Hi there!

I'm Tracy 

I'm the founder, writer and advocate behind the award-winning blog, Raised Good - a guide to natural parenting in the modern world.

Looking for your village?


Discover the Lost Art of Natural Parenting


The Science Is In: Breastfeeding Beyond Babyhood is Normal

My son kicks off the covers and rouses from his slumber with a start. It’s 2am and he’s having a bad dream.

When hugs fail to soothe his soul, I honour his request as he tugs at my pajama top, allowing him to nurse and find the comfort he seeks. Relaxation and relief are immediate.

Flooded with feelings of gratitude for this maternal superpower, I’m astonished that our journey has taken us this far.

We’ve been breastfeeding for four and a half years.

As the weight of his little body melts into my arms, I’m transported back in time to the early days of motherhood; sitting upright in bed with a nursing pillow around my waist, lamp on, snack handy and feeling mesmerized by the newborn spirit that nestled himself quickly into my heart.

As a new mother, I remember being asked how long I anticipated breastfeeding for by curious family members: the truth was that I had no idea, but I’d confidently reply with ‘two years’, qualifying my unconventional response by saying that the World Health Organization recommends it. But, on my son’s second birthday we were far from done.

And so, one more day turned into one more week. Weeks morphed into months and months merged into years.

Every day I am able to nourish my son in this way feels like a blessing, an exceptional encore perhaps, we’re both cheering for more. We nurse at dawn and dusk; a natural gateway between our mellow slumber and the electric energy of our days.

Occasionally my son nurses to ease a bump and bruise, both physical and emotional, and when he does, it’s spiritual gold dust for me too. A few moments of meditation, where the world stops and it’s just my son and I. A few moments of slowness that gives me the space to contemplate the speed and direction of our lives.

A few moments to reset and catch my breath in our unnecessarily busy world.

Like most of us, I’m parenting without a village in the most literal of senses. It’s beyond difficult, but in many ways, it’s liberating. The flip side of little support is a greater sense of freedom to make my own choices.

But, I have heard comments and I’m not immune to them; “If he has teeth he’s too old to nurse! If she can ask for milk she’s too old to breastfeed! Isn’t it about time she gave her breasts back to her husband?! That mother is psychologically damaging her child.”

Our western culture considers breastfeeding beyond babyhood to be abnormal and, in many ways, consciously or not, sabotages the practice. Whether and for how long a woman chooses to breastfeed is a personal decision and one that should be met with support, not judgement.

This post is not intended to be divisive, but rather to share my unexpected experience and inform mothers (and those who care for them) so that we all feel empowered to make our own choices. I firmly believe that ‘informed is best’ and only a mother knows how to make the right choice for her and her family.

So here are a handful of reasons science proves breastfeeding beyond babyhood is beyond normal.

1. Because humans are designed to nurse beyond babyhood

Dr. Katherine A. Dettwyler, anthropologist and breastfeeding advocate, suggests that evolution dictates that our children expect to breastfeed for three to seven years. Katherine cites numerous anthropological studies, to determine what a ‘normal’ weaning age may be:

  • Quadrupling of birth weight: Research shows weaning occurs after birth weight is quadrupled in large mammals. For humans, this occurs at around 27-30 months.
    Adult bodyweight: Other studies suggest primates wean when they reach one-third of adult bodyweight. For humans, this means weaning at four to seven years.
  • Length of pregnancy: Chimpanzees and gorillas nurse more than six times the length of gestation. Drawing a comparison from our closest cousins suggests that humans would nurse for 4.5 years, or six times gestational length.
  • Dental eruption: Many primates nurse until the first permanent molars erupt. In humans, this occurs at around 5.5 to 6.0 years.

2. Because breastmilk doesn’t have an expiry date 

Recent research by Vicki Greene, a biosciences student at South Devon College in the UK, went viral when she shared images of nine petri dishes containing the bacteria M. luteus, to which she had added human breastmilk from a mom of a 15-month-old and from the mom of a 3-year-old.

The results were incredible.

In the center of the petri dish, where the breast milk was placed, the bacteria was completely killed off. Research continues, with similar results having been seen for E. coli and MRSA.

Similarly exciting results were reported in a groundbreaking 2010 study that showed breastmilk contains a substance known as HAMLET which has been shown to kill forty different types of cancer cells.

Supporting this are results from a 2015 investigation published in JAMA which analyzed 18 studies related to leukemia and breastfeeding. Researchers found that breastfeeding a child for six months or longer was associated with a 19% lower risk for childhood leukemia. Encouragingly, their analyses also revealed that children who were ever breastfed had an 11% lower risk for childhood leukemia.

The composition of breastmilk does change over time but it does so in order to match the evolving needs of a child. The notion that breastmilk has no nutritional value or protective function beyond a certain age is false. A study published in the journal Pediatrics, reported that the fat and energy contents in milk from moms who have been nursing for more than one year were “significantly increased” compared to milk from moms breastfeeding younger babies. Some immune factors also increase in concentration during the second year of breastfeeding.

According to KellyMom.com, 448mL of breastmilk provides toddlers with 29% of energy requirements, 43% of protein requirements, 36% of calcium requirements and 94% of vitamin B12 requirements.

3. Because it fuels emotional and intellectual intelligence

Extensive research shows that children who breastfeed the longest have higher rates of cognitive achievement (IQ scores, grades in school), with a positive relationship being seen between longer breastfeeding duration and social development. Elizabeth Baldwin, in Extended Breastfeeding and the Law says that, ‘Meeting a child’s dependency needs is the key to helping that child achieve independence. And children outgrow these needs according to their own unique timetable.’

When we attempt to push children into premature independence they feel less secure in that independence than those who have achieved it at their own pace. Building a solid foundation for our kids at a young age by meeting their dependency requirements will set them up to be more grounded, independent teenagers and adults.

4. Because it nourishes a mother’s health

Recent research has shown that extended breastfeeding was related to a 30% reduction in the risk of premenopausal breast cancer. But, there are even more health benefits including:

• Delaying the return of fertility by suppressing ovulation helping to achieve natural child spacing
• Reduce the risk of ovarian, uterine, and endometrial cancer
• Protect against osteoporosis
• Reduce the risk of rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease and post-natal depression

5. Because breastfeeding protects kids, no matter their age 

The World Health Organization suggests that “a modest increase in breastfeeding rates could prevent up to 10% of all deaths of children under five: Breastfeeding plays an essential and sometimes underestimated role in the treatment and prevention of childhood illness.”

Breastmilk is a unique substance that can’t be replicated, protecting babies and children against disease regardless of their age.

In the second-year postpartum breastmilk contains significantly higher concentrations of lactoferrin, lysozyme and immunoglobulin A than milk from new mothers. Antibodies to infectious disease remains high throughout lactation and when a nursing child is affected by an illness the number of white blood cells in the mother’s milk spikes in response. The mechanism behind this response is thought to involve the mother’s body reacting to backwash from her baby’s mouth through breastfeeding.

It is also well known that breastfed babies and children more likely to experience lower rates of asthma and allergies. It is thought that the short-chain fatty acids found in breast milk are uniquely able to line an infants’ gut as well as power the cells in the colon, leading to a more robust immune system.

Go ahead and breastfeed beyond babyhood

Before becoming a mother I didn’t think I’d breastfeed at all, but when we surrender to motherhood it has a way of shattering our preconceived ideals and disempowering cultural norms. If there is one thing that I have learned on this journey, it is that fitting in is overrated. Authenticity and following our instincts is the key to true belonging.

Breastfeeding is a maternal superpower; why we would give it up prematurely is simply beyond me.

An excellent post, Why Mothers Nurse Their Children into Toddlerhood, sums up my feelings on nursing beyond babyhood perfectly, “No matter how much effort has gone into the selling of distance between mother and child – distance achieved by mother substitutes, like playpens and pacifiers, and by child substitutes, like hobbies and pets – mothers, it seems, cannot be changed. We still are happiest when we can hold our children close.”

When we hold our children close something magical happens.

If nursing beyond babyhood is the right choice for you then I encourage you to follow your heart. Find strength in the knowledge that although we may be trailblazers by modern standards, women have been nursing their children beyond babyhood throughout human history. The science is in: breastfeeding beyond babyhood is NORMAL.

Hi there!

I'm Tracy

Hi there! I’m Tracy - the founder, writer and advocate behind the award-winning blog, Raised Good - a guide to natural parenting in the modern world. Based in Vancouver and originally launched in 2016, I’ve been overwhelmed by the positive response and the global community that’s developed. 

read MORE


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Leia says:

    Thank you for this! I nursed my first three for a year but have been thinking a lot about what I am going to do with my fourth who is currently four months old. I really want to follow his lead and continue to nurse for as long as he would like but I really fear the social pressures surrounding the issue. Now I have some facts to backup my decision. I commend you for your bravery! I only hope I will stay strong when the pressure is on. Cheers!

    • Tracy Gillett says:

      Thank you for your comment Leia and for reading! Firstly, congrats on four kids. You are AMAZING in my book. I am the eldest of four kids and I honestly don’t know how my parents did it. Good on you! I am hearing you on the social pressure. We live in Canada but I’m from Australia so although I wish my family was closer to help out one bonus is I’ve managed to do a lot of “hippie” things under the radar! I am actually in Australia at the moment visiting family and friends and I must admit it has made me feel more pressure. One question I commonly get is “When are you going to stop breastfeeding?” I often reply, “It’s a two way street, you’ll need to ask Thomas when he’d like to stop”. One comment that seems to stop people pretty quickly is referencing the World Health Organization’s recommendation to breastfeed until a minimum of 2 years. Then once you get to two years (if you want to keep going at that point), you’ll have built the confidence to face people’s questions. At the end of the day the only opinions that matter are yours, your child’s and your husband’s. Thanks so much for the comment – makes writing the post worthwhile! 🙂

  2. Holly says:

    Try explaining that you’re still nursing your five year old. My daughter is extremely sensitive and I still don’t feel she’s ready to give it up. She only nurses in the evenings and mornings, but with so many changes going on in her life, the “milkies” are her lifeline, her safe place.

    • Tracy Gillett says:

      Thanks Holly….and its reassuring to hear your comment. We’re halfway to five and I suspect nursing may go on for a while still….maybe I’ll be saying the same in a few years. Good on you. I think it’s awesome. The needs of little ones are way more relevant than someone’s judgement but I totally understand it takes courage and thick skin to keep going. And thank you for reading!

  3. Jessica says:

    Tracey, Thank you for this wonderful article. I find the prejudice against prolonged breastfeeding deeply troubling. My son is two and a half and still nurses. It’s funny, I thought somehow that 2 was the best cutoff age, then when he turned two, it didn’t feel right to stop. My son is on the small size and the breast milk keeps him healthy. And the loves it. When I researched how children are weaned in traditional cultures I felt very comfortable continuing. Dylan is extremely healthy, lively and confident. And we have a strong, close bond. So I’m going to let him decide. He really wants to nurse when he’s ready for nap or bedtime.

    • Tracy Gillett says:

      Jessica, no problem and thank you for your comment. I agree and find it troubling too – it’s amazing how quickly society as a whole forgets what is completely normal. I thought the same – that we’d nurse until 2 years old but at 2 1/2 we’re still going strong and it seems so important to my son – I’m not keen to stop any time soon. Thanks again and Happy New Year to you and your family.

  4. Heather says:

    Thanks so much for this post! My son is 3.5 and I am still giving him boob to sleep. I don’t think there’ s much milk in there but it puts him out like a light and calms him down. There are so many other benefits of breastfeeding. I just don’t tell people I’m still doing it.

    • Tracy Gillett says:

      Thank you Heather! And awesome – hope we’re still going then. My little two and a half year old is teething again and all he wants is “boo-zie!”. Makes me relieved to still be nursing. Shame we feel it’s hard to tell people – know we’re you’re coming from, people don’t understand and think it’s odd huh. Thanks again for your comment and Happy New Year 🙂

      • Sasha says:

        Nursed my first until 2. But my second child turned 3 in June is still wanting “nummies” morning and nighttime. Out of guilt of others opinions or that I’m ruining my tatas, Or that she is too old, I have tried to stop the nursing. But she is not ready to stop. And that breaks my heart and I wonder what the big deal is with continuing vs quitting. So for now reading posts like this where I can find other supportive moms, keeps me going and reassures me I am not making a bad choice for her or me. ❤️❤️❤️

  5. Claire says:

    Hi Tracy,
    Your post made me smile and remember nursing my kids; they decided on their own when they were done and that was that (no one nursed over 10 months).
    Truthfully, I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t get to be the Earth Mother I thought I would be in that department. (They are all grown up and living their own lives now and we are all friends so I must have been done something right!)
    And you have a beautiful website!

    • Tracy Gillett says:

      Hi Claire, I’m happy it made you smile! And I bet you are an amazing mother – nursing to ten months is something to be super proud of. Thank you for the compliment – I’m actually working in the background on a fresh site which I’m so excited about. Hoping to launch later in January or early February. Come and visit me again! I’m dipping my feet into the world of social media….very new to me 🙂 Instagram is awesome and slowly learning about Facebook. Happy New Year and thank you again for your comment and reading,

  6. Lori in Arizona says:

    Ah, nursing in a rocker! Those were the days! Not only do young mothers get pressure from their own mothers, but from their husbands and peers. Luckily I never cared a wit what others thought! I nursed until 4 and then in times of stress or getting to sleep until it just petered out. Such a natural and powerful thing, breastfeeding. I knew it was good for me, too. I wasn’t just a milk bar. I assumed everyone on the periphery was jealous. Jokes of ‘will he come home from kindergarten to nurse?’ passed me by. People can be such nimrods. Be bold. No one has power over you. Even your jealous husband!

    • Tracy Gillett says:

      I love how you roll Lori! We’re very similar 🙂 One of my favorite sayings is we have to stand for something or we’ll fall for anything. And nobody but my son has been a greater inspiration to stand up for what I believe is right. Thanks again.

  7. Florence says:

    Thanks for this! I stopped breastfeeding my first son when he was 11 months old, because I was a young, inexperienced first-time mum who took criticism to heart and listened to well-meaning but silly advice. It went against my instincts, and I wish I had had more confidence and belief in myself then, but I didn’t.
    My second son I breastfed until just before his third birthday – after years of being a mum, I really didn’t care any more what other people said.
    My third son turned three last month and is still breastfeeding – mostly before bed and in the mornings when he wakes up. We will stop whenever he is ready to give it up.
    My first-born, Oscar, is now 12 and a terrific pre-adolescent on whom years of positive parenting have worked wonders. But I know in my heart that he would have benefited from being breastfed longer. His brother Bruno (now 9) naturally possesses this totally unshakable certainty in his own value and place in the world that comes, amongst other things, from having been breastfed long enough. It took me a lot more work to instil this same confidence in Oscar.
    So thank you again for writing this – I hope it inspires many mums out there <3

    • Tracy Gillett says:

      Thank you for your perspective Florence – that’s such a valuable insight. I have one son at the moment, who turns three next month, and we’re still nursing and loving it. He has a cold at the moment and the comfort it brings when he’s not well is incredible – I’d feel lost without it. Interesting insight into the difference you feel longer nursing has had for your children. You sound like an amazing mum!

    • Rachel says:

      This! This is what I know and believe that it can give my two nurslings one day. I appreciate your words.

  8. Erin says:

    This is such an important topic for mom’s researching about breastfeeding and weaning! Thanks for sharing your perspective!

    I have been blessed to be able to nurse my son for a year and half, and I’m sure he’s got a lot more in him. He is soothed by it, reoriented in times of fussiness, and it is definitely one of his favorite activities! I know it’s been great for him and I’m ready to keep going as long as he’s still interested.

    But following your child’s lead doesn’t always result in nursing till elementary school, and I think it’s important to hear those stories as well:
    My daughter was adopted, and came home at 2 weeks. She had been bottle-fed, so I was worried she would not be able to nurse, but nurse she did! And for a long time it was a good experience for her, too. When she was about 8 months old, she really struggled to nurse. I could tell she was not enjoying it, but felt like I should try to encourage her to keep going. She hated it so much she started loosing weight from months of refusal and fighting, and that was the point when I realized that I needed to start listening to her cues more and let her bottle feed because it was so much more relaxing for her. Curse of a fast let-down, I guess. ?

    And the old adage proves true again: “Every baby is different!” That’s why it’s so important for us as moms to be flexible and advocate for what our kids need from us.

    Thanks again!

  9. […] Nursing Your Toddler? How to Ignore Judgmental Stares […]

  10. Jim says:

    Another great article Tracy. After a female co-worker witnessed my wife nursing our toddler daughter in our parked car, she made some ridiculing comments in front of other co-workers (which fortunately backfired as everyone else stuck up for my wife!) but it made us realise how common such opinions are, no doubt related to the overwhelming reliance upon formula which we’ve avoided from the beginning.
    There was one quote at the start of this article which made we wince – the one about “giving her breasts back to her husband”. This idea about a woman’s body being her husband’s “property” for him to do as he sees fit with is one which has always made me uncomfortable and angry as it’s the one which goes hand in hand with rape and other sexual abuse. Of course I love my wife’s boobs! But they’re still hers, not mine. I would love these kinds of beliefs to well and truly die out as they’ve had their time and aren’t welcome anymore.

    • Tracy Gillett says:

      Couldn’t agree more Jim – I’ve even had mum friends say things like that to me, about their husband’s wanting their boobs back. It makes me wince too. Women and their bodies are not property as you say. Its sad how sexualized our bodies have become and I’m sure its central to the reason so many people struggle with the idea of children beyond babyhood breastfeeding. Thinking that somehow toddlers sexualise their mother’s breasts is such a ridiculous notion. Good on your wife for following her instincts and you for supporting her. Thanks again for reading!

  11. Stephanie says:

    I enjoyed reading this and constantly need some support for being what’s usually considered weird. I’m still nursing my 2.5 yo twins morning and night. I never thought I would still be nursing at this point and CRINGE when I remember telling my friend she should stop after a year before I had kids! But when I had to have an emergency hysterectomy after delivery, being able to nurse them was/is such a triumph for the three of us and not something I’m willing to arbitrarily stop. Also not sure how else I’d calm them down when all else fails, ha!

  12. Barb says:

    My son would definitely thank you for this post. His mom does! He’s almost two and shows no signs of wanting to stop. This really helps give me the confidence to continue breastfeeding him.

  13. Alison Edwards says:

    You are very blessed that this is your experience of breastfeeding! It’s also important to realise (like someone else mentioned) that unfortunately this is not everyone’s experience of nursing! I have had 3 babies who have all struggled to nurse for various reasons – tongue tie, severe silent reflux, allergies etc!! I have put all my energy into feeding them and this has meant fighting then at every feeding, nursing them to sleep and then feeding and eventually having to express! I had no help and payed a fortune to see several private professionals (lactation consultants, tongue tie practitioners, cranial osteopath etc)! All of these made no differnce. I had screaming babies day and night for the first 14 months of their lives and I could not comfort them by feeding them. The only way I could comfort them was by carrying them around upright day and night. I am still struggling with exhaustion and feelings of failure / depression / grieving that i never had that lovely, pleasurable feeding experience! For my babies feeding was extremely painful like feeding them poison (the acid burning their oesophagus) and so every time I tried to bring them to me to feed they screamed and arched and flailed and refused! They still have negative associations with food as a result of this. So let’s try to be supportive and sensitive to mums and remember that most are only ever trying their best!! (This comes from one of the most pro-breastfeeding, stubborn mums you would ever meet! Who previously judged other mums until God showed me what it’s like to really struggle and be on the other side of that judgement!!)

    • Tracy Gillett says:

      Thanks so much for sharing Alison – my sister had a very similar experience to yours with misdiagnosed tongue and lip ties and a multitude of other issues. I completely empathize and I can’t cover every aspect of breastfeeding for everyone’s experience in one blog post unfortunately. I wrote a post a few months ago about this very issue though and that for some mothers who desperately want to nurse and can’t, for one reason or another, that it can increase the chances of PPD. Here’s a link to that post which you may like. In this post I am trying to reach the mothers who are nursing their babies but feel pressure to stop for no good reason, other than that society predetermines babies/toddlers/children are now suddenly “too old” to nurse because that’s simply not true. There is a lot of judgment for mothers who decide to nurse beyond babyhood. But in this world there seems to be judgment for everything! I do not judge mothers who nurse, don’t nurse, don’t want to nurse, can’t nurse etc – all I want is for mothers to feel confident to make their own choice and have the right information to do so. I have a very supportive FB group I recently started that you may like to join too – a judgment free zone 🙂 Thanks again for sharing your experience – it is so important that we see all sides of what happens for mothers.

  14. Rachael Webb says:

    Thank you. As I read your piece I though “ I could be writing these words”……currently feeding my three year old. We live in a wonderful bubble in Galway Ireland but I’m here in Canada for s month with my sons dad.
    The reception to bring extended breasyfeeders has not been warm on the family front so it did my heart good to read this today. Thank you ❤️

  15. Sara says:

    Great article! I am still nursing my three year old son and even though there are some days I just don’t feel like it, I know its the best thing for both of us. I am pregnant with my second child and its crazy how people think they can just insert their opinions even if you don’t ask for them. I sense judgement from family members and get asked when I will stop and get unsolicited advice from my mother in law but I am staying strong. I will feed my son for as long as he needs.

  16. Jess says:

    I am so ashamed to admit this but I was one of those judgy people before I became a mom. I thought breastfeeding after the child could walk was weird and even in the hospital after I gave birth to my precious son, I still thought it was weird. Boy have things changed for me! My son and I have a wonderful breastfeeding experience and I now plan to nurse as long as he wants. I am so thankful for posts and people like this! Forge the way mamas!

  17. Anita says:

    Wow! I am glad I came across this post. I have 4 children and breastfeed my first born passed one. He weaned his self from the breast. My two daughters had to stop at one year because I had an infection of the breast. In those days I didn’t know how to heal myself, so I had to help them to stop feeding which bothered me greatly. With my last child, I am breast feeding him now at 2.5 years and I love it and so does he. We ran into the same infection but I was determined to treat it myself in order to continue breastfeeding. Unfortunately, my husband does not agree with breastfeeding him this long and think I am hurting him as a boy to be dependent. I tried to ween him once and saw he wasn’t ready. My husband was getting happy and my child was miserable. I went with my heart which told me to feed this small innocent child my nutrients and that he was feeling abandoned. Yes I gave in and told my husband to kindly leave the breastfeeding up to me, because I am his mother and has a bond with my child that no one but another breastfeeding Mom can understand. Thanks for this post because people and family are trying to nit pick about the subject. I am at the point in my life where I don’t care what they say because this is my child and I am fully armored with knowledge of breastfeeding beyond one. More women need to see articles like this. Mom’s keep doing you…it’s your work and no one else. Thanks again and I live in the USA (its really not accepted here to go beyond 2 years).

  18. Angela Alexander says:

    Wow! So glad I found this article. I actually Googled how to wean my 2 year old because of the snide remarks from family, friends, co workers, and just about everyone else. I received no support from family when I first decided to breastfeed after the nurses plaved Ryan on my chest and she began to feed. I eas truly mesmerized and in awe! I’ve since learned that many people, especially those in the African American community, have a less than favorable view towards breastfeeding. I’ve tried explaining, but to no avail. My daughter will be 2 in March and I don’t see her stopping anytime soon. In fact, she nurses often in my presence. Sometimes, I just have to leave the house for an hour or so on weekends, which I don’t like doing. I’m an elementary school teacher, so I’m at work upwards of 7 hours a day. So, I love being with my daughter on weekends. However, it can be tiring, especially when she wakes up so much to nurse. Then, I read blogs and articles with others going through the same. I LOVE the bonding time and I honestly get teary eyed thinking that one day this time will come to an end and (prayerfully) I’ll do it with my future children. I was married for almost 10 years and we tried desperately to have children. Sadly, he passed and I thought I’d never be a mother. Well, God had other plans and my new husband and I welcomed a healthy, beautiful little girl into the world. My pregnancy made me appreciate all the things in life, big or small, and the people even more. Breastfeeding has been a journey that I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to experience. Thank you for writing this piece!

    Angela, Ryan’s mommy ????

  19. April says:

    I just want to say, you rock! Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to write this. I tandem nurse my 2 yr old and 5 year old and my heart breaks when I hear people talk about breastfeeding as if it is only for newborns. I absolutely love my breastfeeding journey and the bond it has created for my girls and I. ????

  20. Denise Lau says:

    I’m still breastfeeding my son who’s turning 3 in March this year. I’m glad to know that there are other mothers like you who see the benefits of extended breastfeeding. I’ve been following his cues and he’s a beautiful healthy little boy. Breastfeeding has made his tantrums and sick days more manageable especially if he hasn’t a good appetite on some odd days. I enjoyed reading your article and it strengthened my resolve to keep breastfeeding until we’re both sure we’re done.

  21. Mawica says:

    Thank you so much for this. as I read this I realize this is me????I always reply to people that ask me until what age im going to breastfeed,”WHO recommends until 2 years so that is our goal.” but as 2 years is nearing i honestly dont know what to do. atleast now i have some info that i can share with my husband.

  22. Maryam says:

    Good to know the science is in. It actually should be! If nature had made it possible for breastmilk to be produced by mothers 4-5 years postpartum, there should be a reason why.
    I totally relate to this experience. My daughter is 3.5 and is still breastfeeding despite modern social odds.

  23. Safa Slaton says:

    Great article! My first born still nurses and will turn 3 years old in March. I’ve been pressured to stop! Even by my hubby, who wasn’t breastfed as a baby. I think moms need to do what’s right for them and their children. My son has been sick twice since birth. I know my breastmilk still provides him sufficient nourishment and comfort. This is essential for his health, happiness, and growth. I plan on letting him self ween. When friends or family ask or poke fun of breastfeeding him, I just say it’s what best for us. He will ween when the time is right. Who cares what other say, when you’re protecting your child from potentially deadly cancers. I want to provide as much protection as possible. The benefits outway the judgement. Keep on breastfeeding!

  24. Sarah says:

    I delivered my baby a week ago. I was looking for information on breastfeeding and I came across your blog & whattoexpect. I am so happy I got detailed information on latching baby onto the breast, how long to breastfeed, how often to nurse, breastfeeding positions and many such questions which were running through my mind. By gaining this information I am feeling more confident and empowered. Indeed nursing will become a most rewarding responsibility for me with the help of your information and proper breastfeeding will give my baby head start to a healthy future.

  25. Davina says:

    Thank you so much for this read. I have been the only mother in my family who has gone on for three years breatfeeding my only daughter. I have heard many times by all my family when she turned a year that i needed to stop but i kept going. Eapically for her. She was a sickly baby as a newborn not to mention having her 3 weeks early. I wanted her to get as much nutrients i could give her and i didnt listen to family family. She just turned 3 and like the article stated we have the best bound because i was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and my anxiety has flared up but when i breastfeed i know all that goes away with the bound we have.

  26. Jo says:

    Thank you so much for writing this. What a fantastic article! Still feeding my little boy who is 3 soon. It is so great to read such a supportive piece when there are so many social pressures to stop. You have such and gentle and sensitive style and the way that you are so non-judgemental is refreshing and so inviting. Keep writing more! 🙂

  27. Erin says:

    My girl just turned 3 and still loves her “milkies” for sleep and comfort. I am in no rush for it to end. Thank you for this encouragement.

  28. April Vera says:

    Thank you for this… everyone thinks I’m insane for continuing to breastfeeding my now 3 year old son. I’ve had to lie and say I’ve stopped just so people can get off my back. This has reassured me that it’s ok. I’ve always know our western culture has sabotage the truth behind breastfeeding. When were there any rules to it ? People in other countries breastfeed for as long as they can give and there is nothing wrong. Thank you for shining a needed light. This has been comforting

  29. Irina says:

    Your article has made me feel so much better! My daughter is 3 years and 2 months and she still breast mainly for sleep time. But her father keeps putting me down when she is sick or has a cough saying that is my fault she has a cough or whatever and it makes me wanna tell him to stfu lol
    I just feel she is not ready yet and is lkkw you wrote. It feels magical to be able to give her that comfort.! And i still dont wanna give up 🙁

  30. Hi Tracy,

    I’ve come back to this article 3 times now-I can’t get enough of it. I had my first baby 8 months ago, and without knowing why, put a year timestamp on breastfeeding. But I’ve realized over the last few months that a year will just not do. It would be the most unnatural thing to do if I transitioned her away-and after realizing the depth and scope that breastfeeding offers to both of us, I know it’s not even in me to try.

    What I do know is that I have to let go of all of the cultural restraints I have floating around in my head, because it’s not a super acceptable thing to breastfeed beyond 1, let alone 2 or 3. It’s so brave and radical- but gosh, how can it be any other way?

    Anyhow, thanks for writing such an in-depth article on this. I read the whole thing to my partner last night and he really appreciated all the facts you included. And I know I’ll be back to read this again when I need a little boost of confidence in my decision to breastfeed indefinitely <3

  31. Jay Dee Muniz says:

    I appreciate this so much. My son is three years old and still breastfeeds. I do catch a lot of unwanted “advice” for doing so this long. I tandem nurse him and his younger sister who is 10 months and people think I’m nuts. Thank you for all the wonderful information you have provided. Gives me something to show so they can shut their mouths.

  32. Chuk says:

    What happens when a person has two or more children within a close age range, does nature suggest weening from 3-7yrs for more than one child What if there is then another sibling after that? Wouldn’t there also be a strain on the mineral and protein balance of the adult?

    • Tracy Gillett says:

      Great point Chuk! Typically, in nature, we would have had children spaced by around 4 years giving women’s bodies time to recover from pregnancy and childbirth and also ample time for breastfeeding to be minimal for the older child by the time the baby arrives. We have many women in this community tandem nursing as well.

  33. Patsy says:

    Wonderful post and so glad I found it. I am older now (72) and spending quite a bit of my retirement time reminiscing over my good fortune. I bucked the system and ignored my peers to nurse my only child until he was three years and one month. I remember vividly the last time I nursed him, after which I suggested we move on from nursing and have just a cuddle before bed. He was ok with this, and I can SEE his face at that moment in time. It is a wonderful memory, tinged with sadness but full of joy knowing my son was now no longer a baby, but rather a growing boy.

    Never had an ear ache, few if any viruses, strong, wicked smart, and uncommonly happy. I attribute much of this to the milk, the nurturing, and good genes. Thought I was unusual, but glad to see that there are so many of us who have the fortitude to ignore all the white noise and follow their maternal instincts.

    The breast feeding years were some of the best of my life.

    • Victoria says:

      This is just beautiful! I’m fighting back tears because I can imagine every word. It’s so full of love. God bless you and your son.

  34. Victoria says:

    This article is amazing! Very well written and certainly necessary. I have two girls who are 7 and 14 months. With My oldest, I was not able to breastfeed but with my youngest I didn’t let anything stop me and I’m still going strong. I come from a family of woman who are not very affectionate and NONE of them breastfed their children so you all can imagine they are not fans of my decision to breastfeed. I’m just not comfortable anywhere but home. It’s honestly just an immature world we live in. Anyway I just wanted to share one thing. Sometimes we don’t wanna admit it but the breastfeeding does something for me as well. It’s a moment for the two of us to cuddle. I feel so relaxed and so happy to see her little face. Sometimes she hums a little tune or dances while she feeds. I’m just flooded with so much love and emotion in the moment. Sometimes she will pause and pretend she’s asleep and burst out laughing or she’ll make a fart sound that surprises me every time. She’ll even pause give me a kiss, clap and continue feeding. Sometimes I’m exhausted and having a bad day. Those feeding are my pep talks and gets me back in the game. So when people ask when do you wanna quit Apart of me wants to scream NEVER! because I’m not ready to give all that up.

fantastic freebies

Help yourself to our

5 Natural Parenting Secrets

That Make Kids Want to Cooperate - No Timeouts, Threats or Punishments Required!


5 Myths Surrounding Infant Sleep

That You Can Safely Ignore As a New (or Not So New) Parent


4 Practical Tips to Simplify Childhood

& Protect Your Child's Mental Health


A Dozen Things Kids Need to Hear More Often