If you would have asked me when Oskar was 16 days old if I would still be breastfeeding him at 16 months old I would have sobbed and said no. Having such a difficult start, which didn't really get better until he was around 3 months old and the pain finally started to ease, breastfeeding a toddler seemed like an impossible dream. Going back to life before Oskar, had you have asked me at that point if I'd still be breastfeeding at 16 months I would have point blank said no. If I'm honest I thought, along with the vast majority of society, that breastfeeding past a couple of months of age was really really weird, and by the time they were toddlers, who moved and talked and could ask for milk, now that was absurd.
So what changed? Well I guess I became more aware, I educated myself, and I allowed myself to be open on this journey that is parenthood. See the thing is your baby is only ever one day older than they were yesterday, so it's impossible to land mark a day that it suddenly becomes the case that they are too old to breastfeed, if that wasn't the case only 24 hours before. Before I has Oskar I thought that babies only needed milk until six months, and after that they just had food. What nobody seems to tell you until you look in to weaning is that milk continues to be a baby's main source of nutrition until the age of 1, and an important part of their diet until at least two years old. So if I hadn't have continued to breastfeed him after six months he would have needed to have formula, and I hadn't worked so hard and put myself through so much pain for 3 months just to move to formula at 6. So we continued.
I planned in my mind to stop when he turned one. I'd had enough of being his constant and only milk source, I needed to stop and give myself some space. But by the time we reached his first birthday Oskar was eating three good meals, sometimes snacks too, and quenching his thirst with water. His milk feeds were reserved to morning, night, through the night, and nap times. The rest of the day he really wasn't bothered, and would occasionally sign for milk, or lift up my top and point to my boob, but the rest of the time he was happy to not have any.
So when will we stop? We are happy to continue to feed until natural term. Children have milk teeth for a reason, giving them the ability to latch on to the breast and suckle effectively. As their jaws grow they change shape and they lose their latching ability. So natural term means the point at which you are both mutually happy to stop, and this is definitely what we are aiming for, regardless of when that might be. Until then I will enjoy the warmth of my child snuggled in my arms drinking the milk made only for him, I will relish in the chance to watch his eyes close gently in the safety and happiness that breastfeeding brings him as he gradually falls asleep, and I will offer him the very best protection I can against illness, against pain and help him through this rollercoaster that is toddlerhood one breast feed at a time.