Weird to nurse a 4 year old? (Who hasn't breastfed since he was 2 weeks old.)

Tarrah - posted on 02/14/2010 ( 62 moms have responded )

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I am just curious about what other mothers would think? I had a hard time nursing my first two children who are now 6 and 4. I am nursing my almost 3 month old, would it be weird to want to nurse my four year old for the benefits of nursing, or to at least give him expressed milk, He did nurse for awhile as a baby, but I had little support and he wasn't latching correctly. I plan on nursing my DD until she self weans or starts kindergarten, so if I had continued nursing him and not had to work, he would probably still be nursing, but since he hasn't been nursing, would it be weird to resume at age 4, even if its just for the health/ brain benefits?

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Michelle - posted on 02/17/2010

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I wouldnt advise it as it may mess up your babys 'supply and demand' routine that it will have already have established with your breasts, and may take away from the nutrition the baby needs, as the breasts make different milk at different times of the day. If you do want to feed it in a cup, I would advise that you express milk for the older child after the baby has has its first feed of the day as that is when we have the most milk. Good luck.

Jenny - posted on 02/16/2010

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It's the context that "may" be disturbing to him. He has not grown up nursing. As another mom said, he hasn't looked to breastfeeding for a source of comfort up to this point. So he is not going to experience it the same way a child would who had nursed before they could even remember. I think it could be uncomfortable for him when he is older to remember the potentially awkward experience of his mother putting her breast in his mouth. He is not going to know what to do with it, he has no memory of nursing. He is someday going to be apart of a society that sees breasts in a sexual way. Right ot wrong, it's the way it is. For a child who has grown up nursing they understand that it is natural, for this boy I think it would just be confusing. It's just my opinion.

Minnie - posted on 02/15/2010

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Teresa, I have an opinion as well. I believe that humans are biologically designed to nurse for several years, and that breasts are not for titillating men. That, it my opinion, is a perversion of the purpose of the breast.



However- I'm sorry if I came off as offensive, I didn't mean to.



I'm not posting the following to be high-and-mighty, just so everyone can understand why I choose to use the word 'perverted':



Main Entry: 1per·vert

Pronunciation: \pər-ˈvərt\

Function: transitive verb

Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French purvertir, pervertir, from Latin pervertere to overturn, corrupt, pervert, from per- thoroughly + vertere to turn — more at per-, worth

Date: 14th century

1 a : to cause to turn aside or away from what is good or true or morally right : corrupt b : to cause to turn aside or away from what is generally done or accepted : misdirect

2 a : to divert to a wrong end or purpose : misuse b : to twist the meaning or sense of : misinterpret



synonyms see debase



— per·vert·er noun

Emily - posted on 02/17/2010

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Sonia, I'm sorry but you are just plain wrong. Breastmilk doesn't suddenly turn bad because a child turns one. Mothers who breastfeed past one are absolutely doing it for their child's benefit.

Jennifer - posted on 02/17/2010

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I think there is nothing wrong with a 4 year old receiving breastmilk, and I think that there is nothing wrong with continuing to breastfeed a child past the 2 year mark. However, I do think (re)introducing and continuing nursing a 4 year old who has been completely weaned from the breast for some time is probably not the healthiest choice. If the child wants to nurse, he probably won't know how and will cause greater discomfort for the mother. If he expresses interest in breastfeeding, it could simply be out of curiosity. Or, it could be because he has an issue with his new lot in life - he is no longer the youngest, center of attention, closest to mommy, etc. Tarrah's child, and the children of other posters who didn't want to nurse, seem to have navigated their position change successfully. I think offering the breast a few times is ok to help the child transition or for the sake of curiosity, but for a longer period of time would not be helpful. Nursing is essentially for babies and not for adults. At this stage, he should be trying to navigate his way towards adult-ness and not towards baby-ness.

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Lori - posted on 07/08/2014

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Hey Tiffany - if she's getting constipated regularly, it's possible she has a slight food intolerance. Biggest suspect - cow milk. I don't know how much your daughter drinks, but you may find it helpful to cut out cups of milk. You can give her almond milk, or coconut milk, or any number of other milk substitutes.

Both of my girls are intolerant of cow milk. They're severe enough that they can't have ANY in any form. But one of my older daughters symptoms was constipation. I was having to use pedi-lax sometime, and had begun giving her malt daily along with prunes, and extra water. Those helped some - but never completely. After I cut out dairy, she cleared up and is never constipated unless she gets cow milk accidentally.

Cow milk is the most common allergen in young children. It may not be cow milk for your daughter, but could be any other food. The 8 most common allergens are Milk, Soy, Egg, Wheat, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Fish, and Shellfish. They are also common foods that people are sensitive or intolerant of even if there's no true allergy. My suggestion is to cut milk from your daughters diet for 1 month and see how she does. And certainly, as you begin to breastfeed your new baby, you can give her your milk which will provide numerous benefits.

Also - if you don't already, have her eat foods with probiotics or take a probiotic vitamin. Those help with tummy issues too. My favorite one is a juice called Good Belly. It's dairy and soy free, and it tastes great. I have to limit my girls on how much they can have,cause they'd drink it all day long if I let them.

Tiffany - posted on 07/07/2014

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Thanks Lori for responding ;) that's exactly what I was thinking. I'm sure I'll end up pumping and giving it to her that way and hopefully she takes it. I mostly want to give it to her to help with her bowels. She gets constipated. Her dr recommends miralax. Every other day. But im not big on giving a child medicine soo much. And I make sure I feed her high fiber and give her fiber vitamins. Anyway. She was soo regular when I nursed her. So hopefully when its time it all works out!

Lori - posted on 07/07/2014

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Hey Tiffany - I wasn't part of this original conversation…. but when my 2nd was born, my 1st asked to nurse again. She was only 2 1/2 yrs old, and had only been weaned for about 6 months. I really debated letting her begin nursing again, but ultimately decided that I didn't want to have to wean her again - so I began to pump milk for her. I pumped once a day just for my older daughter until she turned 4 yrs old. Then I began only pumping when she needed an extra boost… like if she got a cold, or an owie that didn't go away after a kiss and a bandaid. She got expressed milk on occasion until her 5th birthday.

It's really up to you to determine your comfort level with nursing your 3 or 4 yr old. Since she's been weaned for so long, she might have trouble with latching on, or may just giggle about it or something. Expressing milk for your older one is always an option.

Tiffany - posted on 07/07/2014

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I see this thread is pretty old but hopefully the person who originally started this thread will see this comment.... Anyway I am curious to know what you decided to do. I'm sorta in the same boat. I have a 3 yr old who will be 4 by the time I have my 2nd child. I nursed my 3 yr old for almost 5 months and always wished I would have done it a lot longer. Anyway. I'm thinking about when I have my next baby to start giving my daughter expressed milk in a cup since she obviously will not remember how to latch.

Angie - posted on 07/09/2010

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I think it's completely ok but have to agree with the others that he probably won't know what to do. My oldest is 3 years and 9 months and still nursing (with no interrruption) and lately she has become a very poor latcher. I can't imagine that a child who hasn't been on the breast in years would be able to do it. But I would absolutely give it to him in a cup, mix it in with cereal etc.

Emily - posted on 07/09/2010

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Well, personally I don't think there would be any psychological harm. You could either let him try it, or simply tell him that only babies nurse right from Mommy. He's old enough to understand that.

Racheal - posted on 07/09/2010

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ok that last post made me sound like i have a stigma against extended breastfeeding..I DONT, i totally understand that extended breastfead children are totally fine emotionally,but that is when they have done it continuously their whole life, thats why im wondering what the effects are for him since he hasnt nursed in 3 years. plus my other worry is what if he likes it so much that he decided he wants to do it then what? im stuck tandem nursing 2 children...not to mention he starts kindergarten in 2 months!! HELP

Racheal - posted on 07/09/2010

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yeah i didnt even realize either! lol...well he has drank expressed milk a lot lately telling me it tastes like vanilla ice cream then the other day he said im tired of drinking it from the cup mommy i want to nurse from your boobie like nolan does. lol so mentally he will be ok? lol

Emily - posted on 07/09/2010

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wow this is a really old thread... last post was february? lol i'm sure the o.p. has figured out what to do by now ;)

Celeste - posted on 07/09/2010

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I want to put on my moderator hat for a minute. This post is asking for opinions about resuming nursing and/or pumping for her 4 year old.

Please do not debate when you feel it is appropriate to nurse past whatever age you deem is necessary or insult mothers who choose to do so.

Celeste - posted on 07/09/2010

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Do whatever you feel comfortable with. Like someone said, he might not know how to latch anymore. When my twins were born, my daughter was 4. She did ask to nurse but I felt a little uncomfortable with it so I expressed some and put in a cup (she had been weaned since she was 17 months) I only did it a few times and after that she never asked again.

So, anyway, do what you're comfortable with!

Emily - posted on 07/09/2010

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Racheal, you're not going to cause any psychological problems. There are 4-year-olds all around the world still nursing. If you want, let him try to nurse. He'll probably find out that he can't do it. Children do not retain the ability to latch and nurse forever.

Serene - posted on 07/09/2010

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I'm breast feeding my 1 month old daughter and her brother is 2 years old. He was a breast fed baby also. He seen me breast feed the baby; he was a little curious and a bottle was sitting next to me and he asked for some of the milk. I took the lid off of it gave him a sip. Thinking that he liked it. He asked for another one and ended up spitting it out. Now he walks away from me when he sees me nursing his sister and will say"Baby eating." So, does your 4 year old want to nurse?

Racheal - posted on 07/09/2010

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my 4 year wants to resume nursing also..im currently nursing his 7.5 month old brother...im well aware of the health benefits...but what im worried about is the psychological problems it could cause..any help

Kris - posted on 02/18/2010

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i think that as long as you are comfortable with it, go for it. my dd turned 4 in november, but weaned at 2yrs old. she fondly remembers her days of nursing and she sees ds nursing many times a day. a couple months ago she asked to nurse. i gently let her know that she probably would have forgotten how to, but that she could try if she wanted to. my only "rule" was that she be gentle and not bite, lol. she tried real quick and then started giggling because hse had in fact forgotten how to nurse. she does get mama milk in a cup frequently though, as it's just as good for her now as it was when she was little! my thought process for letting her attempt to nurse was that if i refused, it made a big deal out of nothing and made it somehow off limits to her. by allowing her to try, she got the curiosity out of her system and it became a complete non-issue. i'd start off by finding out if your ds wants to actually nurse or if he just wants mama milk to drink out of a cup. good for you for meeting your lo's needs, however "out there" they may beto some people :)

Tammy - posted on 02/18/2010

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I think you should talk to your doctor or a health nurse about this. At this point he's eating solids so he's not going to get from your milk than he would from what's on his plate (provided that what's on his plate is healthy) if he's sick a lot then you should talk to his doctor I really don't think breast milk is going to be the cure for him.

Bethany - posted on 02/18/2010

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At this late age I think I would just try giving him expressed milk but if he is used to cow's milk he may not drink it.

Stacy - posted on 02/17/2010

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If you wanted to express your milk and give it to them in a bottle or sippy cup that would not be so weird. Actually breastfeeding them at 4 and 6 years of age, in my opinion would be very weird.

Rosalinda - posted on 02/17/2010

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I think it is weird. He is 4 years old and is ok to drink cow milk. I think that is wonderful that you are breastfeeding your 3 month old. The milk you are producing right now is for the nutritional value for a 3 month old and not a 4 year old. I don't think giving him breast milk at this point would have any nutritional benefit.

Rebecca - posted on 02/17/2010

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I think it might be confusing for your son to begin breastfeeding at age 4. However, I see nothing wrong with giving him some expressed milk to drink in place of animal milk, juice, or other beverages -- assuming he likes the taste. However, I would be cautious about trying to express more than a few ounces a day for your son's benefit, as this could have unintended consequences for your breastfeeding relationship with your daughter, which I feel should be your priority.

Do you think that you're processing some feelings of regret about how long you nursed your older children, now that you seem to be having more success with your new baby?

Sonia - posted on 02/17/2010

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there are no health benefits of breastmilk for a child after age 12 months. Mothers who choose to continue breastfeeding after this time do it more for themselves than for the child.

[deleted account]

I wanted to share.... my girls were 6 when their brother was born. They wanted to try nursing, but it wasn't an idea I was comfortable w/.... they kept bugging me though, so one day I squirted a little milk in a medicine cup for them to taste. Neither one of them would go near it! Lol! :)

Angie - posted on 02/17/2010

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IM nursing 5 week old twins when i was 5 months pragnant my almost 2 year old weined her self so now that thay are born i was thinking the same thing if she wanted it should i give it to her but she dont she looks and says ewww lol so that solved that for me

Priscilla - posted on 02/17/2010

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Why in Western society are we so up tight. The urge and interest to try this is called 'maternal instinct'..sadly in the interest of not confusing your 4 year old or attracting all sorts of silly judgement its probably best not to breastfeed. Research the true medical benefits through reputable sources then decide if you want to express and give your child some.
Good Luck I hope it goes well.

Jenny - posted on 02/16/2010

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Thanks Tarrah, for sharing your situation with us. I think it's great that you think "outside of the box" and are willing to consider anything even if it's unconventional, in order to do the best for your son!!!

Lindsay - posted on 02/16/2010

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My older kids get bm on their cereal in the morning. It's whatever is comfortable for you and your lil one.

Tarrah - posted on 02/16/2010

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Thanks EVERYONE for your opinions and advice, I asked him and he has no desire to nurse, however, if I am able to pump, he would drink it. He does express an interest in drinking "mommy milk" just not the way his baby sister does. I appreciate everyones honesty.

Jenny - posted on 02/16/2010

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I totally support giving him breastmilk in cup. I have guy friends who remember their mom giving them breastmilk in a cup when they were well over 4. (They just don't tell their other guy friends about it.) :)

Jenny - posted on 02/16/2010

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I have to be honest, I support absolutely support breastfeeding and like Teresa said it would be different if he had been continually breastfed since he was a baby. But I do think it would be strange to start now.

And I agree with you Lisa that the use of breasts have been perverted, but that doesn't change the fact that this boy will still be growing up in a society that sexualizes breasts and he will have memories of this that he may find disturbing as he gets older. Again I think it's different than a child who has been breastfed from an infant.



One small side note. I think breasts can be dual-purposed! The have been an object of sexual pleasure for thousands of years (just read Song of Solomon in the Bible!) and personally I think God made them for both purposes!! The perversion comes when people think they are ONLY for sex and somehow men feel threatened by nursing, or see nursing as some kind of sexual thing, since they can't separate breasts from sex. I see my breasts as a symbol of my femininity, both as a mother and as a woman.

Minnie - posted on 02/16/2010

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Ah ok, I see what you mean, Teresa.

When I posted my first reply I hadn't even read yours, and just typed out my thoughts. It seems to me that overwhelmingly it's a sexual issue with people. As if breasts are for men first, and it's ok to nurse a child to a point but then they become too old and encroaches on the sexual aspect..now I'm rambling, haha.

I can accept that you are concerned with simply restarting breastfeeding. Although I don't think it weird myself, as I have obliged my own nearly four year old's request to nurse.

Melissa - posted on 02/15/2010

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I say go for it, If he wants to nurse thats wonderful! If he's not interested, give him milk in a cup. I think it's great!!



I have to say, I posted this without reading most responses. There is info out there about unweaning, with kids who have issues with the new baby, and a number of other reasons. I havent yet weaned my daughter who is 18 months and I dont have plans to until she's ready. I am confused by any mother who could even have nursing and perversion in the same thought. I don't know what you've decided, or if you have, but I think that whether he wants to nurse or not and you give him some in a cup, you're doing great. I'm really urked by some of the other responses!

Becky - posted on 02/15/2010

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I'm curious - have you offered him the breast at all, and if so, was he interested? Or has he asked for it? I weaned my now 2 year old at 14 months and had another baby, who I am exclusively breastfeeding, 4 months later. I thought my older son might want to nurse when he saw the baby nursing, but, although he is curious about it, he has no interest in nursing whatsoever. I've even offered it to him and he just laughs and says that's silly and that's for the baby. So your 4 year old may not even be willing to breastfeed at this point, and I most certainly would not push the issue if he's not!

Stacey - posted on 02/15/2010

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I would nurse your three month old first and then pump...you just don't want to take any nutrition away from the baby that she needs....also pump between feedings and you'll have plenty. Since he hasn't breast fed in so long I'd just express and give it in a cup.

[deleted account]

I get that point and while I think it would be a tad odd (just my opinion, also not meant to be offensive) to still be nursing a 4 year old.... The issue is on whether or not to START nursing a 4 year old that hasn't nursed since he was a newborn. I do find that extremely weird. My breasts are for no man and never will be again, so that isn't my issue. I suppose the reason 'it is just cuz it is' isn't justifiable for my discomfort w/ it, but it's all I've got.



I AM still nursing a little one who will be 2 in less than 6 weeks though. Maybe I'll see it differently in 2 years, maybe not. ;)

Jessica - posted on 02/15/2010

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Do what works for you. Mixing it with cow's milk could give a bit more to drink, since you said pumping only gets about 2 oz.

Marcy - posted on 02/15/2010

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BTW Tarrah there are 2 other circles Militant Breastfeeding Mamas and Breatfeeding past a year. You should check out those circles. While the info on the breastfeeding moms circle is really helpful (in most cases) I would have to say that a large percentage of the moms in this circle BF up to year. The other 2 circles tend to have extended BF moms who can offer you different perspectives. Just a suggestion....

[deleted account]

I'm sorry Lisa, but I DO think it's weird and I haven't perverted anything. I think that's a rather offensive statement to make when we were ASKED our opinions here.

[deleted account]

If he has weaned, I wouldn't reintroduce nursing. You'll have a heck of a time nursing two children at once!

I agree with PP's - give him your milk in a cup if you feel it'll be beneficial to his health.

Marcy - posted on 02/15/2010

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Tarrah I have a 3 1/2 year old who still nurses. I am really kind of tired to be honest with you. Keep in mind that you have to take are of yourself as well. SInce you stated below that he has health issues I would just give him your milk in a cup. While there is nothing wrong with nursing older children (trust me when I tell you that I have dealt with my fair share of rude comments) I think that at the age of 4 years old to start nursing would be confusing for all parties involved. He obviously isn't looking to you for that type of comfort. My kiddo drinks a ton of organic milk and nurses for about 15 minutes per day. At that age I just don't think they are nursing for extended periods anymore. Again, I don't think this is weird or strange...I just find that after almost 4 years of nursing, for me, I am kind of wanting to be at the end of this amazing journey!

Tarrah - posted on 02/14/2010

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He gets sick a lot. A whole lot, so I thought maybe it would help. I cant pump more than 2 ounces at a time, but will try, he has drank it from a cup, he was interested and he likes it.

Minnie - posted on 02/14/2010

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No, not weird at all. Humans are biologically designed to nurse for several years.



If it makes him happy, and you're happy to indulge him, why not? Anyone who thinks it strange and wrong has simply perverted the purpose of the breast.



However, like someone else mentioned, he might not know how to properly latch. My nearly four year old asked to nurse a couple of weeks ago, and she didn't know how. I weaned her at 12 months.

Jodi - posted on 02/14/2010

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I would think it might be weird for your child if you tried to get her to nurse at the age of 4...but I would definately express what I could and use it in cereal or just to give a glass with meals and what not. I actually plan on doing this with my daughter if she weans before the age of 3!!!

Becky - posted on 02/14/2010

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I would think that you might be in for some pretty sore nipples if you try to actually breastfeed him. He most likely would not have a very good latch. Iwouldn't think it's weird to give him breastmilk in a cup though. I've actually thought about doing that with my 2 year old, because he has a typical toddler diet, which is not always the healthiest!

Rebecca - posted on 02/14/2010

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I have lots of extra pumped milk and I give it to my 3yr old in his milk. (He weaned at 13 months) I just add it to his cup and then top it up with cows milk. He dosnt even know the difference. I just do it because he was always sick with colds, since I had my daughter (she is 9 months) and been doing this he hasnt really had any colds, whether or not its related I dont know but it cant hurt.

Emily - posted on 02/14/2010

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I don't think it's weird. But he probably wouldn't know how to do it anymore.. you have to coordinate the suck/swallow/breathe thing. I know lots of moms who add breastmilk to their older child's oatmeal and things like that.. I don't see a problem with that. It doesn't stop being beneficial just because he's over age 2.

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