Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Age Limits

I mentioned I would talk about age limits for breastfeeding. However, I should really start in the beginning.......

Back in my days of Armchair Parenting, I believed a child should be weaned at 12 months. Sharp. Then, I had a baby of my own and learned that babies need high fat in their diets until the age of 24 months since it's crucial for brain development - specifically, they need essential fatty acids, which cow's milk is low in. Okay. I was cool with that and decided that if Arun wanted to nurse until 2 years old, that was fine by me. Then, I found out I was pregnant shortly after Arun turned 12 months. I knew that I didn't want to tandem nurse, so I decided that Arun would need to be weaned by 18 months. As I've already discussed, he ended up weaning himself by 15 months (not to belabor the point, but now we do a variety of nuts, flaxseed, and fish to help with his essential fatty acid intake. We aren't anti-milk by any means (I LOVE milk! YUM!), but cow's milk was made for a CALF'S brain.) Okay. The end. Right? Not really, because I have baby #2 on the way. And I will approach weaning in the same manner - I'd like to nurse her until 24 months if she's down with that, but if not, I am not going to push breastfeeding on her when there are other great options for essential fatty acids.

So. Age limits. I am not comfortable with children nursing past the age of 2. I never was and still am not. However, until I had a child of my own, I couldn't really explain why I was awkward with it - I couldn't quite put it in definable words. There has been talk in the comments here about the "over-sexualization of the female breast" in our culture. I would agree with that sentiment. But that over-sexualization is based on something that has been in existence since the beginning of man. Modern culture didn't invent that concept but rather exploited it. The female breast is a source of pleasure and desire for both men and women - that's undeniable. And that role of the female breast in sexual pleasure plays itself out for the greater part of most women's lives. In truth, breastfeeding constitutes a very small part of most women's lifespans even when you figure out a max of 2 years per child.

I would expect that the female breast will play a part in both of my children's sexual futures. Therefore, quite simply, I do not want them to remember suckling at mine. When they are adults, I want their experiences with the female to be fresh. So while I really don't care if others nurse their children way beyond the age of 2, I will never be comfortable with it.

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