Breastfeeding: How Old is Too Old?

I'm starting to realize just how taboo this topic is, because I haven't been able to find a lot of reliable and accurate data on American mothers and their breastfeeding habits. But what I have found is generally this:

60-70% of American mothers breastfeed their children while still in the hospital

25-40% of American mothers breastfeed their children up to 6 months

less than 5% of American mothers breastfeed their children at 18 months

So what happens when mothers are breastfeeding past 2 years old? What about 3 years old? What about 8 years old??

Your thoughts?


  1. I love boobies.

    Some would say I didn't breast feed enough, some would say I was breast fed too long... others would say that it's perfectly fine to love boobies... which I do.

  2. I saw that video a long time ago. As much as I love the thought of woman's breasts, it basically skeeves me out. I suppose maybe in stoneage it was ok but we're a little more modern now. Even if it does what it is supposed to do ( promote bond between mother and child) you're basically going to be raising a wussy momma's boy out of the whole thing.

    Put me in the 8 month column of longevity for voting.

  3. This Knoxville writer/blogger I read a lot has written quite a bit on the topic, see here:
    She let her children breastfeed until they didn't want to any more and one of her girls breastfed through 4 years old...

  4. Wow, that is a really great read. I appreciated all of the different views, and it made me think about why I find this so interesting.

    For me, American society is obsessed with sex and youth; breasts are almost always portrayed as sexual and not for their true purpose, which is nursing. It's funny how we expect children to be embarrassed about sexuality only because our society has such extreme views about intimacy and the body.

    For me, 8 years old is definitely too old; that is my personal opinion. But I won't argue with someone's decision to nurse their child until they naturally wean.

    But then again, the whole "natural weaning" is a bit of an issue too. We don't let children decide what is or isn't good for them; that's why it is called parenting. So why is it ok to let the child decide when they want to wean?

    Just another question for thought and discussion...

  5. I guess two basic arguments for natural weaning would be 1. Not to enforce all that weird sexual embarrassment you're talking about onto the kid and 2. People say breast milk helps out your natural immune system and makes children more intelligent, so why not keep on doing it? I agree 8 years old is extreme though. To this day I believe that the reason my brother is 100 times smarter than me is because he was breast fed and I wasn't. durrrr....

  6. Pshhaw. You make it sound like you aren't smart, and you are one of the smartest people I know!

    Yeah, I agree with the immune system thing--I mean, to think that cows milk is better for us than our mothers milk is the epitome of ridiculousness. But at the same time, weaning doesn't have to mean enforcing sexuality on a child, or even introducing them to sex. I think children already have a certain view of sex, even if they don't know what that is (child masturbation, etc.). I don't know, I kinda think it is the whole 'establishing boundaries' for children. Otherwise, wouldn't they feel that they own their mother's breasts? In the video, the mother talks about how her girls see her breasts as their property...

    What do you think?

  7. Yeah, I think there's a certain point, and I am not sure what it is, when you should, as a mother, take back your boobage if you want to. It's probably just an individual thing. My mom weaned my brother when he was around 2 and had to lay on her stomach on the bed so he would stop grabbing at them! ha ha.

  8. by the way thanks for calling me smart. :)

  9. Ha ha ha! I promise I'll forget about that by the time I see him next...


  10. I didn't know it was possible to ruin my life-long, cultivated obsession with boobs, but that video might have done it.

    Is her husband showering with the 8year-old as well?

    Wrong on so many levels.

  11. personally, i think nursing makes sense until the child can subsist on solid foods. formula doesn't give babies the nutrients they need, and breastfeeding actually helps kids learn to eat only when they're hungry - a skill many americans lack.
    18 months makes sense for most babies.
    and if they've already lost their baby teeth, there is no. fucking. way. they should be nursing.

  12. My kids breast-fed until just over 2 for the boy, and around 2.5 for the girl. They were given the choice, but basically after about 18 months, it was strictly used at bedtime. Me, I could care less when it was over, but it's got a lot to do with the patience of the mother. If my wife wanted to go until 4, she could have, but I think she knew it was the right thing, so ante'd up to the table. It's doing the right thing for your kids, and my kids have less issues than other kids I see, and I credit that to breastfeeding/attachment parenting and co-sleeping.

    It cracks me up when co-workers come in and say their kids kept them up all night. After about 3 weeks of my wife getting up in the middle of the night, she tried nursing the baby in bed and after that, we have pretty much slept the way we did before we had kids. The kids decided they wanted to sleep in their own beds at 5 and 3 respectively, on the same day. Sure, they wake up and come into the room occasionally, but usually, we can go into their rooms and lay down with them for 5 minutes. I'd say this happens once every 3 weeks.

    I think it's all about what you're willing to sacrifice in the beginning to make the later years more tolerable. I'd rather spend the time nurturing them now than spend it in therapy later.

  13. I think that breast feeding should be halted when the moustache begins to tickle...

  14. I think till 2 years old is good enough - once they really start talking and biting and all that- it's time to become independent. 8 years old is not normal, i would think - in most societies - but i could be wrong about some poor countries that rely on breast milk for food.

  15. Ah, I wish I had read this post earlier. I did send the video link to a friend of mine who calls herself a "militant breastfeeding kook" to show her what a real breastfeeding kook looks like.

    While I am very proud to have breastfed my child through his first year (weened at 15 months), I have to wonder at the statistics claiming the brain and immune boosting benefits of breastfeeding. No doubt that breastfeeding was good for him, certainly didn't hurt. But exactly how great is it?

    Is my kid healthier for having been fed at the boob or because I am pretty militant about good nutrition and hand washing? Is my kid's IQ higher from breastfeeding or simple genetics? What is the average IQ of parents who believe in breastfeeding and how does that play a part in their child's later successes?

    All these things and more.

  16. There is the choice to breastfeed and make a child "smarter" if that really is the case,or to do so because of any other number of reasons, BESIDES the need to feed the child. And then there is the choice to stop acting like a human dispenser.

    I have to admit that I was not looking forward to breastfeeding my child when I first had the choice to do so... and I was breast-fed as a child, so lets not get into the theory that perhaps I wasn't. But after I started to it was pretty easy. I think it has something to do with nature taking over its course. I even fell asleep (partly due to exhaustion) while breastfeeding at the mother-in-law's, breasts all hanging out, which most people would be very uncomfortable with.

    But once the teeth starting coming in, and she could eat regular foods, mostly veggies and fruits, why NOT stop? Is it really necessary to continue? THIS is natural, not trying to keep a "bond" that should have nothing to do with breastfeeding and everything to do with loving your child. Being there to hug them, kiss them, listen to them , help them work on things (homework, crafts, projects...)

    So yeah I don't care how old the children are it's unnatural to know they are fixated on her breastmilk. or breasts. or both. NO NO NO.

  17. As a very strong supporter of extended breastfeeding; I honestly don't see as to why any child should stop breastfeeding especially since it's one of the most beautiful ways a mother can bond with her older child after being away from each other the whole day! Breastfeeding an older child (let's say about age 5 years is so natural and I feel that as long as the mother and child are happy with their continued breastfeeding; Why would anyone want to end such a beautiful bonding relationship? There's nothing absolutely wrong with mothers breastfeeding an older child; for those of you who think there is something wrong with breastfeeding an older child well... I have 2 words... '' YOU'RE NUTS!'' If I ever came across a mother and noticed that she was breastfeeding her older child I would most likely applaud her and tell her that she giving her child the very best and most nutritious milk in all the world... Her Breastmilk!! I would also highly encourage any nursing mother to keep breastfeeding for as long as their child feels the need for it.


Spit it, betch!