When To Stop Breastfeeding: Mom Still Breastfeeds 6-Year-Old Daughter, Won’t Stop Until Daughter Says So

When To Stop Breastfeeding
Mother still breastfeeds her 6-year-old daughter. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

National and global health agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, consider breastfeeding to be one of the most effective ways to ensure child health and survival. While breastfeeding is generally considered healthy for a developing infant, is there a certain age where breastfeeding should stop? British mother Denise Sumpter is under the impression that breastfeeding should stop when the child says it should.

“Mums who feed for longer are often accused of being selfish,” Sumpter told the Mirror. “There are things I get out of it — like calm, happy children. But I can say with certainty I’ve done this entirely for the benefit of my kids. When Belle finishes I’ll be sad, but it’s a natural progression. Her milk teeth are going and I get the impression she won’t be feeding for much longer. But she can take her time.”

Sumpter started breastfeeding her daughter Belle as a newborn and expected to keep feeding for six months to a year. When Belle turned 1 she decided against stopping because her daughter was still small and needed breast milk. She started to do her own research on the subject and discovered that although breastfeeding a child over the age of 1 may turn heads, there are no health side effects. In fact, the WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life before introducing mashed fruits and vegetables to complement breastfeeding for up to two years or more.  

Today, Belle is 6-and-a-half years old and still breastfeeding. Belle asks for her mother’s milk whenever she is tired, sick, or simply wants to bond with her mother. However, Sumpter has set some rules in place for Belle. For example, she stopped breastfeeding Belle in public around the age of 4 or 5. Sumpter and her partner Jules Deering recently added their 18-month-old son Beau to the family, who is breastfeeding right alongside Belle.

“I’ll feed Belle as long as she asks,” Sumpter added. “I don’t know how long that will be. It will be the same with Beau. I don’t think there’s anything weird about it. I feed both children on demand — ­whenever they want it.”

According to the WHO, breast milk is the ideal food source for newborns and infants with all the nutrients needed for health development. Adolescents and adults who were breastfed as children are at lower risk for being overweight, obese, or developing type 2 diabetes. Most people may not realize the benefits the mother gets from breastfeeding. Sumpter claimed that breastfeeding has not impacted her sex life or breasts and has even improved her health and figure. 

Loading...
Join the Discussion