Breastfeeding toddlers and older children is more common than many people believe. Often a mother will not make it common knowledge, fearful of the comments which inevitably come, often way before even the child’s first birthday.
“You’re not STILL breastfeeding him, are you?”
“You’ll be poking your boobs through the school gates.”
“It’s verging on child abuse.”
These are just some of the comments that mums who choose to breastfeed toddlers hear all the time. People invent all sorts of arbitrary times when breastfeeding should be stopped – when the baby grows teeth; when he starts walking; when he can ask for it, but these are not based on any evidence. As long as a child and a mother are both happy to continue breastfeeding, there is no reason to stop. Most children will self wean before the age of seven, and there are many benefits to full term breastfeeding.
- Your child’s immune system is not yet mature, and breast milk gives it a great boost.
- If your child is inconsolable for any reason – possibly because they have fallen over while playing, or maybe just because of the many frustrations of being a toddler – a breast is often the only thing that will stop the tears and calm the child down.
- Young children often suffer from sickness bugs. Breast milk can sometimes be the only thing gentle enough for the child’s stomach to tolerate, and it will provide nutrients and fluids to help your child back to health.
- It’s a lovely way to bond with your little one again when he comes home from school or nursery.
- It’s good for the mother too. The longer you breastfeed, the greater your protection against certain types of cancer.
- Breast milk is an excellent source of nutrition for children, even when they are old enough for other foods too.
So if you and your child are reluctant to stop breastfeeding, then don’t. You won’t end up breastfeeding a teenager, and you will give them the best start in life.