A Mother Who Breastfeeds Her 5-Year-Old Son Wants You To Know It’s Completely Normal
A mother who breastfeeds her five-year-old son has shared a picture of herself nursing him as a toddler as she wants to normalise the idea of breastfeeding children for longer.
Amy Winter, 27, from Chorley is a stay-at-home mum and vlogger, who shared the image on her son’s fifth birthday. The picture was taken by Winter’s husband when Max was two-years-old, and she decided to share it in part to normalise the sight of toddlers nursing.
“Quite recently I made a decision not to care too much about what people thought – and in celebration of Max turning five I thought I would post this picture that I’ve loved for years and always wanted to share,” Winter told HuffPost UK.
Winter has always been open about breastfeeding Max, but knew that as her son asked for it less and less, it wouldn’t be going on for much longer. “It can happen two or three times a week or maybe not for a week and a half,” Winter said, depending on when Max wants to. As such an ordinary part of her life, she said, it’s a “non-issue”.
“I wish it was as ordinary to other people as it is to me, [instead of being] this huge hoo ha,” she said. Winter nearly gave up on breastfeeding when Max was four weeks old because of a latching problem, but she is proud that she gave breastfeeding a try, overcame the initial issue, and was able to carry on.
She says she simply wants parents to make informed decisions about breastfeeding, and for everyone to know the options available to them. “The whole point about breastfeeding is that it’s up to both of you – if I had wanted to stop earlier then I could have, and so could Max. It depends on both of you.”
The World Health Organisation recommends breastfeeding a child for up to two years or longer, but the UK has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world, according to a recent report. Only 34% of babies in the UK receive breastmilk by the time they reach six months, while nearly two thirds of babies at the same age in Sweden do.
The NHS recommends feeding babies exclusively on breast milk for around the first six months of a child’s life, and alongside family foods thereafter. Breastfeeding into a baby’s second year or beyond alongside other foods “is ideal”, it says, and it’s up to the mother and baby to decide when to stop.
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The health service’s advice also states that breastfeeding has a number of benefits for both mothers and babies after six months, continuing to provide the balance of nutrients that babies need to help with protection against infections – and can also be a source of comfort for toddlers.
“You and your toddler can carry on enjoying the benefits of breastfeeding for as long as you want. Your toddler may also find breastfeeding comforting when they are ill or upset,” the advice states.
Siobhan Freegard, founder of ChannelMum.com, breastfed her children until the age of four. She said the phrase “extended breastfeeding” is used negatively in the UK, but said children will stop breastfeeding when they are ready and praised Winter for “showing you can carry on if you want to”.
Speaking to HuffPost UK, Freegard said: “In the UK we have the negative phrase ‘extended breastfeeding’, but in most cultures, it’s just called breastfeeding as there is no set time to stop. With the UK sadly having the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world, Amy is doing a great job of showing you can carry on if you want to.
“The World Health Organisation recommends children are breastfeed for at least two years and if your child wants to continue until they are five or six, then why not? Some people may criticise and claim breastfeeding for this long is about the mum being needy, but that’s wrong. You cannot force a child to breastfeed.
“It’s your body, your choice – or more importantly your child’s choice. Children will stop naturally when they are ready and in the meantime, you know you are giving them the best start in life with natural nutrition, nurturing and bonding.”