Breastfeeding older children......

Mother - posted on 01/06/2011 ( 352 moms have responded )

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Breastfeeding older children......How old is TOO old??
What age would make you go Hmmmmmmmm.........Is school aged children too old?

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Erica - posted on 01/07/2011

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I feel by school age that if they still want to breast feed at home, great- but if they want some breast milk at school, it should be in a thermos or something to keep it cold for them to drink on their own.

Mrs. - posted on 01/07/2011

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It's when the parent's ideals, upholding a set of principles that, although noble, have nothing to do with societal reality supersede the immediate needs of the child.

"Mommy kids are making fun of me cause they think I'm a baby. They say that cause I said I still drink from your bitty."

"Well, honey, they need to learn that breastfeeding is natural and normal thing to do at any age a child dictates."

"But, Jimmy said I'm a baby."

"Well, Jimmy's parents need to change their thinking."

Disconnect with immediate need of the child.

Mother - posted on 01/07/2011

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Agreed Jennifer, but even a toddler is considered a baby. Although don't ever tell a Toddler they are a baby because in their eyes they are BIG boys and girls!!!!!! Eight years old is like Grade 2 is not more depending on their birthday. It just creeps me out.

Minnie - posted on 01/07/2011

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Why are parents pushing their children?



I agree that maybe there are developmental issues with an eight year old breastfeeding, since it is so far off the range of average. Just as I think there may be issues with an infant who weans extremely early. I'm not sure that the breastfeeding is the cause of the developmental issues that you are thinking of but a result of it. Just like a child who has not become potty independent even at age six might have some issues- physical development or emotional.



Again, forcing a child into a certain lifestyle is wrong. Forcing a child to breastfeed at age eight through manipulation or coersion is wrong. I CAN NOT force my two year old to nurse.

Johnny - posted on 01/07/2011

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Wow, nursing a child of any age is not abusive. Over the age of probably about 5, it could be a poor choice for the situation, but abuse? No, not even close!

My problem with it has nothing to do with it being sexual or perceived in that way. I think it is mainly that 8 year olds shouldn't be doing much of the same stuff that toddlers are doing. Really, I must say that I would wonder about what kind of problems with development an 8 year old who is still nursing may be having. As kids develop, they naturally begin to desire their own space, perhaps in some cases privacy, and begin to individuate to a greater and greater degree. When other kids know that little Joey is still breastfeeding, they're going to think he's a baby. They don't even need their parents to put those kind of thoughts into their heads. Kids know what is in the range of normal for their own age group, and breastfeeding ain't there. They know (at least those kids exposed to normal nursing practices) that it is for babies and toddlers. Kids can put 2 and 2 together without the input of parental prejudice.

It's nice to live in airy fairy land of natural mothering utopia. But then the kids have to go to school with other children. My friend was still nursing at 6 has more than just that problem with his mom, but they all relate to her desire to live a certain lifestyle and his desire to fit in with other children. It made his childhood and teen years miserable. Sadly, he is one of a few kids I grew up with whose parents made their kids miserable out of a desire to follow a utopian lifestyle. It's all great for you, but when it's pushed on the kids too much, they end up alienated at school and at home when they push back.

Jennifer - posted on 01/07/2011

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pumping works a lot differently than a baby does, and doesn't work nearly as well to keep up supply. a nursing momma can only be nursing once a day, and not have to do anything extra to keep up her supply but i've never heard of a woman only pumping once a day and not drying up quickly. machines simply are not as effective.

[deleted account]

marina, people are comfortable with right in the middle of the statistical numbers 2.5-7 years. because that is the AVERAGE. If people weren't so judgmental, then it would be ok in our society, in other cultures its normal to breastfeed natural duration. Not only is it normal but theirs an oft quote in Mongolia that " the best wrestlers are breastfed for at least 6 years."

If our society wasn't so fixated on what others thought of them, or what people would say or do, then a lot of things would be really different. WE instill the judgmental attitude to mock someone else for THEIR customs THEIR beliefs. If a child is mocked for being BF, its the parent of the mocker who didn't do their job properly. If people would stop teaching their kids to discriminate against the different, we wouldn't have this problem. IF someone else decided to BF until they are ready, it is in no way your right to judge them for that. If parents judge others children learn to judge too. Its so hypocritical, everyone wants to not be judged, yet they are the first to condemn. Thats the problem with fixed minds, a lot of them are fixed WRONG.

Mrs. - posted on 01/07/2011

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Again this thread has turned into what "should" be in society instead of what is. What "should" be if the sexualization of breasts was removed-good luck with removing it ladies! What "should" be if our society was more comfortable like the Mongolians-Whelp it's not at the moment. What "should" be if kids were more desensitized to school age breastfeeding cause everyone did it and therefore wouldn't tease other kids for life.....still isn't the reality.

Sorry, it's great to dream or even argue that this is what should be but in the real world, this effects kids in a real way. You know in the way that most people are not even a fraction open minded as this message board is being about breastfeeding an 8 year old. You can draw this conclusion by reading any of the comments around the web about that video...or the parodies.

Shauna - posted on 01/07/2011

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DAMN! that makes me mad i quit. I seriously thought it was all gone.

Celeste - posted on 01/07/2011

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Shauna, the way your breasts feel and how much you get from a pump aren't good indicators of supply. Average pumping output is about 1/2 to 2 oz. Plus, pumping output does decrease over time. I couldn't pump but a few drops and had no problems continuing to nurse twins.



Generally, nursing works on supply and demand, so as long as a mother is nursing, there will be milk.

Jodi - posted on 01/07/2011

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Kelly, I would have to have a very good relationship with the child, it's not like you just wetnurse any child off the street! lol I wetnursed one nephew until he was nearly 2, at that point his mother weaned him because she was pregnant and I followed her lead. I wetnursed his brother until he was nearly a year when I became pregnant and was still nursing my daughter, it was just too much on my body (and probably a part of why I lost soooo much weight in the beginning of my pregnancy) I was present for both of their births, I cut both of their cords, I had been their daycare providor since the time my sister went back to work. They were like my own children and we referred to them as Jaelyn's life brothers. My sister has only wetnursed my daughter on rare occasions when she's babysitting and Jaelyn needed comforting when I wasn't there.
But, keep this from completely derailing this thread, I'll open a different thread for wetnursing and if people want to put in their 2 cents, they're more than welcome!

As for the topic, it's recommended that for proper jaw and tooth alignment and growth bottles be stopped at a year old, breastfeeding does not have that negative impact on the human mouth, one can be harmful, the other is not so they really can't be compared.

Shauna - posted on 01/07/2011

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Im just curious.... I only nursed untill my child was 8 mo old. I worked full time 10 hrs a day and pumped 3 times a day at work and nursed my son once in the morning and once before bed on top of the pumping.... i was assuming my milk was just gone b/c my breast were never really "swollen" like they used to look when they were full of milk and when i pumped i used to get around 8-10 oz between the 2 of them that dropped to about 4 oz or nothing at all so i just assumed my body stopped producing and just stopped nursing him. How if you women that have BF this long kept your production up? does it just go away for some women? Or was i wrong to assume my production was gone since i was pumping nothing alot of the time? * i know this is off subject but im curious*

~♥Little Miss - posted on 01/07/2011

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Julianne, what I gather most people on this thread don't agree with the natural duration of 2.5-7 years old. I can see someone nursing til 3...4 is pushing...5, 6, 7...I see this as a behavioral thing. I think it is more for the mom at this point than the child...gotta cut the cord some time. Might as well not have them potentially mocked and teased for it. I just don't see it as emotionally good for that long term.

Shauna - posted on 01/07/2011

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I worked at a childcare, and although we do not allow bottles past the age of 18 mo at daycare. IF the mother was still breastfeeding, the mother could bring in the milk and we would provide it for the child in a sippy cup or a cup at meal times.

Celeste - posted on 01/07/2011

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Joining the party! Many of the breastfeeding moms probably know me :)

Before I get to my opinion, as a survivor of sexual abuse, it is *VERY* offensive to me to compare nursing an older child to sexual abuse. That is SO horribly wrong, I can't even find the words to express my feeling on that.

Anyway, for *ME*? 4 is past my comfort zone so I would not feel comfortable nursing an 8 year old. However, I *will not* judge that relationship. It's obviously working for them so I'm not going to judge them. I don't feel that nursing a child that old hinders development.

Jodi's post about the progression of nursing is how it happened for me. I have twin boys that I nursed to 3 1/2 and 4. I never thought in a million years that I'd nurse to that old. I nursed my daughter til she was 17 months so I assumed (incorrectly) that my boys would wean around that time. Then 2 came around. Then 3. One of them decided he was done on his own. The other one, I gently encouraged him to wean.

My boys didn't lift up my shirt and just nurse. I instilled nursing manners at an early age. I also stopped nursing in public, not because of others, but because at that point, they were only nursing once a day.

I'm glad that some women are being opened minded but it sucks to be judged and to be called "gross" or being accused of child abuse.

Minnie - posted on 01/07/2011

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Why are we making up an arbitrary situation and adding imaginary details to it? Now we have a mother who is breasfeeding her child at school and refusing to do it at home.

Is this actually happening in some of the towns you ladies live in?

Why are we comparing bottles of formula to breastfeeding? They're not remotely similar in this situation. Breastfeeding is not just about what comes out of the breast and no doubt by eight years there probably is not much of it. Again, older children do not nurse multiple times a day. It's usually at bed time. And if this is in addition to a bed time story and a hug and a kiss who cares? It's not in your home.

Jennifer - posted on 01/07/2011

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kelly, a child drinking from a bottle would be teased because bottles are for BABIES. breastfeeding is not just for babies...it may not be quite as socially acceptable for children as it ought to be but our bodies are designed to be nursed through the toddler years.

Jennifer - posted on 01/07/2011

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oh my, are we going to open the wet nursing can of worms?



even if there isn't a culture that regularly nurses at age 8, that doesn't really mean the occasional 8 year old nursling is wrong. the world average is 4 but the most common weaning age is somewhere around 2 or 3 i believe so that means that there are plenty that continue nursing much longer than age 4 to bring the average to 4 years old.



that being said, if you remove the sexualization of breasts, and child led weaning is allowed to be the standard, i still think 8 years old is older than what would be average. though, not only is there a connection between natural duration breastfeeding, and development of the immune system but i believe there a connection between natural duration breastfeeding and the falling out of "baby teeth." from an evolutionary/biological standpoint after infancy, breastfeeding is meant to supplement a human diet until a child starts getting their adult teeth. in modern cultures a child can be fine without mother's milk because of all the options given to us through advancement but from an evolutionary standpoint, i think our bodies still want to nurse into childhood. if that makes sense to anyone other than me hahaha...i have a sick baby so i didn't get much sleep.

Mother - posted on 01/07/2011

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WOW Jodi...REALLY?? I've never met anyone who wetnursed. I know at one time if was very common. Would you have been able to wetnurse an 8 y/o?? Not me....I'd get weirded out.

Mother - posted on 01/07/2011

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WOWSERS. This thread EXPLODED!! YAY. I have to say I had a blast last night chatting with you Ladies. It was a great change from the very controversial vax threads at which time my claws and attitude are in high gear. So while I was laying in bed a thought came to mind and I was going to come back but was exhausted.



I can see everyone has mixed feelings about this and from the pro side I'm getting it could possibly be a comfort thing. What if the woman had brought a bottle of formula to school and let this boy suckle it there?? He'd be teased incessantly. I mean, if this was for nutrition it could have been expressed prior to coming to school. I suppose she also wouldn't have had knowledge that he might want it but if the woman was picking her child up at school.....this tells me they live close by and he must be a walker vs a bus rider. So they could have gone home. I just think the whole notion is weird. I am curious to know which cultures BF into 8 years of age. I have never seen it.

Bexterwhite - posted on 01/07/2011

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i think not nursing as a lifestyle choice is selfish neglectful and that synthetic breast milk should only be available on prescription for those who really need it. i think this would make people think very carefully about how much commitment they had to motherhood, and would give more babies the best start in life.
But i try to keep those opinions to myself most of the time so as not to be overly judgmental!

Jodi - posted on 01/07/2011

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I wetnursed my nephews and my daughter has wetnursed from my sister...

Bonnie - posted on 01/07/2011

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Yikes Jodi...IMO, I believe breast feeding is for a mother and a mother only.

Jodi - posted on 01/07/2011

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My sister in-law (about to turn the big 4-0!) can remember nursing, I've never asked when she stopped, but I know until at least 5 or 6. Really want something to bunch your panties about ladies? She can also remember wetnursing off of her Godmother on occasion. *gasp* She remembers it fondly, much like I remember cuddling on the cough with my mom to watch movies or read books, or other women remember their mom taking them on special mother-daughter outtings or whatever other mother/daughters do.

Two of my cousins were breastfed as school aged children (they're siblings) and remember it fondly. Now, none of these people were nursed until 8, as has been pointed out many times by now, 8 is past the average for self weaning, but it does happen.

to call is child abuse is absolutely ridiculous. It coudl easily be said that NOT nursing your child until 2 years old is child abuse, but I don't actually think that and would never actually seriously suggest it. There are a lot of things that are child abuse, and any child found in those situations would, at some point in their lives, let you know it was child abuse. Extended breastfeeding is not one of those situations, and of the people I know that have nursed, it certainly isn't some horrible memory or traumatic event from their past.

Katherine - posted on 01/07/2011

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Why Sarah? Is it the sexual aspect of it? Does it seem more sexual the older they get?
I mean I'm with you. I don't see it as disturbing per say, but it's a bit weird.
There are cultures that do it though and you have to be culturally relativistic.

Nicole - posted on 01/07/2011

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Wow! It is perfectly okay to have opinions about how you want to raise *your* children and I will not judge your decisions on how you choose to feed or comfort your child. It is *your* child. BUT I feel that some of you are VERY judgmental of how others do.



Child abuse??? Really??? I think that truly takes away from actual child abuse victims and I think many would be offended by that statement. I know a man (my best friend from highschool's husband) who endured horrid child abuse at the hands of his step father. To the point of horrible beatings, starvation, and being locked in closets for long periods of time are just a few of his experiences. He still has the psychological effects of this abuse and is now 40, but he supported his wife while she breastfed their son and continued to support her breastfeeding as she did so long after his second birthday (I don't know when she finally weaned because she did the feedings at home since older children nurse so little and I think she was afraid to scare me out of breastfeeding since I hadn't had children yet). He never gave any indication that he thought breastfeeding was anything like abuse.



I think equating extended breastfeeding to abuse is like saying too many hugs are abusive to children. Especially since my mother was always a hugger which I loved as a child and then when I was a teenager, I hated it! But now that I am an adult, I feel that I was just an emotional, bitchy teen and I should have realized how lucky I was to have such a devoted and loving mother. I'm sure most kids would go through the same emotions about breastfeeding as they age.

Minnie - posted on 01/07/2011

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I get that. But why isn't anyone considering the possibility that if an eight year old boy was still nursing (and it really would probably be only once a day, or once every two or three days even) that there is no open communication?



Seriously- if my daughter continues to breastfeed for a long time we WILL talk about it and how our culture sees it. She will be able to make an informed choice. Yes, I do believe that a five, six and seven year old can make an informed choice. I'm not going to manipulate her into continuing.



But I doubt she will continue past five because the average age for natural duration weaning is about four.

Shauna - posted on 01/07/2011

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by time i was in 1st grade i new what body parts were and what sex meant, and so did all my peers, boys would crack jokes about it even at that age. Granted we didnt fully understand it, just b/c the boy hasnt hit puberty, i can see where this could be thought of as a little strange to be BF a 8 yr old boy.

[deleted account]

if society as a whole did not condemn people for bf to the natural duration the child chooses, then school aged children would not judge people. This judgment does not come to a child naturally, its taught to them. Really only sick twisted people can associate breastfeeding with a sexual factor or a disgusting factor because their minds are manipulated into thinking its sexual or disturbing. 8 is the extreme side of the spectrum, but she is not doing anything wrong if her child needs it. We supplement other children dietary needs with cows milk, she is giving her child what they naturally need. The child is going on 8 and was about to self ween, 2.5-7 is natural duration. so what the child is a year off, lots of moms cut the boob of at a year or earlier. Thats ok though?

Katherine - posted on 01/07/2011

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Wow that's a pretty shallow thing to say.
Brestfeeding=child abuse.
hmmmmm

Bexterwhite - posted on 01/07/2011

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Goodness i have heard formula feeding as a "lifestyle choice" called neglectful and selfish. But to call extended breast-feeding child abuse!!!!!
This kid and his mum obviously have many more problems than the fact she nursed him.

Joanna - posted on 01/07/2011

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I don't know where I stand on this. To me, over 4 seems weird. Considering a few months ago I wasn't going to BF my new baby, I think I'm doing pretty good still doing it 11 weeks later. I can't imagine myself doing it longer than a year, but she won't take bottles and is a bit booby obsessed, so we will see!

Melissa - posted on 01/07/2011

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Carol thats so sad. I feel horrible for that guy. I think there should be a law against breast feeding to that age. It should be deemed child abuse

[deleted account]

I breastfed my second daughter till she was at kindergarten. I think she was about 41/2 - 5 when she weaned. I was also pregnabt with her younger sister for a lot of that time, and for a while I was tandem feeding. Nothing happened. Breastfeeding only took place at home because we were down to only 1 or 2 feeds daily by the time she went to school. I never rocked up to school to giver her her breastfeed, but I'm sure I wouldn't have batted an eyelid if I'd seen others do that.

I'm not some tree-hugging radical. I'm 56, and those "girls" are now 26 and 24. (I breastfed their older sister for only 21/2 years. She's currently breastfeeding her 15 month old twins. We are a booby family) All the girls are well-balanced, independent and have a lively interest in all aspects of life.

It's completely up to the mum and the bub. It suits some people, doesn't suit others.

Becky - posted on 01/06/2011

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I personally think school-age is too old. I don't see myself doing it past 3. I'm still nursing my 16 month old and would like to let him self wean, but we're also trying to have a third, and last time I had to wean my oldest when I was 4 months pregnant because I was drying up and just couldn't handle it anymore.
If another family wants to do it that long and it works for them, fine. It doesn't affect me. But I agree, Marina, keep it at home! Nursing your child at school where other children can see, and WILL tease him, is not right. I find it disturbing that an almost 9 year old still calls it nummies and asks for it by pointing at her chest too. To me, that seems quite infantile.
And Sharon, I wondered the same thing. Because I grew up in 3rd world countries - in fact, I lived in the poorest country in the world. If they have a reason for extended breastfeeding anywhere, it's there. But I can say with confidence that I have never seen an 8 or 9 year child still breastfeeding!

Johnny - posted on 01/06/2011

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I'm not a supporter of kids of elementary school age breastfeeding. I think that it could cause so many social problems that it isn't funny. If any other kids find out, and your family doesn't ever leave town, you'll be reading about it in the comments in your high school graduation yearbook. Kids already have enough trouble fitting in, there's no need to allow something to make it worse. If there was some sort of conceivable benefit to nursing an 8 year old, I could perhaps understand, but I've never heard one listed. Aside from the fact that the mother is allowing the child to self wean. Still, don't get what the benefit is from that when the child is being mercilessly mocked and bullied about it by their peers. For me, the "other cultures do it" argument doesn't really hold much water. We don't live in those cultures, we live here and we need to recognize and respect our kid's realities. Just because as moms we wish we lived in some natural mothering utopia doesn't make it so, and no matter how much we want to follow those ideals, sometimes we need to recognize that in this society at this time, our ideals can hurt our kids.

One of my childhood friends was breastfed until he was in grade 1. Him and his mother no longer speak, haven't for years, and this is a good part of the reason. He literally hates her for not forcing him to wean before the other kids found out and his memories of it became so totally vivid.

Otherwise, I think it's just fine to allow kids to self wean. The vast majority will do so before their 5th birthday, and I don't see it being a huge issue. I weaned my daughter at 23 months. Now, it's hard to imagine still nursing her, but I'm sure it would have been fine. At the time though, I needed to take a high level hormone treatment and was not comfortable with the possibility that an elevated amount of estrogen could possibly pass to her. I was frankly also ready to be done and luckily, she was fine with it. She still talks fondly about nursies and occasionally pretends to nurse, which doesn't bother me one bit.

[deleted account]

Mongolians believe in baby led weaning. IF they wean at 2 years or 8, its the childs choice, as it should be.

Sharon - posted on 01/06/2011

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In 2005, according to UNICEF1, 82 percent of children in Mongolia continued to breastfeed at 12 to 15 months, and 65 percent were still doing so at 20 to 23 months

Sharon - posted on 01/06/2011

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I want someone to name one DAMN culture that nurses their kids until they are 8 yr olds.

[deleted account]

yea i thought it was normal for people to remember being a baby. I mentioned it to some people, they thought i was nuts...I proved it though, to my family at least, by describing things i shouldn't have remembered. It was strange realizing i had arms....then legs and that i could move them..and i was a little pod that my thought was in, then when i blinked the world shut off...lol. I can also remember thinking in english even though i couldn't talk.



I say all the time to people, watch what you say and do around babies, they might remember!!! Its rare, but it happens.

Mrs. - posted on 01/06/2011

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Wow, Julianne, that is remarkable. I think the common age for the average person to remember things is 4. Most of us have that infant amnesia thing.

Charlie - posted on 01/06/2011

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Nichole I love that episode of weeds it is soooo funny when Andy sucks on her breast to relieve the engorgment and he swallows the milk and says " I had to swallow I would be a hypocrite if I didnt " or something like that Bahahahahaha.

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