, so I suspect it’s related.

    Other reasons I feel pretty good about longer-term nursing: I have filled only two prescriptions for medications in seventeen kid-years (the ages of my children added up) — both of them AFTER the child was weaned. My older kids were riding bikes *without* training wheels by the time they were three (breastfeeding fosters confidence and optimal physical development). My kids are as independent as you could want — almost too much so! (Meeting their needs for dependence and closeness when they were little has helped them grow into independent people.) My kids are excellent eaters who enjoy a wide variety of foods including almost anything on the menu of sophisticated restaurants (breastfed children are more accepting of different foods & flavors). My kids graduated from sippy cups fairly early and now even the 2.5 year old hardly ever uses one (again, physical coordination and development). They are all growing up healthy (height, weight) and happy and talented and scary-smart. They have these things in common despite being VERY different temperamentally.

    They have great relationships with their dad. Breastfeeding helped us as a family to build close, loving relationships that honor our individual needs.

    The research indicates that breastfeeding continues to provide important developmental support for as long as it happens. Most research simply doesn’t look past 2 years — but the studies that do invariably find that the benefits continue & increase.

    An older nursing child is not doing it mainly for the nutrition (although after 12 months, breastmilk has MORE immunities and calories than in the early months). The older they get, the less they nurse, and for shorter times.

    I am quite sure that longer-term breastfeeding has been right for my kids and for our family. I did not do it for my ‘needs’ — I was ready to stop before they were/are — but to meet my children’s needs. Yes, I have other ways of giving them comfort and closeness. But why not continue to breastfeed as ONE of those ways? It has been a beautiful and healthy way to mother my children.

  46. oriana says

    #54, What if you daughter had said she would have been ready to stop nursing when she was 8, instead of 6, or even 10, would you have gone along with that?

  47. Scarlett says

    You can’t force a baby or a child to breastfeed so it’s quite absurd to suggest that extended nursing is mother-led. Breastfeeding is a partnership between a mother and her child. Either partner can initiate weaning but neither one can continue without the other wanting to.

  48. says

    Tess, you ask, “Why does the breast need to be involved?” But we could just as easily turn the question around and ask, “Why not?”

    It’s so sad how little most Americans understand about the world outside our borders. Worldwide, children wean between the ages of two and seven. It’s only here in the so-called “civilized world” (though the attacks on mother’s choice in the comments here are not what I would call civil) where we have so fetishized the breast that people make such an issue about children nursing, for three months or three years.

    I don’t particularly enjoy breastfeeding my 14-month-old somedays, just like I don’t always enjoy every moment of feeding him food, changing his diapers, picking him up when I’m busy and he wants my attention, etc. But I do all these things because I feel that’s all part of doing my best as a parent. I plan to let him continue to nurse for as long as it comforts him. Americans are also obsessed with independence, but this rush to independence isn’t in the best interest of children. Children were born to become attached to their parents, breastfeeding is just one of many ways to foster that attachment. For children, breastfeeding is a perfectly normal and natural way to seek comfort.

    For those of you who find extended breastfeeding sick or silly or stupid, I feel sorry for you. You sound to me like people with rather hardened hearts, who see ugliness and perversion in an act more beautiful and wholesome than any other. How very sad for you.

  49. Jenrose says

    I am trying to explain to you that it is not about a mother’s need or a mother’s desire, at least not in my case. Nursing my older child was initiated by her coming and asking for the breast. If, at that moment, I did not have any pressing reason to tell her no, I let her nurse. If I did have a reason to tell her no, then I told her no.

    She did not want to sit and cuddle, she wanted to nurse. It was not a sacrifice for me to spend a few minutes meeting that need… but for my younger daughter, yes, it is, because it is not physically comfortable. I do it by choice because she clearly wants and needs and benefits from it… but it is for her, initiated by her, and if there were no benefit to it, I would stop in a heartbeat.

    You are not listening to me when I tell you that this is not about MY need… It is not something I do for self gratification. It is something I do for my children, because they want it and benefit from it.

    At age two, my older daughter was nursing many times a day. She was allergic to milk and soy–it was nutrition for her. My younger daughter only nurses a few times per day… that’s all she asks for. If I was doing it “for me” or “encouraging it”… I’d have her at the breast more often than she’s asking for it. I don’t.

  50. Joelle says

    Jenrose – Thanks for sharing your story! Glad to hear that your daughter is so well adjusted.
    My son weaned at 11 months and as it was his choice I was proud, but I would have surely continued to nurse had he chosen to wean at 18 months, or 2 years, or 3 years. He is 3 1/2 now, and it’s hard to imagine him at his size being a nurser, but there are times when I could see the need.
    I feel sad for the individuals who sexualize and objectify women who nurse in general, let alone those who are extended nursers. These are our children, our bodies and the only thing I am finding immoral in this discussion are those individuals who insist on projecting their thoughts onto someone else in such judgmental tones.

  51. Tess says

    I’m sorry I’m very happy that you all have happy healthy children, but I see nursing as advanced ages as meeting a mother’s need, not so much the child’s. Mothers encourage it, so it appears to be the child’s need, but putting into play my psychology training, I do not see it as a benefit. I believe there are healthier alternatives. Why can’t you just sit and cuddle? Why does the breast need to be involved? You make it sound like you sacrificed so much to enable your child to nurse at advanced ages. Of course all parent’s must sacrifice for their children every day, yet sacrificing control over your body is not the healthy choice.
    I would never try to talk a mother out of her nursing choices at whatever age, and I do not feel I am attacking anyone,so please do nt feel the need to defend yourselves, I am merely voicing my opinions. You are the ones who know your children- not me.

  52. Jenrose says

    Oh, and I fail to see any “unhealthy dependency”… I think that it is actually healthy for a small child to have some dependence on a parent. Attachment, comfort, and dependence are NOT bad words when it comes to 4 and 5 year olds! If she still “needed” to nurse when she was 10… I would wonder… but she DIDN’T. She *DID* self wean. Do you people get that? And where is breastfeeding “unhealthy”? Where is wanting closeness and comfort a bad thing?

    Are there other ways of accomplishing that? Sure. Are they inherently superior simply because they’re “not nursing”? I don’t think so.

    Let’s put it this way. She did not “bond” with an inanimate object, blanket, pacifier or bottle. She bonded with me. She did not develop a lot of ear infections or bad teeth from her “nursing habit”… in fact, her adult teeth are beautifully aligned and she will not need braces… her teeth are better aligned than either her father’s or mine.

    She was not “dependent” on me 24/7… at age 3 she went on a trip with her dad and was gone for a week, and didn’t “have” to nurse…but when she came back, she wanted to, and that was okay. Being able to come back to her comfort made her feel safer about going out into the world.

    I’m not saying that every mother should nurse their child through age 6. I’m saying that it is not unhealthy to *allow* a child to have a need for comfort at the breast… because meeting that need young is sure easier than coping with the consequences of an unmet oral need as a child grows older.

  53. Jenrose says

    It’s not about the mother encouraging. I don’t think I encouraged my older daughter to nurse after age 2 1/2…

    Here’s an example… When she turned 4, I had to go on medication that we then thought would not be safe for her. I weaned her. After two weeks, she came to me and said very clearly, “Mama, your milk is all gone. And if anything comes out, I’ll stop nursing. But please can I have my num nums back?” This is not me “encouraging” her to nurse…. My response was, “When will you wean?”

    Her answer was, “When I’m six.”

    When, at 5 1/2, she had gotten to the point of only nursing for a few seconds every week or two, I asked her when it had been about 3 weeks, if she was weaned. She answered, “When I’m six.” Sure enough, *she asked* to nurse a few hours or a few days later, I don’t remember exactly…and that was enough for another couple weeks. As she turned six, she did one last token nursing and that was that. There was no struggle, no tears, just happy fond memories. She was not “walking around with it” even at that age… it was more like having a 5 -year-old find a pacifier, pick it up, suck on it for 2 seconds, smile, then put it back down again…only a heck of a lot better for her teeth.

    So, mother-led? Hah.

    My two year old is down to a couple nursings per day. I grit my teeth and let her do it, because it is important to her. She likes food and eats lots of it. She drinks water from a cup and loves it. But there are times when nursing is The Thing… and it is still important to her. And because it is only a few minutes, a couple times a day, I put up with it.

    I did not sit on a broken tailbone for 5 months, pumping my breasts every couple hours and waking myself up in the middle of the night because she wasn’t going to for my own gratification. I did not continue nursing despite the fact that she tends to clamp her jaws down at random for my pleasure. You guys are crazy if you think I do it for me. I do it because my milk is my daughter’s birthright and because she clearly wants it and needs it.

  54. Tess says

    #50- it has nothing to do with sex. It has to do with an unhealthy dependancy. I’m glad your older daughter is nomral, responsible, and healthy, but I assure you, she would still be the same had she stopped nursing at 3. there are other ways to calm or focus a child that are healthier and do not lead to dependancies.

  55. AEM says

    Alright – I’m definitely both ways on this topic!…I think breastfeeding is wonderful and each baby deserves all the vitamins and nutrients they get as an infant from the breastmilk…I totally 100% believe babies should be breastfed however that being said….when babies are little they are drinking “dead food” meaning formula that has been chemically altered so that it can become powder or even the liquid so that it stays fresh – so when they drink the breastmilk it gives them all the vitamins and such fresh from your milk which there is no substitution for at this age…but if your toddler still needs this fresh milk to receive all these vitamins and nutrients then maybe the parent needs to look at the vitamins/minerals they’re getting in the food they’re eating…or in this case lack thereof…

    for those who argue it is a “comforting” technique – what if your child becomes so dependent on it that they feel they can’t give it up….how is this different from a child sucking his thumb until he feels “comfortable”…or for a child wanting a binky for comfort….while my son uses a binky now at 7 months I think I would have to question seeing him walk around at seven or eight with it still in his mouth…

    In my opinion there is no longer nutritional value to breast feeding at such a big age and I do have to question whether these mothers are not wanting their babies to grow up or are afraid of losing such a close bond with them….

    Anyway, as the saying goes – to each his own :)…or i guess in this case HER own!

  56. Tess says

    Not to intentionally slam any other mother or how they raise their children, but my thoughts based on my research…….

    There is no health benefit to breastfeeding after two years old. After two years old, breast feeding is a comfort to toddlers. There are numerous other (and MY OPINION healthier) ways to comfort a toddler. Long term breastfeeding into the ages of 3, 4, 5, and older is a mother who is encouraging her child’s dependancy on her. To me that is a mother who is trying to keep her childfrom growing and developing and is,as a result, harming her child on many levels.

    What you all do is u to you and to each their own, but these are my justifications on why I would never bf a child over 2.

  57. Jenrose says

    I don’t breastfeed because it is fun, I breastfeed because it is good for my children.

    I did nurse my older daughter to just before age 6. Not because I really wanted to (I could easily have been completely finished with nursing when she was about 3) but because it was clear to me that letting her nurse allowed her to meet a fundamental need to suck. Toward the end she would go days without nursing, and then get more and more “mouthy”… she would start back-talking, she would chew on pencils, there was clearly a need. She’d nurse, and those behaviors would go away. I’m not talking about the “lounge around for 40 minutes sucking” that a 2 month old will do, I’m talking about a 30 second “touching base” every couple of days that involved very little sacrifice on my part but seemed incredibly important to her weathering the changes in her life. Was she capable of weaning? Sure. Was it something I needed to force on her? No. She decided at age 4 that she would wean when she was six, and that’s what she did.

    My younger daughter is NOT an easy child to nurse… nursing her has NEVER been for my sake, I don’t enjoy it, and the only reason I do it is because it is good for her and she needs every advantage she can get, as she has a rare chromosome deletion. She bites (she can’t help it). She scratches me. It is almost never even comfortable… but it is obvious that it is physically and emotionally important to her, and it is something that I can do for her, so I do. She’s two… and yes, she still gets milk. Yes, she still gets immune benefits and nutrition from it, and yes, I will continue until either I can’t stand another second of it or until she self-weans.

    You who sexualize it are the ones who are inappropriate. Get your minds out of the gutter. You who insist that children “should be independent” miss the fact that letting them decide when to be independent fosters more true independence than forced weaning ever can. They are babies for such a short time…

    My teenager was nursed to the day before she turned 6. Within two years she was making her own breakfasts and walking to school by herself. She didn’t even need “tuck ins”. By the time she was 10 she was capable of getting herself up in the morning, getting ready for school, packing a lunch, and taking a couple of city buses across town, all without my help. At 13, she is one of the best-adjusted, responsible and independent teens I’ve ever met.

    So no, I don’t regret letting her be a baby as long as she needed to be. Because she’s certainly taken on growing up with a passion.

    I don’t think other people “have to” nurse their children as long as I did… but I think weaning a child simply because other people have filthy minds is sad… You who sexualize breastfeeding, I have no patience for you and before you criticize me, you better go deal with your own issues, because there’s clearly something wrong with someone who looks at a nursing child and thinks “sex”. I find THAT disgusting… the nursing child is innocent, and breastfeeding is not about sex.

  58. Jill says

    “Better yet, come join the fun at our NEW hangout hellorazzi.com where we celebrate motherhood, beauty and friendship. At hellorazzi.com you can meet friends, share the latest gossip, exchange beauty secrets, create your own blog, gab in the forums; and enjoy the warmth of spirited girl talk.”

    Mariana said it all. Some people are obviously loving spouting nastiness and are demonstrating the attitudes mentioned in the article. The articulate comments on letting ones boyfriend or husband take over suckling duties after the baby is a year is interesting– offense is taken at a one year old taking milk from mom, but a 30 year old man can hop on for milk. Hmmm.

    Every family draws their own lines. Some people keep pushing that line further and further back until it turns into “Wean that baby! He has teeth!” or “Well, she got her colostrum and it’s been six weeks, so she’s probably ok.”

    The world is full of people that never take a step out of their comfort zone to explore another perspective. They are often the most outspoken because they are playing out the belief systems into which they were born which just seem so right. Chill for awhile, look at the big picture, get lots of information, think critically about where your beliefs came from. On very few issues is there a right or wrong… just angry people who like to feel right.

    So nurse freely, wean when it’s right for you (even if that’s 3 months– it’s YOUR decision) and set aside your angst about what others do. And lets honor the decision of the angry poster who wants to nurse her boyfriend or husband or both once she feels her 1 year old baby is done with the milk. She’s an extended breastfeeding advocate after all!

  59. Morgan Gallagher says

    How sad that the article had to be ended with that barb about ‘suspecting’ it’s mother led. Surely, as a journalist, you could interview the kids and ask them!

    Or would checking your sources be too scary?

    After all, the advantage to nursing children until they choose to stop – is that most are old enough to express their own opinion, as opposed to a journo’s ‘suspicions’. Let’s hear it for how those both experienced, and qualified, in the field, can be negated by personal prejudice in the final flick of the pen.

    Wonderful that those with open minds to how our biology actually works (as opposed to our society’s meddling) can see that a normal nursing relationship has to be child led… ever seen a toddler do anything it didn’t want to? Least of all nurse? They do after all… have teeth! 😉


  60. oriana says

    I do have to say I love this picture! It is very sweet and looks so loving and such a peaceful looking baby!

  61. oriana says

    Mariana, I would say it to your face, and to anyone that is sitting there breastfeeding a child that is as old as yours is, and especially those mothers that do it till five years old! It is pitiful and silly!

    There are babies, toddlers and then small childen, a mother coming to a school when a child is five years old to breastfeed him is the most stupid thing I have ever heard of!

    Who is the parent and who is the child in your house? A parent, a mother, makes the decisions and not only nutures the child but teaches the child, and allows him/her to grow and flourish.

    Doesn’t he have teeth? Does he know how to chew? Does he know how to feed himself? Can he use a spoon? Does he know how to hold a cup or glass and drink without choking? Have you taught him anything?

    After a certain age children need to be independent in some areas, they are young, they need guidance and love, do you only get a bonding experience by just breastfeeding? There are many way of doing that.

    A mother is the focal person in a child’s life, they need to be led and taught, not the mother being child led, I am sorry, I have no doubts you are a very good mother, but come on, 3 1/2 years, it is way past time to teach your child how to eat, use a napkin, hold a cup, are you still going to breastfeed when he is 7 if he still wants too?

  62. Mariana says

    It is clear to me that some of the posters are deriving pleasure by ridiculing others. I’m not sure if some of you are even mothers, as another poster alluded to. It doesn’t matter one way or the other. Something about the “anonymity” of a chat room emboldens people to be a little more “in your face” than they would be in a more natural setting, i.e. face to face. I only hoped that my comments would offer another perspective, I didn’t expect to be called “pathetic” or teased. BF’ing your child doesn’t equal negligence. Of course there are all types of mothers, and some BFing mothers may also be neglectful. I haven’t observed any of the pro BFing mothers posting negative comments about the BOTTLE FED, SIPPY CUP, or PACIFIER supporters, I wish it were reciprocal.


  63. Cass says

    Wow, some of you women are acting rather ignorant. I nursed my son until he was 19 months and the only reason we stopped was because I had to be gone for a week and when I came back, he nursed twice and was done with it. A lot of women who are saying nursing past the age of one is disgusting need to do some more research. At one, my son was only nursing maybe 3 times a day and drinking cow’s milk out of a sippy throughout the day. When he finally weaned, he was nursing maybe once in the morning and then before bed and that was it, so if he HAD gone til the age of 5, I wouldn’t be showing up at school because I was lunch. You aren’t even supposed to used breastmilk OR formula for a full meal past the age of 7-8 months if I remember correctly…certainly not past the age of one. And the mention of only nursing after a certain age because mommy likes to have her boobs sucked on is completely absurd!!!!!! You need to take a good look at yourself for even thinking that.

    If you’re so against this and not a mother yet, please watch what you say because you have no idea what you’ll actually do when you are one. If you do have kids, have some respect! What gives you the right to judge someone for doing part of what we were built to do as mothers?

  64. Paula says

    I BF both of my sons over 20 years ago, each for 11 months. My first weaned himself because he was drinking milk from a cup and started to prefer that, and my second one I weaned because he was keeping me up 4 and 5 times a night, not because he was hungry but because I felt he was using me as a pacifer. He would drink a little and fall asleep. My neices children all three were weaned before a year and now looking at them at 3,5, and 7 I can’t imagine one of them wanting to be BF now. They are so big. But, her friend has a 4 year old that still BF and this child seems so much younger than the others at his age. He reverts to baby talk and cries at every little thing. Of course the mother offers the breast and I feel that she isn’t allowing him to mature and still keeping him a baby. I agree with other posters that said if you want your child to drink breast milk, give it to him in a cup.

  65. Tess says

    Doesn’t breastfeeding a child until it’s 5 make it harder to bond with the father? After all, after a year breastfeeding is a comfort thing, not a food thing. How is the dad supposed to comfort a child when it runs for a boob every time something is wrong?

  66. Carrie says

    Wow, this is interesting.

    As a mom of 3 boys, I never felt led to BF after 8 months, but that was just me. I started to feel uncomfortable, emotionally drained and it was hard to juggle with other children.

    If it is child-led, then it shouldn’t be. I agree, we are the adults and need to set limits and boundries for our children.

    My father in-law works for CPS in Texas and had to take a 8 year old away from his mother for still being breast fed. They called it child neglect.

  67. says

    ok jennna m.is okay for your kids to bf as long as they want to but it not okay for a 10 months to suck on a binky would you stll bf your babies when they are four year old stupid

  68. no way says

    i just can’t believe you that are still breast feeding you children, so when your child is in the 1st grade or even 3rd your still gonna give them the tit. you all are sick in the head damb you gave them enough nutrition up until the age of one after that give them a cuppie and let your husbands or boyfriend suck on your tits, if you need them to be sucked. the excuse of your child wanting it is just to sick. it is you that like for your tits to be sucked. i’m sure that if you give your child a cup of milk they will be just as satisfied. so when your kid is sucking your tit think about giveing them a cup.

  69. theresa says

    My four year old still nurses and it is child-led, not immoral, and it’s not because I think he needs the nutrition. It is simply natural. I too once felt like many of you that is was just plain absurd and would never have envisioned myself doing this – or co-sleeping with my child for that matter. Being a mother changes you…. but remember we are all mothers, yet all individuals. We all want what is best for our child. Let’s all hug and make up now shall we?

  70. cw says

    #28, I totally agree. When a child’s mother goes to school because she ‘is’ lunch, it just seems creepy!

    The job of the parent is to teach and help guide your child to grow up and learn to be independent…not to encourage them to be an infant for as long as possible. And as for the comfort issue…there are so many other ways to comfort and bond with your child. A child that age shouldn’t need a boob shoved in it’s mouth to feel loved.

  71. Mariana says

    It saddens me to see some of the comments being interchanged. I would like to believe that as parents we are modeling respectful and compassionate attiudes toward one another, rather than ones of disdain or disgust. I’m sure we would never approve of our own children calling someone’s else’s lifestyle decision “ridiculous”, “stupid”, or “crazy”. When I first became a mother, breastfeeding was anything but natural for me. I had no idea what I was doing, nor did I see myself sticking with it for more than 6 months. I was very blessed to have met some extremely caring and generous mothers who advised me to trust my body and my child to lead the way. Since then I have looked at breastfeeding not only as a source of nutrition for my son, but also as an amazing barometer of his emotional and physical health. He is almost 3.5 years old and we discuss very often the day that he will be ready to wean. He only nurses to sleep or, occasionally, if he is upset, he comfort nurses. For me it has never been a mother-led decision. If he weaned today, I would be happy, but I know, he has not quite satisfied that need. I don’t feel that we can choose the day our children become independent, that is very much up to them, as they all have very different timelines. I can empathize with parents who frown upon extended breastfeeding, since before becoming a mother, I would have thought it was pretty strange too. The more informed and educated I have become on this issue, the harder it becomes for me to accept how closed-minded I used to be.

    Just airing my thoughts.

    I wish you all the best,


  72. oriana says

    KellyMay, My Dear, I must have my ice cream too!!!!

    I totally get what you are saying, makes sense to me!!!!

  73. says

    Your comment about suspecting that long-term nursing is mother led is wrong – just as I’m sure you know you can’t make a child eat when they don’t want to, you can’t make a child nurse when they don’t want to either. In the same vein, if a child really wants to nurse, they make it known just like if they really want a cookie. It’s usually the mother who (who has tired of nursing for one reason or another) who cuts down or cuts off the relationship using distraction or substitution methods, just like you would do with a cookie or toy that a child is fixated on but you don’t want them to have.

  74. says

    LOL Oriana, I should have said cow’s milk is made for calves development and human milk made for….

    I like milk and love cheese myself! To argue that cow’s milk is ideal for human growth is absurd 🙂

  75. says

    Amy your information is very inaccurate.

    “Many reputable health organizations (including the AAP, WHO and AAFP) all support nursing beyond a year. 12 mos is the *minimum* time that the AAP suggests nursing and the WHO suggests 2 years as the minimum. The American Academy of Family Physicians notes that children weaned before two years of age are at increased risk of illness (AAFP 2001). ”


    Cow’s milk is made for calves not humans!

  76. sarah says

    that is just ridiculous. after 12 months that is just plain gross. sorry there was a 4 or 5 yr old at my daughters school who was still breastfeeding and i just found it ridiculous when the mother came and i saw her breastfeeding him. it just looked imoral. did’nt look right she came during lunch to feed him. i just could’nt believe it. no after 1 yr. its time to let go. alot of women don’t want to let their children grow up and be able to feed off the table with a cup of milk. come on there are other ways to stay bonded with your child.

  77. celine says

    toni morrison had an amazing character born out of this issue of breastfeeding and till when. Milkman in Song of Solomon. and his mother. and the name. and judging. it is an amazing book and not only for this bit.

  78. says

    Come on, people. We all do parenting a little differently. It’s just the way it is. I personally would like everyone to follow the World Health Organization’s recommendations and breastfeed for two years. Obviously everyone isn’t going to do that, but there’s really no reason to criticize people who choose to do so and beyond, unless you feel a little insecure because you didn’t.

    I admit I have mixed feelings about a five year old nursing, but if it works for them, that’s their business. I feel the same about pacifiers, but it works for lots of people. All families are different.

    I think the idea of a weaning party is sweet. Children are miracles, unbelievable special. I don’t think we celebrate enough milestones, too often we miss them in the everyday mundane routine. Why not take time to celebrate something that marks a change?

  79. oriana says

    Oops, spelled it wrong?

    And I have never heard of a Weaning Party before, that is silly to me too!

  80. oriana says

    Alyssa, it may be judgemental to say that five years old is WAY to old for a child to be breastfeeding, but not Naieve, common sense should tell a parent when a child is too old for that, it is just plain pitiful to think otherwise.

  81. oriana says

    Well then why not breastfeed till they are ten years old then? Or even in highschool? That is just plain stupid!

  82. Alyssa says

    why r u ladies arguing about this ??

    if someone believes that breastfeeding a 5 year old is right for their child then thats their choice. if you dont believe that who cares, but dont go around saying its ridiculous or they shouldnt be doing that. people in this world are so judemental and so naive as well. people can do what they want to do. leave it at that.
    its healthy, its benificial and they can do it if they want. get over it.

  83. oriana says

    #15, EXACTLY RIGHT!! A five year old should not still be sucking on a bottle! That is ridiculous too!

  84. Julie says

    I am a mother of twins, and because of circumstance, I was never able to breastfeed my children fully. My son never figured it out, and my daughter figured it out but by that time I wasn’t producing enough even though I was pumping. I was able to satisfy my daughter ONE time at the breast and it was an incredible feeling. I used to think that breastfeeding beyond what is considered “culturally acceptable” was strange. I used to take it for granted that women are just able to breastfeed, then stop around 1 year and it’s a done deal. There are only 2 things I regret about my twins’ babyhood and not being able to breastfeed them is one. I support breastfeeding as long as mother and child wish. There is a bond created unlike any other, so all of you moms who breastfed but chastise moms who do so into 2, 3, 4 years of age, think about what it would have been like if you hadn’t been able to breastfeed at all. It’s a sad feeling.

  85. Denise says

    I agree w/ #15 if it that important that your child have breast milk at that age put in a cup.

    Breastfeeding at 5 five is ridiculous. They have supplement drinks you can give your child.

  86. Lacy says

    personally, i don’t think it is nessesary to bf past the age of two. i will stop at two, no past that. children need to be independent, and i think that that is when that stage in their life begins. of course it is nutritional, but i think it is kind of weird to have 5 year old children naming their mothers breasts like that. i’m no doctor, but i don’t think it is mentally healthy for a child to bf that long.

  87. mary jo says

    Amy, I’m not sure what parenting books you are reading, but the article summed it up well when it said that those who breastfeed past 18 months tend to be highly educated.

    I know plenty of people who have breastfed into toddlerhood and beyond and have no idea how you could force a child to breastfeed if he/she didn’t want to. Extended nursing, with all of its documented benefits, is not something the mother could do for herself, even if she wanted to.

  88. cw says

    In my opinion, letting a five year old breastfeed is no different than letting a five year old walk around drinking from a baby bottle! I understand that there are benefits to drinking breast milk and that’s great. But if the kid is old enough to be drinking from a cup instead of a bottle, then they shouldn’t be nursing from a breast either. If it’s the nutrition that is so important…pump it and give it to them in a cup!

  89. oriana says

    #13, maybe your daughter wil let you know when she doesn’t want Ho Ho’s and Twinkies any more also!

    Who is the adult and who is the child in your house?

  90. yogamama says

    human babies need cows milk for brain development? um, NO. cows make milk to make their calves big and fat. why would we need the milk of another species to survive and thrive? that makes absolutely no sense and to state such is based on completely unfounded evidence.

    breastfeeding my daughter has been one of the most enlightening and enriching experiences of my entire life. it is so much more than nutrition, it is love, bonding, nurturing, trust and communication. we intend to keep going as long as possible, i trust my little one and i know that she’ll let me know when she’s ready to not have “nu-nu’s” anymore.

  91. Amy says

    I BFed both of my daughters until they were a year old and stopped completely then. They were upset a day or two then completely forgot about it. While I loved being close to them and providing that nutrition, every baby book Ive ever read STRESSES that after 12 months breast milk is no longer beneficial to the child and they need cows milk for the proper development of their brains. I personally think its insane to nurse a 5 yr old. And I think its crazy to say they should make the decision… would you let your child decide between chocolate cake or a sandwich for lunch? We are the adults… its up to us to set them on the right path.

  92. oriana says

    Breast feeding a two year old is different from a five year old, that is ridiculous to do it that long! I do think that every mother, if possible, should try breast feeding, it is best for the child in every way, but when they get to a certain age, mothers, use common sense! Please! Five years old?

  93. me says

    I am nursing my 5 month old at the present time and there is nothing like that bond. I am careful to not make other people uncomfortable because it’s polite.Personally i won’t nurse him past 15-18 months bacause it is time for his independence and does get strange when they get so big.
    i understand how important healthise it is but i still find it hard when a child is walking and talking to to be breastfed.

  94. KT says

    I really like this article and agree it is “child led”. My 15 month old is still BFing and he and I both enjoy it. I tell people, who are “surprised” that I still BF, that I will stop when he is around 18 months because I feel they judge me BUT in reality I will probably do it until he is ready to stop. I plan on weaning him down to morning and evening when he starts preschool. I do have to say it does really bother me that people are so judgemental over something that is only beneficial to your child plus somehting that doesn’t effect them to begin with.

  95. says

    What a wonderful article! I agree with some of the previous commenters; all of the people I know who are breastfeeding preschoolers are doing it child-led, not mother-led. My daughter is two and a half and still nursing before nap and night time; I don’t love it but she still looks forward to and asks for it. And she is completely able to sleep without it when I am not around. I think it should be a symbiotic relationship between the mother and child; as long as it works for both, great.

    This will sound crazy, but it worked for us: when my daughter was around 15 months old, I started feeling like I couldn’t do it anymore and needed some kind of compromise. So I said to her, “How about you only have boob before you go to sleep from now on?” She said “OK,” and that was that. I don’t know how long we will do it this way, but it’s fine for now.

  96. keppa says

    I recently saw a video on ebaumsworld.com (if anyone’s interested) about a mother in the UK who nursed one daughter to 5 years old and was still nursing her second, who was also 5. While I agree that there are many, many benefits to breast feeding and that it shouldn’t be looked upon in a sexual manner at all….I still wonder….

    I mean, these girls had their mother’s breasts named, they liked to draw pictures of them all the time and both of them insisted that people should never stop being breastfed. I’m not saying it’s wrong….
    I just think there’s a lot to think about on this topic

  97. jenty says

    good lord people – get a life. sad when you find meaning from some 5-year old child sucking on you

  98. says

    I had no support with my first babe and failed breastfeeding, second time around it was amazing! Breastfeeding was such a beautiful experience, my self weaned around 18 months. He stopped asking I stopped offering.
    We live in such a judgemental society that these woman are forced to be ‘closet nursers’, I don’t agree with this at all. Humans were made to drink human milk not cows milk which wrecks havoc internally for many people, when can we stop judging and just accept?

  99. Julie says

    I agree…I LOVE breastfeeding and I intend to do it for as long as I can and as long as my child wants…

  100. Jenna M. says

    It’s completely child-led. Lont-term breast feeding has countless proven benefits for both mother and child, in terms of health, development and relationship.

    I definitely intend to nurse my kds for as long as they want (up to a point!) when I have them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.