Am I normal to want to nurse my toddler? Baby, half of the world breastfeeds until two years

About a year ago, they started dropping like flies. Now, I am suckling solo as my dear friends have all weaned their children. As I plan a trip home, I find myself reviewing my choice to nurse my baby until…well…when someone asks I just tell them we are going “all the way.”

I do feel a bit socially isolated, but at 20 months old, breastfeeding Bodhi gets better by the day.

There are some drawbacks: he still wakes for an early morning dream feed, because my milk makes up a big part of his diet (studies show in some cultures nursing toddlers receive 40% of their caloric intake and 80% of fat intake from breast milk) I sometimes worry he isn’t eating enough, and of course he is now big enough to thrust both his hands down the front of my shirt and attempt to haul out one of the girls in public while calling out “na-na” in increasingly louder and more demanding tones.

But, by-in-large, I love it. It is a wonderful way to discipline: after a quick moment at the breast we can go another hour without swatting another child. It is a wonderful way to soothe, take away pain, put him to sleep, and if all else fails get a moment to myself (read yesterday I played solitaire on my phone for an hour while he happily suckled with me on the couch–better than sitting him in front of the TV).

Breastfeeding a toddler also boosts my confidence as a parent–for all my shortcomings, I am determined to support Bodhi to reach his full IQ, avoid disordered eating, and encourage independence–breastfeeding until 2 years and beyond is a big part of all that.

Wanting to find a little support, I did a little digging today in hopes of normalizing my experience. It seems that Canada and America stand alone with their limited breastfeeding practices. For example, 92% of mothers in Afghanistan are nursing their 15-18 month old and over 50% nurse 20-23 month olds. Statistics like these are common for Africa and south Asia.

When you look worldwide, half of mothers nurse their babies to 20-23 months old and many beyond. I find that cross-cultural health studies really put things into perspective (i.e. when most everyone around me has weaned–I find sisterhood support across borders).

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2 Responses to “Am I normal to want to nurse my toddler? Baby, half of the world breastfeeds until two years”
  1. flowermama says:

    Breastfeeding a toddler is wonderful and has so many benefits! I like the ones you named. It’s definitely normal. 🙂 I nursed all four of my children when they were toddlers. Have you read anything by Kathryn Dettwyler regarding breastfeeding? I think you would really like her. I saw her speak at an LLL conference, and she was great.

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