Are you Mom enough? Yes I am.

There has been a lot of talk this week about the cover of Time Magazine showing a mum breastfeeding her three year old son.

Are you Mom enough?

Are you Mom enough?


What exactly is the question here?

Are you Mom enough to continue to provide your child with vital nutrients just because they can walk unadided now?

Are you Mom enough to offer your child a source of comfort and security?

Are you Mom enough to want to protect your child from infections and allergies?

Well yes I am. Thank you very much.

I breastfed Belle until she was two and a half years old. I’d do the same again, for longer if I felt like it. I’m not ashamed of it because IT IS NORMAL.

Breastfeeding upside down

Belle gets experimental on her first birthday. This perhaps is not so normal. Swallowing upside down isn’t easy.


So here’s what I think – breastfeeding a three year old is normal and something to be proud of. There is no evidence at all that breastfeeding an older child does them any harm, physically or emotionally. In fact the opposite is true.


Go on, I dare you.



  1. 16 May, 2012 / 11:35 am

    I can’t really comment from a place of knowledge on this one. For me I breastfed my children until my milk just disappeared which was at about 5 months for each. I had my periods back very quickly (within a few weeks of giving birth) and so obviously there must have been an issue with the amount of milk generated but I had set myself the goal of about 4/5 months and once solids started to be introduced I was happy to let the weaning process happen naturally- which it did. I wouldn’t have breastfed until 3years even if it were possible for me because I’m not sure of the benefits and it wouldn’t have appealed to me personally as I was happy to get my body back – if that makes sense. At the end of the day people can do whatever they like- and they generally do- it’s personal preference. Some people choose not to breastfeed at all for many and varied reasons and that’s their choice. Some people breastfeed for the ever-changing government recommended period of time and others breastfeed for as long as their bodies allow. Whatever you and your child feel comfortable with….

    • 16 May, 2012 / 4:56 pm

      The idea of wanting your body back makes total sense to me Greenermum – by the end of my two and a half years it was really tough going for me, and I was desperate to reclaim myself! Well done on reaching your own goal against the odds.

  2. 16 May, 2012 / 11:48 am

    yeah things like this magazine cover make me mad. what’s wrong with everyone doing whatever is best for themselves? There’s nothing wrong with breastfeeding and in some coountries (where water sanitation is poor) it is aboslutely the best possible thing to do until they’re 4 or older. It is our perception of breast feeding that is at play here, not the reality of it. Besides, baby has a lot of say too. I had visions of doing at least one feed (in imagination it was a night feed) well past his first birthday, but once he got his first solids son spat me out and refused to go there again. Bottle was ok but not me! I tried not to take it personally :D

    • 16 May, 2012 / 4:58 pm

      I totally agree Lynley, it makes me mad too! And don’t get me started on breastfeeding in third world countries… there aren’t a lot of things I feel really passionate about, but unethical marketing of formula milk in countries where the drinking water can quite literally kill a child is one of them. Grrr.

  3. 16 May, 2012 / 1:15 pm

    In the end I think I was breastfeeding more for that closeness than for any nutritional benefit my children were getting – I certainly don’t think I had any milk left by the time we called a halt at around 15 months. Not so much a case of breastfeeding as breast-snuggles I suppose! And I think that’s a perfectly ok reason to carry on for as long as you want.

    • 16 May, 2012 / 5:00 pm

      I agree with you Mandy, I think that’s a great reason to carry on. You hear so many people saying things like ‘oh he was only doing it for comfort’, as though that’s a bad thing! If I could find a way to comfort Belle now as a nine year old that was so easy, free, and helped me lose weight then I’d DEFINITELY be doing it!

  4. 16 May, 2012 / 1:15 pm

    If ‘normal’ means ‘what most people do’ then I’d say no, it’s not normal in Western society. Which is probably why it freaks lots of people out. Given that I’ve been raised in this culture, I have to admit that I would be included in that category, but that’s not to say I think breastfeeding an older child is wrong – I don’t. I just think that my intellectual argument and my emotional reaction are, as is so often the case, different.

    • 16 May, 2012 / 5:03 pm

      You’re right of course that it’s not normal in the ‘common’ sense in this country, but I guess I mean biologically normal. If you allowed a child to self wean, and you take into account biological factors, look at how other mammals similar to us feed their young etc, then the average weaning age is anything between 2.5 and 7 years, making three seem positively young!

      I think you’d be surprised at how many women there actually are in this country feeding older babies, it’s just that it’s such a taboo that they tend to do it more privately as their children get older, so we don’t see it happen. If we did, perhaps it would seem more normal?

  5. 16 May, 2012 / 3:25 pm

    I think normal is what would have been done before contraception and bottlefeeding. Would mothers have breastfed their children at 3 years old when they had lots of children and a younger baby?

    • 16 May, 2012 / 5:06 pm

      In countries where there isn’t a lot of contraception and bottle feeding, breastfeeding is actually a really useful method of natural child spacing, as it postpones the return of ovulation and gives the mum’s body a chance to recover a bit! I don’t know about the stats, but I would guess that a lot of women would just continue feeding until the next baby came along, and that there would perhaps be an overlap? I shall have to investigate…

  6. Caroline
    16 May, 2012 / 3:58 pm

    I fed my youngest till past his fourth birthday. In fact he should’ve started school before stopping breastfeeding, he didn’t go to school till after his fifth birthday so in reality that didn’t happen. But I am proud of the start I gave him in life and I love the close relationship we still have. He is now nine and I know it won’t be long before I become a thorn in his side, at least for a few years!

    • 16 May, 2012 / 5:07 pm

      Hooray! Well done Caroline, excellent effort :-)

      Glad to hear as well that you feel it has paid off, and are enjoying such a close relationship now, even though nine (in my experience at least!) can be quite a difficult age.

  7. 16 May, 2012 / 4:31 pm

    Is it ok to think women should be allowed to do whatever they think is best re. breast feeding, but still feel (silently) squemish at the thought of school age kids breast feeding? It is on my list of “things I wish didn’t make me feel weird but do” – I fully recognise this is my issue, that it has absolutely no bearing on things being “right or wrong,” I wouldn’t express this opinion to anyone I know who is breastfeeding a big kid, but as you asked I thought I’d reply.

    • 16 May, 2012 / 5:12 pm

      Yes, this is absolutely OK. Very few of the long term breastfeeders I know ever set out to do it for so long, and I think it can definitely be something you change your opinions about as you go along.

      I remember going to my local breastfeeding group with Belle when she was just a few weeks old and seeing a woman feed a ten month old. This baby looked like a GIANT next to my newborn, and to be honest I was kind of repulsed! I just couldn’t imagine feeding such a grown-up baby.

      Then, as time went on, she just sort of grew without me realising. I had a year in my head as a ‘reasonable’ length of time, but that came and went and gradually it just didn’t seem weird anymore, it just felt quite natural.

      Personally, I wouldn’t have minded if anyone at the time had told me they felt strange about it. I think it’s good to talk about it. That’s part of the problem I think, that we don’t have a lot of everyday conversation about breastfeeding, so when a story like this does come out it provokes a really strong reaction.

  8. 16 May, 2012 / 6:23 pm

    That photo is gorgeous! Why is it that if we stand up and say we are proud to be bf we are told off for making others guilty. I am proud to be bf my 13mo and proud to have bred my son until almost 4yrs!

    • 17 May, 2012 / 5:44 pm

      It’s a good question. There is an awful lot of guilt involved in the breastfeeding debate, but I don’t really know how you tackle it. One argument is to say that as bottle feeding has health implications, perhaps we should feel guilty – you’d feel guilty if you didn’t use a car sear right? But the reality is that until there is enough good support in place for mums, not everyone finds it easy, an so it’s not right to point fingers. A very complicated issue indeed…

  9. 16 May, 2012 / 8:41 pm

    I aimed for a year, that came and went. I decided a while ago that 2 was old enough, but now her second birthday is next week, I am not so sure. It seems so mean, and she will just be one day older…….

    It is only once a day in the morning (letting me lie in bed for an extra 20 minutes). Bliss as she is generally an early bird.

    I don’t tell many people Ellen still nurses as I think many people would be freaked out.

    • 17 May, 2012 / 5:45 pm

      That’s exactly how I felt well Belle trned one – she was only one day older than the day before, so why did that make a difference? I do thing there are a lot more women doing it than we realise, but like you, a lot wouldn’t tell the world about it.

  10. singleparentdaddy
    17 May, 2012 / 8:41 am

    I love the over the shoulder technique. Feed and burp all in one motion. However, I don’t think it’s normal. It’s evolution! Top bombing.

    • 17 May, 2012 / 5:45 pm

      Yes that’s true – multitasking! I do worry though that a feed/burp combo in that posititon could end up being a bit messy…

  11. 17 May, 2012 / 9:50 am

    I agree, it’s normal and should be up to the mother. It’s one of those weird things – like body hair – that people get all unnecessary over. It should be commonplace and not remarkable.
    PS Love the picture.

    • 17 May, 2012 / 5:46 pm

      God, don’t even get me STARTED on body hair. That’s a whole other post.

      Note to world: women have body hair. We are not children. Get over it.

  12. 17 May, 2012 / 8:01 pm

    I fed my first child for 20 weeks and then had to go back to work. This was in 1989 and, despite what words were said, practical support for working mums was practically non existent! I was the only mum with a baby at my workplace (fashion house in West End). There was no place other than the toilets to express milk, and no place to store it.

    With my second babyvI was a stay at home mum and we fed until he chose to stop, which was 20 months. I felt sad when it vame to an end. My periods had come back within a few months. The breastfeeding was also good for MY health (physical and mental) as well as my son’s.

    My worst critic was my own mother, who at the time was 70. Her generation I guess! She had always told me I was breastfed. It transpired it was for two weeks!

  13. 20 May, 2012 / 5:12 pm

    I read a really interesting point on someone else’s blog this very week, which I will share with you: “This isn’t about how mothers measure up against each other. It isn’t about measuring up at all. It’s about our individual value systems and to what extent we decided to tie physical bonds with our children. Mommy wars aren’t created by magazine covers. They’re created by moms who doubt their own choices then attack others who are different just because they’re threatened by self doubt. Mommy wars aren’t against each other. They’re against ourselves, and that’s why no one ever wins.”

    Personally, I wish with all my heart that I had been able to breastfeed longer, and I am very jealous of all who manage it. I had to give up because of my HRT affecting my milk supply (I am only 36). Bad situation all round!

  14. 14 June, 2012 / 2:45 pm

    Love LOVE this post!! I’m one of those breastfeeding newbies and am heading into my 6th week, am loving it!! I like your extreme breastfeeding style! :)

    • 14 June, 2012 / 2:50 pm

      Thanks Emma – keep up the good work!

  15. 23 December, 2015 / 4:06 pm

    I breastfed both my daughters until they were about eight months old; in fact I stopped feeding the eldest when she became a biter! My brother-in-law used to have a fit if I decided to feed them whilst he was in the room, declaring it ‘unnatural’ although I was never quite certain what he thought was natural for boobs. Whipping them out on a beach maybe? I refused to leave the room so he often did. I’m not sure of the nutritional value of milk after a certain time, especially once children are able to eat solids, but I certainly agree it’s up to the individual and nobody else’s business but their’s. From a comfort point of view it’s wonderful.

  16. 24 December, 2015 / 2:53 pm

    I breastfed my boys. Dee until about 6 months because we had issues. Jen until he was one.
    I think it’s normal and don’t get why people get judgey about it.

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