On breastfeeding…beyond 12 months

Breastfeeding from The Baby's CatalogueSo breastfeeding an older baby; that’s strange, right? Due to lack of information and discussion, and of course the ubiquitous Little Britain sketch, there are so many negative stereotypes around boob-feeding babies past a certain age…but surprise! It’s actually the most natural thing in the world.

However if you’d told me a year ago that I’d still be – very happily – breastfeeding my baby past the grand old age of one, I’d have not believed you. We had a lot of initial problems with latching, jaundice, agonising, toe curling pain, and I had mastitis a couple of times. Ouch. But as I said in my last post, somewhere along the line it just clicked, and it’s now such a lovely but often unremarkable part of our everyday life.

Eliza is a really healthy eater, with three meals a day, as well as our food too if she can swipe it off a plate. And yet she shows no sign of wanting to give up the 2-4 feeds a day we still do – she has now picked up the baby sign for milk from somewhere, and has learned to say ‘bob’ and point at my chest, which I love – so why would we stop just because she’s a whole number instead of a number of months?

Here’s what’s so great about breastfeeding a one year old:

  • It’s a fantastic way to reconnect if we’ve been apart, especially post-nursery. I find it really grounding for both of us. It’s our equivalent of a ‘how was your day?’ catch-up with less chat
  • As she eats so well, breastfeeding at this point offers us both so much more than the ongoing nutritional – and health – benefits; it’s bonding and still a really effective way of soothing
  • It fits in easily around our life, even now I’m back at work. I’m lucky as I’m only working a few days a week and most of those from home, so we have a good pre and post nursery feed, and I can express if necessary (it must be more difficult if you’re back to work full-time in an office though)
  • And when I’m at home and chasing her around all day it’s often a relief to have a reason to sit down and check my email
  • People always seem to bring up teeth as a reason to give up. E has five and it’s fine – she did nip me once or twice at first, but I don’t even notice them now. And what about babies who are born with them?
  • Lifestyle-wise, it’s not a problem to have a drink if I want it, or to express if I’m going out
  • And I’m still reaping the magical calorie burning and weight-loss benefits

I am lucky in the respect that I had a lot of help initially, everyone around us is supportive, and we live in a place where no-one has ever blinked an eyelid at public baby-boobage. Although we hardly ever need to feed when we’re out at this point as a carrot stick will often suffice. The only comments I’ve received have been positive – the nicest was an old lady who tapped me on the shoulder on a packed London bus, mid-feed, and said ‘that is so lovely to see.’

Breastfeeding remains of the most surprising and fulfilling things in my experience of motherhood; it has banished and continues to confound all my pre and misconceptions. I can see us tapering off for a second baby, but I don’t think that will be for a while yet (although who knows?) At the moment we both love it, and I’m happy to carry on for as long as we’re both happy to do so.

I am really interested to know other people’s experiences of extended breastfeeding – are you still doing it? How are you getting on? How long did you do it for? And as always, this is purely a comment on our experiences and nothing else…

The photos at the top are of baby feeding from The Baby’s Catalogue by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. I love the way it presents all sorts of feeding in a completely normal, unpolitical, everyday way. And here’s the only photos, I think, of us breastfeeding, taken when we were out to lunch a few months ago:

Breastfeeding

About

I'm an early thirty-something new mum writing about pregnancy, babies and life living in our little corner of London.

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19 thoughts on “On breastfeeding…beyond 12 months”

  1. Loved this, I’ve been feeling a bit ‘meh’ about carrying on feeding, but this article had given me a bit of a positive push to keep going. Thanks!

  2. I’m so glad you have had such a positive experience. I love the Baby Catalogue and I did a double take the first time we read it as you never really see breastfeeding depicted so much as a normal part of life.

  3. I nursed my first son til he was two, the last few months it was only at before bedtime. Now my second is two and I am sad that soon we’ll be leaving it behind too (since I have to intention to have more children). I was not at all excited to nurse before the first was born and the first six weeks were very hard, but then I grew to enjoy the closeness and thinking of the health benefits for them.

  4. Oops, thought I’d commented on this earlier but hadn’t. This is such a lovely post. It sounds like you’re really in tune with your baby and her needs, and that you’re enjoying this great journey! I’m still breastfeeding my daughter at 20 months. Before I had her, I didn’t think we’d continue beyond a year. When we had all our difficulties in the beginning, I doubted we’d make it to six months! Breastfeeding has taught me a great deal and in many ways shaped my mothering. I am also hoping for another baby in the not too distant future (maybe we’ll be pregnant at the same time? ;) ) but have decided to just let whatever’s going to happen with breastfeeding happen, continuing to take it a day at a time. Eliza is a lucky girl!

  5. Awesome job breastfeeding your child, mama, and following her needs and cues! I am currently tandem nursing my 4 1/2 year old and nearly 2 year old girl and boy, and I look back on all my nursing days with lots of joy and pride! I’m so glad that I can mother through breastfeeding – God has given us such a gift in being able to nourish, nurture, teach, and even discipline (setting boundaries, etc) through nursing our children! The only thing I would change is to go back a couple years and know that it was totally OK to set some limits on my daughter’s nursing behaviors during my pregnancy. It would have made the beginning of tandem nursing so much smoother! Great job, mama, and I wish you many more months of a joyful nursing relationship!

  6. Brilliantly, lovely post and I love the illustrations too. I am still breastfeeding my almost 23mth old son and I still love it as does he. He no longer nurses to sleep so I can see how he has started the weaning process but he is still very much a booby monster so I doubt it will be any time soon :)
    Really love your point about it being the equivalent of ‘how was your day?’ – so true! My LO is at nursery this morning and we will have a catch-up nurse when he returns full of beans.
    I think women are becoming more comfortable in telling others that they are still nursing older babies so hopefully there will be a shift in attitudes but I have recently ‘lost’ a few facebook followers after posting a status regarding full-term breastfeeding (I think they were most likely from a giveaway I did ages ago and not on the same page re: bf etc)
    Apart from that, I love telling Mums on the ward (I’m a bf peer supporter) I’m still feeding as it opens their mind to that possibility and I think I look pretty normal so it mostly doesn’t freak them out :D My son is far too busy to nurse out and about and prefers juice so we’ve not nursed in public (apart from support group) since he was 18mths and that was as I had a blocked duct!
    Your baby girl is gorgeous x

  7. A lovely blog,it should be entirely your choice. I
    am sure yr baby will wean herself off your milk when
    She no longer has the need.follow yr heart

  8. Thanks for your post. I’m also nursing my 1 year old and enjoying and cherishing it. We had a very rough start with pain, thrush, clogged ducts, endless nursing sessions etc etc, but once we got through the first few months we got into a good rhythm and I hope we can go at least another year or more. At this point I’m happy to let him self wean, whenever he’s ready. It definitely helps to have supportive family and friends.

  9. So great how you have allowed your nursing relationship to evolve. . I’m tandem feeding my 23 month old and 6 month old. It’s not always easy and I do set limits fir my eldest but I am so glad I continue to provide such com and nutrition to my
    angels

  10. This is such a lovely post. I initially (don’t ask me why) decided that I would only breastfeed my son for six months but because he wouldn’t drink from a bottle and then wasn’t interested in being weaned until 7/8 months, carried on until 15 months. I only stopped then because I had to due to medication. It’s such a nice thing to do … if you can … and if you enjoy it. The bedtime feeds were a particular favourite of mine, especially once I had gone back to work.

  11. Great post – I struggled to get going as well and then ended up keeping going till 15 months.

    I’ve just – today – started a new blog hop, The Friday Baby Shower, for all things new baby and would absolutely love for you to link up. New posts and oldies very welcome. Alice @ Mums Make Lists xxx

  12. I fed my little one until 14 months and only stopped because I am expecting our second. I too didn’t expect to be feeding so long, but its just so easy… And it was just such a precious, snugly time. I felt sad when I finally did give it up (although she didn’t bat an eyelid!) but knew I needed to for the sake of the new baby… And my own body which was struggling to sustain three of us! Nice to discover your blog! Claire x

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