My son is 16.5 months; he breastfeeds on demand 24 hours a day. I’ve read over and over on the on-line boards where the child is “still breastfeeding” but it’s only first thing in the morning and last thing before bed.  And I wonder, how does this happen? E tells me when he wants milk by signing, and there is no pattern. If I do not oblige him he begins to point to my breasts and says “that,” and if I still don’t comply he attempts to lift my shirt.

Let me make one thing clear, I have no desire to wean him and no plans for when I will wean him. If I’m being honest, I’d say I hope he self-weans. I do not feel it is up to me to take it away, but I also don’t really want to be nursing a four year old (and knowing him, he’d nurse forever if I let him). And I guess I am just not used to breast feeding on demand being so, well, demanding. I don’t understand how you have a breastfeeding schedule, and I guess, I am finding it hard to nurse a toddler in public. He’s on and off a zillion times and as much as I hate to admit it, I feel weird. Not because I am nursing my son but because I know (many) people think it’s freakish to nurse this long.

Extended breastfeeding has been a really wonderful thing for us. It has provided comfort when E has been very sick, it has provided pain relief as he cut his molars, and it continues to provide the best nourishment possible. I know he’s crossed over to nursing almost exclusively for comfort, as he will no longer accept milk in a cup (which kills me as I have a freezer full of milk for the first time, and it is starting to “expire”). But he’s also still growing and developing which means nursing continues to play a crucial role in his life. And so we will continue, and I will hold out the hope that he knows when the time is right to stop and I will be able to accept it. Because after all, I am just as attached to our nursing relationship.

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