Why I still breastfeed my four-year-old

Friends may think it’s freaky, says Annalisa Barbieri, but why should I stop when it’s good for my daughter?

(Irish Independent)

Re-published in the Daily Mail today.

Featuring in the comments section for both – all the usual stupid bigotry.

She’s going to make her child too clingy, kids need to learn independence and self-reliance to survive in the modern world!
Translation: I have very little experience with children who have breastfed longer term, so I don’t know that the security and comfort of the breast can actually make them more independent and confident than less. Nor has it occurred to me that it is the naturally less secure children who decide they need the breast for longer, because I would prefer to assume that it is giving the breast for longer that causes a child to feel insecure, because I haven’t actually thought about this very deeply, have I?
She’s just doing it for herself! It’s the mother who needs this, not the child!
Translation: I have no idea why she’s doing it, and I don’t know anything about the benefits of longer term breastfeeding, so I’m going to assume that she is doing it for unfathomable selfish reasons. I probably also believe in early weaning so that the mother / father can regain control of the breasts instead of having to make them available to her infant child, in which case the contradictory nature of my arguments has not occurred to me and probably never will. I probably also think that breastfeeding is disgusting and/or unpleasant full stop, even though I probably will not admit it.
There’s plenty of real food in the shops, the child doesn’t need this!
Translation: I don’t know much about the benefits of breastmilk because I’ve never stopped to consider or find out about the ongoing nutritional, immunological and emotional benefits of continued breastfeeding.
It’s just weird! I totally agree with breastfeeding up to 6 months / 8 months / 1 year / 2 years / until the baby has teeth / whatever, but anything past that is freaky!
Translation: I feel uncomfortable with anyone making choices different from the choices that I have made and/or think I would make if I were in the situation.I probably also think that breastfeeding is disgusting and/or unpleasant full stop, even though I will not admit it.
It’s unnatural!
Translation: I have no idea what I’m talking about and in particular am not aware that the natural duration of breastfeeding is somewhere between 2 and 7 years or that most children around the world are in fact breastfed for that length of time.
We’re not in the Stone Age / Third World!
Translation: I believe that white western humans have evolved to the point where their offspring have different developmental milestones and different nutritional needs and/or I believe that white western humans have through the power of technology managed to produce food for children that is in fact better than and/or at least equivalent to the breastmilk that nature designed and that is made in women’s bodies.
It’s because she hasn’t got a man!
Translation: I have no idea why she’s doing it! I believe breasts are for men and sex and am somewhat uncomfortable with breastfeeding because I associate breasts with sex, not with childcare.
It’s practically child sex abuse!
Translation: I believe breasts are for men and sex and am somewhat uncomfortable with breastfeeding because I associate breasts with sex, not with childcare.
She’s obviously manipulating her child into doing this, no child wants to breastfeed at that age.
Translation: I have no idea what I’m talking about and I have no idea why she’s doing this. I don’t know any children who want to breastfeed at this age.
That poor child is going to be so embarrassed at school – won’t her friends bully her for still being such a baby?
Translation: It hasn’t occurred to me that the child might be the one who wants to breastfeed or that the school friends might not even know about a continuing bed time snugglefeed, or that the child might decide to stop if peer pressure from schoolfriends comes to outweigh the attraction of Teh Breast, or that it might be OK for a child to be making these decisions for him- or herself.
Just because the child wants it is no reason to give in! You wouldn’t hand out sweets on demand, would you?
Translation: I know nothing about breastmilk and incorrectly assume that it is bad for you, like sweets.
So is she going to feed her child at school? Will she be packing a bottle of expressed milk in her secondary school lunchbags? How does she get anything done with a child permanently up her jumper? Certainly there’s no way she can have sex if she is still breastfeeding! Snigger!
Translation: I have no experience of children who have breastfed longer term and have no idea how such families live their lives or how long term breastfeeding actually works in practice. I like making puerile jokes though, and I’ve definitely seen Little Britain.

Summary translation:
“I think longer term breastfeeding is wrong” = “I don’t know what I’m talking about”
Accuracy = 99%

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