Nursing a Child When They Can Ask For It

I don’t do a lot of breastfeeding posts. Everyone who knows me, knows I’m all for extended breastfeeding, breastfeeding on demand, and self weaning.

Just recently, my 14 month old has started telling me when she wants to switch breasts and it made me realize how quickly she is growing up. She is no longer a baby. She is communicating so much and even though she can only say about a dozen words, she knows exactly what she wants and how to get it.  She is turning into such a big girl, and she knows how to ask for milk in big girl ways.

It had me thinking about something someone said to me once…”As long as you’re not still nursing her when she can ask for it.”

At the time, I politely chuckled it off in agreement, but my goodness! That saying gets under my skin for so many reasons.

1.) It’s none of your business how long I nurse my child.

2.) If it bothers you that my child eats from my breast, that is your problem. Not mine. Please go tell your psychologist about it.

3.) Babies ask for food from day one. Breast fed or bottle fed. Babies cry to ask for milk because that’s their only way of communicating. Eventually the crying stops and they learn to sign or say “milk”. Or in my case, pull down your shirt to ask for milk. My daughter started doing this at 10 months old. Was I supposed to stop nursing her that day?

4.) Each parent is different and everyone is going to do what they need to do to take care of their child. Instead of giving ultimatums, try asking politely, “Are you comfortable nursing her until she’s ready to self wean?”

5.) Every baby has their own comfort techniques. What bothers me is that people think it’s unacceptable to nurse a baby past 12 months, yet they don’t get up in arms when a 16 month old is still drinking from a bottle or an 24 month old still takes a pacifier. It’s the same thing. Baby is comforting themselves the best way they can. If you ask me, it makes more sense for a baby to be attached to their mother’s breast than to a bottle or a pacifier, but either way, it’s not cool to judge.

Society needs to change. People need to understand that breasts were made to nurse babies.

Toddlers don’t ask to nurse because they just want to suck on some titties.

They nurse because they want to be close to mom.

They nurse because it feels good.

They nurse because breast milk is yummy.

They nurse because it’s what they know. They don’t sexualize breasts the way adults do, so let them be little and have their milk until they’re ready not to.


American Academy of Pediatrics Reaffirms Breastfeeding Guidelines

World Health Organization Encourages Breastfeeding Up to Two Years or Beyond

KellyMom Breastfeeding Past Infancy Fact Sheet