17 answers

Breastfeeding 16 Month Old

My 16 month old still bfeeds 4-5 times a day. He eats about 4 small-medium meals and 2 snacks a day. I am confused as to what is best for him...If he gets this amount bmilk as a young toddler, does this interfere with his getting nutrients from other foods? Does bfeeding a toddler impact the development of his independence? As an aside, by summer (after flu and cold season) I hope to get the feeding down to 2-3 times a day and eventually 0-1 by the time he is two years old.

Any thoughts and advice about bfeeding young toddlers is welcomed...

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Once again...thanks to all for the thoughtful advice and support. We (my husband and I and our loved one :)) decided to continue our path of bfeeding and letting our LO self-wean so to speak. On his own, bfeeding is still going strong, but is now about 3-4times a day, leaning toward 3. As an aside, he has been mildly ill a great deal this winter, and like many of you wrote, I was always glad that he was getting the comfort and nutrition of bmilk when he was not feeling like himself.

More Answers

I nursed my daughter till she was 3.6 years and my 18 month old son still nurses. Breastmilk provides a safety net (what if he gets sick? Has a tummy bug?) for your children and is untouchable as the perfect food. And nursing long term has no impact on independence - if anything, the knowledge that mom is always their to sooth him should make him a more confident kid.

I would let him wean himself - they all do at their own time. If you rush it, it can backfire and he could become more clingy and demand the breast more.

Good luck and good job nursing!

4 moms found this helpful

Hi there,

I have not read the other responses, but don't let anybody pressure you to stop breastfeeding your toddler. It's not totally accepted in this culture to nurse a toddler, so you are fighting people's perceptions and cultural norms; however, your child's health and what works for your family is paramount.

I nursed one daughter to 17 months and the second to 29 months. I never expected to nurse past two years, but she loved it so much and it worked for us. Plus, I knew the benefits of nursing toddlers (discovered them with my first who never had an ear infection or allergic reaction until after I weaned her.)

They are both fun, independent, very intelligent little girls who are not clingy or developmentally stunted due to extended breastfeeding.

I believe a mother should breastfeed for as long as she and her child mutually agree upon it. That is to say, if one of you really wants to stop, it's time to stop. If both of you are happy to continue nursing, it's nobody else's business to tell you to stop.

Here are a couple of article I have written on the topic:
Nutritional Benefits of Breastfeeding Toddlers: http://breastfeeding.suite101.com/article.cfm/nutritional...
Mental and Emotional Benefits: http://breastfeeding.suite101.com/article.cfm/extended_nu...

Whatever you decide, your son is a lucky little boy for being breastfed by a dedicated mom for over a year. :) Enjoy your little boy.

2 moms found this helpful

I breastfed until 19 months - I worked, but on weekend it was about the same amount as you describe. I wish I had breastfed longer, but I felt pressured to wean by my husband and family.
It is SOOO beneficial for them, psychologically and for their immune system. It does not interfere with their social development and a recent study actually showed that breastfed toddler had less behavioral problems and were less likely to be aggressive.
There is nothing that cows milk can provide that you breastmilk does not! His eating habits sound fine (more than my daughter eats now as a two year old...) so I would not worry at all.
Keep on doing what you're doing for as long as you both feel comfortable...

1 mom found this helpful

Your son sounds like a perfectly balanced nursing toddler! If you see that he is growing well and his energy is fine, you can tell he's getting what he needs. Breastmilk is a food that will give him a healthy body and nursing will give him mothering that he needs to face the world! Offer him plenty of table foods in a calm setting and make that fun too. I've heard there's nothing quite like the taste of breastmilk(!) but my guess is that he'd be willing to try some variety. If you aren't already in touch with LaLeche League in your area, look them up. They have helped a lot of us through similar situations. Enjoy this time. You'll look back on this with so much love in the future!

1 mom found this helpful

I breastfed my daughter well until she was 2, although because i worked and was working towards weaning her, I worked it down to 3x around 18 m (wake time, naptime on the days I was home and bedtime) -She is well developed, independent(fiercely some days!) and has only been sick (beyond the sniffles) twice and she has been in preschool/daycare for a yr and a 1/2 now!! I think you have to accept that it is different for everyone, and just do what works for you and your child!! Good Luck! L.

1 mom found this helpful

I bf my son until 31 months. Breastmilk is the best thing for your toddler. As pp said the nutritional value to breastmilk is by far superior to any food you can feed your dc. Keep on bf until YOU feel it's time to quit. I would definitely aim to make it at least 2 years.

My son is very independent and well adjusted so I wouldn't worry about bf causing dependence.

1 mom found this helpful

Since it is recommended to breastfeed till 2 years old, I don't think you need to worry at all about the nutrients. My son is on whole milk, and I think he probably drinks more calories right now than eats.

I also wouldn't worry about his independence, I know clingy kids that never breastfed, independent ones that breastfeed till 2, and vice versa. I think it is just the kids' personality. How long you decide to breastfeed is up to you and is a personal decision. For me, my husband wanted me back :), and I just really didn't like the idea of my son "telling" me it was time to breastfeed. We weaned totally at 14.5 months, and now at 22 months, I look at how big he is and am happy I did it when I did, although it made me sad at the time. Whatever your reasons and your timing, it is up to you and your son.

1 mom found this helpful

Breast milk, calorie for calorie, is more nutritious than any other food. This is even true past the 12 month mark. So no need to worry about nutrients. Does it impact his independence? Some would say yes, it's makes them more secure with their relationships and therefore more independent in the long run. Also, keep in mind that he will continue to receive antibodies from you -- especially helpful during the cold and flu season.

Extended breastfeeding offers a child many benefits. I think you'll find the following links helpful:

http://www.kellymom.com/bf/bfextended/ebf-benefits.html
http://www.kellymom.com/bf/bfextended/ebf-refs.html
http://www.kellymom.com/bf/start/prepare/bf-benefits.html

1 mom found this helpful

I breast fed my daughter until she was 19 months and would have gone longer except my husband was ready for me to quit. I got her down to twice a day and then had to go out of town for a few days and that ended it for us. I would breastfeed your son as long as you want to and don't let other people dictate when you stop.

1 mom found this helpful

I nursed my daughter till her 4th birthday. I wish I didn't stop her that day and let her wean completely by herself. So many good things to come from extended nursing.

1 mom found this helpful

I'll just echo what others are saying, but he sounds perfect! I have a 16 month old too and he eats about the same and nurses a little less. When my daughter was 16 months she nursed more and ate less. Both are in the realm of normal. Breast milk is so superior to cow milk. Don't think he's missing out on anything more nutritional for him to eat right now. I think aiming to nurse until 2 years old is a great goal. That's what I did with my daughter and what I plan for my son. And I have no quarrel with anyone who goes longer. I think it's awesome! I just get antsy for my boobs back by 2 years old and by then they've made it through teething.

1 mom found this helpful

Nursing your toddler won't affect his getting nutrients from other food. Your breastmilk is still very healthy. I don't see how it would negatively impact his independence, either. What matters is that you are still feeling fine about nursing him. The right time to stop nursing is when one or both parties involved is ready to stop.

I nursed my son for 19 or 20 months, which was about three months into my next pregnancy. He was mostly just nursing for comfort at that point, so I was sad to take away something that was so soothing for him, but my milk had dried up and it was really uncomfortable for me. It wasn't a very easy transition, but it worked out just fine, and he is a healthy, happy, independent little guy!

1 mom found this helpful

My son is 2.5 years and still nurses at bedtime. We've weaned him down a bit in the last 6-9 months, but I feel better knowing that he is still getting the health benefits of breastmilk, especially during cold season.
And, as he matures, your son will want more food calories, but for now, it is entirely normal for him to still depend on you. 16 months is still very young.
I think the important thing is to do what is best for you and your son, together. You are giving him the best start in life possible. Don't let anyone make you feel uncomfortable about that.

1 mom found this helpful

It's perfectly normal. He's getting plenty of nutrients from you! And immunity. It's a God send when they get sick too because you won't have any trouble keeping him hydrated. If you let a child self direct weaning it is typically around 2 -2 1/2 years. my daughter weaned at 2 1/2 and my 21 month old nurses usually 3 but sometimes 1-2/day. You are doing a great job!!! you both are reaping the benefits of nursing into toddlerhood! There is a good book LaLeche League puts out. I got it at the library. It's called 'Breastfeeding your toddler'. I found it very informative when I was at this stage with my first.
S. S.

1 mom found this helpful

I am so glad to see that people were positive and encouraging. I think often bf carries a stigma. People often pressure you into quitting before you are ready. Then by the time you realize it was to soon, you have dried up and can't start again. Good Luck, and trust your own maternal instinct. There will come a time when one or both of you just is not interested in it anymore.

1 mom found this helpful

i didn't breastfeed, but i know that with regular milk or milk type products, the dr. told me that they should get no more than 16oz of milk daily, bc then they wouldn't eat their other food that they needed to eat. If you are concerned, talk to your ped and see what they say.

Thank you to all the mamas for the thoughtful advice and support

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