12 Things not to say to an extended breastfeeding mom
The decision to breastfeed a child is a choice a mother makes for herself and her child. While some mothers choose to not nurse their infants (or are unable to), many do, and some continue well into the preschool years. There is absolutely nothing wrong with breastfeeding a baby past infancy and the practice is recommended by the World Health Organization.
In fact, the nonprofit health group says, "Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to 2 years of age or beyond."
But some moms unfortunately know people can say some terrible things to those who breastfeed longer than a year — or even six months — as strange as that is to hear. Comments from people on the internet are the absolute worst, but some folks feel like they can say whatever crappy thing that comes to mind, either via text, email or face-to-face.
If you're skeptical about a mom's nursing habits, first ask yourself why you care so much and also consider whether it's any of your business. The answer to that last question is typically no. If you do feel compelled to say something that isn't sweet and positive, just don't. But definitely don't say or ask any of the following, because even though this list isn't all-inclusive, these are simply the worst.
- Isn't your kid too old to breastfeed? (Aren't you too old to ask stupid questions?)
- I think that once a baby can ask for it, it's time to stop. (Well, considering he's been asking for it since birth, maybe I should never have started.)
- Gosh, he's going to be so spoiled. (And you're pretty whiny yourself.)
- You're not one of those moms, are you? (One who doesn't hang around you any more? Definitely.)
- What does your husband think about that? (He's fine with it. Why wouldn't he be?)
- I thought once they got teeth, you were supposed to stop. (She can't actually bite my nipple off until she has all of her permanent teeth, so we're good here.)
- OMG have you seen Game of Thrones? Are you going to be like her? (Yes, of course. Make sure you have your camera ready.)
- Please tell me you'll stop when she goes to kindergarten. (I'll have to get back to you on that.)
- There is no nutritional value of breast milk after [insert timeframe here]. (The milk doesn't change just because my baby is [age]. Where do you get your info?)
- Are you doing it for your benefit or his? (He kicks me in the eye, pops off to run across the room and knocks my drink out of my hand — what do you think?)
- Does she know how to drink from a cup or eat food? (Oh gosh, I forgot to teach her how to do that.)
- Please don't do that around me. (OK, see you later!)
If you know a mom who breastfeeds longer than a year, you might want to keep these questions and statements to yourself. Because, really, how long a mother breastfeeds her child has absolutely zero bearing on your life. And asking a mom a judgmental question about her breastfeeding habits is presumptuous, rude and just plain crappy. It can put your friend or relative on the defensive and makes you come across as a huge butthole.