Still nursing that is!!! I get asked all the time. "Are you still nursing?!" "When do you plan on stopping?!" "I knew of one child who nursed until he was 5, please tell me you aren't doing that."
Well, step right up folks and grab a comfy seat. We are going to talk about breastfeeding and why it is so great to continue nursing into the toddler years.
So I thought I would break it down for you. The benefits of nursing a toddler:
1.) It is natural to me. There are no rules that state you MUST wean on your child's first birthday. Was I supposed to tell Nathan at midnight on his first birthday that he is too old for mama's milk? That line of thinking is insane to me. The need for breastmilk doesn't have a time stamp on it. In fact, the natural age of human weaning is between 2 and 7 years. This is just plain biology folks.
2.) Because it is purely convenient! I see toddlers having tantrums/ meltdowns/ bumps/ bruises/ fear issues all the time. How wonderful it is to know that if any of these comes up, Nathan can be calmed by nursing. It centers him. Allows him to feel connected to me in this crazy world. He is much more secure than other children his age. And this leads to me discuss the fact that toddlers who are nursing are thought of to be "dependant" and that mothers need to wean to make them independent. Nursing DOES NOT equal dependence. Nursing is a way for Nathan to be with me. To get nutrition and love from his mother. This doesn't mean that he isn't free to explore the world around him. Dr. Sears (a highly respected physician and attachment parenting guru) states "Contrary to the popular belief that extended attachment hinders independence, we notice that babies who are not prematurely rushed through any attachment stage and weaned before their time actually become more independent." Dr. Jack Newman agrees. He argues that a child who is allowed to wean on his own time is "more independent and more secure".
3.) He is so healthy. I provide him with antibodies and immunity every single day. In fact, Dr. Jack Newman states that "Some immune factors in breastmilk which protect the baby against infection are present in greater amounts in the second year of life than in the first." And it is a proven fact that children weaned before the age of two are at an increased rate of illness! (American Academy of Pediatrics)
4.) Nursing into toddlerhood promotes healthy brain development. Extensive research has found that breastfed babies in general have higher IQ scores and do better in school. The greatest gains occur in those children breastfed the longest.
5. ) There is no better food out there. Toddlers are picky eaters. Sometimes they don't get the nutrition that they need. The beauty of breastmilk is that I know that he is getting enough vitamins, protein, and fat in his diet. In fact, mothers who have been lactating for longer than one year has significantly increased fat and energy components in their milk.
448 ml of breastmilk provides: (Source Dewey 2001)
29% energy requirements
43% Protein requirements
36% Calcium requirements
75% Vitamin A requirements
94% Vitamin B requirements
60% Vitamin C requirements
6.) Healthier for me as well. My risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, endometrial cancer, osteoporosis, and rheumatoid arthritis keeps going down the longer I nurse. Plus, it burns calories!
So there you have it friends. THIS is why I am still nursing. And not to mention the fact that I really do love it. Thanks for reading!
--So, no, I don't plan on weaning anytime soon. ;)