Baby led weaning? But how old is too old?

[deleted account] ( 67 moms have responded )

Just saw a episode of Dr Phil on tv about a woman who was still breastfeeding her 7 and 5 year old children. How old do you think is old enough, should a child still be breastfeeding past a certain age? Do you think it becomes detrimental to their well being to still be doing it at 7?

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Johnny - posted on 05/29/2010

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I believe in extended nursing and all. Baby led weaning is great. I am still nursing my 21 month old, and while I am working right now to limit her access, I am still hoping to allow her to self-wean in the end.

But if a 12 year old is still nursing, something has gone terribly wrong. There are issues there that need to be dealt with, and questions need to be asked about what parenting skills this mother is lacking. A child reaching the age of puberty still finding comfort at the mother's breast is not just socially or culturally inappropriate, it is not biologically appropriate for any mammalian species. When the young are approaching the age where they are ready to physically begin having their own young, weaning should have already occurred. It's all nice and politically correct to say, "old enough is whenever the mother and child are ready to stop." But sometimes some people take the most healthy and wonderful things and twist them to become something that is wrong and bad. I can not see any positive aspects for the 12 year old child that is still nursing, but there are many rather nasty consequences. Some kids may not "self" wean at any point, it is the responsibility of the mother to realize this and take gentle but firm action to end the nursing relationship. Some things are 'unconventional' for good reasons.

Sharon - posted on 05/31/2010

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This isn't a third world country - breastfeeding school age children is ludicrous.

If your child suffers from sort of terrible gastro disorder and needs the breastmilk to survive, yeah sure. But we aren't animals, nor are we desperate to save money and therefore feed the excess our bodies produce.

Just because we can, doesn't mean we should. using the extreme examples from poverty ridden countries doesn't sway me to your side of the argument.

*Lisa* - posted on 05/30/2010

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While I agree with you Fiona, this is a debating community so if a mother who supported breast feeding 'til primary school age wants to debate their case, then I'd love to hear it (sincerely).
I think that if the child has not weaned themselves off by primary school, then perhaps the mother needs to start weaning herself. Maybe the child isn't capable of being weaned off and needs help. Maybe 'baby' led weaning isn't working in this case now that this child is school aged. Would you let a child drink a bottle til 7? Or take a pacifier? Or use a nappy? Sometimes, the parent has to step in and parent.

Charlie - posted on 05/30/2010

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Oh come on a 12 year old !!!

Interesting letter from the world expert in breastfeeding and weaning .

DATE: March 2005

TO: Whom It May Concern

FROM: Katherine A. Dettwyler, Ph.D., Adjunct Associate Professor of Anthropology Texas A&M University, Adjunct Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Delaware, Newark, DE, Kadettwyler@hotmail.com

RE: "Extended" Breastfeeding

I am a biocultural anthropologist who has conducted research, since 1981, on cross-cultural beliefs and practices concerning infant/child feeding, growth and health, as well as the evolutionary underpinnings of human feeding practices. I am the acknowledged world expert on extended breastfeeding and weaning from both evolutionary and cross-cultural perspectives.

My research concludes that the normal and natural duration of breastfeeding for modern humans falls between 2.5 years and 7 years. Some children nurse less than 2.5 years, and some nurse longer than 7 years. It is quite common for children in many cultures around the world to be breastfed for 3-4-5-6-7 years, including quite a few in the U.S. (see below). My research on the age ranges for natural weaning has been published in a peer-reviewed scholarly book, and in the medical journal Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology (2004), and I have presented my research at many scientific meetings and conferences to audiences of anthropologists, doctors, nurses, lactation consultants, and other health care professionals.

In addition, my research has been used to counter charges of child abuse and "inappropriate parenting behaviors" in many court cases, especially involving divorce and custody disputes, where fathers may accuse the mother of "inappropriate parenting by virtue of extended breastfeeding" as a strategy to gain custody of children, or may simply claim that 'continued breastfeeding' is not relevant to shared custody arrangements.

At this point (2005), all of the research that has been conducted on the health and cognitive consequences of different lengths of breastfeeding shows steadily increasing benefits the longer a child is breastfed up to the age of 2 years, and no negative consequences. No research has been conducted on the physical, emotional, or psychological health of children breastfed longer than 2 years. Thus, while there is no research-based proof that breastfeeding a child for 3 years provides statistically significant health or cognitive benefits compared to breastfeeding a child for only two years, there is no research to show that breastfeeding a child for 3 years (or 4-5-6-7-8-9 years) causes any sort of physical, psychological or emotional harm to the child. This has recently been confirmed in the 2005 American Academy of Pediatrics "Recommendations for breastfeeding the healthy term infant" (see below).

Breastfeeding a child beyond the age of three years is not common in the United States , but it is not unknown. It is more common than most people realize because families that practice extended breastfeeding often do not tell others, who they fear will be judgmental. A breastfeeding child of 3 or 4 years or older will typically only be nursing a few times a day - usually first thing in the morning, before nap and bedtime at night, perhaps more often if they are sick, injured, frightened, emotionally distressed or developmentally delayed. It is quite easy for even close friends of the family to be unaware of a continuing breastfeeding relationship. A pediatrician who is vocal in his non-support of breastfeeding may not even be told if a mother in his practice continues to breastfeed. Thus, "extended" breastfeeding - beyond three years - seems more rare and unusual in the United States than it really is.

It is quite feasible for divorced parents to work out shared custody or visitation arrangements that allow the father to have ample time with his child while not sacrificing the breastfeeding relationship the child has with its mother. There is no reason why the child cannot have close relationships with both parents, including spending substantial amounts of time with both, without weaning having to take place before the child is ready.

Breastfeeding and co-sleeping with children are perfectly normal and healthy behaviors, practiced by many people in cultures all around the world, and in the US .

In conclusion, there is no research to support a claim that breastfeeding a child at any age is in any way harmful to a child . On the contrary, my research suggests that the best outcomes, in terms of health, cognitive, and emotional development, are the result of children being allowed to breastfeed as long as they need/want to. Around the world, most children self-wean between the ages of 3 and 5 years, but given that the underlying physiological norm is to breastfeed up to 6-7 years, it is quite normal for children to continue to breastfeed to this age as well, and the occasional "normally" developing child will nurse even longer. Children who nurse for more than a year or two tend to regard their mother's breasts as sources of love and nurturance and comfort, and are more or less immune to the broader society's attempts to culturally define breasts as sex objects.

Angela - posted on 06/01/2010

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Ok...I personally think that breastfeeding your child is a wonderful thing. But...I have also been in my office with a customer when her 4 year old said he wanted milk, and she said not right now. He got upset and she kept trying to listen to me, when all of a sudden he lifted her shirt and latched on. I am sorry but I was truly disgusted...and I FULLY support breastfeeding! Personally, if they are old enough to be "demanding" it, then they are old enough to be drinking anything else. I am all for breast feeding, but I do believe that there could be issues, either emotionally, physically, even sexually (anyone who has a boy knows that children do have sexual emotions, but they don't know what they are, ie playing with themselves, playing doctor, etc..) Not trying to stir the pot, but I think that if you choose to express it privately, that is one thing. Allowing a older child to continue to "latch" makes me wonder who is getting the gratification, them or the mother?

Just my humble opinion...

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[deleted account]

If you read the original post this episode was about a 7 year old girl and her 5 year old sibling. Someone else mentioned the 12 year old being breastfed i havent seen that episode myself. I think boy or girl at that age it would not be a nurturing and nutritional thing to do but at 12 it would be bordering on being a sexual experience. As for a 21 year old daughter breastfeeding from her mother i cannot believe that that is a normal loving relationship either. I dont think its relevant about what went on 2000 years ago when breastfeeding was an only option as circumstances have probably changed a lot since then. If we look at other mammals they only feed their young until a certain point when they are old enough to sustain themselves with food from elsewhere the only difference with humans is we get emotions involved in the matter.

Linda - posted on 06/11/2010

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I have to ask, since I didn't see this Dr. Phil episode: Was the mom of the nursing 12 year old escorted out of the studio in handcuffs and arrested for abuse right then and there? If it were a daughter, would it be viewed differently? All I'm posing is I think we all tend to pass judgment on others' lives simply because that's what the rest of the world says we should think. If this were aired in India (where I heard a story of a mother who was nursing her 21 year old daughter, btw) would it be as sensational? If this were 700 years ago, or 2000 years ago, would it still be viewed with the same negative stigma rather than just thinking it's a little out of the ordinary, when nursing children was the norm (only option), instead of bottles? I'm just playing devil's advocate here....

[deleted account]

Nursing a 12 year old boy is not awkward its wrong completely and utterly. If a woman who did that with a boy who was not her son she would be charged with sexual abuse so i really dont see how it can be right in normal circumstances at all

Linda - posted on 06/10/2010

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Susanne-
I admit, if presented with the situation you pose, I would certainly think, "Oh my! That's something you don't see everyday." Probably a similar response to seeing a 12 year old nursing. Doesn't mean it's absolutely wrong or even harmful. Awkward, yes. However, passing judgment without knowing the full story is just as inappropriate. I am usually guilty of giving people the benefit of the doubt. As with people being offended with nursing babies in public, I would have to say, "If you don't like it, you don't have to watch." Naked mentally handicapped men and nursing 12 year olds should be private, simply as a courtesy to those who would pass judgment quickly and harshly.

Parading the kid on national TV was really wrong, though. I hope Dr, Phil paid them enough to cover years of therapy... not for nursing, but making such a thing public for all to gawk at. The kid's world is going to be shattered.

[deleted account]

My best friends brother has cerebal palsy and has the mental age of a two year old, he is now in his twenties. Regardless of his mental age he has the body of a man. His mother quite regurlarly lets him crawl around the house naked, she has always allowed him to have his nappies changed by his sisters. She acts like he is a two year old child and doesnt see that what she is doing is offensive to other people. I mean honestly if you walked past the house and he was in the front doorway stark naked regardless of his mental capacity would you not be embarrassed? My point is even with a mentally handicapped child there a limits to how long you carry on doing things. Yes his nappy must be changed but not by his sister who is only two years older when they were both going through puberty. We all let our little ones run round the house naked now and again but at a certain age tehy have to start learning some modesty. Up to 7 breastfeed by all means but dont embarrass the kid by parading her on the tv and 12 year olds big no no if you ask me regardless of mental ability.

Linda - posted on 06/09/2010

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As a mom who is an extended nurser, I am torn on this debate. My son is fast approaching 3 1/2 and still occasionally nurses. Sometimes skipping a day. He's potty trained, wicked smart and outgoing. He is very compassionate and sweet, too. I think at least a part of that can be contributed to generally having his needs for comfort and support met throughout his little life, often through nursing.

I know moms who nurse their 5 year olds and commend them for it. It's hard to follow your mothering instincts when friends and family and cultural biases are all too ready to cut you off at the knees. But at the same time I don't see myself going to that length. Even now, my son gets told no to nursing quite often. Sometimes he throws a little fit, but often gets over it quickly. My mind tells me that nursing to 5 and beyond is weird, but then I remember thinking that nursing a 2 or 3 year old was weird before I did it. So I am very hesitant to be judgmental about it. Even the 12 year old. As other mom's have stated above, you can't force a child to nurse, so I really doubt that there could be any abuse in any extended nursing.

I have to mention to the moms who say "pump for the antibodies" you are missing the point. A child's immune system isn't mature until about 5 years old. To pump, without the nursing part will only provide your child the antibodies to germs that you are exposed to. Unless you're helping to wipe the noses and behinds of all his classmates, you won't be making the appropriate antibodies anyhow.

There is a big difference, to me anyhow, between BREASTFEEDING and NURSING. Breastfeeding implies it is purely for nutritional purposes, nothing more. Nursing implies meeting those nutritional needs as well as the emotional ones. I think it is a miracle to feed, impart health, and comfort to a child with a simple action like nursing. Mother nature knew what she was doing.

Marabeth - posted on 06/04/2010

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yeah but let's say your son had a mental illness and was in a wheelchair for his whole life. i wouldn't say things like 'well my son is that age and he runs and jumps around--very active! i would never ever put him in a wheelchair it's so illogical.' it would seem harsh, judgemental and cruel. i mean, *obviously* there is something wrong when a twelve year old is still nursing. similar to a 12 year old needing a wheelchair, it's extremely abnormal and therefore wouldn't even exist or happen without a very good reason.

[deleted account]

I wasnt breastfed at all i was the first woman in my family to do it in nearly 80 years so the whole breastfeeding concept was alien to me when i started breastfeding my oldest child 11 and a half years ago. I may be bigoted i dont like seeing 5 year olds with dummies or bottles in their mouths i think women whose kids are still in nappies at six are lazy but to be honest its their life and its not really damaging the kid at all. But honestly a 7 year old breastfeeding doesnt seem right to me anymore than i would think bottlefeeding or nappies on a 7 year old is normal. In regards to a 12 year old breastfeeding sorry but a child of that age is wrong in so many ways. My oldest is nearly twelve and the thought of sticking my boob in his face is just gross. At his age he is a private, almost grown individual who is past needing his mammy to wipe his bum or kiss it better when he scrapes his knees. Hes old enough to do almost everything on his own without my help why would he need to drink milk from his mother its completely illogical.

Marabeth - posted on 06/03/2010

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my mom breastfed me until i was about a year old. my husband was breastfed for six months. we were both started on solids way early too, probably like two months old.

as far as nursing children having tools to grow and develop outside of suckling.. the drive to grow and develop comes hardwired in a child, you cannot force it into them in any way. as parents we foster this and encourage exploration of their abilities as they grow. that is the whole idea behind child-led weaning--we as the parent can't decide for the child when he is finished with nursing, how could we possibly know that? if they want to be a big girl or a big boy and not nurse anymore, which by the way definitely does occur between 2 and 7, well then they are fulfilling a very natural progression of life, a milestone if you will. if they have to nurse longer than that for some reason i consider that to be a special needs child, as i've said. just like any other milestone all children hit it at different rates and its nonsense (in my opinion) to stare at the clock waiting for x milestone to happen by y age. it's a waste of time! kids reach their milestones at their own pace it is silliness to force it. you wouldn't take your four month old and 'force' him to stand up, in fact you couldn't! perhaps that's how we as child led weaning mothers see mother led weaning.

and as far as wanting our breasts to be continually used as a food source.. well. i dunno, maybe it's like other stuff with mothering. you don't always want it to be like that but you just do it because it's for your kids? and even though you don't want it that way there are still special moments within that relationship that make it all worthwhile.

Angela - posted on 06/03/2010

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I would be interested to know how many mothers who are breastfeeding older children were themselves breastfed to that age. I agree there is a judgemental attitude surrounding BF an older child, but my question again...what tools are they being given to grow and develop outside of suckling from their mother? What if you decide to wean and they don't want to? How do you then deal with the potential consequences of that? As a woman, I cannot understand wanting to have my breasts continually being used as a food source...the worst part of BF for me was the leaking, filling up, etc. I loved the moments with my children, but the rest sucked, lol. I cannot imagine doing that for 12 years!

Minnie - posted on 06/03/2010

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"if a chlid keeps a nursing relationship active until twelve then he or she is obviously a very special needs child. anything above 7 is considered out of the ordinary since the world wide child's self weaning age range is 2.5 to 7 years with an average being 4.2 years old. 'special needs' refers to many different sets of circumstances and a 12 year old still nursing, to me, is just another one of those."



What Marabeth said.



The judgemental attitude surrounding breastfeeding an older child is overwhelming and many have the exact same bigoted views that they would decry if it was any other situation.



It's fine to think it strange and unusual because the way one was brought up or because one hasn't experienced anything similar. But to call it wrong, and that it will hurt a child, and that the mother is only doing for herself is quite an assumption and extremely close-minded.

[deleted account]

Read the links thanks Donna makes sense some of it, i remember on my other three saying ooo look hes having a poo because he'd gone all red in the face etc lol. Also looks like a lot of hard work to me though im always running around like a headless chicken and i think i'd probably spend most of my time cleaning up messes because im not attentive enough lol. Im just too lazy lol i'll just potty train at 18 months i think and besides ive got a boxful of cloth nappies upstairs that i need to get my moneys worth out of. Interesting reading though

Marabeth - posted on 06/02/2010

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a child's immune systems matures between ages 5 and 7 i believe so it would be absurd to nurse them into their teens for sake of antibodies alone. and yes there are other ways to comfort a young child but for a nursing child breastfeeding is the most effective way. i doubt my daughter will nurse beyond or up to these ages we are discussing, i certainly won't (can't) force her! lol. i'm just saying if a child nurses beyond this point it's obviously special needs and we shouldn't judge it so harshly just as we wouldn't judge any other sort of special needs child, say a 12 year old in a wheelchair.

Angela - posted on 06/02/2010

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OK...I can respect that point Marabeth...however, since we can't protect our children from every bacteria, they could very well be exposed to something that you don't have antibodies for, right? As well, are we then supposed to breast feed our children into their teens? Or when they become adults? They might be exposed at that time as well?

I agree that breast feeding provides comfort, but is that not something that a mother can provide in a different way? My daughter is comforted whenever I rock her and sing to her. My son is comforted when I stroke and kiss his cheek as we snuggle together before bed. Not trying to argue....but I think we all agree that breastfeeding has its benefits for infants, babies, boddlers (my word for 1-2 years old, combo of baby and toddler) but shouldn't we then begin giving them the tools to grow and develop in different ways, so that if we are not there, they won't have such a struggle adapting?

And yes...I did BF both of my children...

Marabeth - posted on 06/02/2010

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breastfeeding isn't just about milk. bacteria in the nursling's saliva enters its mothers nipples and triggers her immune system to make those specific antibodies. getting breastmilk from only a cup leaves the child to rely on your specific antibodies so if they are exposed to something you're not they're more likely to get sick. it comforts the child, lowers their blood pressure, regulates their heart rate and breathing.. it gives them someplace safe in a crazy world.

Charlie - posted on 06/01/2010

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so if it is so important for you ( general ) to continue giving your child past school age why not pump ?

Marabeth - posted on 06/01/2010

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if a chlid keeps a nursing relationship active until twelve then he or she is obviously a very special needs child. anything above 7 is considered out of the ordinary since the world wide child's self weaning age range is 2.5 to 7 years with an average being 4.2 years old. 'special needs' refers to many different sets of circumstances and a 12 year old still nursing, to me, is just another one of those. just because it's so different than any of our experiences or what we would consider normal doesn't make it okay judge it so ferociously.. you know how people looked at any sort of special needs child 100 or even 50 years ago? i'm not saying i know what it is like to raise a special needs child but i do know it must be terribly difficult even without a bunch of mothers thinking it's okay to talk about how wrong and disgusting such and such is.

Christina Marie - posted on 06/01/2010

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I think 7 years old is pushing it, but to each their own. Whatever works for mother and child.
I personally would only nurse until the age of 2, but would never judge another mom on her choice.
Like I said to each their own, if it's not bothering you why are you worried about it?

[deleted account]

Here's some info on it: http://health.howstuffworks.com/eliminat...



It's mostly about being in tune with your baby and watching for their cues. What's funny is that it's not really that hard, because I've been aware of my kids' cues from birth and had I thought about it would have done it with both from the start.



There are more babies in the world who DON'T use nappies than there are babies who do, yet we seem to forget that we didn't always have them.



In that article I attached, I was surprised to hear that the average age for traditional toilet training is 3! My eldest was toilet independent by 2 after 3 days of "training". The 18 month old is ready to stand at the toilet himself, but I know it'll take a bit of part-time EC to get him less dependent on nappies and to get me tuned in properly. I was suckered into the whole "readiness" notion of toilet training, but when you look at it a baby is ready from the first time they do wees or poos because they tell you about it... we just don't hear it anymore.



This lady put it very well and I feel a lot like her. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wy80MpQWf... My own mother would have known about EC, but didn't use it because she was in America and would've been seen as being backward too.



And, your next thought will be that you don't have the time because you've got 3 other boys to look after... here's a lady who addresses that (she's got 5 kids!): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CoMS83Fzt...



Okay, I'm done googling and finding links for you (and me). If I were going to have any more kids, I'd do this because I'm sick of the extra washing (cloth nappies) and the money spent on disposables.



BTW, sorry for hijacking your thread... but I know you'll forgive me. Or else I won't take delivery of your package. ;-)



edit: I think I've buggered this up somehow and attached the videos directly to here... sorry!

Lea - posted on 06/01/2010

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I've thought quite a bit about the issue of helping my child fit in vs being an individual and I think it is part of our job as parents to at least help our children find their niche and have a group of friends (with positive values of course). I can find nothing in what this mother has done that supports that. I can think of no peer group that would accept these children knowing that they are still being babied by their mother like this. Kids are all about growing up and being independent and we need to support that in positive ways. I would agree that school-age is the longest someone in our culture should breastfeed considering the kind of social pressure there is. I've also read some mothers' stories about extended breastfeeding, and it was about age 4 that the older of the kids stopped needing it.

[deleted account]

Ive never heard of this early toilet training thing, i trained my youngest at 18 months but i did that the normal way. How does it work?

[deleted account]

Susanne, yes part time or not using nappies at all is in fact possible. It's called (as Fiona said) elimination communication. I have also heard it called early toilet training. It's something I've started doing with my youngest (17 months). I had wanted to start earlier (like around 5 months), but I couldn't get myself organised.

And the last time I looked, Australia wasn't a 3rd world country.

As for the woman bfing her 5 and 7 yr olds.... I feel sorry for those kids having been dragged on national tv because they will be copping heaps from the kids at school. Her bfing became detrimental to their well being the moment the cameras were focused on the kids.

The 12 yr old... well... Oedipal Complex anyone? I do think that bfing relationship would be detrimental to the psychological well being of the child.

Personally, I wouldn't have chosen to breastfeed past the age of 2. My boys actually weaned themselves earlier than that. If someone chooses to bf longer, to each their own. I wouldn't call the mother of the 12 yr old an abuser necessarily. She does need to have a look at her reasons for bfing her pre-teen though, because by 12 yrs they are well into becoming sexual beings.

Krista - posted on 05/31/2010

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Do you think it's appropriate to be nursing at age 12, Lisa? I know you're very well-read on what other cultures and other species do. Is it common for young to nurse up until the point where they are technically sexually mature enough to procreate?

Minnie - posted on 05/31/2010

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It's amazing how many people here are mind readers and know what is going through the mother and nurslings' heads! You all should have a side show act!



Also amused at how so many assume that western culture methods are the be-all end-all.

[deleted account]

Lots of people who live in the modern world use elimination communication (I know, I know a whole other debate there! :)) and nappies are either optional or part-time.

[deleted account]

While I agree with Susanne that it is deplorable that she paraded her children on a tv show like Dr Phil (which I view as sensationalist media masquerading as info-media), I do think that if more people were open about their experiences with extended breastfeeding then this behaviour would be normalised and seen less as a weird thing (just like I feel that if more mothers breastfed publicly this would normalise bf'ing and possibly contribute to increased rates of successful breastfeeding).



I don't lump breastfeeding in with drinking from a bottle, using a pacifier or wearing a nappy (which are often optional choices, even nappy use) because while bf'ing also occurs in infancy like those other behaviours it has substantially more advantages and benefits to a child even beyond infancy than those other examples.



I am sure the example of a 12 year old still breastfeeding is a unique one as Loureen's post pointed out that 7 years is considered the 'average' maximum age in any culture or country. I do believe that if extended breastfeeding is impeding on the child's development and life experiences then it is no longer beneficial and I do not see the point in continuing. Bf'ing a 12 year old possibly falls into that category (I would want to know more about the entire situation before just jumping to calling the mother weird) and I'm sure there would be many unusual circumstances to that child's life other than continuing to bf.



I am aware that this is a debate community and people are encouraged to express their opinions, I just think that it never takes long with a topic like this before extreme examples are raised so everyone can jump up and down calling people freaks and attacking their choices. I enjoy hearing opposing sides to all topics but worry that when everyone who partakes in certain behaviours is lumped in with those extreme examples these generalised and restrictive attitudes dominate and lead to a stifling of positive opinion and result in creating a social stigma.



So while opposing views do have their value in all debatable topics, what bothers me is the manner in which topics like this snowball to create a negative view of all people practicing the debatable behaviour despite many people actually supporting the behaviour but applying their own conditions on it. Rather than being so restrictive in attitudes towards self-weaning or extended breastfeeding, I would love to see more unconditional support that just accepts that the majority of people who practice this do so appropriately with their children's wellbeing in mind. Sure, there is always the exception to the rule. Perhaps though if this topic was less stigmatised and more people felt free to be open about their experiences then they might be seen less as unusual or unconventional and more information would be available to minimise the occasions where the behaviour is taken 'too far' or no longer has benefits for the child.

Charlie - posted on 05/30/2010

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I agree Lisa , there comes a time when i feel its more about the mother and less about the child , i mean 12 , come on , seriously?

I think when it comes to people saying i support extended Breastfeeding but ......it all comes down to what we perceive to be extended breastfeeding and when that period ends , some people suggest it is breastfeeding after a year others see it as breastfeeding a toddler and others see it as breastfeeding up to 5 or even older .

Different cultures also have different needs nutritionally especially third world countries where breast milk is a main source of nutrition that is free and attainable , we also have different social exceptions that are taken into account .

Even the world leader in BF and weaning says 7 is the maximum age of what is considered normal in any country or culture , would you be as comfortable if people were still BF their 18 year olds ?

[deleted account]

I find it interesting how many people state they support extended breastfeeding or self-weaning "BUT"...



Placing restrictions (based on time or age) on supporting something only imposes conditions that are purely based on personal attitudes and doesn't acknowledge that your opinions and beliefs are just that, yours, nobody else's. Other people may share your views, but others may not and unfortunately when restrictive or oppositional opinions to things like extended breastfeeding are voiced in such harshly judgemental ways, those who feel otherwise will tend to keep their opinions to themselves. This leads to a societal bias against something simply because the most vocal proponents will dominate any discussion on a topic thereby lending the appearance that they are in a majority. Many people practice extended breastfeeding, many people do not practice but may support it unconditionally, calling any of these people strange, creepy, inappropriate or nasty just intensifies a social stigma that results in them stifling their opinions and feeding the lack of information and normalisation of a behaviour that is not harmful except in others opinions.



I don't plan on breastfeeding my child to age 7 (or age 12), but I think that if someone else chooses to and it doesn't interfere with that child's learning and development then I support them, no conditions attached. Perhaps others who say they support self-weaning and extended breastfeeding with restrictions should look at their reasons for imposing conditions and realise that as they are based on their own personal views they really have no direct relevance to the individuals who practice these behaviours. If you choose not to breastfeed until a certain age or allow your child to take their time weaning, fine; but I don't think that validates you to go imposing conditions on those who do. By all means, express your opinion and agree with the many others that express the same opinion but please consider the harm that that may be causing to the silent few (or many) that may choose to practice unconventional but harmless behaviours in the face of overwhelming disapproval. If you think they are causing their children harm, then find the facts to back that up and present the information clearly and unemotionally in the interest of contributing to society's general knowledge.

[deleted account]

I agree a child does not have sexual thoughts but a twelve year old is certainly capable of sexual thoughts. The mother who went to school to feed her child at recess and lunch, that is mad. My two year old was only ever feeding last thing at night for the last few months so i cant imagine why a six year old would need it twice during the school day.

[deleted account]

CREEPY! Sorry, I'm all for baby-led weaning, self weaning etc. but I just can't imagine that....nor do I want to! LOL!

Marabeth - posted on 05/29/2010

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there has never been any research to indicate that extended nursing is detrimental to the child what so ever. just because you would wean by x age doesn't make a mother who nurses until x+y age a sexual abuser. when a child nurses they have zero sexual thoughts about their mother regardless of their age or current phase of life. and how could it be a mother being selfish and filling her own needs, you can't force a child to nurse..

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Old enough is whenever mother and child are ready to stop.

No I do not think it is detrimental to the child's wellbeing, except as someone else pointed out, the attitudes in society to demean and belittle others for doing something 'unconventional' and judge others so harshly may cause some unease in extended breastfeeding families.

Becky - posted on 05/28/2010

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12???????????? That is just sick! Unless the child has some serious special needs (and even then...), to me, I think that's all about meeting the mother's needs, and I'd call it sexual abuse. As for 5 and 7, well, personally, I wouldn't! I think that when a child starts grade school, it's time to stop. Really, at that point, they're achieving a whole new level of independence, so if you haven't already weaned, it's a great time to do it! I heard once about a mom who actually went to her child's school at recess and lunch to breastfeed him - he was 6, I think. I felt bad for the poor kid. Can you imagine the teasing he would get if kids found out what his mom was there for? Personally, I don't think I'd breastfeed past 2 - 3 at the oldest. If someone wants to go longer, fine, but I really think once they start school, it's time to wean.

Nikki - posted on 05/28/2010

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my son was bottlefed so I may not be one to talk but cmon 7&5 years old, thats just wrong, those poor children are going to be tormented in school, they are gonna have going to have mommy issues for the rest of their lives and I can just imagine the problems with relationships this will cause. I think after 2 your child should be weaned. I just don`t see the purpose in it other then to satisfy your own needs. I understand breast is best, but you should be doing what is best for your child and at that point breast is not the answer. When is she going to wean them when they are teenagers!!!!!! I just dont know why she would put her children through this

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My first two were off by a year old by their own choice, but my third was still feeding until just before two and then i thought enough was enough and started weaning him off.

Shelley - posted on 05/28/2010

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For me i stop by 15 months i can't stand it after a year so i allow them to wean for 12 weeks then everybody off. IF you go to 2 years good for you surely start to wean by 3 and if you are feeding at 12 your strange

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Ew too right at 12 i would be on the fence as to whether she should've been charged with sexual abuse. I mean i have an almost 12 year old boy and he is starting to think about girls and sex etc, the thought of breastfeeding him would be a little perverted i think. Mind if i tried i think he'd slap me lol.

*Lisa* - posted on 05/28/2010

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Actually I saw the same kind of situation on Dr Phil once a while ago, but the child was 12 ugh. Dr Phil blasted the mother and told her she was weird.

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pity she had to embarrass her kids on national tv to get some good advice im sure she could have got that from anyone

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Basically that the problem is the mother not being able to say no and shes got to put her foot down with the kids and stop them.

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according to mommy she wants to stop but cant say no because she believes in baby led weaning, think she probably ought to realise baby led weaning involves babies not 7 year olds. She also said the 7 year old weaned herself as a baby but when she had her 5 year old she started feeding again because the baby was, cant understand the logic of that one i cant imagine allowing my older kids to start back doing that because im feeding a new baby just seems a bit wierd to me.

Charlie - posted on 05/27/2010

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sorry but 5and 7 ? im just gonna say it , Mummy needs to let go !!

she cant keep her children babies forever by continuing to BF them , sorry this is more about the mothers issues and needs than the childs IMO.

Krista - posted on 05/27/2010

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Yeah, those poor kids are definitely going to get tormented. I don't know what that mother was thinking dragging them on there.

Personally, I don't think I would nurse past pre-school age (3 or 4), if even that. If I'm ever in the position to be able to nurse exclusively, I'll let you know.

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