Oops! I forgot to wean my 2 year old.


Everett’s 2nd birthday came and went and our nursing relationship has remained the same.  He is still nursing and I am still letting him.  To be honest I didn’t have plans to wean him at any certain age but it was my goal to make it to 2 with him.  I wouldn’t have kept him from self-weaning earlier than that date and I wasn’t planning on cutting him off on his birthday either.

It isn’t all sunshine and rainbows and “extended” nursing or full-term nursing might not be for you and that is OK.  To be frank I didn’t even know if it would be for me.  I’ve posted before about how uncomfortable I was witnessing a 1.5 year old nurse at one time.  Now here I am nursing a full grown toddler who can operate an iPad and who has been known to pour his own cereal.  At least he hasn’t yet come over and asked for me to top off his bowl because he can’t get to the milk in the fridge.

There are so many benefits to nursing to 2 years.

The biggest benefit is the most obvious one- the chance to bond with your growing child who is on the move 24 hours a day.  I don’t get to just hold and wear my son like I used to when he was a newborn.  He is too busy playing with Transformers for that.  But when it is time for his milk-milk he runs over and puddles into my arms in a sweet, sweaty pile every time.

I am thankful everyday that I still breastfeed my two year old because he has become quite the picky eater.  At least I know he is getting the benefits of breastmilk that is being tailored to his needs and age and this helps me sleep a little better at night.  Considering his lunch of grapes, a few bites of hot dog, and a cookie he stole this is a very good thing.

The most surprising part of this journey has been how nursing helps us with bed time.  I don’t nurse him to sleep anymore and haven’t for quite a while.  He still gets to nurse before bed and it is only one of 3 times he gets to nurse during the day, for the most part.  For this reason he starts asking to go to bed when he is tired!  My son ASKS to be put to bed.  I think any parent will appreciate how monumental that is.  He doesn’t fight bed time, rather he looks forward to it as our special time to cuddle and nurse.  When we are done sometimes he gets upset but that is short lived.  Besides, he now sleeps with his brother so he has a friend to talk to while in bed.

Breastfeeding benefits you too!  The longer your breastfeed the lower your own risk of breast cancer, breastfeeding has also been linked to improved long-term health for mothers, including lower risks of ovarian cancer, osteoporosis, high blood pressure and heart disease.  This applies to having more children as well.  As of now I have breastfed for a total of 45-ish months when you factor in the 18 months I nursed Fletcher.  I am nursing my way to a ripe old age.

Almost every week I am thankful to still be nursing when my little accident prone 2 year old has a spill and needs comforting.  This boy has perma-skinned knees and even after he takes a spill and blood is pouring out of his wounds he can be calmed with a cuddle and nursing.  Would he survive without?  Of course, but he doesn’t have to worry about that just yet.

As the months pile on and we get closer to 2.5 years others are wondering when we will stop.  I don’t know.  I won’t lie and say that I am ready to stop right this minute because I’m not.  If he stopped nursing today I would be sad.  I’m not ready and I’m not “weaned” yet.  I expect that we will have a gradual weaning process like his brother so that when our last session occurs it isn’t painful for either of us.  I do have a 4 day trip planned at the end of the month so there is a chance he will self-wean while I’m away so I’m preparing for that mentally just in case.

Everett is my baby.  He is very likely my very last baby.  The last baby I will ever get to nurse, and diaper, and rock to sleep.  He and his brother will always need me and I’ll always be there, but nothing compares to those sweet moments of silence while he nurses.  His sweaty little head lays in the crook of my arm and he will ask for “meh meh” and I find it hard to say no.  He may be a long legged toddler with scarred knees but he is my baby boy.  I’ll look forward to that eventual full night of sleep, potential overnight trips with my husband, and not wearing a nursing bra.  I am fully aware that all of those things will happen, and soon, but I’m in no rush because I have a full life ahead to enjoy push up bras and only months left to savor those sweet baby snuggles.  They turn into preschoolers too fast.

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  • Chelsie

    I am amazed how positive all these comments were! I actually enjoyed reading them!

    I have a question that I’ve not seen discussed yet here or elsewhere. I have a 7 month old who is exclusively breastfed, and I am planning to let her self-wean, but in the mean time can someone share what the transition from her eating every 2-3 hours (even at night) to eventually eating 2-3 times a day looks like? Because most people assume introducing solids means ending nursing, I am lost on what the transition looks like.

    So what happens between letting her taste and experience some solids and eating actual solid meals and what does breastfeeding look like during that process?

    • Lise

      For us, my daughter just naturally transitioned to it slowly on her own. She was still nursing 10 times a day at a year, nightweaned herself at 18 months, started STTN on her own, and slowly just started asking less and less. At 3, she still nurses about 4-5 times a day. If I were interested in weaning, I know she could easily move down to 2-3. Right now, I just nurse her when she asks.

  • aware

    I love this post. I too used to be uncomfortable with people nursing older babies. Now here I am still nursing my 25 month old. She only nurses before bed for the most part, but will ask more often when I am home from work on the weekends. I think it’s mostly a comfort thing for her, but I’m not going to make her stop. She will stop when she’s ready.

  • faeriegrove

    I never “planned” on anything with breastfeeding, just let it takes it’s natural course. I also never imagined either of my children would still want it at age 5, but they did…. People frowned upon it, thinking it was for “me”. I was definitely ready to move on, but clearly, they had their own timeline. Hardest part was nursing the 2 yr. old while pregnant…. it was excruciatingly painful, but I couldn’t take it away from her, she still had to have it…..so I endured. One of the many sacrifices we make for the betterment of our children.

  • khodges

    Absolutely beautiful. My daughter and I are at 16 months now, and she’s showing absolutely no signs of interest in weaning. I’m only allowing her two times a day (morning, right after waking up, which she does for about 40 mins!, and evening before bed, only about 5-10 mins, although she’d do it throughout the day if I let her). Not sure what steps I’ll take if she never self-weans. But I can’t deny her something she loves (and I love it too).

  • Lara Clinton

    This is fascinating, thank you for the interesting read about your personal story with your son. I’m seriously reading up on every line of thought when it comes to breastfeeding out of curiosity.

  • Tanya Douglas

    My daughter just turned two and still wants “boobies” all the time!! It’s not that she wants to comfort nurse…it’s the playing with my opposite nipple ..twisting it pinching rubbing her palm across it. I can’t stand it!! If I don’t let her she cries. It’s seems that it’s part of the comfort she wants. Also she needs both boobs hanging fully out and needs to switch between them over and over. It’s exhausting I truly can’t stand it anymore..but I don’t know how to stop.