Replies to: if they're old enough to ASK to nurse, they're too old to nurse

How many times have you heard this: if they're old enough to ASK to nurse, they're too old to nurse. As logically barren as this statement might be, I see it tossed around A LOT. When I saw it brought up in a Peaceful Parenting thread on Facebook I was so proud to read the responses from mothers nursing their toddlers, so I thought I'd collate some of best ones below.

"How do you respond to the whole, 'If they're old enough to ASK to nurse, they're too old to nurse...' criticism?"
Really? Why? What makes you say that? How do you know? Says who?
Do you mean if you can ask for it, you can't have it? 'It' meaning love, nutrition, comfort, nurturing, food, drink?
When my child can ask for broccoli by name, should I stop feeding it to him?
And if he is old enough to tell me he needs a diaper change I shouldn't do it?
Did you stop feeding your child when they were old enough to ask for food?
You're old enough to ask your waitress for food, should she not bring it to you then?
Just because we can communicate that we want something doesn't mean we don't deserve to have it.
Children have been asking to nurse since they were born! Language isn't always just spoken.
Children started asking at birth with the rooting reflex. The only difference now is that they use words.
In my family, children are to be seen, heard and believed. I know my child is done when he stops asking for it.
Meeting my child's needs now means that he won't have childish needs as an adult. If you baby the baby, you don't have to baby the adult.
And lastly, thanks for your concern. I will give it all the consideration it deserves.
I carry around a Kellymom article about extended breastfeeding in my diaper bag
The idea of carrying around some facts about extended breastfeeding (full term breastfeeding) is great. So you can quote things like this from Kellymom:
The biological weaning age of humans is 2.5 to 7 years of age.
Children weaned before two years of age are at increased risk of illness.
Nursing toddlers have fewer illnesses and illnesses of shorter duration.
Breast milk continues to provide substantial amounts of key nutrients well beyond the first year of life, especially protein, fat, and most vitamins.
Antibodies are abundant in human milk throughout lactation, and increase during the 2nd year.
Breastfeeding perks up children and energizes them; it soothes the frustrations, bumps and bruises, and daily stresses of early childhood. Nursing past infancy helps little ones make a gradual transition to childhood.
The WHO recommends breastfeeding for 2 years and beyond.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says:
It is recommended to breastfeed beyond 1 year and for as long as mutually desired by mother and child. There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding. Increased duration of breastfeeding has significant health and developmental benefits for the child and the mother. There is no evidence of psychologic or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer.
The longer a mother breastfeeds, the lower her risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer and endometrial cancer, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes.
There is no evidence that nursing past infancy interferes with a child's appetite for other foods.
If you don't want to carry a sheet of facts, you can print out smaller info cards to keep in your handbag to dish out when needed (click to view a higher resolution version):

Here's a few articles with tips on how to deal with people's disapproval, questions or comments about breastfeeding past infancy:
How do I respond to and avoid criticism about breastfeeding?
Ask Dr. Sears: Extended Breastfeeding -- Handling the Criticism
Handling criticism about breastfeeding

A clip 'Ignorance Meets Knowledge (extended breastfeeding)' you can send to naysayers:

A clip of a typical mother and child (past infancy) breastfeeding:

Breastfeeding past infancy is not weird! It's normal, it's beautiful.

I'll leave you with one last light hearted comment from the Peaceful Parenting thread:
I'd squirt milk in their faces and chase them out yelling,"leave, leave this place now you mean terrible person". When I see these people again they honor me with gifts and say, "you are a goddess, liquid gold floweth from your body into your babe childs body, we have witnessed a miracle" I'd forgive them and bless them by annointing them with said liquid gold, upon their heads before leaving the room.

You Might Also Like


  1. Love it! Had to share it!

  2. Cool! Love Doulas x

  3. Great post! I have shared :) Also written a post on my blog here -

  4. Thanks Sarah, really enjoyed your post. It's great hearing other mums feel just the same. It's a shame we have to feel so abnormal in public, but I'm so proud we're all doing it.

  5. My son is 2.5 years old and I am still Breast feeding him.It is infact helping him to be very healthy and keeping him away from illness.Till now he never had a fever or loose motions or anything.Breast milk is kids right and let them have their food till they look for.They himself will decide when to stop.

  6. Woot! So true Srivinati (love your name too) :)