In our first post on extended breastfeeding, we talked about the benefits of breastfeeding older children. This follow-up post is for those who’ve decided to practice extended breastfeeding but are a little unsure of the ‘in’s and out’s’ of it all. We’ve got some great tips and ideas to help you.
When breastfeeding toddlers, you need to be able to lean on someone – such as your partner, friend or relative – who truly believes in extended breastfeeding too. You will be met with criticism and opposition if you breastfeed an older child and it’s at these times your support person will be vital.
Another great avenue of support is your local ABA group. If you practice extended breastfeeding and attend their meetings, it’s more likely you’ll be the norm rather than the odd one out! This can be a wonderful boost in helping you continue your breastfeeding journey.
Breastfeeding toddlers can be quite different to breastfeeding infants. As your child grows, they may slowly stop breastfeeding on their own (known as ‘self-weaning’) and it’s really the ideal way to end your breastfeeding relationship. But if they want to keep going, you can let them. You’ll quickly see it’s not as demanding as when they were babies. Some toddlers might not want feeds during the day but still love a nighttime feed to help them relax and drift off to dreamland. Others might like to start their day with a feed and then be up and raring to go. Your child may only come to you for a feed when they feel upset or sick or get hurt.
You also don’t have to feel like extended breastfeeding is going to lock you down. As the feeds slow down, you can indulge in an alcoholic beverage now and again as the time between feeds is greater. You can even enjoy some extended ‘me-time’ away from home. If you’re still worried, answer this question: How many 10-year-olds have you seen still hanging off their mother’s breast?
The topic of extended breastfeeding can cause worry for some mothers especially when it comes to their fear of people criticizing their decision. For this reason, many choose to only do it in privacy of their own home. If you’re in this boat, talk to your toddler about the times he/she can breastfeed. You could say that it’s a special thing to do just at night time so they need to drink from a cup during the day. If you’re out and out, tell them it’s not ok to lift your shirt. But if they if they feel like a feed at home, they can come to you at any time. The main thing is to work out what works best for both of you and then try to find a compromise to meet those needs.
If you choose to practice extended breastfeeding, it’s inevitable you will be asked why you’re still doing it. It might be with the best of intentions but then again, it might not be. If that happens, maybe you can use some of the quips below in response? Of course, it all depends on your relationship with the person and how daring you feel, but they’ll provide a giggle even if you don’t use them!
Why are you still breastfeeding?
“Because it's still good for both of us.”
Are you ever going to stop breastfeeding?"
"Yes, in about 10 minutes."
Are you still breastfeeding?
“Yes, I am. Do you need milk for your coffee?”
You’re still breastfeeding?
“If it’s good enough for the World Health Organisation to recommend it, then it’s good enough for me to do it.”
“Ask him/her!” (and point to your child)
OR the very simple yet extremely effective:
Use this one and watch your naysayer squirm!
We hope you’ve enjoyed our two-part series exploring the topic of how long should you breastfeed for, or extended breastfeeding. Hopefully, it’s given you some interesting food for thought. Whatever your breastfeeding relationship with your child, we hope it’s a happy and fulfilling one for both of you.
As always, we provide this information for your reference but keep in mind it is not professional health or medical advice. We encourage you to speak to your GP or specialist if you have concerns about your child’s health and development.