Your Burning Questions About Breastfeeding a 4 Year Old!

extended breastfeeding

As the title suggests I am indeed breastfeeding a 4 year old.  Most of the things in our kids lives is child led and breastfeeding is no different, one day I will stop and most likely be both sad and relieved.  But it will be completely up to my son to when that happens.

So are you wondering why I am still breastfeeding?  When we’re going to stop?  Have a read of my answers to these questions from fellow bloggers!

How do you handle the inevitable disapproving comments from friends and family?

Thank you to Sanna for this question.  I am actually lucky that my family understand and haven’t questioned extended breastfeeding.  Whether they agree with breastfeeding at 4 years old or not I have no idea, we’re mostly happy to let each do our own thing without confrontation.

Most of my friends who are mums are also accepting and don’t question it, it’s just not something we talk about now our kids are older.  I also don’t tend to breastfeed during the day now, so it’s not something anyone is likely to see much of.

To be honest, if anyone did say anything negative towards extended breastfeeding I would probably just tell them to mind their own business, it’s nothing to do with them!

What are the benefits of extended feeding?

Brilliant question!!  Thank you Jaymee!  Breastfeeding still has many benefits at 4 years old, for their emotional and physical wellbeing.  Often mums are back at work and children can be at nursery during the day, so breastfeeding helps cement that bond when mother and child are reunited.  Another emotional benefit is that breastfeeding is a great comfort to a young child, if they are upset or hurt breastfeeding can calm the situation down.

Nutritionally breast milk still has plenty of vitamins and antibodies that are tailored to the child’s needs.  Just because they have been feeding for a long time, it doesn’t mean that the vitamins run out!  Breast milk still provides immunity to protect your child when they are ill.  There are also benefits to the mother by reducing the likelihood of developing certain types of cancer including breast or ovarian cancer.

Do you ever get fed up of it and what reasons keep you going?

Short answer is yes, I do get fed up of it sometimes.  But at the same time I would also miss that bonding time we have together.  I decided after my first child was a few months old that I would breastfeed until he was ready to stop and have done exactly the same this time.  A lot of our children’s lives are child-led as much as possible and I don’t see why breastfeeding should be any different.

Thanks for the question Alice!

Have you decided how long you’ll continue for? Or will you let the little one lead on that front?

Thanks Stacey, as I mentioned in the previous question I will keep going for as long as my son wants to.  It’s completely child-led and I imagine he’ll be breastfeeding for a while longer.  My first child stopped breastfeeding at 2 years and 2 months as this was 2 months before his baby brother was born.  I had reduced feeds due to feeding aversion during pregnancy and he told me the ‘milk had gone’!

breastfeeding 4 year old

Has your child ever questioned why he still drinks from you?

Good question Carly!  He doesn’t seem to mind, we only breastfeed at home and in the evenings so I don’t know if he thinks other children feed then too.  We have had discussions before about other children getting their milk from bottles or cups, but he still has milk from me.  It’s never bothered him!

My only question is how on earth do you get them off??
Still breastfeeding 3 and a half year old son and I want my boobies back!

Ha ha!  Sorry Becci, we stopped feeding during the day a while back, so I probably can’t be a huge amount of help!  I’m not entirely sure why he chose to stop feeding during the day, but probably because we were so busy and always out and about with lots of other things to do.  now he only asks during the day when he’s not feeling well (which is fortunately quite rare).

When you started out breast feeding did you ever envisage doing it for so long?

No actually, I originally thought with my first child to keep going until 6 months as that’s what everything I had read or seen on television said.  I even remember watching a formula ad and laughing with my husband as it said ‘if you choose to stop breastfeeding’ and thinking surely it should be ‘when’, you can’t feed a child after they’re a baby! However, after reading lots of books and information whilst nursing my first I realised it was recommended by the WHO (World Health Organisation) to feed for at least 2 years.  We also chose to be child led in other areas of the boys lives so continued along the same path with breastfeeding.

Thanks for the question Helen.

Do you still feed on demand? My Nursling is 1.5 and I eventually want to stop feeding her everywhere and anywhere.

This question is from Bex at The Mummy Adventure.

I feed on a ‘don’t offer, don’t refuse’ basis.  He mostly asks when he’s tired at bedtime and occasionally when he’s not feeling well.  We are really busy during the day so he tends not to ask then, but he didn’t stop feeding during the day until somewhere between 2-3 years old.  Hopefully in the next year or so she should start feeding less during the day!

Do you/ would you ever feed in public? If not, why? And what age did you stop feeding in public?

I don’t feed in public any more, simply because my 4 year old is too busy to ask for a feed during the day.  But I fed both my children in public as babies and toddlers, probably stopping with my second at around 2-3 years old when he was just too busy to ask for a feed when we were out.

I never covered up when breastfeeding in public and never had any bad comments, despite feeding everywhere and anywhere.  I’m quite glad to be living in a supportive community.  I hope you never had any bad comments whilst breastfeeding Ashleigh?

Do you still feed to sleep? If not, how did you transition to falling asleep without the boob?

Another good question, this time from Helen of Natural Beauty With Baby.

We still feed to sleep here most nights, if I’m at home he’ll always ask for mummy milk.  But the couple of times I haven’t quite managed to get home for bedtime, he has let his daddy cuddle to him to sleep. So we know that daddy can get him to sleep too, but this didn’t happen until around 4 years old.  He still wakes at least 1-2 times a night expecting me to feed him though, so still getting plenty of milk from me even if daddy initially cuddles him to sleep!

breastfeeding

How do you deal with nursing aversion? (Currently tandem feeding my 26 month old and 2 week old)

I’m afraid to stay I didn’t cope very well at all!  I had nursing aversion whilst pregnant with my youngest and reduced my eldest breastfeeding to night time only and my milk ran dry 2 months before his baby brother was born. My eldest was 2 years and 2 months at the time and I felt incredibly guilty for reducing feeds, but it was that awful toe curling feeling and I just wanted to push him away, which clearly isn’t right. One night he told me ‘the milks gone mummy’ and after that had cuddles to sleep.

I have heard it gets better once your second is born, hopefully it will get better for you very soon Siobhan!  You’re doing great to get through all the pregnancy and still be feeding!

Are you feeling touched out yet and if so, how do you deal with it?

Yes, I definitely feel touched out a lot.  I really relish any time on my own without the kids and most importantly without anyone constantly needing to touch me.  We breastfeed a lot at night and that put together with having the kids around all day (I home educate) it can be tough.  Little hands seem to need to feel skin for that comfort during the day, so even if my 4 year old doesn’t feed during the day he still loves his hand down my top or up the top to touch my tummy or back.

I feel bad for my husband as I normally whack him away when he tries to get close, poor guy!  But I accept the kids touching me as they need that comfort, although sometimes I will distract them with a book or something to get little hands away from me.  I hope you’re managing to cope with feeling touched out Jade?

 

7 Comments

  1. February 4, 2018 / 12:04 pm

    Really insightful and great advice for when my son eventually decides he’s not interested anymore (I can’t see it happening any time soon. Age 3 1/2. I can really sympathise with feeling touched out, I too often whack my other half away after a full on day / evening with the kids! He’s very understanding though. Thanks so much for raising awareness on the normality and benefits of extended breastfeeding!
    Becci
    X

    • February 4, 2018 / 3:02 pm

      Thanks for your question Becci and glad to help raise awareness, so many people breastfeeding into the toddler years and beyond and often feel worried about talking about. Glad I’m not the only one who shoves their other half out the way too! 😀 x

  2. February 4, 2018 / 5:13 pm

    Great post. I fed my youngest until she was over 3, can’t even remember the last time she fed, it just stopped so naturally. Still feel touched out sometimes though, despite not feeding anymore!
    Nat.x

    • February 4, 2018 / 7:50 pm

      That’s how it should be, naturally feeding and stopping when they realise they don’t need it any more. I think touched out can still happen when you are used to being jumped on, squashed, prodded and having hands up your top a lot too! 🙂

  3. February 5, 2018 / 3:15 am

    This is so informative! Love that your son is leading. We’re on the same path with extended breastfeeding. My son still feeds to sleep and I can’t see him changing soon. He’s only 19 months though.

    • February 6, 2018 / 9:44 am

      Thank you! I hope you continue to have a great breastfeeding experience. 🙂 x

  4. February 14, 2018 / 10:30 pm

    This is such a great post. I don’t know when we will stop (19 months in at the moment) but everytime I see or hear someone else feeding a child over 1 it makes it easier to keep doing what we are doing.

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