Kelly Preston and “Extended” Breastfeeding

As someone who didn’t want to breastfeed past six months (and feared embarrassment), I can understand where some of the comments (230+ and counting!) are coming from with regards to Kelly Preston’s news that she is nursing 16-month old Benjamin  (see–we shared it here last week, when we announced Kelly as a Best for Babes Champion for Moms).

Ben may be wearing jeans, but he’s still a baby!!

What changed my mind about nursing past a few months was the fact that 1) breastfeeding after 6 months was SO easy and convenient, especially while traveling or running errands, and it seemed silly NOT to continue, and 2) my 2-year old daughter was the only one of her peers not to be hospitalized for dehydration during a nasty rotovirus outbreak; breastmilk was the only fluid she could keep down (not pedialyte or water).

While intuitively we sense that breastfeeding  after a year is biologically and evolutionarily advantageous, we need more studies to bear that out (see this comment).  In the meantime, the below was culled from and other sources:

FACTS about breastfeeding after 1 year:

  • After 1 year, human milk has significantly increased fat and energy contents, compared with human milk before 1 year.  Babies’ brains are growing and NEED the extra fat & especially human cholesterol.
  • In the second year (12-23 months), 448 mL of breastmilk provides (Dewey 2001):  29% of energy requirements, 43% of protein requirements,36% of calcium requirements,75% of vitamin A requirements,76% of folate requirements, 94% of vitamin B12 requirements, 60% of vitamin C requirements . Note that this is exactly what baby humans need; cow’s milk is designed to grow baby cows which have smaller brains per body mass.
  • Nursing toddlers between the ages of 16 and 30 months have been found to have fewer illnesses and illnesses of shorter duration than their non-nursing peers (Gulick 1986).  In other words, the longer that toddlers are allowed to nurse, the lower their risk of disease.  There is also a proportionate increase in IQ for babies and toddlers who breastfeed longer, i.e. higher IQ for breastfeeding over 1 year vs. 6-12 months.
  • Some of the immune factors in breastmilk increase in concentration during the second year and also during the weaning process. (Goldman 1983, Goldman & Goldblum 1983, Institute of Medicine 1991).
  • In cultures where mothers and babies are not pressured to wean prematurely, babies self-wean  naturally between 2.5 and 7 years of age, with most babies self-weaning around age 3 or 4. (Dettwyler)
  • The longer babies are allowed to nurse the better socially adjusted they are. Per the researchers, ‘There are statistically significant tendencies for conduct disorder scores to decline with increasing duration of breastfeeding.’”
  • Breastfeeding toddlers (babies > 1 year), helps them learn to self-soothe and self-regulate, manage frustrations (some parents report avoiding the “terrible twos” altogether) and lessens pain from bumps and bruises (breastmilk contains analgesics, i.e. natural pain-killers).  Nursing toddlers are easier to handle in the doctor’s office, too!
  • Breastfeeding toddlers (babies > 1 year) helps them make a gradual transition to childhood, “Meeting a child’s dependency needs is the key to helping that child achieve independence. And children outgrow these needs according to their own unique timetable.”  Children who achieve independence at their own pace are more secure in that independence then children forced into independence prematurely.
  • The longer mothers breastfeed, the lower their risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and heart disease.
  • Older babies/toddlers nurse fewer times per day, most people are usually unaware they are nursing.
  • Babies that are old enough to “ask” to nurse are also old enough to say “thank you”, one of the sweetest experiences any mother can experience!

So, truthfully, there is no such thing as “extended” breastfeeding or “still” breastfeeding much as there is no such thing as “extended” walking or “still” walking.   Breastfeeding, like walking, is part of being human and begins and ends when it is evolutionary and developmentally advantageous.  In the case of breastfeeding, that is birth to somewhere between 2.5 and 7, end of story.   Anything other than that is premature weaning–and we all need to accept and acknowledge that.

Here’s what breastfeeding beyond a year looks like — it’s especially important that we SEE it because what we don’t SEE we often don’t regard as normal.

Of course, some women may choose to wean early for various reasons (I did!), but we owe it to ourselves to acknowledge and OWN those reasons.   Furthermore, nobody should be judged for weaning at any time, but listened to, UNDERSTOOD and accepted.    Through this kind of supportive dialogue, mothers are more likely to breastfeed longer, and start to think about whether, if any, booby traps kept them from achieving their personal breastfeeding goals.   No matter when a mother weans,  every ounce, every day counts!  Cheer moms on first, listen and seek to understand before you educate.  Don’t leave an angry rant on a blog. 🙂


What made you decide to breastfeed longer than you intended?   What have you done that has worked to encourage other moms to nurse longer than they intended?

110 thoughts on “Kelly Preston and “Extended” Breastfeeding

  1. Happy,Healthy Fun New year to all the Familes out there striving to provide the nutrition and sustanance that all children need…how ever that maybe administerd! Im lucky to be able to say ive been bfdng my bub now for 7.5 mths, & im really keen to keep on keeping on past the 1yr mark, fingers crossed;). This is a Great site for ALL parents/caregvers (awseme to hear from Joe :)…ive found it fascinating to read the different opinions on this topic & i look forward to many more. Good on all of you who endevour to give yr chlidren the care and love they need and deserve, regardless of varying factors,preferences or idealogies……theres so many chn that arent so lucky to have concerned loved ones debating/discussing their well-being…:( best wishes to all !!


  2. Hello,

    what a great article. I am currently away for work from my 22 month old. I am pumping again for the first time in more than 6 months, as I am not ready to give up our breastfeeding relationship yet (my daughter has celiac and allergy issues) for medical or emotional issues.

    To my great surprise I can actually pump about 500 ml/day, and baby is more efficient than pump, so she must be getting more – even though she mainly feeds at night and just 2 or 3 times during the day. It is much thicker, whiter and creamier than it ws 6 months ago.

    I work full time, including travelling frequently. So I am so happy that I persisted and worked so hard on this and am successful. I hope we can BF until she’s ready to stop (or about 3 years).

    My oldest was BF until about 6 months after her sister arrived, which was about 3 1/2 years. Also a struggle, but so worth it. We even continued BF through fertility treatment with my dr’s blessing after they checked that my prolactin levels were low (they tend to drop with extended BF (she is an Obe as well as a lactation consultant).

    My favorite shirt for my daughter. “I like milk from my Mum, not just any old cow”. 🙂


  3. Hi, I’m am a 26 year old African American mom that is breastfeeding an amazing 19 month old girl. I never expected to breastfeed period, as a matter of fact it wasn’t a thought of mine at all to do so prior to conceiving. My best friend got pregnant almost a year before I did and informed me of the Bradley method and the importance of brestfeeding. Along with my best friend who I like to call my breast friend, serval members at my church supported it as well. I thank those who support me throught this beautiful and essential experience. I have to say that it get frustrating sometimes to breastfeed at this age and stage for me because Sophie is very demanding and will pul my breast out ( both of them) as she pleases if the opportunity permits it. She also coal reps still and some night it’s a constant battle of prying her off my breast and I lose slot of sleep. I know that solution is get her out of the bed lol. She is allergic to all dairy and all nuts and although she’s a veggie lover I like that the nutrition in her milk is there for her. overall I’m am proud to have been educated on the significance if breastfeeding! I hope she’ll wean her self by 24-30 months.


  4. My son is gonna be 2 in may and still breastfeeding.. i really enjoyed this artical.. i get a lotof comme ts about still breastfeeding.. my 5 year old actually asked me if he could still breadtfeed again the other day.. i was considering pumping for him.. i think it is perfectly healthy..


  5. I’m still nursing my 3 1/2 year old daughter and don’t plan on ending soon. I also nursed my son until at least the age of 4. I do this despite the criticisms from my husband. Even my daughter has to look over her shoulder to make sure dad isn’t watching while she nurses, he’ll outright object and criticize her for it saying she’s a big girl now. I’m so happy others are doing this too, I don’t feel so weird and alone, but normal for once that I’ve done what is best for my children in the grand scheme of things.


  6. I had a friend who nursed her daughter until she was about 5, despite all of the negative comments. Although that was years before I even thought about having my own child, she was a very positive influence on my own decision to nurse from the beginning. I catch a lot of heat from just about everyone. As BFing mothers, especially once our little ones are able to walk, talk, and ask for it, I’m sure we have all heard it all. My MIL, who lost both of her breast to cancer, feels like I am rubbing it in her face. She has made comments about how it is more for me/my needs. One time, she watched him for the day, and kept saying that he hadn’t had a wet diaper all day. That was highly unlikely; his diaper was SOAKED when I got there. So in response, after I gave him a quick nursing, she said “he had to have his mamma’s milk to make him go pee.” I just ignored the comment but she repeated it several times. Most people make comments to my husband (trying to scare him or make him think I’m perverted); they don’t usually say things directly to me. But if it were not for nursing, my LO would have been hospitalized for dehydration when he had a bad case of norovirus and other illnesses. I’m sorry you must go thru that Erica. If only our husbands were more supportive. Mine is somewhat supportive but won’t stand up for me when I am bashed. I’m starting to hear the ‘maybe it’s tome to start weaning’ lecture here and there. But 3 1/2 –and beyond– is something to be proud of. It’s not always easy.


  7. what a brilliant article.
    Im still Breastfeeding my 16 month old son. He shows no sign of loosing interest at all. He recently had an awful sickness bug and all he could keep down was my milk. As a result he stayed hydrated and got some nurishment. Im sure this is why he bounced back within 24hours and the rest of us were like zombies for over 2 days.

    I had wanted to try to stop him breastfeeding before that, but now I wouldn’t dream of trying to prevent him feeding from me.


  8. My 3.9 year old son recently self weaned. It was a wonderful experience and around 3 years old he was only nursing a few times a day. He gradually declined on nursing over time. There was no heart break, tears or even engorgement because his self weaning was so natural. He is super bright and I always say it’s because of the breastmilk.Iwould also tell others it’s a wonderful experience and I miss it but am so happy he got the wonderful benefits.


  9. I’m still breastfeeding my 2.7 years old!
    I love the time we spend cuddling up together!

    Only downside is that he s still waking up every few hrs at night.. You guessed it, to breastfeed… And that is really really tiring…

    I often don’t feel comfortable about telling People about it, because they ll criticise you and make you feel guilty (even other mums)

    I don’t understand why such a natural thing has to be seen in such a bad light…

    But I shall continue doing what i feel it’s best for my little monkey!

    Good luck every one! 🙂


  10. My son is 23 months old and absolutely adores our breastfeeding relationship.

    He asks to nurse all day and all night and I am okay with this.

    I haven’t considered weaning him at all and I know, if my body allows me to do so, he will continue to breastfeed for a while.

    But… Out of nowhere, my milk has dried up! I can hand express a very tiny amount, but that is it.

    He is still sucking for a while, but I know it’s just for comfort at this point and I can tell he’s getting frustrated. I have to keep a cup of water by the bed so he can quench his thirst multiple times a night.

    I really miss what we had and I want it back so we can continue breastfeeding.

    I drink the Bell Mother’s milk tea, which I’ve always had great success with, but it doesn’t seem to be working now.

    I eat a very healthy diet and drink lots of water. No caffeine, no alcohol. Nothing has changed in my diet, that I’m aware of. I have notice that my hormones have been absolutely out of whack the past two months.

    I would really appreciate any advice at this point. We’re both not ready to wean.

    Thank you.


  11. Dear Ann: use go-lacta tablets you’ll get your milk back in only 2 to 3 weeks, it’s completely natural, I used it for 10 months, it’s made of mallungay, trust this product it truly works. I stopped taking it because I had an incredible ammount of milk and thank God I still breastfeed ny 15 month old baby girl and adore our brestefeed relationship
    Good Luck


  12. I bf my 14 month old and will continue for as long as it’s needed. My only wish is to meet another mom like me who nurses her toddler too. I guess it’s a rare breed of moms; I haven’t seen one yet…;)


  13. I breastfeed my 19 month old daughter still, only a few times a day,but I still get so much flack for it. My own mother even bashed me recently at a family vacation saying “I must get some sort of sexual gratification out of it.” I was mortified and hurt, it is so refreshing to read of other mothers who see nothing wrong with it, and actually find it beneficial….


    1. I’m SO so sorry to hear that your mother made such a horrible comment to you. I hope that you have sent her some article links about all of the benefits. Obviously she is the one with the sick and twisted mind about it, not you. She clearly needs some education about breastfeeding. You are a wonderful mom who is doing what is best for her child. My baby boy is 16 months and I hope I can continue to breastfeed him until at least two. Hugs 😃


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