‘He’s too old for breastmilk’
No. He’s not.
Human milk is a complete food for tiny humans up until around 6 months old, when they start to need other foods too. It is their main source of nutrition until around 12 months old, and a very important part of their diet until at least 2 years old. It doesn’t lose its nutritional value and is always much better for them than formula or cows milk. The average natural weaning age is around 2-4 years old, but some babies continue to feed longer than this, and some decide to stop sooner.
‘He doesn’t need it anymore! Just give him cows milk!’
He’s a baby human, not a baby cow. Although breastmilk is still very nutritious for him, he could live just fine without it. BUT breastmilk is not just nutrition. Human milk is full of protective factors like secretory IgA, an antibody which protects the mucous membranes of his gut and respiratory tract from infection; Lactoferrin, an iron binding protein which deprives pathogens like E-coli and staphylococcus of their iron and kills them; Lysozyme, an enzyme which destroys foreign particles; and 100s of other different components which help to protect him from illness. In addition to this, breastmilk has been proven to be an effective analgesia for minor procedures and injuries. That means instant pain relief and no crying when he falls over and scrapes his knees. You don’t get that with cows milk!
‘Why can’t you just express and feed him from a bottle?’
Firstly, I haven’t got time for that shit. Breastfeeding a toddler takes virtually no effort, I hate expressing and I hate washing up. Having already done more than my fair share of all that, why would I express again now when I don’t have to?
More importantly, it’s not just about the milk. Feeding him straight from the tap means that my skin detects pathogens in his saliva so I produce antibodies to fight them before he gets ill. It gives us both a rush of oxytocin which makes him feel happy and sleepy and strengthens the bond between us. The skin to skin contact aids the analgesic components in my milk to give instant pain relief when he hurts himself, and it helps him calm down after a tantrum. It also makes him actually want to go to bed at night and take naps!
‘He’s going to be so clingy!’
Actually he’s the complete opposite. Can’t take your eyes off him for two seconds or he’ll disappear! And Daddy is his favourite, not me. Babies who are breastfed for longer are less likely to experience separation anxiety and be ‘clingy children’ as they are likely to be secure in their bond with their mothers.
Breastfeeding a toddler is the biological norm and helps babies to grow up happy, healthy and confident. According to the World Health Organisation, if every baby in the world was breastfed until at least 2 years old it would save 800,000 children’s lives and prevent 20,000 maternal deaths from breast and ovarian cancer every year. If seeing a little bit of breast offends you, don’t look! But know the facts before spouting your ill informed opinion.
Originally posted on Facebook.