The two year breastfeeding crisis

The two year breastfeeding crisis

Official maternal and child health guidelines for protecting and promoting breastfeeding recommend maintaining breastfeeding along with complementary food for a minimum of two years. But what happens at this stage? Few mothers know that there is one more hurdle to overcome.

More and more mothers reach this milestone in breastfeeding, and then, to their surprise, at two years of the child’s age, awaits the last, unexpected, and final breastfeeding crisis, in what we call the two year breastfeeding crisis. This one is often hard for mothers because they do not usually consider that at this age, there may still be an increase in breastfeeding demand. Furthermore, society is not very tolerant of the needs of a three-month-old baby, so it is infinitely less so with that of a two-year-old child. The comments that mothers receive are not at all kind: “It is your fault,” “You have spoiled your baby with breastfeeding on demand, and now look what happens, “”You can’t allow her to ask for breastfeeding in this way,” “it’s not normal when a child that old wants to breastfeed so much” and so on. Then, mothers get worried and unsure and wonder if they did something wrong.

So what happens to the child?

At approximately two years of age, children start to demand to breastfeed continuously, with requests and intensity similar to those of a newborn. Instead of being calm and asking for the breast in a relaxed way, they do so in a nervous and sometimes even anxious way. They can even scream and try to undress their mother when she refuses or tries to postpone a feed. This behavior is very surprising, and mothers often feel stressed and worried about their child’s “manners”.

Why are they doing this?

By the age of two, children are considered to be experiencing a stage of development similar to teenagers, a stage focused on self-affirmation and saying no. They are now capable of doing many things on their own and are able to cope with daily situations, but at the same time, this independence causes many insecurities, and the best way to know that everything is okay is through breastfeeding. So they ask to breastfeed all the time because their mother and her breasts are their lifeline. It’s their way to find refuge and feel safe. This increase in breastfeeding demand usually lasts for a few months until the child becomes more self-confident, and then demand normalizes again and decreases.

And why does my child ask for it in such a bad way?

First of all, they ask for it as they can. No one is born educated, and nobody asks for things with a “please” if they are not taught to do so. When a child wants something, they still haven’t learned about manners yet, and they just want it right now. And then they get angry when they are denied what they want most or when they are made to wait for it. For them, everything is here and now. We have to show them, little by little, how we want them to ask for the breast or negotiate when they can or cannot ask for it. The breastfeeding journey transforms as they grow, and this is a time of great change.

It’s possible that you feel alone or you are worried during these moments. But even if you have never been, and it seems like it’s only for the start of breastfeeding, you could find a local breastfeeding support group or online breastfeeding community where you will feel supported. There, you won’t feel alone, and you can share your experience with other mothers.

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