Why We’re Still Breastfeeding – At 16 Months.

Ever since Ben turned 1 nearly four months ago, I am asked – daily – if I am still breastfeeding him. The question doesn’t really bother me – people are curious, after all – but I am tired of having to explain myself. Because, inevitably, when anyone finds out that I am still nursing my 16 month old they wait wait wait for an answer as to why why why.

So, for the 97 people who have asked thus far – and the many more to come – here are my answers:

1. It is healthy for Ben. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding until children reach the age of 2. Breast milk can provide one third of energy needs between 12 and 24 months, and it is a critical source of energy and nutrients during illness. Ben gobbles all sorts of “regular” food throughout the day, so breast milk is not his primary source of calories. It simply supplements his three square meals.

2. It buys me time in the morning. Ben is usually the first to rise in our house, and nursing him in our bed gives me a few extra minutes to lounge under the covers. If I wasn’t still nursing him, I’d have to bring him downstairs for breakfast or chase him around the house. Quite frankly, I like having a nursing snooze button!

3. It buys me time during the day. Breastfeeding is the only activity I do that prevents me from doing anything else. While sitting on the sofa with little Ben, I can’t empty the dishwasher/sweep the floor/tie a 5 year old’s shoes/pick up toys. For 10 blissful minutes, I am excused from all other chores!

4. Ben likes it. He’s the fourth baby in a busy family, and some days nursing is his only quiet time with me. That time with me is important to him.

5. It calms both of us down. Thanks to breastfeeding, I have never had a frantic, screaming baby – the boob always calms them down. Now that Ben is toddling around, he’s getting more bumps and bruises – but all it takes is a quick nursing session to make him feel better again. And, thanks to breastfeeding I am able to carve out occasional quiet time that benefits me. With four kids, I never have a minute to myself. But feeding my baby comes pretty close.

6. It requires minimal time. When the babes are brand new, we spend hours per day nursing. But, Ben requires less milk now and he is more effecient at getting it, so the total time spent is maybe 20 minutes. No biggie.

7. It is part of our routine. Neither of us are bothered by extended breastfeeding, and it certainly doesn’t dominate our days the way it did when he was brand new. It is a comfortable and familiar part of our day – for both of us! – and when one or both of us are ready to give it up, we will.

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6 Comments for this entry

  1. Love all of these! I am in the same boat at 14 months with #3. I love what an encouraging and open voice you are for extended breastfeeding!

  2. Kim Scharlow says:

    18 months in and I agree with all of these! I know a lot of people don’t understand, but I know we’re doing what’s best for us. Poor congested little guy is nursing away as I type. 🙂

  3. Sarah Trulley says:

    I breastfed my first for 15 months, and was pregnant again, so my doctor advised to stop so all my calories went to the baby inside. I am not sure that was necessary, I assume my body would have produced enough nutrients for both kids’ needs, but I wanted #2 to have the same start.

  4. Asiyah Mujahid says:

    I find this marvelous! In our religion, the child or has a right to at least 2 yrs of nursing. According to the traditions, it can spread to 3 +/- as it is extended to when the child’s milk teeth are present. This leads one to believe that the child needs to definately chew properly to receive his nourishment until such time, if one is able, nursing is the child’s suppliment. I have had six children and the last is almost two and still nursing. The longest was four years of age and only at night by that time. Most of my children averaged around 2 1/2 years each.

    • Maureen says:

      What a lovely comment – thank you for sharing! I think you are right – it makes sense that babies would continue to need mama’s milk until they are old enough to properly chew.

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