Recently I asked our moms what is the best thing about breastfeeding past a year. I loved the responses we received. But before I talk about what our moms said, I want to explain what I loved about extended breastfeeding. All of my children nursed at least 2.5 years, and some nursed even longer. I did get comments from well-meaning family members encouraging me to stop breastfeeding, but I knew that I was the expert on my child, and we would wean when it was the right time.
When my first daughter had her first birthday, I knew we had reached my initial breastfeeding goal of one year. Nevertheless, neither one of us was ready to wean. I loved the fact that if she fell down or had a boo-boo, I could provide instant relief with just a few minutes of nursing. I also loved how easy it was to get her to take a nap; that was especially nice once I got pregnant again. I was nursing my third child when we moved to Costa Rica, then Peru. I loved the fact that she stayed so healthy even when the rest of us got various intestinal maladies. I also loved the way that breastfeeding her together with my last baby created a very intense bond between them that continues to this day even though she is an adult and he is a teenager!
Several moms mentioned how much they love the close bond that breastfeeding creates because baby is always fairly close to mom. The cuddles and snuggles and milky grins are all a wonderful part of nursing a toddler. One mom nursed her oldest until 21 months. After he turned a year they only nursed at morning and night until his second birthday. However, she was a mom who worked outside of the home, and she noted that: "After being at work during the day it was always nice to have snuggle time with him while he nursed before bedtime."
Another mom went on vacation without her 18 month old and without a pump. Needless to say she had pretty severe engorgement and her supply ended up going away. But before that she loved the snugly bond they had. She said he is still snugly, but not nearly as much as when he nursed. She closed her comments with this: "They grow up so fast and enjoying every moment is so important. Nursing helped me "savor" his first 18 months."
Moms Love the Healthy Nutrition
Breast milk continues to be a wonderful source of antibodies and nutrition as long as a toddler or even a preschooler continues to receive it. A mother who is currently nursing her two year old noted that he rarely gets sick. Another mom who is tandem nursing a 31 month old and a 6 month old had this to say: "A couple weeks ago, when they both had the flu, I was so thankful to still be nursing the toddler as he wouldn't eat or drink anything for a full week. Nursing is the only thing that got him through." What a blessing for her little boy that he was still nursing; it just might have saved him a trip to the ER for IV fluids!
Moms Love the Comfort
Many mothers talked about how comforting it was to their older nurslings to be able to nurse through the difficulties of toddlerhood. In addition to the healthy nutrition it offered her sick child, the mother of the 31 month added, "It also provides a calm, relaxing space for him during this turbulent time of tantrums and transitions. It is NOT easy, but we make it work." Another mom had this to say: "(I'm) nursing a toddler for the fourth time, and my very favorite part is being able to solve any problem instantly. From falling down to being sleepy to not being allowed to have something she wants, nursing makes it all better." Another mom referred to it as an "instant fix." that can solve any problem.
A couple of moms mentioned the sweet smell of breast milk breath that their older nurslings still have as being the best thing about extended breastfeeding.
Whether you like the snuggles, the health benefits, the comfort it provides your toddler or his sweet breast milk breath, nursing past a year has lots of benefits for both you and your baby!
What do YOU love the most about it? Leave us a comment!