My Baby Turned One: Is It Time to Wean? |

My Baby Turned One: Is It Time to Wean?

whitney August 10, 2013

My baby girl is 15 months today. She’s still nursing several times a day, even though she eats quite a bit of solid food. And you know what? We’re not quitting any time soon.

There is a cultural norm in the U.S. to end the breastfeeding relationship at a year, if it has last that long. It is perhaps even a cultural assumption. An expectation. I’ve heard so many moms say about their child, “Yeah, it’s time to wean. He’ll be one soon.”

Now please understand that I’m in no way judging mothers who choose to wean at or before a year. Breastfeeding is a personal choice, obviously, and mothers need to do what they feel is best. The purpose of this post is to share why someone might choose to continue breastfeeding longer than a year. Is it just to indulge the child? Is it just to appease a mother who is sad her little baby is growing too fast?

In fact, there are so many reasons to continue breastfeeding beyond a year that I can’t list them all here. But here are a few that stand out to me and have affirmed me in my decision to nurse my children past that one-year milestone.

Balance Out A Hit-Or-Miss Toddler Diet

Have you ever heard someone say that breast milk loses nutritional value after a year? Did you look at them like they were speaking jibberish?ย Breast milk is always nutritious, especially when a mother is eating a nutritious diet! Just because your baby is eating foodย doesn’t mean they aren’t getting anything from your milk anymore.

Older babies and toddlers are notorious for being inconsistent eaters. One day my little girl will chow down, and the next day I can barely get anything in her. She doesn’t always feel like drinking from a sippy cup, so I can’t just replace breast milk with raw cow’s milk. On those days when she baffles us with her lack of appetite, I breathe a sigh of relief that she is still nursing so much. She has fat, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, minerals, and probiotics in a nice neat package, available to her whenever she needs it. Phew!

Illness Recovery & Prevention

When I was pregnant with my first, I read Dr. Sears say somewhere that if you are not going to vaccinate your child, you had better be nursing that child for at least two years.

Whether you vaccinate or not, a statement like that says something significant about nursing and the immune system – something that makes a mom perk up her ears and listen.

According to KellyMom, “Breastfeeding toddlers between the ages of one and three have been found to haveย fewer illnesses, illnesses of shorter duration, and lower mortality rates.”ย For whatever it’s worth, I can say that I’ve never had to take my children (15 months and 3 1/2) to the doctor due to illness. In fact, since we don’t vaccinate, we generally avoid the doctor and go for home remedies and chiropractic care instead. And so far, so good. Studies have shown that we’re not an anomaly. Breastfed children are healthier!

You probably know that one reason breast milk is so great for your babies immune system has to do with antibodies. Through breast milk, a mother passes antibodies to her child for illnesses she is already immune to. Additionally, when you nurse your child (and cuddle, kiss, etc.), you are exposed to the germs they have come into contact with; then your body makes antibodies and passes along the antibodies.

What you may not know is that some of these antibodies actually become more concentrated in your milk as your child grows! Next time someone tells you that breast milk has no nutritional value after the first year, try that one on for size. ๐Ÿ™‚

And as for recovering from illness if your child does get sick, remember this: breast milk is the perfect rehydrating beverage! When we got hit with a bad stomach bug last winter, it was such a relief to be able to nurse my baby through it. Many children can keep breast milk down much easier than water or Pedialyte type beverages. And it’s a lot more nutritious, too. Yay!

So Convenient!

I have a young toddler who prefers to nurse in private with no distractions, so I haven’t been able to enjoy as many of the conveniences of extended nursing with her as I did with my very attached son. While he was nursing (until a few months past two), we could nurse anywhere, anytime. He had no other comforter other than yours truly: no binky, blankey, lovey, or thumb would soothe that boy. Fall down and hurt yourself? “Na-na!” Hungry or thirsty? “Na-na.” Tired, grumpy, groggy, or sad? “Na-na.” At home or away, I had a powerful parenting tool on me at all times. I seriously don’t know what I would have done without it.

And consider this: when you’re past the year mark, you’ve got this thing down. In most cases, you don’t have to worry about engorgement, mastitis, poor latch, or any other nursing problems. If your toddler likes to nurse, and you like nursing your toddler, be free to continue as long as you want. I know it’s hard, but don’t worry about what your mom or the other ladies in the church nursery think. You are giving your child a beautiful gift!ย 

Have you nursed children beyond a year? Share your experiences below!

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  1. I nursed my daughter until after she was two years old as well. She was actually still sick quite often though. She has Asthma and picked up viruses very easily, we were in the ER frequently. She also has Celiac disease and cried 24/7 and was loosing weight. My pediatrician kept telling me she was loosing weight BECAUSE I was still nursing her (she was just over 1 at this point) and would tell me to stop nursing every time we were in. I knew that wasn’t it, and eventually was the one who figured out the REAL issue (Celiac) on my own. When I switched both of us to a strictly gluten free diet she gained a whole pound in the first month! I’m sharing this because I think that moms face a lot of obstacles in our society to breast feeding, let alone extended breast feeding. Please don’t let society (or misguided medical professionals) discourage you!! Extended nursing was the absolute *best* choice we could have made!!! My daughter is now almost 4, and this past winter (first winter without nursing) she was much sicker than the year before. We were in the ER with respiratory issues, super high fevers, and dehydration from diarrhea and vomiting every other week (that’s not an exaggeration). So, don’t be discouraged if your child seems to get ill frequently even while nursing, it really is still helping them ๐Ÿ™‚


  2. My baby is 16 months and still going strong. I really can’t think of a reason to stop nursing; she loves it and asks for it often, and it’s so good for her! At this age, it’s not inconvenient because if I’m not with her, someone else can feed her solid food so it’s not an urgent need to schedule around (except for last week when I was out shopping and she kept frantically telling Dada that she wanted to nurse, for some strange reason). It helps her get ready to sleep, it comforts her . . . The only thing I look forward to is possibly finally being able to lose weight when this is over! I was NOT one of the fortunate mothers who lose weight nursing, unfortunately. My body seems to be storing extra calories for this. ๐Ÿ™


  3. Thanks for this post. My baby girl (my firstborn) is also 15 months, almost 16 months. I’m determined to nurse her for at least two years. We’ve chosen not to vaccinate, so nursing is very important to me to make sure she gets good nutrition on days when she doesn’t eat much.

    Before I had my daughter, I didn’t realize how personally I would take the looks and comments from other moms about why I continue to nurse. They hurt. Every mom does her best for her child.


  4. It’s always good to read a re-affirming post from someone else who is/has done “it”. Before we were pregnant I had no idea how long I’d nurse our child(ren), but after becoming pregnant and research/reading more information on breastfeeding, I know that we will be doing it much longer than a year (granted Baby’s still interested). I anticipate not really thinking of weaning for at least about 18months ๐Ÿ˜€


  5. My first son weaned himself at 12 months and my second weaned himself at 14 months (they just stopped nursing, I did not try to wean them at all). I didn’t seem to have any milk leftover so I think they were slowly weaning themselves before that. ๐Ÿ™ My third son is 9 months old and I’m afraid he will wean himself early too. It feels to me like he is already slowly doing it. He still likes to nurse most of the time (if he’s not distracted) and I’ve started always trying to nurse him before feeding him solid foods to ensure he doesn’t get full first. I would really love to breastfeed longer so any advice on how to do that would be much appreciated. I wonder if my supply just starts going down and I need to work on increasing it with herbs or tea. I know I can’t force a child to nurse, but I don’t want to be inadvertently doing something that causes my child to wean. Thoughts anyone?


    • Katherine, it sounds as if they were just independent ๐Ÿ™‚ I do know that when you get pregnant, your breast milk may not taste the same, so some babies wean because of that. I don’t think there is anything you can do (inadvertently or not) that can cause them to stop nursing.
      Google nursing strike maybe?


    • Both of my girls (now 3.5 and 18 mo.) weaned on their own around 11 months. I had planned to loosely wean around 1 year (wasn’t planning to be hard-core about it), but they both lost interest and were too distracted to nurse even though I would nurse them in their room. It’s been a little bitter-sweet each time, but they are both very healthy, great eaters, very few illnesses and my 2nd has never had a sick visit to the Dr.

      Just know that each child is different, and it’s ok if yours decides to wean earlier than you had planned.


    • Just express and offer it in a sippy cup in place of water. your supply will go up as soon as you pump


  6. Thanks for this article…I’m nursing my 17 month old, and I was sooooo sure that I would be done at 12 months. 2 years is my limit though!


  7. At one my daughter was still getting the majority of her calories from breastmilk – she still woke up a couple times a night and ate numerous times through the day. She just turned 2 1/2 and still nurses before bed. My new guy is not yet 3 months and hopefully he’ll nurse a long time as well.


  8. I’m still nursing my 27-month old twins. Despite being full-term at birth, they were unable to latch. We struggled a lot but overcame the challenges. I’m so proud of myself and my babies and have become a huge breastfeeding advocate, especially for twin moms.
    When my girls approached their 1st birthday, many people asked when I was going to wean. My simple answer was always, “I’m not.” It works for us. They love it and the nutrition can’t be beat. We have also chosen not to vaccinate so “extended” breastfeeding is part of the immune building. While I haven’t received any strong negative feedback, I do feel judged and feel like I have become an “underground nurser” as a result. I generally avoid telling people that I’m still nursing them.
    I always love talking to other moms who are still breastfeeding past 1 year (or read blogs). Nice work ๐Ÿ™‚


  9. I love this! Thank you for the encouragement to keep going! My daughter is just over 14 months and still nursing several times a day and showing no signs of wanting to wean like my others were at this point. I may try harder to make sure don’t wean right away.


  10. Go for it! Keep nursing until you or your baby are no longer interested. I nursed my last three (out of 5) for over two years and was so glad I did! Enjoy your special times together; they grow up so fast!


  11. I breastfed my first till she was 37months. She would still be nursing if I let her however it was too much for me nursing her and her sister. Now I am nursing her sister who is 22mo and shows no sign of letting up. I am pregnant with #3 and pretty sure I’ll be nursing for another 3+ yrs. I say do what feels right.


  12. I’m curious about part of this article–the part where it says a child will get the antibodies from the mother. How does this translate to those of us who have autoimmune disorders but want to nurse children one day?? I don’t want to give my child formula but I just realized I might not be doing them any favors by breastfeeding either. Or will the benefits outweigh the cost?
    Does anyone know of any research that they can point me to that discusses that??
    I’m currently working on correcting my body and getting it ready for a pregnancy so I know by the time I get there, I will be eating the best diet and doing everything possible to keep myself and my child healthy.


  13. Loved this article! Thank you! But one thing I’m not agreeing with is Dr.Sears recommendation that if you are not vaccinating you absolutely must breastfeed for 2 years. I’ve bf all 5 kids but one for only 2 months. I had to quit as I was in continuous agony as she had an undiagnosed severe lip tie. I still chose not to vaccinate because poison is still poison and not required by a body to fight off illness or build up a healthy immune system. She is a healthy child with only mild eczema and rarely gets sick. Parents please just start by informing yourself and requesting the insert written by the manufacturers before you decide to vaccinate. It’s never wrong to educate before you vaccinate no matter what any doctor will say.


  14. I nursed #1..,16 months, #2… 18 months and #3 is on 20 months and counting. My kids are the healthiest kids I know.
    Articles that state that breastmilk holds no nutritional value after a year are WRONG. If even cows milk is healthy for older children and adults, than logically, breast milk must be the most perfect food on earth!


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Hi, Iโ€™m Kate. ย I love medical freedom, sharing natural remedies, developing real food recipes, and gentle parenting. My goal is to teach you how to live your life free from Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Government by learning about herbs, cooking, and sustainable practices.

I’m the author of Natural Remedies for Kids and the owner and lead herbalist at Earthley.ย I hope you’ll join me on the journey to a free and healthy life!

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