Sunday, November 22, 2009

All of them and a big soapbox which you might want to skip

Aiden still nurses and this is a post about nursing. If you don't want to read about a toddler nursing, this is a good place to stop.

So Baba still says "switch" when he wants to nurse. Tonight as I was getting ready, I asked him, "Baba, which side do you want" and he said, "all of them!". There was so much abundance in the way he said it, like I had 10 breasts.

*****My Soapbox Statement*****
If you have concerns about the fact that some toddlers nurse, you're not alone. I'm starting to get raised eyebrow comments from members of my own family. Here are some facts....

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends

Exclusive breastfeeding for approximately the first six months and support for breastfeeding for the first year and beyond as long as mutually desired by mother and child....There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychologic or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer."

Here's more from the American Academy of Family Physicians

"Breastfeeding beyond the first year offers considerable benefits to both mother and child, and should continue as long as mutually desired." They also note that "If the child is younger than two years of age, the child is at increased risk of illness if weaned."

If you're wondering why the AAP and AAFP are officially OK with extended nursing its because it's so gosh darn good for kids, regardless of their age. We all know there are immune properties in breastmilk. Some of these properties actually *increase* during the second year and during weaning. Considering that toddlers (and even children) don't have mature immune systems this is a very good thing. It's as if the mother's body is giving her child as many immuno-boosters as she can as her child enters toddlerhood and gets ready for increased independence.

Here's more research I found on-line.
Nursing toddlers between the ages of 16 and 30 months have been found to have fewer illnesses and illnesses of shorter duration than their non-nursing peers (Gulick 1986).

"Antibodies are abundant in human milk throughout lactation" (Nutrition During Lactation1991; p. 134). In fact, some of the immune factors in breastmilk increase in concentration during the second year and also during the weaning process. (Goldman 1983, Goldman & Goldblum 1983, Institute of Medicine 1991).

In this soapbox statement, I'm focusing on health benefits. There's more...all of the benefits of nursing for the mother and the baby (I won't list them all here) are *cumulative* so the longer you do it, the greater the benefit. That means extended nursing is good for me too. It protects me from several different types of cancer. It gives Baba great protection from allergies. The list goes on and on and it's amazing.

I haven't even touched on the emotional and social benefit of giving the child the freedom to decide when he or she is "old enough to stop". We all mature at different speeds and Baba is the only one who will know when he's done. However, nursing has to work for both mother and child. It's shouldn't be forced on a mother who's not game or is feeling resentful of that aspect of the relationship. Personally, I don't and can't know what my upper limit is. If Aiden is still going when I reach it, then we'll have to talk. Until then, I'll keep asking him "which side?".


  1. Good for you! I feel the exact same way. Eliana weaned herself around 2 and I am still nursing Benjamin (even 6 months pregnant) at 21 months.

  2. I miss nursing. Nothing else compares to that bonding time. After I weaned Sarah, I now find that I love to just grab her up and cuddle and hug her (to her dismay) just because I crave the snuggles.

  3. Thanks guys! I'm loving the support. I think I'm feeling defensive. You'd think with all the incredible benefits to both mama and child more people would support and encourage nursing mamas (even mamas nursing toddlers). -Angela

  4. In case some of you are confused because it appears as if this post was from 'chocolate-daddy', I want to clarify that it was actually 'Vanilla-mama' who hacked into my account. As much as I would love to share in the breast feeding duties, first I'd have to go get a pair of breasts. Aiden thinks it's hilarious whenever I ask him if he wants some switch from me. I can see him thinking 'Yuck, I want none of them' --Lac

  5. angela, thanks for the information. i am glad that i nursed Eva almoust 19 months and nursing Sonia... this is one of the best things i can give to my children as a mother

  6. Hey Lac,
    No pun intended.

    Before Eliana weaned, I was supportive enough to suggest she should make sure she schedules to meet up with her daughter for lunchtime at the school, once she's old enough to go to school. Rachael didn't think that was very supportive, for some reason...