Printer Friendly Version of this Article

When Your Child Won't Stop Breast-Feeding

Kate, the mother of a 7-year-old, 5-year-old and 20-month-old is still breast-feeding ALL of her children. She tells Dr. Phil that she just can't say no when the kids ask to nurse. What advice does Dr. Phil have? Read on.

First, it's important to know that breast-feeding can be a very positive part of motherhood. This has been medically proven through studies:

  • Two decades of research have established that breast milk is perfectly suited to nourish infants while protecting them from disease. Breast-fed babies have a lower rate of illness than bottle-fed babies.

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics says that breast-feeding for the first 6 months after birth supports optimal growth and development and recommends that children be breast-fed for at least 12 months. Thereafter, breast-feeding can continue for as long as mutually desired. Experts agree that the only acceptable alternative to breast milk is infant formula.

  • Solid foods can be introduced into a child's diet between 4 to 6 months of age " but the baby should continue to drink breast milk or formula (not cow's milk) for a full year.

    There aren't any rules about when to stop breast-feeding, but a baby should ideally have breast milk for the first year of its life. Dr. Phil has this advice for Kate, who breast-feeds her 5-and 7-year-olds:

  • By giving in and allowing a child to nurse after being weaned, you are teaching the child that he/she can get what he/she wants when he/she wants it.

  • Don't feel guilty for saying no. Children need to learn that they can't get everything they want. Establish boundaries and keep them.

  • Find other ways to show your child affection and give them comfort when they want to be breast-fed. You can hug them and hold them instead. Remind your child that he/she is a big boy/girl now and doesn't need to breast-feed anymore.