As a mother of six, I’ve been breastfeeding babies and toddlers for a cumulative 10+ years of my adult life (and counting!). That’s more than 3,650 days and nights I’ve spent nursing. For someone to spend that much of their lives committed to something, clearly they must believe it is worth the time, effort, and personal sacrifices involved. I do, and it is.
Here are just some of the reasons I’m still happily and willingly breastfeeding my toddler:
1) Breastmilk doesn’t suddenly ‘expire’ when a baby reaches 12 months. In fact, studies show that breastmilk actually changes composition to meet a child’s changing needs as they grow!
2) We all know how picky toddlers can be, so knowing that my toddler is getting a super-charged, nutrition-packed, power-snack several times a day sets my mind at ease and eliminates meal-time battles.
3) The all-important immune system enhancement that breastmilk gives our little ones keeps right on providing protection into the toddler years.
4) Not only does breastfeeding offer health benefits while a child is actively being nursed, but studies show that it also provides long-term health benefits such as reduced chances of asthma, childhood leukemia, diabetes, gastroenteritis, otitis media (ear infections), LRTIs (pneumonia, bronchitis, etc), necrotizing enterocolitis, obesity, and other potentially life-altering or fatal conditions.
5) Nursing gives me a chance to slow down several times a day and focus on my toddler. While I play with her fingers, nuzzle her little head, and smile into her big, brown eyes, I’m savoring these moments that I know will be gone all too soon.
6) Research shows that breastfeeding enhances brain development and may help little ones to reach their full intellectual potential.
7) The health benefits of breastfeeding aren’t just for children, either. For breastfeeding mothers the benefits include a statistically significant decrease in the risk of diseases such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer, diabetes, and heart disease to name just a few!
8) As a source of comfort and connection, nursing my toddler is a miracle ‘cure’ for all sorts of boo-boos, frustrations, sleeping issues, and potential meltdowns. In fact, it’s one of the best tools I’ve got in my parenting toolbox during the toddler years!
9) When faced with a serious illness recently, breastfeeding for comfort was credited for keeping my toddler out of the hospital because it kept her from getting dehydrated when she was too sick to eat or drink anything else.
10) Breastfeeding a toddler can burn from 300 to 700 calories, depending on how often they are nursing. Dieting without even trying…win!
11) Economically and environmentally speaking, I don’t have to buy bottles and formula during the infant years; I don’t buy sugary juiceboxes or plastic water bottles to bring to the park and add more trash to the landfills; I don’t have to let my little one drink from germ-ridden water fountains; and I always, day or night, anytime, anywhere, have a healthy, environmentally friendly source of hydration and nutrition for my toddler.