Why Nurse a 4 Year Old?
Welcome to the Carnival of Tandem Nursing
This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Tandem Nursing hosted by Mommying My Way. Our participants have shared their personal stories of the highs the lows and information on what to expect if tandeming is in your future. Please read to the end of each post to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
I am tandem nursing my 6 month old and 4.5 year old. It’s not something that I envisioned when I started my breastfeeding journey, nor is it something I particularly like.1
One of the questions I keep getting when I discuss the Time cover with people is, “but why breastfeed a four year old? What are the benefits?” My answer can be as simple as this:
It is natural.
Because it is meaningful to him.
And that is enough for me. Breastfeeding is a small part of our loving relationship – it is as natural to us as cuddling or snuggling.
I trust that he will wean when he is ready, and I’m giving him gentle nudges in that direction by limiting the times he nurses, by not offering, and by using other ways to comfort him.
It is healthy.
But in addition to the fact that nursing is meaningful to him, it helps to know that if he were to get sick, he is still receiving antibodies from my breastmilk. Antibodies in breastmilk are actually environment-specific, so drinking breastmilk from a mother in close proximity can help boost an ill person’s immunity. There is even evidence that this can work in extreme cases of illness – such as with chemo or organ transplant patients and even cancer patients.2
It is normal.
Finally, I continue to nurse my son because that’s what humans have done for thousands of years and what humans do in most of the world even today.3 In fact, the median age of weaning throughout the world today is between the ages of three and five years.4
So yes, I tandem nurse a newborn and a preschooler. I don’t do it for me, I do it for my children – it’s what works for us.
Do you tandem nurse and/or nurse your children past infancy?
Why do you continue to nurse your little one into toddlerhood and beyond?
- My Tandem Nursing Journey: Jenny at I’m a full-time mummy is sharing her tandem nursing journey so far…
- Built for Two: No matter how much you read and plan, things may not always go as you expect. A few things that Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy wished she knew when she was planning to tandem feed her toddler and newborn.
- Tandem Nursing – Magic Cure?: Jorje of Momma Jorje had high expectations of tandem nursing easing her toddler daughter’s transition from being the baby to being a big sister.
- Mutually Desirable – Navigating a Tandem Nursing Experience: Amy Willa at www.amywilla.com talks about limit setting and meditations that help her navigate an intense tandem nursing experience.
- My Adventure in Tandem Nursing: Alicia at Lactation Narration tells her story of nursing her daughter through pregnancy and then tandem nursing.
- 4 months in: the good/hard: Becca at Exile Fertility writes about the joys and struggles of having two nurslings 17 months apart.
- Tandem Nursing: One at a Time: When tandem nursing resulted in a nursing aversion, Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children looked for ways to meet everyone’s needs.
- Why Nurse a 4 Year Old?: One of the questions Dionna at Code Name: Mama keeps getting is, “but why breastfeed a four year old? What are the benefits?” Today she answers that question.
- My Hurt Feelings: Shannon at The Artful Mama shares how her first son reacted to nursing after the birth of his brother and the gift she received the last time he nursed.
- Carnival of Tandem Nursing: A Letter To Myself 7 Years Ago: Dulce de leche shares the advice and reassurance that she would have given to herself if she could go back in time.
- Nursing Both My Babies: Cassie at There’s a Pickle in my Lifeshares her experience with nursing and transitioning into tandem nursing. She also gives tips for struggles.
- Our Tandem Nursing Journey: Kim at Life-is-Learning describes her journey into tandem nursing and why it is important to her.
- Based on her own experience, Lauren at Hobo Mama dishes about the benefits and downsides to nursing multiple children.
- Many mamas who have nursed during pregnancy or tandem nursed a newborn and an older nursling understand the term “nursing aversion” quite intimately. ↩
- From 58 Medicinal, Cosmetic, and Other Alternative Uses for Breastmilk. ↩
- Breastfeeding: Biocultural Perspectives at Chapter 2, by Patricia Stuart-Macadam & Katherine A. Dettwyler, available in part as a Google Book. ↩
- Check out Breastfeeding Beyond a Year and the studies cited therein (along with the reference to physicians recommending extended breastfeeding), A Natural Age of Weaning by Kathryn Dettwyler, Natural Weaning by Norma Jane Bumgarner, and ChildInfo.org. ↩
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"Why Nurse a 4 Year Old?"
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