Breastfeeding My Toddler

Bunny and I breastfeed two to three times a day. Bunny is two years old. Why do I still breastfeed Bunny? Why not?! Bunny loves to nurse and, while I don’t love it ALL the time, I do still enjoy it. I love the connection I have with Bunny and I love the comfort it gives her. I also love the health benefits breast milk has for my growing toddler. The American Academy of Pediatrics found that children who weaned from breast feeding before the age of two years old are at an increased risk of illness. I must say, Bunny has only had a fever twice. One around Thanksgiving and it lasted less than 24 hours. A week or so ago I got really sick and so did My Love. Bunny did get sick as well, but her sickness only lasted a few days compared to our week or so of being sick. I contribute this to Bunny still breastfeeding. Bunny did nurse more when she was sick, which helped her to stay hydrated, comforted her, and passed on the antibodies my body was making to help fight this sickness. Bunny has never had an ear infection.

Breast milk is very nutritious.  In the second year (12-23 months), 448 mL of breastmilk provides 29% of energy requirements, 43% of protein requirements, 36% of calcium requirements, 75% of vitamin A requirements, 76% of folate requirements, 94% of vitamin B12 requirements and 60% of vitamin C requirements. Bunny does not drink cows milk currently. She does consume cows milk products like yogurt, cheese, ice cream, cottage cheese and more. But right now, her milk is mama’s milk. The World Health Organization states “Breast milk is also an important source of energy and nutrients in children aged 6 to 23 months. It can provide half or more of a child’s energy needs between the ages of 6 and 12 months, and one third of energy needs between 12 and 24 months.”

Breastfeeding past a year is normal. The American Academy of Pediatrics states, “Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child… There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychologic or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer.” In many cultures it is completely normal to breastfeed a toddler until they self wean. It is a healthy, normal, natural thing to do. Arthur Eidelman, MD, president of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine states, The average age at weaning ranges anywhere from six months to five year.”  The World Health Organization recommends mothers and toddlers breastfeed until three years of age.

Bunny and I both enjoy our breastfeeding relationship. I have continued to nurse Bunny throughout my pregnancy. I am currently 30 weeks pregnant and have had no issues with nursing Bunny during this pregnancy. Bunny nurses before nap and before bed. She very rarely wakes up in the middle of the night, but when she does I do nurse her and she falls back asleep immediately. During the holidays Bunny did nurse more often. She needed the extra comfort and I was glad I was able to give it to her. Breastfeeding also helped Bunny to travel well on the airplane. Bunny was able to nurse during take off, which not only helped her to fall asleep and nap through most of the flight (score!) but it also helped her little ears to be more comfortable on the flight.

Here is a what our nursing relationship looked like at fifteen months. Bunny started sleeping through the night on her own around eighteen months. I do think (know) Bunny will continue to breastfeed once Baby Sister is born. I do plan on tandem nursing. We shall see how that goes! I am sure it will bring challenges as well as rewards. I look forward to continuing our nursing relationship and weaning whenever Bunny is ready.

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