Extended Breastfeeding Past the Toddler Age

by Dagmar Bleasdale on February 23, 2010

Today is quite a special day — I have been breastfeeding my son for 3 years, 3 months, 3 weeks, and 3 days. Yay for extended breastfeeding!

When I started breastfeeding, I didn’t have a goal in mind of how long I wanted to do it. I had such breastfeeding problems during the first two weeks with sore nipples, all I was concerned with was learning how to breastfeed correctly so it would stop hurting so much. Thinking about how long I was going to do it was furthest from my mind, all I knew was I wanted to shoot for one year.

The first year went by with me getting to know my baby and loving nursing him so much that I became a breastfeeding advocate. The second year went by and I became a La Leche League member. I also started my blog Dagmar’s momsense because I wanted to share my story and become a resource for breastfeeding moms.

And around that time the questions started — I was still breastfeeding my son? Yes, I would beam, he has no intention of weaning, and I am so glad. I was secure in my decision to let him self-wean, and he showed no intention to do so. Of course his feedings became less frequent once he started solids at nine months, but he still got a large amount of his calories from breast milk.

To my surprise, I surpassed breastfeeding him for three years a few months ago, and L has no intention to stop. I still nurse him to sleep every night, and depending on the day we have, he either nurses just a couple of times during the day or many times. He can go a whole day without breast milk when he is out and about with his daddy, and he really doesn’t ask to be nursed anymore in public. Not because he feels it’s inappropriate — I have never made that suggestion — but he is just too busy exploring the world. Only when he gets hurt in public does he sometimes ask to be comforted by being held and getting a few sips of warm, sweet milk. Wmart kid!

Breastfeeding my son is one of my proudest accomplishments in life. It was such a struggle in the beginning, yet I stuck it out, and I am so glad I did. I gave him the best start health-wise and thankfully L is a very healthy child so far.

Compared to other moms, I don’t have to worry when L doesn’t eat his vegetables, because I know that he still gets all the vitamins and other important nutrients he needs from breast milk. He seems to be the one who is sick the least in his preschool class. And as I always point out — because it is still not widely known by many — by breastfeeding my son I also give myself a huge gift of health. There are so many health benefits for mothers who breastfeed their children — the longer I breastfeed L, the lesser the chance of me getting many illnesses like cancer, diabetes, or hypertension.

I wonder how much longer my son is going to want to breastfeed. Will he continue to gradually self-wean or is he just going to tell me one day that he doesn’t want to breastfeed anymore? Motherhood is such an neat adventure every day, and I am looking forward to many more surprises down the road.

Landon — you are 3 years, 3 months, 3 weeks, and 3 days old today. I love, love, LOVE you so!

How long did you breastfeed your child? Do you know of someone else who breastfed for a long time? I’d love to hear from you!

You might also be interested in this article:
La Leche League: Extended Breastfeeding and the Law

{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa June 15, 2011 at 4:57 PM

Going strong at 14 months and very proud that I made it through mastitis more than once as well as a very bad breast abscess. A good lactation consultant is key. Currently my son BF first thing in the AM and sometimes before going to sleep; he is so active now that during the day he does not need/want to BF, and he drinks water and whole organic cow’s milk as well. I hope when my son starts daycare in a few months and I return to work fulltime, he will be shielded from some of the viruses floating around there! I like to think I’ve given his immune system a great start, and I know the bond we have thanks to BF is like none other!

Reply

Dagmar June 16, 2011 at 11:09 PM

Lisa, he will definitely benefit from having breast milk for this long! My son is the only one who never gets what all the other preschool kids are rotating in terms of illnesses . And yes, it also creates a very special bond, and secure kids — and special memories :)

Reply

Aleksandra January 15, 2011 at 12:18 AM

Good for you, mama! I made it to 8 months, then I pumped for a while but got tired of it. I wanted to last a year but my daughter got the roto virus, was biting like mad and frankly, after a bloody bite or two I was too scared to nurse her! Now, I do have to say I have a 3 year old – 3 years and 3 months near to the day – and I cannot imagine nursing her. But to each her own, and I applaud you! So few of my friends and coworkers supported the cause.

Reply

Joan January 7, 2011 at 6:38 AM

My son is 3 years 7 months and I nurse him to sleep every night. He nurses almost every morning depending on our schedule. And occasionally he will nurse during the day, When he is sick there is a definite increase in frequency and when he gets hurt he immediately wants the boob. I’ve always let him lead the way with nursing. And although it has not always been easy (occasionally I’ve complained to my husband that it’s like water torture), I do not regret a moment of our special bonding time. I would not change a thing. Congratulations on your milestone.

Reply

Alison December 9, 2010 at 11:39 PM

I am new to your blogging, and absolutely love this extended breastfeeding post. My daughter is 18 months old, and still breastfeeding, and I absolutely LOVE it! Breastfeeding is so much more amazing than I ever thought it would be. My mom breastfed all three of her children (up to 2.5 years). I truly never have known much about formula, and have always just known that I was going to breastfeed too. You rock!

Reply

Beth December 9, 2010 at 6:27 PM

Dagmar, I’m new to your blog (Amy Suardi sent us to you) and I can’t tell you how supportive this particular post was– the one about extended breastfeeding of Landon. My son is 2.5 and loves breastfeeding. I do too, most of the time. But not many of the folks around me, who are otherwise fairly enlightened and supportive, are uncomfortable with my toddler breastfeeding, so in my insecure moments, I sometimes feel like I must be doing something shameful or hurting him, somehow. Your words and the comments of the other folks go a long way towards reminding me that it is between Jonathan and me, and to trust us to figure it out together, whenever, however! Eager to read more, Beth

Reply

Mommy Kennedy September 30, 2010 at 6:42 PM

Just interested to see if you are still breastfeeding? If not, how old was your son when you stopped? Either way, GOOD FOR YOU & HIM!

Reply

julianne April 29, 2010 at 11:13 AM

wow thank you for sharing that story Amazing and Beautiful

Reply

Our Sentiments March 31, 2010 at 3:56 AM

We are also still nursing. Our daughter will be 3 next month and at times I see an end coming soon, then she pulls through and nurses like a new born. Sometimes it’s frustrating, most times are joyous. There will be a day when our nursing will come to an end and we will have to adapt to other ways. For now I am trying to remember in my busy moments that this is what is natural and this is what is needed.

Reply

Alison March 30, 2010 at 11:47 PM

Great post!
I nursed my eldest until he was just over three, my second until he was about four and a half and my youngest until she was three and a half.
Tandem twice, they all kind of overlapped.

Reply

Glowing Goddess March 30, 2010 at 9:26 PM

Great job! It’s so hard to find people in my offline life who understand the beaming pride I have for breastfeeding my daughter who is 3 years and 9 months old. I never thought that breastfeeding would be this important to me but like you said, it has become one of the greatest accomplishments of my life. With it looking like I will be nursing until 4 years and beyond, I must say I am unapologetic for how proud I am of myself!!
.-= Glowing Goddess´s last blog ..For the Love of Foreskin, Stop Cutting! =-.

Reply

Lauren @ Hobo Mama March 14, 2010 at 4:33 AM

Ha ha! I followed this link to your blog post from Breastfeeding Moms Unite! and then went back to my email to find you’d already commented on my post. Thank you!

Congrats again on your continued breastfeeding!
.-= Lauren @ Hobo Mama´s last blog ..Long-term breastfeeding =-.

Reply

Lauren @ Hobo Mama March 14, 2010 at 4:28 AM

Yea! Nice. We have been going 2.75 years now and like your nursling, mine shows no signs of wanting to stop. Somedays I feel like he’s going to slow down — and then he’ll suddenly go strong again, day and night. I’m in no hurry, though, just letting him set the pace. I’m so glad there are many of us to be a community for each other online!

My last post was on the terminology for extended/full-term/long-term breastfeeding, if you want to check it out. :D
.-= Lauren @ Hobo Mama´s last blog ..Long-term breastfeeding =-.

Reply

pantrygirl March 1, 2010 at 6:19 PM

Thanks for sharing your story and congrats! I hope to be as successful. Your story was timely as I’m having some support issues with my husband regarding AP and breastfeeding past 2 years.
I too had a very hard time initially with breastfeeding. To be able to say we are still breastfeeding at 20 months is a big accomplishment I’m proud to share.
Thanks for putting a smile on my face.
.-= pantrygirl´s last blog ..I didn’t know I had it so good. =-.

Reply

Petra March 1, 2010 at 4:22 PM

I am still nursing my daughter, she is 3yrs. 9months! I also decided to let her self ween (much to the chagrin of certain ppl who thought me weird to BF past 3 months!) but she nurses a little at nap time, and when we lay down at night for bed. It’s getting less and less now that she is learning to fall asleep without the breast, but when requested I don’t deny her. Like your L, my H is a healthy girl. She was born a 34 week preemie and I believe it was my on demand and extended breast feeding that has kept her healthy =o)

Love your blog!
ChuChiFace.

Reply

Jenna @ Newlyweds February 28, 2010 at 2:28 AM

Wow! 3 years. I am impressed, I nursed my twin boys for 7 months and I thought that was a feat. Though for a long time after I missed the closeness that nursing provided. And now they are 27 months and still love to be held in the nursing position.
.-= Jenna @ Newlyweds´s last blog ..Winner of One and The Same =-.

Reply

Kara February 25, 2010 at 3:16 PM

Hooray! That is a special day! Congratulations to you both (as a mama who was tandem nursing up until a month ago when her 3 year old weaned as just a bit past 3 years 7 months)

Happy 3-3-3-3 to you :-)
.-= Kara´s last blog ..Head of the Class: Eco-Friendly Lunch Containers for a Smarter Planet =-.

Reply

courtney February 25, 2010 at 3:52 AM

YAY for extended breastfeeding! I am now tandum nursing a toddler and our adopted baby!

Reply

Leah February 25, 2010 at 12:55 AM

Dagmar, thanks so much for your amazingly, inspirational post! : )

I sooooo love nursing my dazzlingly, adventurously, spirited, 28 month old son, Dylan Orion! And…..don’t laugh, but I call him my LUSCIOUSLY VORACIOUS MILKY MONSTER because he loves to nurse with wild abandon! Nursing is the most amazing communication I’ve ever experienced with another being before. It’s true blue, unconditional love! I can’t imagine not nursing him. : )

With lots of love,
Leah (MAMA to 2 year old Dylan Orion…..29 September 2007)

@mamaleahita on TWITTER

Reply

Jacquie @ Wild Mother Arts February 24, 2010 at 8:43 PM

I nursed my first two with no expectations, and my first nursed until he was 3.5 years. My daughter nursed about the same and she self-weaned when I was 5 months pregnant with my third – for a while, I thought I would be tandem nursing, but that didn’t happen. My third is still nursing – though it’s a tiny bit here and three days will go by with nothing, then he’ll nurse for a bit every day for three days – it’s totally random. He turned four just six weeks ago. We’ll see what happens… :)
.-= Jacquie @ Wild Mother Arts´s last blog ..I am powerful, pregnant and proud! =-.

Reply

Calley February 24, 2010 at 6:40 PM

I’m at 13.5 months and still going strong. Not sure I would personally feel comfortable nursing past 2 years…but then again…it is my last baby and I’m going to let her decide when it is time to stop. Great article and congratulations!
.-= Calley´s last blog ..Mom Blog SEO =-.

Reply

Melodie February 24, 2010 at 3:29 AM

I nursed daughter number one until she was 3 and my second daughter is still nursing at 34 months. I have a feeling she’ll go longer than her sister did.
.-= Melodie´s last blog ..I’ll Be Brief: How To Overcome Breastfeeding Challenges =-.

Reply

Dionna @ Code Name: Mama February 24, 2010 at 6:27 AM

Yay for you!! I am still nursing my 26 month old with no signs of weaning in sight. I can’t imagine NOT nursing him at this point!
.-= Dionna @ Code Name: Mama´s last blog ..February Link Love =-.

Reply

Julie February 24, 2010 at 2:49 AM

I breast fed Mike for 9 months but it wasn’t me that quit, it was Mike. He was done, the world had to much to offer him to sit still and look at mom. I sorta of wish it had been longer but it was what it was. I did really enjoy the 9 months I had.
Thanks for sharing. Have a great evening. God Bless!
.-= Julie´s last blog ..You gotta go here starting…. =-.

Reply

Mary Beth February 24, 2010 at 2:15 AM

Way to go on the 3-3-3-3 Dagmar & L! Violet & I are at 13 months, 10 days. I knew I planned to breastfeed for at least a year, but I never knew how much it would mean to me. Thank you very much for being a source of support, an inspiration and for sharing your breastfeeding journey.

Reply

Monika February 24, 2010 at 1:42 AM

It will be 3 years on Thursday & I could never imagine it would have continued this long. I’m actually pretty proud that I’ve stuck it out this long – my son is extremely healthy, fit & lean – I think the nursing will have had something to do with reducing his risk for obesity – who knows. He is a really good eater too, which I’m very happy about. He loves veggies, fruit, whole grains, legumes pretty much everything I make for him.
My husband jokes about it, but my son is not yet interested in going cold turkey. We talked about it happening on his b-day, but the closer we get, I know it’s not going to happen. We have eliminated the milk before bed first because I’m trying to get him in the habit of having nothing but water after brushing his teeth & not needing mom to fall asleep. He still wants to nurse occasionally after a long day at daycare away from me or when he gets a boo boo, but hopefully he’ll self wean over the next few months.
We’ll see how it goes. I’m still hoping we can have a #2, so it would be nice to be done with the 1st before that happens. Mom could use a break!

Reply

Jenn February 24, 2010 at 1:41 AM

My son and I are still enjoying our nursing experience together almost 16 months after he was born. We’ve had our challenges, and there are often days now that find him in one acrobatic pose or another while nursing, but as long as we’re both doing well, I have no intention of stopping until he’s ready.

I wanted to add, as well, that it’s been so wonderful to find affirmation from other moms on the internet of full-term breastfeeding and self-weaning. My in-laws are especially less than supportive of me continuing to breastfeed into toddlerhood. Thanks for your post, which only serves to strengthen my resolve to keep going!
.-= Jenn´s last blog ..The Letter M, and other things =-.

Reply

Heather @ Not a DIY Life February 23, 2010 at 11:23 PM

My daughter recently weaned at 31 months. It was in her time and it was a wonderful process for both of us. She nursed much longer than I ever planned, but yes, it is one of the best things I’ve ever done.
.-= Heather @ Not a DIY Life´s last blog ..Giveaway for Myrtle Beach Residents =-.

Reply

Kristi February 23, 2010 at 4:50 PM

I’m currently breastfeeding my 10-month old daughter Alana. We ran into a few problems lately with biting, pinching, etc. and I’ll admit that it was extremely stressful and hard on me. Thankfully we’re working through those problems and all will be right again in the world of breastfeeding.
Thanks so much for this post. I’m always so impressed by your confidence when you speak about nursing in public and nursing a toddler. It’s something I hope to accomplish myself, granted my little one will still have the desire to nurse.

Kristi, Live and Love…Out Loud
@TweetingMama
.-= Kristi´s last blog ..Note To Self: Changing My Husband Is Best Left To God =-.

Reply

Maya February 23, 2010 at 10:38 AM

This is an article I like by an anthropologist which examines biocultural perspectives on weaning and breastfeeding. Like it says my son self-weaned between 3 and 4 with no trauma. Hooray for you for talking about it on your blog. For some crazy reason people in American still think it’s strange.

http://www.kathydettwyler.org/detwean.html

Reply

Sarah @ OneStarryNight February 23, 2010 at 8:16 AM

My oldest self-weaned right after he turned 4yrs old (he’s 8yrs old now) and I’m currently nursing the baby who just turned 5months, I will let him self-wean as well whenever he’s ready!
.-= Sarah @ OneStarryNight´s last blog ..Pumpkin Chili =-.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: