'I breastfed my daughter until she was six - people say it's gross but it's good for her'

Woman breastfeeding
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

While many mums choose to stop breastfeeding before their little one's second birthday, some decide to continue for a bit longer. However, when it's extended 'too long', it can raise eyebrows among family and friends who may find it unusual.

One brave mum has openly shared that she breastfed her daughter until she was six years old, believing it has set her up for a healthy life. The single mum took to Mumsnet to share the benefits it brought to her child, encouraging other parents to keep an open mind about it.

She explained: "Children's immune systems are not fully functioning until they are around six to seven-years-old. Breast milk changes as they get older to meet changing needs. Just like broccoli doesn't suddenly lose its nutritional value when you hit 25 breast milk continues to be beneficial to older children."

She insists it provided her daughter with "masses of health benefits" and "helped her get to sleep for years" - but it naturally came to an end as her daughter's jaw began to change.

She continued: "As she got older it was easier to discuss with her why I wanted to stop and she was getting to the same point. She would have carried on longer but knew I needed to stop. Towards the end, her jaw was changing with her teeth falling out/new adult teeth coming through and it wasn't as comfortable for me so we had a chat and she understood it was coming to an end."

The World Health Organisation advises mums to exclusively breastfeed for the first six months and then introduce foods while continuing to breastfeed for up to two years or more. Better Health suggests: "Stopping breastfeeding is called weaning. It is up to you and your baby to decide when the time is right. Some parents and babies enjoy breastfeeding so much that they are in no hurry to stop. It is not unusual for children up to four years of age to continue to be breastfed.

"Family members and friends may feel uncomfortable about extended breastfeeding and it can be helpful to have information to give your family and friends about why you have decided to keep breastfeeding. This may include information about the continued health benefits, security, and comfort for your child."

However, some parents think breastfeeding should end earlier than age four and criticised the mum for breastfeeding her six-year-old. A sceptical parent questioned if her child recalls being breastfed and its social effects. The mother replied: "Yes, she remembers. She is not in the slightest bit embarrassed and never was. She is proud of the fact and is happy to explain the benefits to anyone who says otherwise."

However, one supporter commented: "Props to you. I breastfed my daughter until she was three. The experience seemed to be mutually beneficial." Another follower shared her personal view: "I'm very pro-breastfeeding but I don't find this lovely, to be honest."

Another user added: "Well done. I fed my middle son until he was three. I'm always surprised by how many negative attitudes there are towards natural term feeding. I hid the fact I was feeding him for the last year or so because I had so many nasty comments."