18 February 2013

Breastfeeding: The Toddler Years

Breastfeeding toddler
Breastfeeding A at 14.5 months. Photo by Melissa van Zyl.
I have been breastfeeding A for almost 16 months. On the one hand I can't believe it (I'm one of *those* moms now!) and on the other hand it feels like the most natural thing on earth. 

Breastfeeding a toddler is not exactly widely accepted or supported. And I'll be the first to admit that before I had A, I was one of those that thought it a bit weird. But here's the secret - you don't start off breastfeeding a toddler. You start off breastfeeding a tiny newborn and that newborn slowly, gradually, before you even realise it, grows into a walking, talking toddler. Who happens to also breastfeed. Not quite as weird if you look at how many older toddlers still happily drink formula/milk from a bottle. 

Why not just switch over to cow's milk? Let's turn that question around - why? 

Quite frankly I haven't seen any need to switch since breastfeeding means I 
a) save money
b) save time - no preparing & washing bottles. Yes, I'm lazy
c) am assured that my baby gets the very best liquid gold
d) Also - is there any better excuse to get in some toddler cuddles? 

Did you know that breastmilk is just as nutritious for a toddler as it is for a newborn? Just because A eats solids doesn't mean she doesn't still need the extra nutrients that breastmilk offers. In fact, you might be surprised to know that the World Health Organisation recommends breastfeeding until *at least* two years of age. 

When do I plan on stopping? I will let A decide that, the way nature intended it. 

PS: I made it to just two weeks short of a year of pumping at work for A. In the end I stopped because she didn't want/need the expressed milk anymore - she is content to wait for the real deal when I pick her up in the afternoons. It was a strangely emotional transition for me, but I'm glad I let her take the lead. And I will be equally as happy when she eventually weans completely - in her own time and at her own pace. 

Further reading:
This blog - Breastfeeding as a Working Mom
World Health Organisation - 10 Facts on Breastfeeding
World Health Organisation - Exclusive Breastfeeding
Kellymom - Breastfeeding Past Infancy: Fact Sheet
LLL - What are the Benefits of Breastfeeding my Toddler?
The Alpha Parent - Timeline of a Breastfed Baby
Best for Babes - Celebrities who Breastfed Toddlers


  1. Hi! New follower, came over from The Tuesday Baby Link Up on Growing Slower. I love this post! I have a 15 month old that I still breast feed, not exclusively, but like you I never thought I would be one of those Mom's who would breast feed this long. I honestly thought I would only breast feed until 6 months, when that came and went I made a goal of going to 12 months and now here we are at almost 16 months and still breast feeding. Thanks for sharing!


  2. Well done! I cant totally relate with how you don't start off breastfeeding a toddler, it just sort of happens, and you realise that you cannot stop nursing this sweet little two year old, who is still, after all, a baby :)

    Thanks for linking up with the Tuesday Baby Link-Up!

  3. Hi I too love that explanation of the newborn growing into a toddler - it does just seem natural and in a world where you are looked at rather oddly when your toddler clambers up for feed it's good to remember those WHO guidelines that are there to look after your babies health. I breastfed my little girl (who happens to have Down Syndrome) as long as I could to 18 months and then 3 months before baby brother arrived I had to wean her as I just couldn't handle tandem feeding ...I think it was the right decision for my sanity but she misses the cuddles I realised reading your post...I will have to remember to get in extra cuddle sessions ...it's probably why she has been trying to climb into my lap and down my shirt lately :( sweet little monkey :)


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