Breastfeeding is a natural and unique interaction between mother and infant that has been recognised to form an instantaneous particular relationship between both individuals. But how old is ‘too old’ to breastfeed?
While it is frequently the mother’s choice whether or not to breastfeed her own child, there are a number of advantages that have been established from performing the act, including creating a bond between the mother and child.
However, there is one topic that most new mothers have pondered, and it is a question that has been circulating for years: when should a mother begin to wean her baby?
When is a baby too old to continue breastfeeding? Is there a correct time to stop? And how old is ‘too old’ to breastfeed?
Let’s find out.
How Old Is ‘Too Old’ To Breastfeed?
There are no two people in the world who are exactly alike, and newborns are no exception.
If you asked ten different mothers when they stopped breastfeeding their children, they would most likely all give you different answers. Some of the mothers may even reveal that they never breastfed their baby, and went straight to bottle feeding.
While there is no right or wrong answer to this question, how old is ‘too old’ to breastfeed is a question asked time and time again. Worldwide statistics show that the average age to wean a child from breastfeeding is around 3 to 4 years old.
This information may be surprising to some, as this may seem like a late age for a child to still be feeding at their mother’s breast.
Many mothers will elect to keep breastfeeding until the child is ready to stop. ‘Child-led’ weaning is known to be one of the most efficient and humane methods of weaning. There is no reason why the mother and child should be forced to stop breastfeeding if they are still enjoying it.
Additionally, putting an abrupt stop to the activity may cause stress to the child.
Overall, there is no reason for you to stop breastfeeding your child until both of you are ready to stop. The question of how old is ‘too old’ to breastfeed should be based on the circumstances of the mother and child, and not on the social expectations of the mother.
Some mothers may pass judgment and tell you that you are wrong for breastfeeding while your child is developing into a toddler, but at the end of the day, every parent nurtures and brings up their child in their own unique way.
No one else has the authority to tell you how to raise your child, and only you know what is truly best for their wellbeing and how old is too old to breastfeed.
The Pros And Cons Of Breastfeeding A Toddler
If you have decided to continue to breastfeed your child into their toddler stage, good for you! As we said, it is completely your decision, and there is nothing wrong with doing so.
There are both pros and cons to continuing to breastfeed past the age of 12 months, however, and it is important that you are aware of each of them before making the decision to continue breastfeeding your child at a later age.
Here are some facts and statistics that are worth knowing.
- 68 percent of mothers who nursed for more than a year were able to return to work before their baby turned 1 year old.
- Longer breastfeeding duration was linked to advanced age, higher education, and further weeks of exclusive breastfeeding.
- Breastfeeding may lower your chances of developing ovarian and breast cancer.
- Your child may bite and cut your nipples once their teeth begin to come through.
- Some women may feel self-conscious or embarrassed about breastfeeding in public or in front of others, especially when the child is too big to cover with a blanket. They can feel judged that their child is ‘too old’ to breastfeed.
- Only you will be able to feed your baby, meaning you will be the one to wake up at night to feed them every time.
Signs That Your Child Is Too Old To Breastfeed
Everything in life must come to an end at some point, and breastfeeding your child is no exception.
You will reach a point where you no longer need to give your baby your milk, and they will no longer want it. This stage may occur later for some children than for others, but it will arrive eventually. Your child will reach a point that they are naturally too old to breastfeed.
Here are some signs that you and your baby may be ready to stop breastfeeding.
- Once your child has reached 12 months of age, they will be able to eat solid foods. At this point, they may show more interest in eating solids than drinking your breast milk.
- If your child seems distracted while being fed, e.g. stopping midway to try and move away, they may be ready to try drinking from a bottle or a sippy cup instead.
- When you begin to produce less milk than before, this is a sign that your child is not drinking as much milk as they previously did.
- They may say ‘no’ when you try to feed them! This, of course, is a major sign that your child is ready to give up breastfeeding.
A newborn or toddler will show a variety of physical indicators when he or she is ready, or when it is possible to wean, and sometimes you will know when it is the appropriate moment for you.
When it comes to weaning, there is no right or wrong answer: after all, many moms choose to bottle feed their babies from the start. Every situation is unique, and it is up to you and your child to determine when it is appropriate to call it a day.
The most important thing any new mother should learn is that she should never feel guilty for doing what she believes is best for herself and her child.
Yes, there will be plenty of women who will give you advice and attempt to persuade you that their parenting approach is the best, but the truth is that there is no such thing as a ‘correct’ method to raise a child.
If you decide to breastfeed your child until they are ready to wean, good for you! The question of how old is too old to breastfeed is only relevant to your circumstances.
Similarly, if you wish to nurse them with a bottle during the early stages, that’s fine too!
The only thing that matters is that your child is well-nourished, secure, and happy. If your child is content, then you are doing a great job.
Best of luck, mama!