Breast feeding...How old is too old???

Heather - posted on 11/21/2010 ( 63 moms have responded )

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Just out of curiosity...when did you stop breast feeding your child? You hear about some women who nurse until their child can chew steak! What's everyones input on this??

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[deleted account]

Way to be uninformed and judgemental w/ absolutely ZERO facts, Angela. You are certainly entitled to your opinion that it isn't 'right' to breastfeed past a year, but I'm willing to bet that 99.9% (or more) of the women that breastfeed past a year ARE putting their children's needs first. I know for a fact that I am, at least.

Mary - posted on 11/22/2010

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I, *personally*, am an over achiever, some might say. I like to do things to my best abilities in every aspect of life. Whenever somethings the best, I like to out-do it. Competitive, I suppose.
This is a personality trait I have spreads over into my parenting as well. The World Health Organization recommends a minimum of 2 years of nursing. I'm not the minimum type of person. The international weaning average is 4 years. Average... I'm not comfortable with that. There is strong evidence that breast milk is always the best for your baby/toddler/child. Best. I like that. I want that for my children. As long as possible, the best food. I'm a "best" kind of person. I want my kids to strive to be their best. I want them to take care of themselves. They are worth it. They say children learn best by example. I want to set that example, that they are worth the best. And they say you are what you eat. :) I like that saying as well.
So I, personally, will nurse them as long as they will have it. I currently have a 26 month old (who can chew steak :D) and a 7 month old, both still nursing, of course. The 7 month old is nursed exclusively(meaning no solids, no juice, no water-just breast milk). I would do anything to make it work. I have a freezer stock of over 400 oz & I work.

I think it should be between the child and the mother. & Of course, the longer the better. :)
There have been studies(I'll link one in a minute) that shows that breast milk kills cancer cells, so I guess that people with cancer (no matter the age) should be drinking breast milk as well. There was another blog about how in other cultures, its not only young children who reap the benefits of breast milk.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/201...

http://www.drmomma.org/2009/07/breastfee...

Jacquelyn - posted on 11/27/2010

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@ Heather - that is true, there is some new research being done into wether pacifiers have something to do with early weaning, also some childeren that get a bottle as well will wean in favor of the easier bottle. But you are right you did the best for your daughter :) in your situation

Jacquelyn - posted on 11/27/2010

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Also Angela, the antibodies in breastmilk are higher in that second year to protect the newly mobile kiddos from illness. Will your 13 month old be doing your taxes this year?? ;)

Vicki - posted on 11/27/2010

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Wow Angela, that's interesting. What exactly is it about breastfeeding that hinders a toddler who is still dependent on his/her mother for pretty much everything.

Most babies wean onto cows milk if they are weaning at 13 months. How is milk that has come from another animal via several industrial processes better for a toddler than human milk that is made especially for them? I cant understand the logic.

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Cat - posted on 11/28/2010

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My daughter is 18 months old and still nursing. And for the record, she eats meat too :p How long to nurse your child is a highly personal decision that no one else can or should make for you. The World Health Organization recommends nursing a MINIMUM of two years - longer if it works for the nursing pair. This is pretty standard practice worldwide, with the exception of the US. In the US, medical professionals don't tend to be well-versed overall to support nursing mothers and their children, often setting them up for failure, therefore you tend to see more children that are weaned by 3-6 months or don't nurse at all.
Anywhere else, no one thinks twice about seeing a toddler nursing. It's primarily in the US that there seems to be a stigma.
That being said, biologically, there's no reason NOT to nurse until your child stops showing interest in nursing. There has been no research suggesting a negative impact on the child in any way, so to think it's "weird" isn't evidence-based - more of a cultural reaction.

Merry - posted on 11/28/2010

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Bec, I really don't give out my personal views or opinions much on here, I stick to facts that I can back myself up on. I don't like arguing so I don't usually say my opinion. The weaning age is not my idea, I'm just repeating from other reputable sources.
I'll post some links to back myself up.

Bec - posted on 11/28/2010

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laura. i still have to say that i completely disagree with your point of view and opinions. babies can and do self wean before 2years. i did what the professionals recomended at the time and im assuning that different countrys have slightly different recomendations. i get that, and each to their own.

to all mums, reading the posts on here i have come to realise that there is alot of personal attacks on some mums posts and thats not what this site is meant to be about. im sure its ment to be a non judgmental, helpful site.

Minnie - posted on 11/28/2010

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Just the idea that natural duration breastfeeding hinders independence in children sends me to the floor laughing uncontrollably. If you knew my two year old...

Merry - posted on 11/27/2010

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"Weaning before the age of two puts your child at increased risk of illness" as per the American academy of family physicians.

So weaning before two years is bad for your child.

Poor 13 month olds, can't get a job or earn a living cuz mom won't stop forcing her breast in their mouth!

What kind of independence do you think a 13month old should have?

Change their diaper? Get a cup of water? Put on their own clothes? Tie their shoes? Cross the street?

Many 13 month olds cant say more then a word or two, many can't walk, how is breastfeeding holding back their independence?

How should a mom "let go" of her 13 month old?

Send them to boot camp? What could possibly benefit a baby from being independent of their mom who is their life source.



Honestly you can't make a baby breastfeed, you can't guilt them into breastfeeding, you can't stop them from growing up.

Now if your child is out of diapers, out of a crib, can make their own meals, can have a job, can read and write, can pay their bills, and can live without mom, and you still breastfeed then maybe it's time to let them grow up.

But until they can live without their mom, there's no benefit to forcing some sort of diaper wearing independence on your toddler.

Celeste - posted on 11/27/2010

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Nursing past a year IS thinking about the baby. How is nursing past a year not fair to them? Where is your evidence? There is a TON of evidence to SUPPORT nursing past a year. The WHO and UNICEF support 2 years, the AAP supports a year and however long mutually desired. How is it good for them on day 365 but not good on day 366?

Angela - posted on 11/27/2010

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I think anything past a year is going to hinder your baby more than help them. I also think that Mom needs to let go and let her child be a bit more independent. C'mon ladies, think about your baby before yourself, it's not fair to them.

Merry - posted on 11/27/2010

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I never ment you starved her! But if my son were to reject breast-feeding at 6 months I wouldn't have thought of giving him a bottle. That's all I was thinking, babies won't refuse to eat completely so if a baby is having a breastfeeding strike, the standard treatment would be to eliminate all solids pacifiers bottles etc until they get back to regular milk feedings.
Just wanted to clarify to the other moms that babies do not self wean before a year, likely not before two years even.
Breastfeeding strikes are common, but not permanent if the steps are taken to get over the strike.
Since breastmilk was the only thing my son ate at 6 months that's why I couldn't figure out how she could just refuse to eat anything.
But I see she just chose an easier form of feeding. Thanks for clarifying! :)

[deleted account]

Bec, I think Laura's point was that if no solids were being given and no bottle offered.... your baby would not have 'self weaned' from breastmilk at all. It sounds more like your baby went through a nursing strike and you chose to start feeding her another way. NOTHING wrong w/ that AT ALL, but it is not actually that she 'self weaned from breastmilk.'

Bec - posted on 11/26/2010

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laura, i did not say my child refused to eat at all i said she self weaned from breastmilk. she was having solids and one day rejected to b.f so i offered her the bottle and she took it. i continued to offer her b.feeds but she constantly refused. i tried expressing and giving it in the bottle but she would only take formula. the doc suggested that she may have not liked the taste due to me being pregnant. i cant see how you would think that any one would starve a child. as we all know each child is different in all aspects and i think that babies are alot smarter than people acknoledge. she is now 7 very healthy and extreamley smart. her teachers have suggested even gifted. it has been interesting to see how this topic has advanced from when people stopped b.feeding to the effects b.f has on other aspects of childrens lives.

Celeste - posted on 11/25/2010

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I agree, Laura! My boys were only nursing maybe twice a day as they got older. And, plus, since they were mainly on solids, nursing was like a "supplement" if you will, I wasn't their main source of nutrition.



I've heard many people believe that if you don't wean them at a certain age, that it's harder to wean them. This isn't necessarily true at all! One of my twin boys decided on his own that he was done at a little over 3 1/2. And that was that. The other one, I did encourage it when they turned 4, but it wasn't really difficult.

Merry - posted on 11/25/2010

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It gets easier as they get older! And weaning gets easier too as they get older.
It's always nice to let them wean on their own, it's such a natural process.

Shannon - posted on 11/25/2010

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mums i know have stoped when ther babys have started to get teeth some are still doing it till they either go back to work or till babys are 1. i think ill stop when my son gets teeth. i feel like 2 on would be much for myself to breast feed x

Teresa - posted on 11/24/2010

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I wouldn't do it past two by choice... but if it was too emotional for the baby I wouldn't force her off.

Merry - posted on 11/24/2010

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How exactly does a 6 month old self wean? I'm not sure how this can happen since a 6 month old is completely dependent on breastmilk to survive. How do they choose not to eat? Sorry just can't figure that out, Bec! ;)

[deleted account]

My smartest friend was nursed until she was 4.
Totally anecdotal comparison though I'm sure :)

Unfortunately her mother made no secret about it during her childhood & teen years, or even now - and this caused my friend a great deal of embarassment growing up.. We do live in a judgemental society. Perhaps if whe had kept it more private, or not even discussed it until her daughter was an adult, she would have maximized the benefit of nursing, without causing any emotional angst?

Bec - posted on 11/24/2010

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i agree with most mothers who have posted on here that it is a personal choice. my first child gave breastfeeding away at 6mths by her own choice, my second had to stop at 5weeks due to health issues and severe allergies, my 3rd is currently 14mths and still having at least 4 feeds a day. my only different input into this topic is the social concerns at b.f a school age child. not for the mother or the family but for the child at school. my older children are 6 and 7 and i have seen how mean children can be. i couldnt b.f my oldest at her age as she is so mature. i just wanted to make people aware of the emotional impact that b,f a school age child would have on the child. breastfeeding is not something to be ashamed of but i feel that an older child would possibly feel this. i havent experienced this first hand obviously but have heard the school yard gossip and teasing of a child who was still breastfeeding at age 6.

Bec - posted on 11/24/2010

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i agree with most mothers who have posted on here that it is a personal choice. my first child gave breastfeeding away at 6mths by her own choice, my second had to stop at 5weeks due to health issues and severe allergies, my 3rd is currently 14mths and still having at least 4 feeds a day. my only different input into this topic is the social concerns at b.f a school age child. not for the mother or the family but for the child at school. my older children are 6 and 7 and i have seen how mean children can be. i couldnt b.f my oldest at her age as she is so mature. i just wanted to make people aware of the emotional impact that b,f a school age child would have on the child. breastfeeding is not something to be ashamed of but i feel that an older child would possibly feel this. i havent experienced this first hand obviously but have heard the school yard gossip and teasing of a child who was still breastfeeding at age 6.

Merry - posted on 11/24/2010

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Teresa, I think Eric will be like your son, now at 1yr 8months he is breastfeeding at least 8 times a day, but most days it's been like 12 times...... Feels hourly in the morning, but not as often in the afternoon and evening. But he eats tons of table food as well, I guess he might be growing! But I don't give him drinks of ows milk, and really only offer water when he asks for it specifically.

[deleted account]

Janice, while there are days that my 2 year 8 month old son doesn't eat much.... there are also days that he pretty much doesn't STOP eating. That doesn't have any effect on how much he wants to nurse though and he 'averages' 3(rare)-10 times every 24 hours. I'd say a 'normal' day would be 5-6.....

Celeste - posted on 11/24/2010

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Janice, as someone who has nursed a preschooler, they do eat during the day. By that age, my twin boys were nursing once a day, usually in the morning.

Just wanted to point that out :) Totally understand that there are some moms who have a "comfort zone" that they don't feel comfortable going past (I'm one of them, which was 4)

Janice - posted on 11/24/2010

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My opinion has changed more than once. I agree that mostly its a decision made between the mother and child. However, I truly believe past pre-school(5 yrs) is too old. Also, I still find it strange if a pre-schooler is nursing non-stop through out the day. My daughter at 13 mo. only nurses 2x a day - when she wakes and right before bed. I will continue this for 2-3 more years if she really wants.I think past age 2 BF should be a sometimes thing, toddlers and preschoolers should be eating regular food during the day. Of course this is just my opinion.

Janet - posted on 11/24/2010

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I nursed my daughter till 9 months and was happy with that, she didn't want to nurse anymore as we had started a bottle and she choose the bottle. It's entirely up to the mom and child.

Racheal - posted on 11/24/2010

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Today is one year!!! yay we made it! ill nurse him till he wants to stop OR until he starts kindergarten!

Jessie - posted on 11/24/2010

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16 months, he stopped asking and I got sick with mono so I just didn't offer anymore. Too old? I would say school age... but that's just me, to each their own

Katie - posted on 11/24/2010

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Ha! I like to think that my daughter truly is exceptional is every way.
I did offer, for weeks, after she lost interest, I encountered great difficulty in the early days with professionals insisting that I give her formula and I didn't give in then and I certainly wasn't stopping without a fight. It broke my heart that she stopped when she did. She was never a big nurser and even as a newborn she would bf every 4 hours, for 5-10 minutes, every 3 hours in growth spurt. I'm certainly not the type to quit, nor am I the type of person that would insist that we had extreme, special circumstances that set me apart.

I really just want to insist that there can be exceptions to every rule and my child certainly led her own weaning. It is important for every mother seeking advice to know that the average is not the standard and that any little deviation from the norm is a-okay.

April - posted on 11/24/2010

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Katie, when you say you can lead a horse to water but cannot make them drink....did you constantly offer your daughter the breast after she decided she was done? Did you actually lead her to the water or did you decide she was done too? I mean to say...did you offer several days after her decision or did you stop offering?

anyway, to be fair... Laura let's just say that there is always an exception to the rule. Maybe Katie's daughter is an exception. Most likely not. Most likely it was a nursing strike, but MAYBE she really is that exception.

Merry - posted on 11/24/2010

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Katie, I'm mostly saying that our 'modern' society is negatively affecting our kids breastfeeding.
If there was no social stigma towards breast-feeding, if there was nothing holding them back, they wouldn't be weaning before two or three years!
I'm not saying it's wrong to wean at any age, I'm just saying if a one year old decides not to bf, then something caused that decision other then natural age appropriate instinct.
A one year old can not eat a full diet without breastmilk, which is why we tend to give cows milk as a substitute, and almost every weaned toddler is deemed a 'picky eater'.

April - posted on 11/23/2010

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@ Mary J...i love how you put that "i'm not the minimum type of person". I am exactly like you!! I don't want minimum or average either...but my son might. I hope I am blessed to nurse him for a natural duration. He is 23 months right now.

Katie - posted on 11/23/2010

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This is in response to Laura's post about "environmental weaning"

Kids can have minds of their own and can be independent little people and self wean naturally. What, if all of those details you outlined, is the difference between child led weaning and environmental weaning?



Personally, we were completely attached, co-sleeping, at home, on demand - style parenting. You can lead a "horse" to "water" but cannot make them drink. My daughter was done looong before I was ready and I feel that your perception of environmental weaning, as an excuse "to keep mommy from feeling guilty", is nonsense.



I think you strive to do what's best for your child and that includes giving your child the option to choose what's most comfortable for them. If that means breastfeeding until 1 or until 11 then so be it.



*edited for using the same word too many times.

Rachael - posted on 11/23/2010

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Kindergarten... lol. No, really, it's completely up to mom and child. I say, do what feels natural to you!

Stefanie - posted on 11/23/2010

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I'll nurse my children until they self wean. I will say that I'm nursing the oldest child mentioned here so far but I will not put her age as I don't want it publicly known. I'm also tandem nursing her 1.5 year old sister and will tri-andem nurse when our 4th baby if they are both still interested at that time, though we are not currently pregnant.

Crystal - posted on 11/22/2010

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I think that this is a personal decision for every mom. Every mom and child have their own magic number. Before my son was born, I didn't think I would nurse more than 6 months but we stuck together through thick and thin (from thrush, to cracks, to blebs, you name it) and he has pretty much weaned himself just recently. He is now 22 months and I nursed on demand. Until last month he only nursed to put himself to sleep but I noticed that his sleep was being disturbed because when I would put him down, at one point he would wake and want me. I started nursing before he fell asleep and then put him down after snuggle time. Now he puts himself to sleep and occassionally nurses just for comfort.
Follow your mommy sense. Trust it!

Merry - posted on 11/22/2010

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theres mother led weaning,
environmental weaning,
and child led weaning.
environmental weaning is often confused with early child led weaning. usually there is something thats affecting the breastfeeding relationship that causes it to end early, not moms fault, not exactly childs choice.
this can be sleep training, cows milk, tons of table food, time limits, postponing bf, not bf in public, a sharp reaction to a bite, subtle messages from mom or dad that its weird, daycare, pacifiers, bottles, not nursing for comfort, not nursing midle of the night, weekend vacations, visitation with dad, an anything else!
its not that the child is really old enough to not need bf, its more that they are slowly comming away from the natural patterns so they decide to end it.
and its not a big deal! its not traumatic for the todler, and iits not likely to cause problems with the mom with milk duct cloggs etc.
so if yor child 'self weaned' earlier then whats normally the age, id tend to think there was some sort of factor involved that brought it about.
Kendra, if you enjoy breastfeeding him, and he wants to breastfeed then it is NOT time to stop!
its ONLY time to stop when one, or both of you feels ready.
and most moms would prefer it to be the child that calls it quits, keeps us from becoming a guilty mommy :)

Celeste - posted on 11/22/2010

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Kendra, how do you feel about placing limits? Once I placed limits on my twin boys, nursing then went much better! If not, go to kellymom.com and type in "weaning techniques". I am about to leave otherwise, I'd do it for you :)

[deleted account]

I have no clue but my son is 20 months old and I need advice about how to stop:) He loves it and eats food well. He will nurse 20 times a day if I would let him. He calls me Boob Boob! I enjoyed doing it so much but I believe its time to stop!! Please help!!!!

Kendra - posted on 11/22/2010

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So sorry that happened. Good for you having enough stored breastmilk to last her and not have to do formula! You are right, SOME babies just do... however, it is not the norm. You did great nursing as long as you did... many moms stop MUCH earlier!

Kendra - posted on 11/22/2010

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I don't tend to read all the responses to these posts but this one had me curious! Mostly, because I am currently nursing my daughter who is almost 3 1/2 AND my son who is almost 14 months. My son nurses almost exclusively and my daughter could chew steak if she wanted to! Too old for me would be pregnant with a third child... I don't think I could tri-andem nurse... I think that would be too much for me personally. Worldwide average age of self weaning is actually 4-7. The US brings it down significantly because of moms nursing for only days rather than allowing children to truly end it on their own. Admittedly, I used to think nursing a toddler or preschooler was weird but now... it is no big deal. When you know the benefits and see your child's face and feel their trust because of it... it is a no brainer to allow children to decide when to stop! Just knowing the cancers I am reducing the risk of (for me AND my children) as well as obesity and diabetes and SIDS being well reduced... I just can't fathom NOT doing it!

[deleted account]

My twins were fully weaned at 15 months. My son is 2 years 8 months (well, in a few days) and is still breastfeeding. He doesn't chew steak though. Not because he CAN'T, but because he won't eat it. ;)

'Too old' is highly subjective and depends on each individual person/family.

Celeste - posted on 11/22/2010

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Heather, sorry you get frustrated. No one has said that it isn't OK. Like I said before, my daughter weaned before the" natural age of weaning." Circumstances happen beyond our control, you know? You did the best you knew how!

Heather - posted on 11/22/2010

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I get so frustrated w/this "natural age of weaning is 2 and up" thing. Try as I might, my daughter would NOT do it. She gave it up 3 weeks before her 1st bday. I researched nursing strikes and tried EVERY suggestion that I read, and she simply wouldn't do it. SOME children DO wean earlier than that, and it's okay. I was sad not to make it a year, but glad for the time I had an happy that I had enough frozen breastmilk to last until the day before her birthday. I think nursing longer is great. I wouldn't personally nurse a school age child, but I did really want to make it to age 2.

Merry - posted on 11/22/2010

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I think 8 years is too old for my comfort.
2 years is my BARE minimum.
4 years is my goal.
8 years would be the topper for me!
This si based off of the natural age of weaning for humans which is 2.5-7 years.

April - posted on 11/22/2010

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my son will be 2 one month from today and we nurse everyday, several times a day and several times a night. mostly at night. i will nursing to a natural duration. I hope to make it to at least 3. Not sure if i will be blessed with the oppportunity, as I am planning to get pregnant soon. Hopefully I will be able to nurse both children to natural duration!

Sara - posted on 11/22/2010

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when i was pregnant i decided i wasnt going past 6 months, but now that i have her and know the benifits she is 5 months now and i plan to atleast go to a year. i dont think i would go past 2 years but it is also up to her too when she doesnt want to do it anymore

Katie - posted on 11/22/2010

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My daughter chewed steak, toothless, at around nine months and that certainly was too soon to give up breastfeeding. I had planned on going at least 2 years, but she simply gave it up - not for my lack of trying to convince her - it just wasn't happening anymore, at around 16 months. I figure as long as it's mutually comfortable. As beneficial as it was for my daughter I couldn't force her to keep going, she took the lead and that's what was best for us!

Vicki - posted on 11/22/2010

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Probably when they can legally drink alcohol would be too old for breastmilk.

I don't know exactly. I don't think there's need for anyone to put an age on it. Fact is children will stop when they are ready, usually between 2-5 years, very rare for children to go beyond 7 years so there's no need for an arbitrary date.

Minnie - posted on 11/22/2010

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If I had given my child steak at 10 months when she began solids she undoubtedly would have been able to chew it; she was eating whole raw apples without a single tooth.



I am nursing my daughter (two right now) until she decides she wants it no longer. I am comfortable nursing a school-age child. But in reality, she will probably be done sometime around four, as that is the average for natural-duration breastfeeding.



La Leche League's philosophy is that 'ideally, the breastfeeding relationship shall continue until the baby outgrows the need." Many mothers interpret that differently- usually it involves balancing the mother's needs with the child's.

Tammy - posted on 11/22/2010

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Thats up to each mother and child. Personally, I wouldnt bf past the two year mark, but would go past the one year mark. My son is 17mo and I just started weaning him off his 1-2 feeds/day this week, which has been going great.

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