Breastfeeding Your Toddler
I am sure we have all heard it at least once… “Is he still breastfeeding?” and for many parents, the idea that their child would still be breastfeeding at an age where he could walk up and ask for milk was something they never imagined! However, here we are! Well done, and keep up the good work! Why would you stop now?
Breastmilk remains the healthy nutritious food it always was. It’s handy, on tap, and always at the right temperature. It works for thirst, hunger, bumps and bruises, tiredness, paddies, and much more!
Many mums go through a stage where they worry if their child will ever stop breastfeeding, but never fear! They actually do but it is important to know that they will stop when they are ready. And once you are feeding your toddler, - you’ll observe that more people are doing it than you realise! Feeding a toddler is different than an infant in that the nursing sessions are less frequent, more likely to be at home, or such a quick little ‘pick me up’ that no one notices! Start talking to people about it as there is no shame in it and you can perhaps join a social media or local mum group where you can get support and tips to feeding your toddler.
As your child grows older, their feeds will inevitably be less frequent but there are some toddlers that still like to nurse often. It is important to remember that the benefits of breastfeeding and breastmilk do not expire and for toddlers this can be a time for nourishment and nurturing that they still want and need. Sometimes their feeds may be less frequent because they are too busy playing and having fun! And it is also much easier to explain to an older child that you’d like to wait until you get home, or until the morning, or at least the nearest park bench! You will notice that your breastfeeding relationship can become much more balanced, as you have a little more say in the equation than when baby was a newborn and led the dance.
Breastfeeding gives your child such an amazing sense of security, as well as the continued antibodies and perfect nutrition, that it will be a perfect food for him until you are both ready to stop. And of course, we know the benefits to both of you are huge. Post-menopausal breast cancers, ovarian cancer, osteoporosis –and by continuing to breastfeed you reduce your chances of getting these conditions or lessen the severity for each month you breastfeed! Additionally, your baby continues to have all the benefits of enhanced immunity, less ear, nose and throat infections, less gastro-enteritis (sick bugs), good oral development, as well as that lovely bond with you, and all the confidence and security that brings.
Keep up the good work – You are doing a fantastic parenting job!