Mom Encourages Breastfeeding of Toddlers in Most Discouraging Way (VIDEO)

bfeeding a toddler
Typical mom of two Katie Hamilton is shrugging off that Time magazine cover photo we can't stop talking about. She knows it was just to sell more magazines, and she thinks most nursing moms know that's not how you nurse a child. But she says it's great that we're talking about it -- especially about extended breastfeeding.

So she gives her reasons for feeding her almost 2-year-old daughter. As another mom who breastfed a toddler, a lot of her reasons resonated with me. But some of her reasons reminded me of why a lot of other moms are turned off by attachment parenting.

Katie thinks that one-year cutoff seems too arbitrary. "It's not like you turn one and all of a sudden it's like 'okay, that's it, you're cut off!' There has been this bond, this connection, and to cut it off right at one, there's no need for it." So yeah, I agree with the arbitrary date. But the bonding? Based on what I read, the bonding you get from breastfeeding should go on even after weaning. You breastfeed so you can build that foundation that will carry you and your child past breastfeeding. 

If anything, knowing that you've created a bond with your baby through nursing -- however long you did it -- is supposed to reassure you when you do finally wean. But saying that you're "cutting off" that bonding just makes moms who wean feel guilty.

"Attachment Parenting isn't about an elite group of mothers. It's about mothers doing the best they can to meet the needs of their baby and follow their natural instincts in the biological norm that keeps their baby healthy and happy." Well sure. Moms of all education and income levels do AP. 

But what does she mean by "natural instincts in the biological norm" -- what's this norm? Does she mean worldwide? Because that's one of the least-helpful justifications for extended breastfeeding. Just because it works for the Dutch and the Maasai of Kenya doesn't mean it will work for Loreliee Danvers (I made up that name) of Akron, Ohio. There's a whole lot more support for breastfeeding moms in The Netherlands and in rural Kenya than there is here. So to compare us with those moms is unfair.

Here's why I kept nursing my toddler: Because we both wanted to. Because I was too lazy to wean (I admit!). Because it burns an extra 500 calories a day (I admit!). Because I could afford to. Because it didn't bug me. Because it made him so damn happy.

Really, no need to get preachy and list health studies that will make other moms feel like they're doing something wrong if they wean. I think the key phrase is "do what works for your family." I'm all for supporting moms who DO want to keep nursing but feel pressured to stop earlier. I'm totally in your corner, ladies! But let's be real about the reasons why we keep breastfeeding.

If you breastfed past one, what were your reasons? Moms who stopped earlier, why did you wean?


Image via AP/YouTube

in the news, nutrition, toddler health, breastfeeding


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nonmember avatar Cheryl Wheeler

I nursed four kids all different lengths of time: 7 months, 13 months, 8 months, and 18 months. I was always starving when I nursed and gained weight while nursing, so it was hard for me to justify doing it longer than 15 months.

The last one got longer because I would forget I wanted to wean her, and I would find myself absent-mindedly nursing. The first one got less time because I was trying to get pregnant. The third one got less time because I got pregnant while nursing (I never even had a period) and she started biting and that was the end of that! I thought a year sounded about right, so that was my goal with the other two. Frankly, I probably would have stopped sooner for the other two if I hadn't been trying to make it to that one-year mark.

Personally, I think all that talk of better bonding through nursing is bullshit.

nonmember avatar Megan

I BF my first for a yr and a half, I would have gone to two years but I got pregnant and the hormones eventually made her very fussy and upset. Two yrs was the goal because it was recommended by the AAP as the most beneficial. I could easily do it as a stay at home mom. I was going to BF my second daughter for two years but due to colic, reflux, severe stomache issues (did not get enough information about food allergies at the time) and w/starting work, I only breastfed her for about 3 months. Now I know she has a dairy and gluten intolerance and I could have simply changed my diet to help her, so for my next one, I will aim for 2 years again. Because if possible, it is BEST and recommended!

SofiePR SofiePR

I breastfed my son until he was about 2 1/2.  It wasn't about attachment parenting or anything deeply philosophical. It was about what felt right for us.

I too felt the sting of people who wondered why I continued to breastfeed him after he started eating solid foods. When he was sick for about a month - right around the time he turned one - I was grateful he was still nursing. It was a comfort for both of us because he received the nutrients he needed to get healthy. And, I continued nursing him - mostly at night - until I had to take medication for a health issue that would have compromised my milk.

I don't judge women who formula-feed their kids. Some women feel the stigma of NOT being able to breastfeed at all.  Why do some Mom's feel the need to judge other Moms for their parenting choices?  As long as the child is loved, nurtured, fed, taught about life, generally well taken care of (no Mommy can be perfect - even though we try to be), we shouldn't interfere in a person's approach to child-rearing. Maybe, just maybe, we should focus on our own parenting skills, so we can raise healthy kids. Just a thought.

Stacey. Stacey.

But the bonding? Based on what I read, the bonding you get from breastfeeding should go on even after weaning. You breastfeed so you can build that foundation that will carry you and your child past breastfeeding. 

EXACTLY THANK YOU! Thats what disturbed me most about the TIME cover mom, she made it seem as if putting a nipple in her sons mouth was the only way she could make him feel loved and nurtured. Breastfeeding is for nutrition period. Everything else is a plus. Children are constantly evolving, it's important parents evolve with them, instead of trying to make a 2 year old act like an infant. Once a baby no longer has to nurse on demand to survive, feeding from the breat is not necessary. You can hand express you milk into a cup, because again its about the NUTRITION not the experience the mom gets from it.

Stacey. Stacey.

@Sofie - It was a comfort for both of us

Saying it's comfort for "both" of you is why people look down on extended bfing. Breastfeeding is for your child, not you.

Breast milk is recommended until age 2, but that doesnt necessarily mean eating it right from your breast.

Foley... Foleygirl24

Before my son was born, I had intened to only nurse until 6 months because after that just felt weird to me. But lo and behold when 6 months came around I had changed my mind and decided to go for a year at least. Unfortunately, DS quit on me a little after 8 months, at which point and I pumped and bottled til my milk dried up (only lasted a few weeks without him nursing). For number 2 I plan for at least a year, maybe longer, we'll see what happens when the time comes!

Gilmo... GilmoreGirl29

I breastfed for 2 weeks with my son. He just didn't take to it. No matter how hard I tried, no matter WHAT I tried, he just didn't take to it. I made a choice...push breastfeeding because it's "better" or switch to formula so he could actually get fed. It was a no brainer.

I breastfed for 6 days with my daughter. She had an extremely sensitive stomach and could not hold down my breastmilk. We ended up going through breastmilk, several formulas, and even tried soy and lactose free before we ended up on a formula/rice cereal combination that allowed her to hold down more than an ounce at a time.

I don't consider myself a bad mother because I didn't breastfeed. I did what was best for my kids based on their needs and wants. It worked out great for us.

SofiePR SofiePR

@Stacey  I appreciate your comments about extended breastfeeding being looked down upon because of concerns that it's benefiting the Mom instead of the child. A child's well-being always comes first.

 I should clarify my statement. When I wrote that it was a comfort for both of us, it was in the context of him getting nutrients when he was sick. He wasn't eating or drinking anything else, and I was worried about him. At least while he was nursing, I was comforted by the fact he was getting some fluids and nutrition, and the doctors and nurses at the hospital encouraged it - even after he was  hooked him up to an IV.

In general, while I was nursing him, I knew he was getting the nutrients he needed. When I stopped, I was worried that he wouldn't get what he needed from the limited about of food he was eating (he's always been a picky eater) - despite our best efforts to ensure proper nutrition. So, yes, that part of nursing was a comfort to me as well. As long as he was nursing, he would benefit from the nutirients I could give him.

Also, when breast feeding a child, your breasts aren't sexual, and there is nothing wrong with it. Breasts fufill a need - a need that was biologically designed to ensure future generations will continue to thrive. There's no need to be ashamed of our bodies doing what they were intended to do.

SofiePR SofiePR

One more point. I don't think we should be overly critical of how Katie Hamilton chose to word her opinions on breastfeeding her children.  Most of us have not had media training and don't understand the subtext and implications of what we say. 

I agree with the writer's statement: "I think the key phrase is "do what works for your family.""  If all of us could agree to that - with the understanding of approaching child-rearing with love and a desire to do what's best for your child's well-being - I think being a Mom would be much easier.  We don't need to keep judging each other's parenting approaches. What works for one family, might not make sense for another.

SofiePR SofiePR

More food for thought...

Lauran Neergaard, The Associated Press, writes: "The real issue with breast-feeding is this: Too few infants who could really benefit from it are getting mom's milk."

As reiterated in the article (and I agree whole-heartedly):"Not every mother can or chooses to breast-feed. And the surgeon general's report said they shouldn't be made to feel guilty."

She also writes, "How old is too old for the child? The pediatricians' guidelines say breast-feeding should continue along with solid foods to age 1 - "or as long as mutually desired by mother and infant."

She also writes, echoing my beliefs, "Toddlers sometimes make clear that they prefer a cup, but Altmann says if both mom and child are comfortable, there's no harm in going longer than average." @Stacey

And, she also states that when more nutrition comes from solid foods, "parents need to teach their tots to soothe themselves."

Hope this adds some clarity to the debate that shouldn't even be a debate...

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