Breastfeeding past age 2

Peggy - posted on 03/25/2009 ( 10 moms have responded )

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My son will be 2 this Sunday and I'm still breastfeeding him. He still wakes up a few times a night to feed and crawls all over me (sometimes for literally an hour). I have not had a chest cold in 5-6 years but recently I was knocked out by one of them. I believe this is because I am so sleep deprived. My question is: what are the benefits to continuing to breastfeed after age 2? What are the negative effects of weaning him at this age? I am really struggling with this. I don't feel well most of the time and feel like my body is really suffering. I am open to just changing the night feeding but I believe this is the most important one. Any help would be appreciated!

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Celeste - posted on 08/10/2010

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Benefits continue as long as you're nursing. As I like to tell the nay sayers, breastmilk doesn't turn into kool aid after a certain point LOL

Having said that, it's important to both parties of the nursing relationship to be willing parties. If you're feeling touched out and/or ready to wean, it's ok to wean. To be honest, I struggled with this, too. Sometimes, making compromises can work, too.

Placing limits worked for us (my boys were nursing very often) and we also night weaned (we used Dr. Jay Gordon's nightweaning method)

Good luck with your decision!

Crystal - posted on 08/10/2010

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I am considering night weaning my 16 mth old boy as it is becoming something of a habit and he thinks he needs to have a boob in his mouth to go to sleep. I am also a believer that they are asking for comfort for a reason.
But at the end of the day a Happy Mum equals a Happy Baby/Child so if you are suffering because of the way your child is feeding then it may be time to look at night weaning at least so you can get a decent rest. Overall though it seems like a lifetime away but they feed for such a short time in the long run that it seems such a waste to feel negative towards any of when they are asking to be close to us. Good Luck with whatever you decide. Most of all its about feeling supported as a Mum, hope i have helped that :)

Valerie - posted on 03/25/2009

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Hi Peggy. I have 2 year old twin boys who are still breastfeeding. It's a hard question of when to wean, and very personal. I weaned my boys of night time breastfeeding in a gentle way at an age when they could understand (for my boys, they were almost 2). I didn't leave them alone, they knew I was there when they asked for me, just no "num nums" until morning. They nursed actively during the day and not at all at night. I don't like the idea of forcing children into adult sleeping patterns but as they get old enough to understand, it's possible to help them break the night time eating habit. And if you are so tired that you are considering weaning all together then maybe considering "night time" weaning would be a good compromise? That is if you want to continue breastfeeding. Why do you believe it is the most important feeding? Emotionally? I can understand that concern. If you want to contact me I can share more about how we managed to do the night time weaning in a gentle way. Good luck! You're an awesome Mommy for being so committed to him!

[deleted account]

Oh and some tips I used when I night weaned my son (we were bed sharing at the time, although he now sleeps in his own toddler race car bed at the end of our bed). When he'd wake and try to nurse in the night (this all happened over about a weeks time) I would tell him sorry buddy, the boobies are sleeping right now like you and I should be doing. They have to sleep so they can make the milk. You can nurse in the morning. Here is some water if you want, now go back to sleep and I will hold your hand. This worked well for us. He protested some at first, but I felt ok about it (we are against CIO) since we were right there with him. My hubby would rub his back and offer to snuggle with him. He was already nursing less and less, but within a week of doing this, he was done nursing in the night.

Personally I am a firm believer babes need to nurse in the night until at least 12 mo. due to all the growth spurts, but that's just my opinion. Anyway, you are well past that... again best wishes!

Dena - posted on 03/25/2009

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Peggy,



 



One more thing about those night feedings.  A lactation consultant had told me to ask myself, "would I eat at 2 AM?"  The answer, of course, was no and therefore that gave me the strength to say no to my daughter at 2 AM.  Let me reassure you too that today both of my children have very healthy eating habbits and love the veggies!!



Again, great job!



Dena the Doula

Aubrey - posted on 03/25/2009

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I am still nursing my 3 year old, but very limitedly. When we got pregnant last year we starting cutting her back. It started by limiting her to 5 min. each time she woke up in the night. Then we only let her nurse 4 times during the day (when she woke in the am, nap time, when she woke from nap, and at bedtime). Then we limited her to 5 min. when she woke up, but could nurse for as long as she needed to go to sleep. Then we said she could only nurse for 1 min. when she woke up in the night, and that led to no nursing while the sun was asleep. Now she only nurses for 1 min. 4 times a day. It took 8 months or so to get to this point, but it was worth it. She has had a few tough times with the limitations, but they didn't last that long. It was a slow process but we stuck with it, we never set a limitation and then gave in. We stuck to our guns!!!  I hope this helps you.

[deleted account]

I think if the breastfeeding relationship is not working for you anymore, it would be OK to gently wean. Or maybe you could just night wean. I too am still BFing my 27mo. old son and am about to have another baby, any day now, so I will be tandem nursing and back to the night time feedings. But, my son night wean with just a little help from hubby and I at 18mo. We used some of the concepts in the following notes.



As far as benefits... they still receive antibodies in your milk, he just received some from your chest cold. There is still a lot of nutrition in your milk. Comfort, security and knowing you are there for him. However, you could move towards trying to comfort more with hugs and kisses. There are real benefits in building confidence and security in your son by allowing him to self-wean too. But, I believe extended/full term breastfeeding has to be a good relationship, positive for you both and if you're not feeling that way anymore, then I say move towards gently weaning him.



http://www.drjaygordon.com/development/a...

http://www.kellymom.com/bf/weaning/how_w...

http://www.kathydettwyler.org/dettwyler....



Best wishes!

Dena - posted on 03/25/2009

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Dear Peggy,

First let me congratulate you on nursing for two years!  You can rest assured that you son has gotten not just the nutrients he needs, but also the immense amount of love and nurturing that comes from your dedication to provide him the very best by breastfeeding!




When I weaned my first, I too was exhausted and it was told to me that while it is good to nurse, if I am overtired and stressed it may lessen the nurturing aspect and it would be okay to stop.  Put the oxygen mask on you first they say.


In support,


Dena the Doula


Additionally, here is an article I wrote to help new mom's with nursing questions:








Here I am breastfeeding Emma alongside her big sister Giulianna, shortly after she was born at St. Luke's Roosevelt's Birthing Center in NYC.

June 26, 2003





Quite often my clients will ask, "How long should I breastfeed and how often?" While everyone has their own preference after making a go at it for a few weeks and between Mommy & Baby you find your own way, I usually share what worked for me. However, in speaking with my former Post Partum Doula, Christine Kealy, of In A Family Way in New York City, this morning she had a couple of additional suggestions.

When I nursed my first child Giulianna, we nursed on demand, no matter what I was doing. I was exhausted and she was quite often just snacking on my breast. When my second baby was born, I hired Christine and her lovely Doulas to come to my home and help me with the day to day errands and they taught me the value of swaddling (OMG) and the ever important value of nursing on a schedule.

Swaddling I'll save for another day, but nursing on a schedule saved me from long nights of sleeplessness. I learned that breastfeeding every 2-2 1/2 hours for 20 minutes on each breast allowed my little one to go beyond snacking and have a complete meal and thus a full tummy. After she nursed, I couldn't skip on the burping (I learned that the hard way), then onto swaddling and in the mouth went a "binky."

Initially I was opposed to the binky but I was asked by my PPD, "Do you want to sleep?" Without too much fuss I gave into her stern look and confidence in what she was saying. Believe me I tried to convince her that "my daughter doesn't take one of those." Well, I was wrong. With some insistence on the PPD's part she got Emma to take the binky and in no time fell fast asleep with a full tummy, and snuggled nice and cozy in her swaddling blanket. Guess who else got some much needed sleep? ME!

For those afraid of the binky, just as I was for fear it would become this terrible habit; I only gave Emma the binky after feedings to help her self soothe into sleep and never for any other reason. After 11 months, she spit it out and never looked back.

Now, this morning Christine told me something I didn't remember her saying five and a half years ago. She said newborns and their mommies should nurse according to the above schedule but once the milk is in she suggested nursing on one breast until it is empty and then offer the other breast. If the baby doesn't take to it, start the next feeding, usually 3-4 hours later on the breast she didn't take and again feed until completely empty. Overall the mommy and baby should be nursing 6-8 times per day as a general rule.

I hope this is helpful to mothers committing to breastfeeding. For more information and helpful suggestions you may go to La Leche League's website at .


Candy - posted on 03/25/2009

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Most of the material I've read recently says that I should stop feeding my son (he is 5 1/2 months) at night.  They say he's in the habit of eating at night, but doesn't physically require it.  So I'm currently in the process of trying to make him sleep through the night. But you have to do what feels right for you and your child.  Good luck and I hope you can start to feel better soon!

Niki - posted on 03/25/2009

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Hi Peggy,  I have nursed both of my children past age 3.  My son just weaned at 3 yr, 2 months.  It is a gradual process.  Is your son sleeping in the same room as you?  If so, that would explain why he wakes in the middle of the night.  They can smell it!  If he is healthy and eating well during the day, then he can go without the night nursings.  Nutritionally, he doesn't NEED to nurse during the night.  It's all about setting some boundaries at this point.  He may just be used to being comforted in that way when waking in the middle of the night.  My husband actually began getting up and putting my son back down to sleep, some time after 2 years.  Yes, it usually involved protests, but after about 3 nights he was fine with it.



I say all this, assuming his 2 year molars have come in.  Sometimes they will hurt them so badly, especially at night that they really need to be comforted. 



You mention that you consider that night feeding to be the most important one.  Why?  Does he nurse at other times during the day?  The morning feeding can be just as important or the nap and bedtime feeding.



I hope this helps, Good luck!

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