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Breastfeeding a toddler ~ Northernmum

I’ve surprised myself, I have proven that I change over age and experience can alter opinion.

I used to think breastfeeding a toddler was inherently wrong.

Seven years ago when sitting by a pool on a sunny Spanish resort I watched with mouth agape when a woman not much older than I lifted her nine month daughter out of her high chair and attached her to her breast.

“She’s a bit old for that.” I mumbled to my other half who was rocking a buggy that held our four-month old babies inside. “I couldn’t imagine feeding anything with teeth.”

Truth be told at that point I hadn’t really fed anything with gums; my attempts to breastfeed the twins were thwarted by poor advice and a lack of stamina.

But then came the third.

The child I was determined to birth naturally (she was a sunroof child) and the baby I longed to hold to my breast.

She is still here, as I type her eyes are closed as she drifts towards sleep, her pinky finger intertwines with mine and a smile of satisfaction sits on her lips.
She is five months off being three and she has a full set of teeth.

We have fed a little longer than intended.

Yet the contentment that eases through us last thing at night as we unwind in a chair is something I cherish and am reluctant to let slip away.  It is a closeness that I find tricky to describe but one born from purity.

Morning starts with a cry for mummy and she melts into my arms as I cradle her in bed and she gently latches on.

She doesn’t bite, she knows I am not an apple.

I see myself seven years ago staring in astonishment, I imagine my reaction to myself right now.

I feel I have come a long way.

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Comments

  1. Beautiful, beautiful! I can identify with altering my opinion. I once said very firmly that a child who can walk and talk is too old to breastfeed. Cue 19 months in: my daughter walks and talks and shows no sign of weaning any time soon. You enjoy your girl. She is very lucky. x
    Circus Queen recently posted..PerspectiveMy Profile

  2. I was the same after I had my son.I triumphed over reaching almost a year whilst other mum’s in my post natal group had waned at 3/4 months.2 children on and we reached 17 and 1/2 months and then 3 and 1/2 years.Enjoy the rest of your breastfeeding journey (.Y.)
    Aly recently posted..4 Years Blogging, An Oil Filled Cock And Steaming Cow PatsMy Profile

    • northernmum says:

      Thanks aly, your blog was huge support to me two years ago when I was struggling, you will never know how much you helped x

  3. Beautiful post. I once, pre-children, told my mum that I didn’t like the idea and probably wouldn’t do it past the first month. As it happened, I loved breastfeeding, fought poor supply, expressed like crazy, combination fed through the rough patches and eventually stopped feeding JD at 25 months, not because I thought he was too old, but because it was just the right time for us personally. Miss J is now almost 15 months and it’s taken the same battles with poor supply but we’re still going and I don’t think we’re stopping just yet either. Good for you for doing what feels right – there truly is nothing like that bond x
    Emily (@amummytoo) recently posted..How to make JD’s space cakes (recipe)My Profile

    • northernmum says:

      I feel your pain, I had thrush and masitisis continuously and my scar burst from my section which made feeding tricky. Then at four months it all got easier and it has been a breeze since then – except that stint in the half body cast.

      But why stop doing what you love? x

  4. I had an aim of 6 weeks and made it 9 months despite thinking that it was a bit odd to breastfeed them once they could eat proper food. Well done for making it so long! I love how actually being a parent has changed my perceptions x
    Bex @ The Mummy Adventure recently posted..My Gorgeous FamilyMy Profile

  5. Fantastic, carry on as long as it feels right for you both. It’s a very special experience. I breastfed my eldest (and only birth child) until she was fifteen months old and only stopped because of the increasingly appalled looks we got from people. My daughter wouldn’t drink milk from a bottle: when she was older we found that she’s dairy intolerant, which probably explains why.
    Gretta recently posted..Family days out in London – and why we’re staying at homeMy Profile

    • northernmum says:

      It strange, because BB only feeds morning and night we don’t get the judgemental looks anymore, although a friend of mine literally choked on her tea a couple of months ago when I said I was still going….

  6. This is a lovely post. I didn’t give much thought to breastfeeding when pregnant with my first, but I assumed I’d be done by 6 months. 26 months later and we are still here and I’m leaving it completely up to him to decide how long to continue for.

  7. I breastfed Mads until she was just shy of 11 months, and I cried when I gave up but I just couldn’t keep my supply up with going back to work. I can imagine, all being well, wanting to feed my second one for longer because I very much doubt we will have a third.
    So just enjoy her, carry on until you want to stop. It is such a special, special experience. xx

  8. Gill Crawshaw says:

    This is utterly lovely, so refreshing to read. Breastfeeding is one of the elements of parenting that I’ve found most surprising, and one of the most rewarding (like lots of people we had issues to start with). I thought we might maybe make it to six months, but nearly a year in we both still absolutely love it. Hope you carry on for as long as suits you both x.

  9. This is utterly lovely, so refreshing to read. Breastfeeding is one of the elements of parenting that I’ve found most surprising, and one of the most rewarding (like lots of people we had issues to start with). I thought we might maybe make it to six months, but nearly a year in we both still absolutely love it. Hope you carry on for as long as suits you both x.I
    Gill Crawshaw recently posted..Don’t leave me this way – on nursery blues and separation anxietyMy Profile

  10. tandemfeedingmama says:

    My first experience of a toddler nursing was at a wedding during the toast to the bridesmaid where her toddler decided now was a goodtime to nurse. I felt uncomfortable but it challenged me as to why. I have also said spur of the moment comments like ‘it’s only in developing countries where toddlers need to breastfeed’ or even more cringe worthy ‘women only feed beyond 2 for their own sake’…..here I am nursing my 22 month old as often as my nearly 5 month old. I love it and hate it at times but it is the most rewarding gift I could give my children. For my sake? Perhaps it’s for the benefit of our whole little family of four. And what is wrong with that!

    • northernmum says:

      I would have said things like that, and in a wonderfully judgemental way! now I tend to keep my opinions a bit quieter unless I feel really fiesty about them! thanks so much for commenting x

  11. Breastfeeding is just the most wonderful physical bond, when it’s going well. Pleased that it still is for you.
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  12. This is wonderful to read – ‘Why stop doing something that you love?’ sums it up, doesn’t it? I fed mine until 18 months and 15 months. Neither of them had a bottle, ever. I found it the most rewarding and uplifting / calming experience – a real balancer – for all concerned.
    Anya from Older Single Mum and The Healer recently posted..Relax, Receive and Release.My Profile

    • northernmum says:

      BB had a bottle but it was expressed and that was at night time so mum could sleep and Dad got some him time x

  13. Thanks jax
    jane recently posted..Breastfeeding a toddler ~ NorthernmumMy Profile

  14. Love this! These 8 months of breastfeeding have been simply amazing! I do think it takes actually doing it and experiencing every stage of it to form your own opinion and thoughts about it :)
    Emma recently posted..I have a teeth grinder!My Profile

  15. Breastfeeding is just the most wonderful physical bond.

  16. Love this. Only the other day, I was saying to a group of friends that it seems that anything I made concrete statements (judgements!) about when it came to parenting, came back to bite me! My pre-parenting self would never have understood breastfeeding past the newborn stage. And now this time around, while expecting my second child, I am hoping to be able to breastfeed for at least a year and preferably longer. I wouldn’t have believed you if you’d told me I’d come to think this way.
    Lisa | Mama.ie recently posted..Pregnancy: Week 26My Profile

  17. I am so in your corner! My third was a week off 5 years old when she chose to stop – she is now about to turn 13, but what’s lovely is that she remembers it with a huge smile. Our bond is immense because we had those almost 5 years of very close, intimate moments, where the world rushed by in a frenetic hustle and bustle but we didn’t care. I, too, was one to scorn mothers breast-feeding older children but I whole-heartedly support it. 5 is a bit old, but I wouldn’t have changed it for the world – it was magical.

    • northernmum says:

      5! wow – see I presume that would be too old for me – but two years ago two was ‘too old’ for me! x

  18. I always thought I’d naturally be able to breastfeed before I had Z and, like you, I didn’t last very long as I got so much conflicting advice I just gave up. I was determind to feed C myself though and took no advice except to learn from her and myself. I fed her until she was 2. Would I still be feeding her if I could? I probably would be. Some people, myself previously included in that bunch, would think it was a bit gross to be feeding a toddler from their boob but until you experience the overwhelming feeling of love and the bond between you and your child, you don’t realise just quite how it is the most natural thing in the world.
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  19. My baby is 17 months now and I am still feeding, not sure when i will stop. With my elder two I finished feeding at about 14 months, but this one shows no sign of wanting to give up just yet!
    Sonya Cisco recently posted..Bowie Joy!My Profile

  20. I love this post, it just explains how motherhood can change so many of our views and perspectives. How lovely that you’re still sharing that special bond with BB and you’re both obviously totally enjoying it. You’re an inspiration, lady!x
    Anna recently posted..Blogging for CompanyMy Profile

  21. I think attitudes have changed to breast feeding. I stopped the 1st children at 4 – 6 months to go back to work but by the time I had Theo and then the triplets we were at Coombe Mill and I was working from home. I fed them until they were 2 and had had enough of hanging off me!
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  22. this is so lovely. I wish i could keep going that long with my third. We are getting biting (shes nearly 9 months) but i am persevering at the moment just taking each day as it comes. wish me luck. I managed to about 10 or 11 months with my sons, but would love to try longer with my third. x
    The Beesley Buzz recently posted..A mellow MondayMy Profile

  23. Enjoy it Jane. I miss it. xx
    Emma @mummymummymum recently posted..Little/Big Builders 2013My Profile

  24. What a great post. I’m also going on for longer with my youngest: Gwen is 10 months, and by this stage I’d already weaned my first, Austin, down to just 2 feeds a day, morning and evening. Gwen still has a full day’s worth of boob snacks!

    We’re getting a loft conversion done at the moment, and today I had a fantastic moment when the (previously very chatty and friendly) builders let themselves in with the key I’d given them. One of them spotted me sitting near the hall, feeding Gwen. He hastily had a whispered conversation with the others. Then they all very quietly trooped upstairs, heads hanging, without casting even a glance in my direction. I’d embarrassed the builders! Hilarious.
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  25. Well done you! It’s funny what motherhood does to us isn’t it? My mantra is now ‘never say never in parenting cos it will come back to bite you on the bum!’ I fed the first three until they were 12 months and the 4th until 18 months. Each time we stopped because the time was right for them (I was devastated when my daughter decided to stop on Christmas Eve!). I love this post, it has made me very smiley indeed!
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  26. I feel exactly the same! I actually have NEVER seen another toddler breastfeeding in real life and still think it looks a little strange despite still nursing my 20mth old. I’m annoyed at society for conditioning me in this way since it is a lovely, normal thing and you write about it so beautifully and eloquently. I too love breastfeeding my little boy and who knows when we will stop.

  27. Great post and very beautifully written; some parts even very poetic.
    I breastfed Aaron till 13 months and it was combination feeding with bottle top ups due to low milk supply.
    I gave up because he bit me several times and I was getting a lot of pressure from family to quit it. A couple of days after I gave up I cried myself to sleep – I REALLY missed it. Then I reaslised that despite spending HOURS on the sofa breastfeeding, I had no photos. I obviously could not get behind the camera myself and the husband hadn’t been thoughtful enough to offer and I hadn’t asked.
    So I did an extra breastfeeding session, got some photos in, and gave up again. The 2nd time I gave up I did not cry and was okay with it.
    But reading this post makes me wonder if he would have grown out of biting me. What used to happen was he used to fall asleep on the breast and he would clamp his jaw together once in a deep sleep, so it wasn’t on purpose and I figured that due to him being asleeo he could not help it.

    I envy you; it sounds wonderful. I am giving Aaron the nearest thing, which is that despite ALSO being 5 months off the age of 3 he is still on bottles, so he starts and ends every day with Tommee Tippee’s biggest bottle which I think is a mahoosive 340 ml. It means he still gets to suckle. Again I get hassled, like from my cousin who took ALL 3 of hers off bottles and strictly onto beakers when they were 10 months old, but he finds the sucking so nurturing and always does it in my arms, apart from a midday one which is often in his buggy.

    We do change once we made our own decisions in our own circumstances, even when they contradict what we’d have done in the past, before we knew any different.

    Liska xx
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  28. I can remember saying that there was no way I would still be breastfeeding Iyla when she was walking and talking as that would just be ‘weird’ but it wasn’t weird at all. It never felt any different and she always felt like my baby. We stopped when she was 18 months but I was prepared to go on longer. I think the problem is that you just don’t hear or see of women breastfeeding their babies enough, let alone toddlers but apparently the average worldwide age to breastfeed for is four so when you hear that it makes me wonder why you don’t really hear about it more. I achieved one thing which was changing my OH’s opinion on breastfeeding past one, initially he wanted me to stop but after reading him lots of articles and letting him witness how much it helped her when she had a bug and wouldn’t eat or drink anything else he was fully for it. It is such a special thing x

  29. What a lovely post!

    I would love for you to link it up at the Friday Baby Shower linky party. We’ve got an extra link up this week specifically for breastfeeding posts – old and new, Alice @ Mums Make Lists x

    http://mumsmakelists.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/the-friday-baby-shower-5.html#more
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