Everybody knows that somebody. Sometimes it’s a relative who isn’t educated on the breastfeeding relationship. Sometimes it’s a surprisingly gutsy stranger in line at the grocery store.
But any woman who has breastfed a child past age one, and any woman who has mothered a giant baby (holla!) has been asked this question at least a few different ways. If you haven’t been on the receiving end of the “old enough to ask for it” adage, consider yourself among the chosen few. The Mayo Clinic, in their guidance on breastfeeding, even warns that extended breastfeeding can “provoke uninformed, negative reactions.”
It’s notable that in the U.S., breastfeeding beyond the age of one is considered “extended,” while in many other parts of the world, age one would be considered an early stage of the nursing relationship.
So today, we give you our Top 5 Responses To:
“Are you really still nursing that kid? I mean, she’s old enough to ask for it. How long are you really going to breastfeed her? Forever?”
- “Why do you ask, did you want to take over?”
- “Depends, but while we’re on the topic of personal decisions related to food and health, when are you going to (insert their personal dietary choice, like “go on that diet you’ve been talking about,” or “stop drinking so many Cokes” etc.)...?”
- “Well, orangutans, maybe the closest human relative, breastfeed until age seven. And we’re supposed to be smarter than they are, so, you do the math.”
- “I just thought I’d wait a full calendar year after people stop asking me that question.”
- “Hard to say, Doctor. Probably as long as we feel it’s right. Maybe I will wait until she’s old enough to ask for it. In writing.”
I suppose there are less sarcastic ways to answer the question (though none came immediately to mind!), but the point is this: the choice to breastfeed is between you and your child. When you’re faced with an uninformed reaction, just remember: ultimately, your little one thrives on your milk, not someone else’s approval.