Yes, I Am Still Breastfeeding My Toddler. No, It’s Not A Bad Habit.

// This article was written as a part of “Stop Judging” campaign carried out by www.mycity4kids.com and is also available at below link:

https://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/my-voice/article/yes-i-am-still-breastfeeding-my-toddler-no-its-not-a-bad-habit-stopjudging

If you are a breastfeeding mother, then you must have heard the following questions or advices umpteen times.

“Are you still breastfeeding your toddler? Stop doing it and wean him/her quickly. It’s a bad habit which they need to get rid of soon”. 

“Your milk is not sufficient and the child needs top milk for nutrition and strength. “

“Breast milk is just water after a year.” 

“You still nurse to sleep? Don’t be lazy to put your child to sleep by other means.”

“Isn’t is embarrassing when your child tugs at you for a feed at a public place?”

And so on and so forth. Phew!

Well, my daughter is almost 26 months old and we are still having a strong breastfeeding relationship. I nurse her to sleep most of the time and though the frequency of the feeds has reduced, I have no intention to wean her off my milk anytime soon.  While there is so much noise and judgement surrounding formula milk and formula feeding mothers, the ones like me aren’t spared either. I met someone a couple of days back who casually inquired about my daughter’s diet. The conversation steered towards the brand of milk I use and I informed the lady that I still primarily rely on breast milk for my daughter along with the usual solid foods, of course. To say that the lady was aghast would be an understatement. She chided me on being a careless mother by depriving my daughter of good nutrition. She also didn’t hesitate to cross the line and stated that I am responsible for developing the bad habit of breastfeeding and nursing to sleep in my daughter even at this age, by giving in to her demands. Honestly, I was in no mood to debate so I just cut short the conversation and moved on.

Personally, I don’t get affected by people judging me for my choices as I take complete responsibility for what I do and I do it because I feel it is right. I also do my own research when it comes to parenting, hence I take such comments with a pinch of salt. But, I know there are many mothers out there who are constantly judged for everything they do as a parent and this takes a toll on them. There are many who don’t have the luxury of a sea of information at their disposal on one click. Such mothers, who are unfortunately not so well-informed, start losing confidence in their parenting skills after being the target of unnecessary and harsh judgements. Why do we need to do this?

The below tidbits are for the lady who judged me and for all those who think extended breastfeeding is a bad habit or something useless.

  • WHO recommends breastfeeding on demand atleast for 2 years and encourages mothers to indulge in it post that as well if they wish to.
  • Breast milk is never water. A mother’s body always produces great quality of breast milk till the time she stops breastfeeding. It has nothing to do with the age of the child.
  • Extended breastfeeding has numerous additional benefits beyond building a child’s immunity. It aids in brain development and that’s just one of the perks.
  • Breastfeeding is not only about nutrition but also about providing comfort and security to your child. It is a saviour during difficult phases like teething or when a child is badly hurt or is having the typical toddler meltdowns.

All the above information is completely factual and researched based. The duration of breastfeeding is a prerogative of only the mother and her child, be it 0 months or any number of years for that matter, and no one else has any business commenting on it. It’s something personal, special and most certainly not a bad habit. And please, for the life of me, can someone explain what is embarrassing about a child asking for a feed? A 2 year old or a 3 year old is also a child who has every right to his/her mother’s milk and if the mother has no qualms about it, why should it affect anyone else? I, for one, treasure these breastfeeding sessions with my daughter and I am sure it’s the same with all the mothers who choose to do it. I spoke to some about it and am quoting a friend  here with her permission, as she continues to breastfeed her 25 months old.

“While me and my 2 year old daughter were enjoying every bit (barring the biting moments) of our nursing sessions, the constant questions, glares, suggestions from the elderly folks to stop nursing upset me. My polite answer would be “till my baby weans”. What I couldn’t understand was why should I deny the most nutritious food for my baby which is so easily available! And so my resolve to continue breastfeeding has only become stronger through each passing day. It has been our savior during sick days, huge meltdowns, through falls and injuries and when the baby simply needed comfort. And best of all it has been the most amazing bonding factor between me and my baby. ” – Meetali Patil

Parenting is one of the toughest jobs in the world but the easiest one to judge. Be it formula feeding or breastfeeding, working mothers or stay-at-home mothers, traditional weaning or baby-led weaning, attachment parenting methods or traditional parenting methods, everyone is ready to give their two cents on every aspect of parenting and we are all bombarding each other with unsolicited advices. Yes, it’s important to share evidence based information with those who don’t have access to it or are not aware. But, that’s where it should end! Let’s not form an opinion about any parent because they choose to act differently or have a different set of philosophies. As mothers, as humans, we need to be more loving, supportive and empowering, and less judgmental.

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